Monday, August 24, 2009

The HOA Model and Next-to-Impossible Dreams

A comment from long time reader Glenn Bartley sparked something:

I just got done reading that piece again (about the 5th time, maybe the 6th) because something was bugging me about it. No not bugging me in how you want to live your life, not bugging me in that you want the government out of most of your life. Heck I work for the government and I would like to see a lot the same as you would like to see it. Less government from both the federal level and the state level would be a much better thing for all of us as far as I am concerned. Less government in general would be great - fewer lawyers, legislators, executive bureaucrats and judiciary types would mean a lot less legislation to trouble all of us.

Yeah I agree with you, but I had to read it again, and again, because something just was not clicking, something seemed terribly wrong with what you said and I just could not figure it for the life of me. I could not put my finger on it after a second, even a third reading, not even after a fourth, but each time I was done reading it, I came to the same conclusion - you had just said something that seemed to bother me for some unknown reason.

I slept on it, then came back to it again today, and read it again, and again and just as I finished this last time around BANG - realization went off like a shot fired next to my head. Do you realize what you just did in your anti government piece? You yourself became the government ruling others or at least stated your unwitting capacity to do so. No games from me - so here is what I mean:

You said this:
"Well I have a message for all you busybodies, bureaucrats, rent-seekers, and whored-out legislators.


Get out of my contracts.

Get off of my land.

Leave my property alone.

Stay the hell out of my bedroom.

Which is all well and fine for you and me for those who think like us. Then though, you added this:
"And everyone else's for that matter."

That is the part that for the past couple of days has been eating away at me, making me wonder why the heck am I so uncomfortable with what you have written when I in general agree with the overwhelming majority of it.

The thing that made me uncomfortable was the fact that you were so ready to demand the government not only to stay out of your business but out of everyone's business and therefore in essence you replace the government interference in other people's lives with interference created by your demands.

What I just said was not meant as a flame, nor as a troll, nor as disagreement with your opinion. It was meant only as an intellectual observation, one that raises a few questions.

Here is what I mean by that: We live in a Republic where we elect officials to represent us in government. We are in the mess we are in now because too many of us, over many years, have agreed that government intrusion into our lives is the way to go. Too many of us have agreed that they need a helping hand, a shoulder to lean on, a crutch to get them through it.

Yet at the same time, may of us, probably at least half if not more of our citizens wish the government would only minimally involve itself in our lives. This is an inevitable conundrum of our type of government; it is also one that is very difficult to overcome, isn't it?

So just how do we overcome that issue. How do we get less government interference in our lives while at the same time not interfering with the lives of others who have elected to allow for government control in their lives? Is it possible? I think it is, but not to the extent you seem to want it to attain.

I am very interested to hear what you have to say in answer to this dilemma because if we can get enough people to elucidate on this topic, we may come up with the answer, we may yet be able to save the Republic and our Constitution and at the same time give Americans a better America while at the same time reducing unnecessary government and governmental control.

All the best,
Glenn B

Glenn, you make an excellent point. Yes, it seems hypocritical for me to tell the .gov to get out of everyone else's business when I myself rage against control freaks in government. What about those people who voted for such intrusive government? Shouldn't we support their right to ask for intrusion?

Oh yes. We certainly should.

It's called voluntary association.

Technically, it's called "voluntary collectivism" and it's historically been expressed in many way; but I like to call it the HOA Model.

People are not required to join an HOA, it is a choice. The choice to move into a neighborhood with an HOA, sign onto the contract, and obey the rules. The rest of us may not understand their zeal to be controlled, but we don't interfere with the choice either. They have designed a mini-government that meets their needs.

Military service members, by voluntarily enlisting, leave behind the civilian code and embrace the UCMJ, which is a separate justice system (though they intersect and interact of course), and certainly a separate system of regulation.

Those joining a religion also voluntarily join a quasi-government, with its own rules and regulations. Catholics for example have rules around who can join in the sacraments and who can be married.

These are all forms of government, except with consensual interference and nannying. Hell, voluntary associations are Constitutionally protected for a reason.

The only problem is that those who want to be nannied by a secular civil government, want the rest of us to be treated like infants too.

That's the problem.

If the government minimalists (like you and I) had our way, we'd have a minimal federal government. The individual states would be more like tiny countries, with different levels of interference, different taxes, different laws etc. Those of us who want to be left alone would gravitate towards states with minimal interference; the rest could gravitate towards the nanny states. That's how we would solve the problem.

Not coincidentally, that's how the founders intended our country to be, and that's how our constitution is written (if, sadly, not how it is followed).

Unfortunately, many states would then become like Arizona, Nevada, and Colorado. All 3 states are becoming Californicated as unhappy residents of Cali leave the conditions but keep the ideology that made the conditions in the first place.

I'm more than happy to leave everyone else alone. Unfortunately the pro-government control freaks are not content to leave us alone. Their "peace of mind" absolutely REQUIRES all of us to be as controlled... or really MORE controlled... than they are.

In fact, many of them believe that our mere desire for freedom, and a lack of government interference, PROVES just how much more we need to be controlled than they, the "civilized" and "enlightened" do.

What's the solution? I really have no idea. Every civilization trends towards interference, we're not exactly the first. Last time we solved the problem by moving to a new country and fighting a war; this time it won't be so simple. There isn't any place left to go to...

The only way we can ever go back is to get enough of a majority to reverse centuries of damage to the system. The only way to accomplish that is to convince our friends and neighbors that less government is a good thing, and for them to act accordingly.

Yes, and if wishes were horses...

I do see a bit of hope in technology though, and oddly enough in the attempts of the Greenies.

Currently most people are dependent on government and well... dependence to live their lives at the level they have become accustomed to. Electricity is regional and generated in bulk so we all share the same supplies. Water is too, as well as phone connections, internet, cable... nevermind that most jobs are to be found in urban centers. Food is grown or raised on huge farms and delivered to regional centers. Mass transit is still cheaper than operating a car (on an individual basis anyway), and less stressful in urban centers. Those of us who have cars are dependent on gas stations, which are dependent on long supply chains.

All of this, well, togetherness (and I don't mean that in a good way), encourages dependence on everyone else and dependence on government to keep the peace and make sure no one gets screwed over by their neighbors. And to enforce standards. And keep traffic moving. And, and, and...

My hope is, that with distributed technologies, and efficiencies in transportation; much of that is changing.

More and more jobs are mental, not physical, enabling telecommuting (at least in theory). The price of individual electricity generation is dropping precipitously. Wireless phone coverage is expanding, keeping those in rural areas in the loop. Internet can be delivered wirelessly. Satellite TV keeps getting cheaper. Amazon offers memberships where you can pay one fee a year and get free 2-day shipping. Netflix. Apple TV. HD TVs and high-end entertainment centers are more comfy than the theatres.

The cost of operating a vehicle? Dropping every day. Cross-country travel? Not a problem.

Oh, and the Greenies are pushing a "return" to family farming and energy dependence, as well as biodiesel. Between organic gardening, solar cells, wind turbines, hydroelectric, and water catchment and recycling we're fast approaching a time where family could supply much of their needs on their own rural property (if they had a couple acres per family member anyway).

Soon no one will have to be tied to landlines, cable, city water and sewer, or huge utilities. The cost of biodiesel converters is rapidly dropping while efficiency is improving, and every gardener has waste of one form or another to convert. Gas stations may eventually become obsolete.

Once we don't HAVE to live close together to have all the "modern conveniences", and technological independence is possible, how many will opt for independence? How many, upon experiencing independence, will take kindly to government interference? How much more intrusive will government become if we aren't so easy to find anymore, not as dependent, and we have to be hunted down?

That right there is basis for a new revolution; and my hope is that it will be both a successful one, and require no (or no more) bloodshed.

Maybe there is hope after all.