By Guest Columnist, Michael Ceremello – January 8, 2019 –
Today we have the tale of a city that could have been but isn’t. You get to figure out why. The names have been changed to protect the guilty because after all, California is still a sanctuary State and your city council is lacking in the male reproductive organ department.
Rather than speaking specifically about my town or your town, I am going to design a city which alleviates all of various problems I have encountered during the last 25 years or so I have written and during my childhood where I was only vaguely aware of the political egos destroying freedom for their “legacies”.
he town of Liberty is our goal and that will suit for a name. Liberty was founded with good intent by people who needed a place to live, socialize, and as a base to work either in agriculture or business. Liberty was first faced with an initial quandary which was whether to incorporate or to just exist under county scrutiny. In America, it seems, we just can not get enough layers of bureaucracy in our daily lives. Liberty’s founders saw no need to have multiple governments telling its citizens what they could or couldn’t do.
While this miffed those in town who wanted a title, power to abuse, and both of those to make them feel better about themselves, cooler heads prevailed and the committee on local governance decided not to incorporate. These folks also decided that rather than having a committee making decisions, as it would be much the same less the titular encumbrances, that decisions would be made by vote and only those with skin in the game would have a say. You had to live in Liberty and either own property or a business. Simply having a job was not enough because it was decided that encumbering others’ income or property should only be done by those with both.
In another bold move, it was decided that planning and zoning were unnecessary. Much as with the current city of Houston, Texas and in the days of the early Old West, an individual or company bought land and put what they thought was either necessary for their quality of life or in what the investor believed he could generate a profit.
There was need for those not involved in the home or the business to tell the homeowner or business what color to paint his building or what architectural features it should have. Aesthetics were in the eye of the beholder and the beholder was the one putting up the money for construction.
No one was required to have fences or set backs. When the town grew to a size where stop signs were needed, they left it up to the inhabitants to understand it was their responsibility to be aware that
someone else would likely be on the road. Rather than more accidents, there were less because you had to be more careful. This also brought the community together as people had to have respect for each other, their children, and any pets which might be out on their own.
If there was a vacant piece of property next to yours, you needed to understand that anything might go in from a church to a cat house. If you didn’t want to patronize a business because it offended your sensibilities, then you didn’t. No group of intolerants could impose their will on others including individuals.
There were no rules set up by bureaucrats to favor their buddies, a service club, or those who might “pay to play”. The free market decided how many restaurants, liquor stores, bars, churches, and book stores the town could handle on a survival of the fittest model.
Rather than calling for redevelopment zones when an area became blighted because the economic core had changed due to Liberty’s growth, those on the commission felt it was better to create an “enterprise zone” where resources going toward mutually agreed upon municipal projects were “forgiven” to further encourage investment by those willing to take a chance on success.
Unlike other communities and the State which imposed heavy taxation on sin industries such as cannabis dispensaries, Liberty enabled these types of businesses to compete with the black market and drove prices down through competition. Interestingly enough, the consumer and the businesses did well while reducing the need for those outside of the law.
Much as with residential, new business had no stipulations put on it. If you wanted to build the Winchester Mystery house, the design was your choice. If businesses didn’t provide enough parking, they lost customers. The city could not exempt itself from Federal or State law, but local regulation was minimized and pressure was put on the County to allow businesses minimal interference in generating revenue such as picayune nitpicking over signage advertising wares or services.
All of this resulted in a government serving a city rather than ruling over it. There were no salaries to protect, no fiefdoms created to harass citizens in their everyday life. Without this local bureaucracy, how were services provided? Where did Liberty get its water, its waste treatment, its fire and police service? How could they function day to day without what most of us consider impossible outside of government?
The committee with citizen input designed the basic water and sewer infrastructure system then went out searching for the best deal to put it in. There were no deals made using cronies. Citizens were free to volunteer services such as well drilling to reduce costs.
Police service was privatized and supplemented by the county sheriff. Citizens were encouraged to obtain conceal and carry permits. Neighborhood watch was augmented by cooperation between volunteer groups and the policing company. Fire protection saw like volunteer components with minimal full time employees.
Liberty grew to a size where most communities would tout incorporation because of the perceived need to coordinate services. In an odd twist, the committee decided rather than having one group controlling everything and bringing in the problems of empire building bureaucrats, they instead created additional committees to do exactly what they had done in the beginning. Precincts instead of central control continued to work.
As with all of the other community needs, utilities such as power and water were controlled by the entire town. New technologies were welcomed. There were “packaged” power generating plants, sewer plants, and water was managed without creating a staff looking to enrich themselves on the backs of those who paid for their services. In other words, upper management was minimalized because the committee actually did the management.
Right about now you are probably saying to yourselves this could never work, has never worked, and never will work. You would be wrong because this is exactly how communities developed and prospered before the advent of government for the sake of government.
Perhaps you don’t see government as the problem but as the solution. Freedom and liberty may not be valued by you or you might believe that both concepts can be accepted at lower levels to allow you to concentrate on things you consider to be more important in your life. Not everyone is suited to making important decisions and you would rather not have to think about this type of “stuff”.
First off, once most of these types of things are initially designed and completed, there is minimal need for continuous oversight. Everyone likes to talk about “strategic planning”. If you had a strategic plan, let’s say for road repair, you would know years in advance what type of resources are needed to maintain the system and would be collecting monies to achieve it. The same goes for water or any other system which needs periodic rehabilitation.
The only ongoing oversight would be to tweak any of these systems as they operate if observation shows services aren’t being provided as needed or to the level of need. Do you really need people working 40 hours a week in order to cogitate over what needs to be done? Paper shuffling is too kind a descriptive term to describe the unnecessary.