From: Platt Holden (email@example.com)
Date: Fri Oct 07 2005 - 13:49:17 BST
Arlo's example of how to combat consumerism by having a neighborhood
snowblower seems appealing in theory, but oh the hassles that will arise
in practice. For example:
Whose going to teach members how to use the snowblower?
Who decides when it has snowed enough to plow?
At what time of day should the street be plowed?
If it's a big storm, how many times should the street be plowed?
Whose turn is it to plow anyway?
How much does one person have to plow?
Who will determine when one person has plowed enough?
What happens if the street isn't plowed?
Who pays for the gas in the snowblower?
Who makes sure there's enough gas in the tank?
Whose responsible for maintenance and repair?
Who pays if by accident the blades get bent or broken?
Who gets called if the blower doesn't start?
What if the person whose turn it is to plow is out of town?
Will assignments to plow carry over from winter to winter?
Of course, this is just the beginning of all the issues that arise when
you try to get people in a neighborhood to do anything together. In the
absence of any form of discipline such as found at work or in the
military, arguments with resulting resentments and bad feelings are bound
to arise. As Pirsig pointed out:
"What the Metaphysics of Quality indicates is that the twentieth-century
intellectual faith in man's basic goodness as spontaneous and natural is
disastrously naive. The ideal of a harmonious society in which everyone
without coercion cooperates happily with everyone else for the mutual good
of all is a devastating fiction." (Lila, 24)
Arlo's example raises a larger point in that liberals seem to believe that
there's something wrong with human nature in wanting to stick together
with their own kind, avoid hassles with others, and buy things that given
them pleasure. Since liberals see such natural desires as wrong, they will
sanction the use of government force to squelch them. Then you can kiss
your precious liberty goodbye.
Thanks, but no thanks. I'll buy and use my own snowblower. When all my
neighbors do the same, there will be peace and freedom among us, and we'll
be assuring that there will continue to be good jobs at the snowblower
> Let me relate an interesting example, Case/Khaled, that I've told before. A
> few winters ago, a friend of mine had proposed to his neighbors that they
> all chip in and buy a snowblower for the street. They could take turns
> housing it, or agree upon setting up a common shed. Instead, many of his
> neighbors decided they had to own their own snowblowers, to blow out snow
> from about 15ft of sidewalk. So, this street now houses more than a half
> dozen snowblowers that could each individually do the entire steet. So,
> each person valued possessing their own snowblower, of spending upwards of
> say $900 on a machine where one could easily do an entire street, but now
> each is relegated to doing a small bit of sidewalk.
> Notice that financially everyone on this street would be much better off
> deciding on purchasing one snowblower, rather than the 10 or so that ended
> up getting purchased. That $900 could have been banked, placed into
> savings, etc. The only people who benefitted was the snowblower companies,
> who were able to reap the benefits of 10 machines being sold ($10,000)
> versus only 1 ($900). Also, consider additional benefits that could come
> from other community endeavors. Say that community bought 1 snowblower, but
> then pooled the $10k that they would otherwise have spent individually. The
> could have maybe built a large jungle-gym playset for the neighborhood
> kids, or a pool, or maybe this year help Mr. Jones reshingle his roof, and
> next year help Mrs. Smith repaint her house. Now, was the valuation of
> individual snowblower ownership "natural", or was it mediated by a dialogue
> that prevents the mere mention of "communal endeavors", and marketing that
> reinforces your value being higher the more you own, and a political
> dialogue that says that the "individual" is somehow separate and above
> community needs. I submit, that this particular valuation is the result of
> market and ideological forces that benefit from consumerism, and so market
> it to the detriment to all else.
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