Now then: In Vallejo, California, the citizenry have had enough of waiting for the state to do anything about the roads, so they are handling things themselves. Excerpt:
One of my favorite movies is “Brazil,” by the Monty Python comedy troupe’s alum Terry Gilliam. In the most-telling scene, Harry Tuttle, played by Robert De Niro, breaks into an apartment, not to rob it, but to fix a broken air conditioning system. That’s because the vast government bureaucracy, Central Services, won’t do it. “Harry Tuttle, heating engineer at your service,” he announces to the tenant, Sam Lowry, played by Jonathan Price. “Now they got the whole country sectioned off. Can’t make a move without a form.” The crucial form is 27B-6.
An example of real-life Henry Tuttles: city residents filling their own potholes. It’s a Pythonesque absurdity in California, where Gov. Gavin Newsom on May 10 reported a $97.5 billion surplus projected for fiscal year 2022-23. You’d think the state Department of Transportation and its local equivalents would make all roads as smooth as silk. Instead, these bureaucratic systems produce neglect that makes many streets look like the surface of the moon.
Enter the Vallejo Pothole Vigilantes. “Vallejo residents say they’re fed up with potholes on city streets,” ABC7 News Bay Area reported in January. “Some of them have banded together in the new year as vigilantes of sorts, taking matters into their own hands.” Resident David Marsteller explained, “Pretty much, we watch a YouTube video, a few of them, on how to repair asphalt. We are up to about 60 right now.” When asked how many more potholes needed to be filled, he laughed. As of late May, the group had raised $8,110 on GoFundMe.
It brings one a little bit of hope that there still are some self-sufficient people out there, who can, when failed by agents of overweening government gone bad, spit on their hands and take care of things themselves. It has damn near an Ayn Rand aspect to it. And when you read the entire article, as you should, you’ll see that the privatization trend is encompassing not only the roads but the policing and the schools, too.
Maybe this is the model for the future. Ordinary folks, tired of the ever-expanding and yet ever-more-incompetent levels of government, get tired of waiting and start pitching in. You’re seeing a greater involvement at the local level, as witness the spike in parents getting involved in local school boards, but I think the answer is this: Forget waiting for the government. Take care of things yourselves. Maybe, just maybe, more folks will discover that for most of the distributed interests that government supposedly handles now, we can do ourselves.
Now some folks will say, “well, Animal, that’s what government is – focusing our joint efforts to handle distributed interests, like roads, education and policing.” But right now, almost everywhere, we’re doing it through layers of bureaucracy, through layers of grifters and incompetents at all level.
I think the Pothole Vigilantes have the right idea.