Isn’t the government a drag? I understand that we need one in a vague, civics class sort of way, but from day to day the whole structure seems gratuitous. Other people clearly need a government. Maybe it’s just the location of my personal apartment, but other people can’t seem to go a day without trying to build a smoker in their house or getting drunk and punching each other or filling a milk jug with gasoline.* You and I, on the other hand, are completely self-governing. We don’t need cops or meat inspectors to keep us in line, and as a result the government is to us an endless series of clerks and taxes. Like the actual rules of Monopoly, it needlessly complicates a game that everyone already knows how to play. What we should do, you and I, is form a political party dedicated to reshaping the government according to our own personal needs. Things have been going fine around here without government intervention, so I propose we have stamps and an army and otherwise no government at all. I am not alone. This week’s link roundup is chock full of people who are operating without governments, and one guy whose plan is to grab the government and break it. Won’t you enjoy the war of all against all with me?
Miracle Mike Sebba sent me this wonderful dispatch from Zuccotti Park, where organizers have found something they like even less than relationships of command: drum circles. Yesterday, the General Assembly passed a resolution limiting drumming at the Occupy Wall Street protest to two hours a day. Previously, drum circles had been going for approximately 10 hours a day, which is not only maddening but also has the potential to get the whole group kicked out of the park. On the other hand, drums are natural. “They’re imposing a structure on the natural flow of music,” complained 18 year-old Seth Harper, who had apparently come to the protest to do two things: play in a drum circle and convince people that 18 year-olds shouldn’t be allowed to vote. Now he’s all out of drum circle.
I am of the opinion that there are two legitimate functions of government, and one of them is to make my neighbor stop playing his goddamn djembe. The other one is to take him to jail when he hits his wife. After a funding dispute between the Shawnee County prosecutor and city administrators, Topeka decriminalized domestic abuse for a month. This maneuver forced the county to prosecute misdemeanor domestic abuse—assault is not a felony if you live together—which now fell only under state law. It also let about 30 abuse suspects go free while the prosecutor’s office got its act together. That same office is expected to lay off a third of its staff due to budget cuts. So now is a great time to flaunt the rule of law in Topeka while physically harming someone you claim to love.
Bleak, right? But at least Topeka still kind of has municipal government. A few months ago, we discussed Harrisburg, Pennsylvania’s plan to sell parking enforcement rights to a for-profit company in order to alleviate the city’s budget woes. It turns out they opted to declare bankruptcy instead. Harrisburg is broke, and if they owe you money you might not get it. Mayor Linda Thompson opposes this plan, on the grounds that it will be a “black mark” on the city’s reputation that hampers its ability to borrow money in the future. That’s the kind of reasoning that makes you wish she didn’t have a (D) after her name. Given that Harrisburg’s present financial fuckswamp is a direct consequence of one $150 million loan to fix a garbage incinerator—now ballooned to $310 million in municipal debt—the prospect of borrowing more money in the future sounds less than rad. Good news for old people, though: you can go back to burning your garbage in the yard, because no one will be paid to stop you.
Probably, the relaxation of regulations that comes form Harrisburg defunding its government will lead to a massive economic boom for the city, as individual entrepreneurs are freed to, you know, do whatever. People make more money when they don’t follow rules. Look at Herman Cain: he’s a millionaire, and your United States law means dick to him. According to FEC filings, the Cain campaign spent over $36,000 in donor contributions to buy copies of his autobiography, which is titled This is Herman Cain! My Journey to the White House. Notice how many other book titles would be improved by adding the author’s name and an exclamation point. This is Anne Frank! My Journey To the Attic and This is Marcus Aurelius! Meditations are just two exciting possibilities. Seriously, though, Black Walnut is really trying to be President and not just angling for another book deal.
He can’t lose, either, because he’s developed the sure-fire strategy of blaming the unemployed for their joblessness during a time of rising unemployment. He also blames Barack Obama. If you don’t have a job it’s your own fault, but it’s the Presidents fault that people don’t have jobs. It’s kind of a confusing argument, but fortunately Stephen Colbert can explain it to us:
That’s called showmanship, son. You’re probably going to need it.