Friday, December 3, 2010

The Terrible Red Line

I live in a town next to Raleigh: Garner, North Carolina.  For several decades the highway has looped around Raleigh and not unlike other growing cities, another loop has been planned for.  This outer loop has been planned for the past 20 years.  As a result, land has been set aside and businesses have planned for future traffic over these past decades.

It was much to everyone's surprise that at the beginning of September several other routes were added to the map for consideration.  These additional routes are known as the Red, Blue and Purple Lines.  Within a period of six weeks, the transit authorities met with communities and an overwhelming number of citizens stated that the original Orange Line was the one everybody preferred.  At the end of the initial six-week period, the Blue and Purple Lines were removed from the map.

The Red Line, the route that literally passes through my neighborhood, the route that will be about six or seven houses away from my house, was not removed as an alternate to the original Orange Route.


There is a mussel that lives in a river on the south side of the nearby lake.  It is on the endangered species list.  There is no sign of it on the streams and creeks on the north side of the lake.  (Nevermind that the mussel is found all along the eastern seaboard of the U.S.; where North Carolina is just the southern most edge of its habitat.)  As a result, thousands of homes could be destroyed so that the mussel isn't disturbed.

There are many things that an economist could use here for comment: the value of unowned mussels, the competing interests of dividing a town, the destruction of many, many homes and businesses, the diminution of private property rights and the ascension of "community/environmental" standards, the economics of urban planning, etc.

Instead of recapping any of those subjects, I want to describe last night's meeting. 

Last night there was a meeting with the Mayor, the engineering firm and my neighborhood.  (This was just one of a series of such meetings.)  What struck me was the absolute helplessness that my neighbors and I felt.  We were up against raw, naked power and there was nothing that we could do but talk, be upset and grow angry.

The people who have the ultimate authority in the decision were nowhere around.  We could only question the engineering firm that has no power or authority whatsoever.  The ultimate decision will be made be a small group of people, who I will never know.  The decision will be made without my knowledge.  The location will be unknown to me.  I am merely a pawn, and an inconvenient one at that.

This is the fate that happens whenever we place our faith and our fate into the hands of the government.  The bureaucrats have their rules and regulations and, to them, I am no longer a citizen or an individual.  I am merely something to be dealt with.

Such a dehumanizing system is not "bad" or "evil."  It is simply the nature of bureaucracy.  Mises wrote one of the best books on this subject, simply titled Bureaucracy.  It is found here.  I highly recommend chapter 2, "Bureaucratic Management."

The relationships between individuals is distinctly different between the market system and a system of bureaucracy.  In a market system of private property, I must treat the person with whom I wish to trade with respect, as an equal.  If I do not, there will be no trade. 

In a system of bureaucracy, there is no such relationship.  It is not a relationship between equals.  A bureaucratic relationship is one of power and powerlessness.  As we move toward National Health Care, as we move toward a increasing regulation over our finances, as we move toward the centralization of power in the hands of fewer and fewer people, we move away from a nation of equals.  We move toward a nation comprised of those who have power and those who do not.

I hope that we can recover our lost Liberty.  It was not too long ago that private property was at the top of the list of protected rights.  Now with the Kelo case, and other eminent domain cases giving power to governments, our Liberty is in increasing jeopardy.  

Finally, I am reminded of the Bugs Bunny cartoon, "No Parking Hare."  It is about building a freeway through Bugs Bunny's home.  After a series of fights, the road is moved because, as Bugs says, 'The sanctity of the American home must be preserved!'"


P F Cwik said...

Here is an update to the DOT's plans to build a highway through my town (Garner, NC). I especially like the part where the DOT officials have to ask the environmentalists to take the Red Line off the map.

P F Cwik said...

With another kick in the teeth the NC Turnpike Authority has taken back what it told the Garner mayor. At first, the Red Line was gone, but now that seems premature. Grrr. I love being a subject to the NCT Authority.

See the story here:

P F Cwik said...

Finally, there is something good coming out of the halls of State Government. The State Senate voted 50-0 to ban the building of, or even the studying of, the Red Route! Hurray! The bill has moved through the House's committee without dissent on Tuesday (3/15/2011). Now it's on to the full House and the Gov.'s signature.

Unfortunately, the NCDOT still wants to do something.

"We'll figure this out," Steve DeWitt, the N.C. Turnpike Authority's chief engineer, said Wednesday. "We're a pretty creative bunch."


Read more:

P F Cwik said...

115-1, the State House has supported the ban! Now it's off to the Gov.

P F Cwik said...

Finally, it's over! The Gov. has signed the bill and the by-pass is dead. Unless they by-pass the law...!

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