Thursday, November 11, 2004

Local relevance, from elsewhere

Comments sparked by a post last summer by Kevin Drum on government restrictions in rural areas:

Fact is, we are a lazy group we humans, and must be compelled to spend time or money on each other if the result does not attract fame, the opposite sex, or a happy meal.*
I can hardly think of anything upon which a national political party has less influence than local building codes. From my somewhat limited experience, the more conservative a community the more codes there are which apply to the things which are allowed or not allowed in that city. Forget septic tanks and electrical wiring, how about whether or not you can have a fence in front of your house or what type roof you can put on it? I have never heard of any example of the Republican party taking over a town and then immediately going to work on local building codes.*
I really think it understandable that a person growing up in the city, where close proximity makes for more rules that are necessary to keep people from stepping on and harming one another would have a less strident reaction to "invasion" of his privacy by regulation than a person whose family for generations has done what it damned well pleased on its own land.*
Some of the rural types who want the govmint off their achin' backs reside on federal farmland subsidy land and use federal- and state-funded roads to get to their government-funded schools and hospitals, powered by semi-public utilities, to get their farm products promoted by state-run agriculture departments.
They're often just speaking out in their own economic self-interest...*
country folk are *genuinely* social conservatives. Social conservativism may be used as a pawn of the Republicans, but that doesn't change the genuineness of the folk's social conservativism.*
Part of what building codes do is make a commodity market. I can buy fish out of the back of someone's pickup truck, I suppose, if the state didn't make the seller have a license and certain safeguards, and take my chances. I'm not buying much fish, then. But I can't expect a market to work efficiently if every purchase has to be tested by the buyer before it's finalized.*
When it comes to winning support from ordinary people, there is a big difference between reactive and proactive government measures. Government regulations intended to prevent crime, or forest fires, or home fires, or epidemics, or environmental degradation, etc. are very unpopular, and are seen as the government being a meddlesome nanny. On the other hand, when the government fights an existing fire, or crime, or environmental disaster, this is viewed very positively by almost everyone.*

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