February 10, 2015
Just a quick note on a topic rattling around in my brain this week. Who you elect will not change the culture of the community, state, or country. Society at large will dictate what values are enforced.
By way of example, members of a community may ask “Why does the city not do more to make the downtown look nice?”
The city council may, in this purely hypothetical example, spend $3-4 million dollars on improving infrastructure in a compact and highly trafficked part of its downtown area. Despite the improvements to sidewalks, street lighting, and landscaping, it is up to the business owners and citizens to take it to the next level.
As ridiculous as it might seem, a business owner could paint the front of their establishment a hideous shade of purple. People of discriminating taste will complain to their elected leaders, but it is really the owner of said business and property that they should take issue with.
A couple of months later, another business owner could paint a business sign on the side of their building with hand scrawled lettering. Can you imagine how that might look to those trying to improve the downtown area? It is so silly we don’t need to worry about that actually happening, right?
If this were to happen, you could quite well expect some concerned people to petition the government for restrictive codes, sign ordinances, and more. Even small government minded political conservatives could enter the fray, asking for code enforcement officers and police to go after the graffiti “vandalism” occurring on the businesses.
For those with a more libertarian point of view, I am reminded of the famous quote attributed to Benjamin Franklin, who when asked what came out of the long meetings at Independence Hall, is supposed to have said, “A republic, if you can keep it.”
Is it really the role of government to tell property owners what color to paint their buildings? Or to dictate a type of signage that is deemed “tasteful?”
The local schools ask students to respect others. (Junking up the neighborhood’s appearance is a failure to do this.) They also ask students to make good decisions. (Purple storefronts and hand lettering on the side of your business sound like good decisions?) They also ask students to solve problems. Well, if large numbers of people are complaining about you, you might reflect on how the problem solving is going.
Just hypothetically speaking of course. This is only a thought experiment.