The San Francisco Bay Clean Water, Pollution Prevention and Habitat Restoration Measure, a proposal by the San Francisco Bay Restoration Authority (SFBRA), will be on the June 2016 ballot of nine Bay Area counties. In an earlier article, San Francisco Bay Restoration Authority - Nickel and Diming you to the Poor House, we discussed the proposal’s background and purported objective. Here we are encouraging voters to consider some general issues that might be of concern.
o SFBRA and the media characterize this proposed measure as “historic,” because the taxation applies to nine Bay Area Counties. In our view, this measure is historic because it opens a can of worms. “The Authority proposes to levy a special parcel tax of $12 per year for 20 years on each parcel wholly or partially in the San Francisco Bay Area, subject to two-thirds voter approval, to fund the programs identified in the Measure. Such a levy is anticipated to generate approximately $25,000,000 a year to fund specific clean water, pollution prevention and habitat restoration projects and other purposes, including, without limitation, the possible payment of debt service on bonds issued by or on behalf of the Authority…” The creation of the Restoration Authority with powers not only to tax and spend but also to incur debt which might affect our next generation sets a significant precedent. What is to keep other agencies in the growing pool of agencies from acquiring the same power?
Who decides how you get where you want to go? “Why, I do!” you might say. Well, partially so. A good portion of the decision comes from visions of the future once or presently held by others. How about where you live? Who decides that? Again, partially others. Land use, suburban sprawl, walkable cities, stack-and-pack, transit first, highway network, are words and phrases coined by those who envision and perhaps ultimately determine your transportations choices, and therefore your domicile choices.
Moreover, visions evolve. What your choices are today suddenly may not be the ones you have tomorrow.
“In the future you would no longer have to live in a city just because you worked in one. You would live in the countryside or in 'garden apartments' around the city's rim. Factory workers would live in green towns just like everybody else. You would drive to work, or to sprawling green parks in the countryside, not on packed city streets but on landscaped highways.” (Gelernter, David. 1939: The Lost World of the Fair. The Free Press: New York, 1995.)
This is a succinct description by David Gelernter of the vision expressed by the Futurama exhibit at the 1939 New York World’s Fair. The magnificent Futurama was designed by Norman Bel Geddes, sponsored by General Motors, and depicted automated highways and infinite suburbs. So, pretty soon, the American dream became a home in the city’s outskirts and Daddy commuting to work on a network of highways. Cars became increasingly more efficient and economical, while taxpayers accepted the idea of funding highway systems.
Back in 2011, Foster Gamble, president and co-founder of Clear Compass Media, created, produced, directed, and narrated the film Thrive. The film disturbed the status quo sufficiently to receive invective from a number of predictable sources. One source published an engaging piece called Deconstructing Libertarianism – A Critique Prompted by the Film Thrive. A quote in the piece acknowledged the following, “Politics is about story telling --- about which story will prevail.” (Larry Robinson, former mayor of Sebastopol, CA.). Good point. Therefore, we will take an opportunity here to tell our side of the story.
Contributors to Deconstructing Libertarianism were five scholars whose names appear after their quotes and at the end of this article. The publisher was the Praxis Peace Institute, founded in 2001, “a non-profit, peace education organization dedicated to deep inquiry, constructive dialogue, creative problem solving, and informed civic participation.” Praxis viewed the anarchic-leanings of Thrive as an affront to democracy and community. We Libertarians view societal challenges that Praxis claimed needed amelioration by government as largely government created during the past 75 years or so. Therefore, while Praxis saw legislation “for the common good” as solution, Libertarians see it as original problem.
Here is a list of outrages against democracy and community, such as elimination of the IRS and removal of market regulations, with which Praxis appeared particularly distressed, as well as a Libertarian take on the matter.
Libertarians are special. Our numbers are small when compared to those of the political duopoly. In The City, there is not even a real duopoly, but a solid Democrat majority, as the pie chart shows. Democrats are 56.3% of registered voters. Libertarians are 0.65%. However, the Libertarian Party of San Francisco serves liberty-lovers well. We are the persistent voice in political elections explaining why proposals that curtail individual liberties, are fiscally irresponsible, or are economically unfeasible carry shortcomings that are greater than their touted benefits. We distribute heaps of Libertarian literature at fairs, and put in our two cents at public hearings. We look to the future with enthusiasm! Won’t you join us by,
o sharing your ideas on how to grow the Party at our monthly business meetings
o posting news and ideas on our Facebook Group, Discussion Group, and/or Meetup
o contributing to the cost of our Pride Festival booth, literature purchase, or website maintenance
o becoming a dues paying member of the Libertarian Party of San Francisco for $25 annual dues
o lead the LPSF in 2016 by joining our Executive Committee
Our next business meeting will be on Saturday, January 9, 2016. At this meeting members present will elect a new Executive Committee – Chair, Vice Chair, Treasurer, and Secretary. We would love to see you there. May we count on you?