Thursday, 27 October 2011


I've noticed a lot of stories recently about local governments being unable to find the money to fix potholes despite having bags of cash, apparently, for bike lanes, assistant deputy under secretaries of green outreach diversity communications, and general busybodydom.  It's very easy to point to massive national debts, insane "green" initiatives, and the parasitic welfare state and say that something has gone seriously wrong, but I have come to the conclusion that the lowly pothole is a much more significant indicator of how deep the rot has gone in our political classes.

We didn't get into the mess we're in because the government spent too much on fixing roads.  And it isn't even that money was spent in geneal, though that is the end result of the problem.  The real, fundamental issue of the day is pointed out by the prevalence of potholes.  There are very few things that a government must do to justify its existence.  On the local level, this can be summed up in a simple phrase: Your government exists to do mundane things like filling potholes.  

The political class has forgotten this. They have come to the conclusion that their function is to Save the PlantetTM, usher in the secular millennium, treat the polity like children, inspect every plate of food for badness, every utterance for offence, and every thought for heresy.  They build huge, whirling monuments to themselves across the countryside and call it "alternative energy".  They "outreach", promote "diversity", "multiculturalism", "cohesion", "community" and a brand of "tolerance" of the sort that only a Commissar would appreciate.

What they don't do is fix potholes.

It is, in other words, a class that has completely inverted the priorities of the social contract that allows the state to govern the people.  Fixing roads, keeping the peace, settling disputes, defending the realm, maintaining parks; these sort of things are treated by everyone from local councils to national governments as if they were luxuries while fripperies like foreign aid, entitlements, "green" rat holes and gruesome social engineering programmes are shoved to the front of the queue with bushel baskets ready to receive the largesse of the State.

I often wonder what can be done to change this.  An electoral upheaval?  Reclaiming the institutions we've lost since that vile surrender of our culture that began in 1968?  Revolution?  No. What I recommend as a starting point is something much simpler: The pothole initiative.

The idea is very simple.  The people must become like a four-year old who wants Daddy's attention and starts prodding him in the shoulder with his finger and keeps on doing so because he knows that he's going to live longer than the Old Man, who must eventually give in or die of old age.  Instead of getting into constant, ridiculous arguments about budgets, taxes and so on, go for the most fundamental approach.  At every opportunity, through every venue, via every medium, constantly and continually remind the political class of why they are allowed to exist.  No matter what new "crisis" they bring up, no matter what new crusade they raise the banner for, no matter what makes their eyes sparkle as they hear history's bugle calling them to battle, point to the real and metaphorical potholes in the High Street and say "fix it, then we'll talk and not before".

No matter what they say in reply, no matter what excuse, if they reach for the public purse while a core duty remains neglected, while a pothole remains unfilled, demand that they "fix it" before anything else is considered.

It's not the solution to this mess, I'll grant you, but it's a start.


Sergej said...

From the politician's point of view, setting up an office for outreaching to disadvantaged transgendered Pygmy circus clowns nets him a block of votes. Reaching out to the makers of windmills gets him a wad of cash. Filling in a pothole? For the campaign contribution he gets from one windmill he can buy 20 votes just like yours. Or run an ad on TV that will influence 100 voters. Politicians are busy people, with tough jobs---see how much time the current president needs to spend on vacation. They don't have time to earn votes in blocks of one or two.

eon said...

It doesn't always work. Our local city council is determined to pass no less than three tax levies this time around, with slogans like "YES! PARKS!" (all caps theirs, not mine), "We All Stand Side By Side" (schools- with a picture of kids doing a great "Red Front" imitation lacking only the upthrust clenched fists), and "Save Fire And Police" (with no picture, as being good progressive Democrats, they really can't bring themselves to show a "nice" picture of a cop).

Where it all fell down was when everybody found out that while they were closing two fire stations and plastering a big banner over each one saying "CLOSED- Dial 9-1-1 In Case Of Emergency", the council expanded their own staff, hiring over two dozen new "assistants" for this and that, in the process blowing the city staff budget for two years all at once. Hence the cutbacks in fire and police personnel. And oh yes, they passed it over our (GOP) mayor's veto.

No, they don't bother fixing potholes, either. And they don't seem to have a clue as to why their phone-volunteers tend to get the handset slammed down hard when they tell people who wants their financial support and/or vote.

Around here, that's equivalent to torches, pitchforks, and a big cauldron of boiling tar. Who knows, we may get to the real thing, yet.