Aug 9, 2009

Illegal Drivers, the Commons & Government

I've written before about the value of those six big ideas in the Preamble to our Constitution. I basically believe the function of government in America can be summed up in three words: Protect Our Commons. At the risk of pedantry, these words need some deconstruction!
Protect, this means to secure, make safe, hold dear, shelter, shield, . . . . Note that it does not mean attack, torture, invade, preclude, preempt, ignore, deny, or squish.
Our, this could be a little dicey but I believe our founders were speaking to a hungry world as they wrote our Constitution. The French Revolution was on, all over there was change and tumult in the air. I think "Our" in this case must mean everyone. All people, all mammals even, all creatures, all living things. We all hold a stake in the Commons so we all own it. It is OUR Commons the Founders hoped to Protect.
Commons, this means those things that are not private. It means, public, held in common, group owned, shared assets, the public square, common markets, public lands.

This is the main duty of Government, Protect Our Commons.

Now, our commons are weakened. We have very few common spaces left. Our marketplaces are mostly malls - privately owned - or on the internet - private and mostly solitary - and city streets - still a common asset. But, even streets are losing their common attributes. In the 1950's an act was passed by Congress and signed by President Eisenhower.

The Defense Highway Act created the Interstate Highway system. A great way to create public right of way from city to city across the US@. It had a few problems that we accept now without question. It bans pedestrians. We created a public place were people on foot are not welcome. (With the speed on these Interstates it's a good idea to avoid walking.) It constricted states with regard to siting and design. It has been used to bludgeon states into accepting things like lower speed limits and higher drinking ages. All and all the Interstates have been good for America in the era of automobiles. But, can this go on forever?

- End illegal drivers' destruction of our common heritage.
As it is, many of our citizens don't follow the simple rules of the common ground. They speed on the Interstate. In many cases it is the same folks decrying "illegal aliens" who then become illegal drivers the minute they step on the gas. Lots of these folks support things like: wars in far off places, private enterprise free to exploit consumers in unlimited ways, domestic spying, detention without trial for "terror" suspects, an end to government waste, etc. While at the same time opposing: public health care options (socialism, they say), public education, welfare for the poorest of our neighbors, unemployment compensation for our idled workers, and using science in governance. Then they get on the freeway and don't even realize the damage they do to our culture when they speed. They believe that as long as they don't crash or get caught there is no harm done. Speeding increases wear and hastens deterioration our roads take a beating from speeders. I say it is time to get these illegal drivers off of our roads. These socialized thoroughfares are meant for law abiding citizens. Illegal drivers should be banned not just fined. Why should we create a socialized system and then let these anti-government, anti-democratic, anti-law folks use it?

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