Saturday, May 22, 2010

Generation Gap

Lately I've been working against an ordinance before our city council here in Evanston that would require property owners or potential property owners pulling a building permit within our historic main street district to have a free consultation with an architect who would give them advice on how to remodel their building, paint colors, signage, etc. Some of you may be thinking, as I believe our city council is, "why would you fight against an ordinance that essentially means nothing?" Well, there are a few reasons - the first is that I don't think property owners of property that already exists should HAVE to do anything with their property for the benefit of others. If the implications of this mean that their business fails, so be it.

The second and probably the most important is the trouble with incrementalism. That is to say that this opens the door for the city to dictate to property owners that they have to have a free consultation, but what is next? That they have to do what the consultants suggest? I believe that the members of the city council are having a difficult time wrapping their heads around the possibility that after their seat on the council is vacated that someone else who is also good intentioned and well meaning might take this ordinance to the next step and make it mandatory that they comply with certain aspects.

I suggested a private solution that I won't really elaborate on except to say that if the property owners of that area felt it was necessary to do something to protect the character of our main street district and subsequently their businesses, they could easily form a property owner's association where THEY could make and enforce the rules that they would have to then obey. But the choice to even go down that road would be theirs.

I find that their is a pretty severe generational gap between my generation and the two which have preceded us. Because of this it makes it difficult if not impossible to have serious discussions about the implications of decisions that have been made by the preceding generations - and you can all but forget about talking about foreign policy with them.

When I went to high school, there were kids in my classes from all over the world including the countries that are now part of the so called "axis of evil." In addition to this, when I lived in Norway, I often visited refugee camps and sat, conversed and even broke bread with folks from Iraq, Iran, Jordan, Pakistan, Syria, Russia, Tunisia, Egypt, Somalia and many other countries. What I found is that all of the fear mongering that is spewed from those not fortunate enough to meet people from around the world is hugely unfounded. And, we are, as a country spreading violence and death upon people who would otherwise be relatively peaceful and probably our friends, were we not bombing them that is. The refugees I met in Norway were among the nicest and genuinely kindest folks I have ever met. I happen to be in a Mosque during mid-day prayers a few days after 9/11 in a city called Bergen and never did I feel threatened or in danger from these devout Muslims.

Finally, I have to admit that I am somewhat resentful of the disasterous state the previous generations have left our country in. They have sold me and my children down the river and not been vigilant in protecting our rights and liberties. We have so much now to undo that the task seems insurmountable. Yet, when acknowledging this many from the previous generations refuse to take responsibility for not having done more to stop it from happening and even now refuse to cast their votes in such a way as to effect some kind of meaningful change. So we are left to toil under the heavy hand of a rapidly expanding government regime. The unborn child my wife and I are expecting already owes the federal government over $40,000 or that is his/her share of the national debt. What I am upset about mostly is that I won't be given the same opportunity they were given to try and honestly prosper in this country. The government is so invasive and so overreaching now that it in barely resembles even what we had in this country in the 1960's. The government is in my wallet, in my business, in my home, in my bedroom, between me and my doctor and a million other places they have no business being.

So I will fight against something as toothless as a city ordinance to mandate free consultations for property owners because of what it could mean for those who will come after us.

1 comment:

  1. Excellent points. Better to draw the line now than try to redraw it later.