Good Government By Accident
Copyright © by Len Holman, 7/10/12
It would be nice to imagine that government is in the business of helping a country’s citizens, and that it sees a problem, and works fiendishly hard to solve it; at least it would be pretty to think so, as Hemingway once wrote. In fact, government just seems to bumble along, doing what “leaders” think is right—even when they think that because it benefits them—with no thought to the consequences.
There are many examples of this, including crashing the infrastructure and social and political scaffolding to two countries (Iraq, Afghanistan), the constant, irritating, destabilizing interference in another (Pakistan), and all the while nosing around the Middle East with troops and drones and various special ops people and spies and software attacks. Instead of fixing everything, instead of fixing anything, we have the continual specter of radicalized youth seeing loved ones and friends bombed and mishandled, with the concomitant effect of increased surveillance of U.S. citizens, increased suspicion of government at all levels, and fewer idealists running for governmental offices, leaving the path open for the more venal, self-serving, and just plain ignorant seekers of, and those desperate to keep, a particular political office (Gov. Jan Brewer, please don’t think this is about YOU).
If there is good governing going on, it seems to be by accident, by some serendipitous route to a good effect, an Existentialist absurdity become meaningful by happenstance. In California, a new law has gone into effect, starting July 1, which is intended to reduce the amount of solid waste going to landfills by 75%, with certain restrictions. However, the language in the law —while making the new measure mandatory—allows local municipalities to decide for themselves whether to enforce this law, which is interesting since the state law has no penalties or method of enforcement. Huh?
So who will make sure we get our dog poop, empty coffee cans, stressed condoms, and half-used cartons of milk five weeks past the expiration date into a safe place? Will people make midnight runs to the dumpsters behind Deeny’s or just dump their garbage in empty lots somewhere, for the wind to carry all over the county? If California does get such a huge reduction in its landfills, it won’t be thanks to California’s government. Mayor Bloomberg in New York City has decreed that establishments there can’t sell soda over 16 ounces (sugar is bad, doncha know). How will this ban be enforced? Will there be a black market in Big Gulps? Will the Mafia or the Russian mob or some start-up survivalist group—with lots of overweight commandos—get in on this potentially lucrative subterranean market, creating yet another law enforcement problem for NYC cops?
Not to be outdone in Government by Blind Accident and Lots of Hope, Los Angeles is going to need a whole corps of Penis Police. A ballot measure requiring porn actors to wear condoms during filming (if they’re at home making a grilled cheese sandwich, that’s ok) has qualified for the November ballot. This is going to be a toughie to enforce. The L.A. Mayor signed an ordinance in January, requiring the same requirement for films being shot with city permits. It became effective in March, but there is a “study” underway to determine how to enforce it. No doubt there is will be a long line of volunteers to go to various porn shoots and carefully check to see condoms are in all the right places. AIDS is a problem for people who have sex, let alone people who have LOTS of sex, let alone people who have sex twice in the morning, twice at night, and some in between—not counting all the re-takes. Making sure of public health is certainly a concern of government, but is this potential law the way to do it? Will there be a Condom Hot Line for anonymous callers to rat out the Debbie Does Dallas crowd filming at some non descript house in the San Fernando Valley? If AIDS and other venereal diseases are reduced among this population, will government be able to take credit?
This issue is well-known among adult film performers and it seems certain not one of them wants to get a disease which curtails his or her earnings—or kills outright. Did any legislator consider the consequences of this law? If it COULD be enforced—which seems unlikely, given the huge audience which claims to want “natural” sex on screen (read: bareback)—will condoms become so ordinary, no one will notice? Will clandestine spots be set up to shoot? How many places do you figure there are, just in Los Angeles, where a camera and two or three or five people can gather together to have sex on film? Will the next step be to go after the porn makers when those overcoat-less films hit the market? Won’t there be some constitutional issues at stake in that case? Won’t those cases take a VERY long time going through every court between Sacramento and the Supreme Court?
If anything good comes from this, will it be an accident of governance or increasing information and awareness on the part of the porn industry? What of the larger question? Can government do good things without thinking and caring people participating in it? If the path of government is a continued downward spiral, and fewer and fewer of us ignore it and give up on its functioning for the Greater Good, if good people fail to participate, and more and more of us live and plan outside the structure of government—THAT will be no accident.
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