An old joke about the Soviet Union tells of the travails of a man who wanted a car. As the story goes, the wait-list for a car was 10 years, and after filing all the paperwork ... after satisfying every bureaucratic whim, the final bureaucrat tells the man that he can expect his car 10 years from that day. The car buyer then asks if the car will be delivered in the morning or afternoon, and the bureaucrat retorts, "It's ten years from now. Why does it matter if it's the morning or afternoon?" To which the buyer replies, "Because I have the plumber scheduled for that morning."
Over the holidays, I spoke to a friend of mine who spent the first half of her life in the Soviet Union, and I told her that joke. She laughed, but she let me know that it was no joke at all. She recalled her father having to wait 3 years to get rugs for their flat in Leningrad.
If our County government made rugs, that's the way it would work here.
We're not threatened by missiles or tanks from the Soviet Union these days, but we seem to be under attack internally by the notion that everything about our lives must be planned ... that all our activities have to be pre-approved and coordinated by some central know-it-all bureaucracy ... and that every speck of personal initiative harms something else and we therefore need to regulate it.
There was a time when we believed that individuals could accomplish great things in their own lives and for the community through the application of their own creativity and initiative. They could grow a business, start a farm, expand a shellfish operation, house themselves, and build a life ... all without "charrettes," without "visioning meetings," without people "helping us understand" that we are "connected to a living system of resiliency."
But I guess that was before the American Planning Association, before the Friends, before the existence of the County's 34 citizen committees, before the Puget Sound Partnership, before the AAOG/LIO, and before the last crop of Councillors passed an incomprehensible 155-page CAO.
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