Montana Jones

Montana n: A state of the northwest United States bordering on Canada. Admitted as the 41st state in 1889. The fourth largest state in the union, it includes vast prairies and numerous majestic mountain ranges.
Syn: Treasure State, Big Sky Country, Last Best Place.

Jones n: slang. An addiction or very deep craving.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Why I don't blog politics

This is why I don't blog politics. Always ends in a dick swinging contest. Catch the beginning over in the MTpolitics blog. (Hi Craig, congrats, cute kid.)


This might suck, I fear a pissing contest coming, but I stepped in and then you asked a direct question so here goes.

Montana Jones, please define for me what the "interests of a community" are?

I'm afraid I can't do that. First reason is that the interests of a community will vary from community to community. For example a community with a large Quaker population will have a different set of priorities for their quality of life than a community of Mormons. Both of these will be different from the interests of, say, New York City or as referenced by the article, Bozeman Montana.

Second reason I can't make the definition is that it is not my job. Defining the interests of a community is the job of the government. More precisely it is the job of the communities elected representatives. I am sure you have heard of this democracy thing, it's all the rage these days. It works like this, people in a community vote for individuals who will help shape the laws and regulations in a way that they favor. This includes representatives like city council members, school board, county sheriff, and so on. These people then form the government and it is their job to sort out all the conflicting voices and opinions on what the people really want or need. This government in turn uses tools like zoning laws, noise ordinances, and economic incentives (or disincentives) to help the community prosper in a manner that the citizens desire. It's called the rule of law.

This is not a perfect system and I never even tried to imply that it is. The system is chock full of disagreement and conflict and majorities voting for things that appear economically stupid. In your example of southern communities wanting segregation, you are absolutely correct, segregation probably is in their interests (or at least was at one time.) In that particular instance a larger communities interests (the United States of America) overrode the interests of the smaller community for better or worse.

So should public interest trump the rights of property owners? Well, that is up to the government to decide. Often times it is decided that public interests DO trump the rights of property owners. Remember those zoning laws and noise ordinances? Those are the things that stop your neighbors from building noisy factories in residential neighborhoods or building toxic waste dumps next to, oh, maybe you. This does not make factories or waste dumps or box stores bad things, the community simply wants them to be in certain places and to be well behaved.

Now back to the article you linked. This article is not an example of big bad government thwarting economic growth because they can. This is about a community government (remember those elected representatives?) doing their job of trying to figure out what the interests of the community are and enacting the appropriate laws. According to the article they are being advised that they may indeed have stepped beyond their bounds of authority.

I don't know why Bozeman Montana decided that some box stores should have to pay $950,000 to do their business. Perhaps it was as you suggest a poor economic decision. Perhaps it was an emotional decision. Perhaps the people of Bozeman don't like shopping at Wal-Mart and would have preferred a Woolsworth. But the government has decided that it is in the interests of the community to charge the $9500,000 fee. It is apparent that you don't like the decision, and guess what. That is okay. You now have the option of voting for a different elected representative in the next election. Perhaps then the government will define the interests of the community a little differently and if you are lucky the next Wal-Mart Supercenter will be on the property right next to yours. We certainly wouldn't want to stop economic progress just because some do-gooder thinks box stores are unsightly now would we.

For what it is worth; I agree with you when you say "Has it occurred to anyone that 'luring' big business into town via incentives is unfair, and anticompetitive on its face, for local businesses?" All I really wanted to do was point out that your rant against the government was misplaced. It made you sound ignorant of why cities do things like this in the first place.

And as for your crack:

It's interesting that you, and many others, speak as if the government is above reproach - that somehow it is perfect.

You are obviously not aware of my full opinion on our government and I hope you choke on those words the next time some damn hippy criticizes a politician or policy that you happen to approve of.

Ok, thats it. You have inspired me to start blogging. I sincerely doubt that I will be as faithful about posting as you are, but I stumbled across your blog a few days ago, and now whenever I have a down minute, I have been slowly reading back to the begining of your blog. Thanks MJ!
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