Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Oh Give Me Land, Lots of Land....

I just finished a book called "The Mighty Chieftans" about the most prominent leaders of Native American tribes in 1800's America. These were extraordinary men who did their best for their poeple to save a way of life that deep down in their hearts they knew to be doomed. The United States government stole their land to make way for railroads. The buffalo hunters exterminated their main source of meat just for the hides, and left the animal carcases rotting on the plains. The ranchers and farmers laid claim to land that the Indians never thought of themselves as "owning", but as being stewards of for future generations.

"In making treaties white men always assumed that the red men had unsophisticated imitations of their own institutions. The government wanted title to land which the Indians were hunting on, and they took it for granted that the Indians owned it, even convinced them that this was so and they could therefore transfer title. It was hard to accept the notion that Indians might have entirely different ideas, ideals, motives and ways of life. Indians had no more idea of owning land than they did of owning the waters they traversed in their canoes or the air over their heads. It is said that the Indians who disposed of Manhattan for twenty-four dollars were somewhat in the same position as the man who sold the Brooklyn Bridge for ten dollars; they didn't own it, just chanced to be on the island for a week-end fishing trip." (The Book of the American West, Jay Monohan, Editor).

But now to my main beef today, which by the way has nothing to do with Indians. I was just pissed off about the way we treated them and wanted to vent. Today’s real question: Why do we live literally on top of each other in cities like New York when there is soooo much space all around us? I can see banding together for protection back in the day when Indians ran wild scalping white people for stealing their land. (Hey, there is a tie-in to Indians after all.) But today we have no need for such precautions. Ironically, people spend big money on vacation houses so they can get away from the crowded, hectic place they have chosen to live. Why not just live where you want to live and skip the getaway retreat!

If you drive upstate New York, there is nothing but space. Many upstate counties are withering for want of jobs and economic stimulation. Here’s an idea: move the friggin’ jobs to the country. This is not a perfect solution, but one which may be perfected. This idea would encourage home construction, generate small business growth to support the new population centers, and give people all the space they needed for raising families. We could live in bigger houses built on decent plots of land instead of in shoebox apartments or tiny homes on skimpy 40x100 lots. The exodus from the big cities would alleviate the ridiculous overcrowding and traffic jams. The cost of doing business would be greatly reduced by moving excess population out of New York City. NYC services like education, sanitation, police and firefighters could be relocated to the country as well. Everybody’s quality of life would improve.

This holds true for urban centers from Maine to California. Some years ago I drove from Phoenix, Arizona to Las Vegas, Nevada, a distance of about 300 miles. During that long trip I saw 5 tumbleweeds, 2 jackrabbits and a coyote, but no people. I know it's desert land but so was Phoenix before they started developing it. We have to get people out of our teeming cities and into the open spaces all around us. Then give them some training and jobs so we can get them off government assistance and on to the tax rolls. We are turning whole generations of young people into permanent dependents who rely on the government for everything. They no longer want to work, and think it’s OK to live off the sweat of others. They demand free education, room and board and health care, and that someone else pay for it.

Look at the rioting and turmoil in Greece, where socialism and unionism have destroyed a once-healthy economy. This is the end-state for people who believe in something for nothing. They are on the verge of bankruptcy, and world bankers will not bail them out unless the government passes new laws leading to severe austerity. These measures are necessary now because Greece failed to keep its commitments for previous austerity programs. How many fools believe Greeks will keep any new program that is even harsher? Note that Wall Street found great promise in announcements over the weekend that Greece will be offered yet another chance. Isn't that more like offering a drink to an alcoholic, while accepting another promise from the same drunk to stop drinking?

One final thought to tie up this disjointed post…the Indians never asked for something for nothing.


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The Whiner said...

Plenty of houses for sale in very open, land-rich Portland...no traffic, little (if any) crime, lovely people, and small-town friendliness. It's a great place to live...plus Ava lives here. ;)

Jim Pantaleno said...

I'm sold. Just convince Grandma.

The Whiner said...

Well, if that's the case, I guess you'll be spending the rest of your life on Staten Island.

Jim Pantaleno said...

And my next life too.