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Belmont Club

Single Point of Failure

October 20th, 2013 - 9:29 pm

The post Seventy Two Hours  hinted at an unrecognized consequence of the growing welfare state: the fragility occasioned by the emergence of a single point of failure — the state.  It described how the Food Stamp system almost stopped during the government shutdown and how some of those dependent on the program might have had literally nothing to eat unless someone switched the music back on.

The BART strike in the Bay area promped John Diaz to argue in a San Francisco Chronicle op-ed that strikes in the Bay Area should be outlawed. Yes that’s right. No right to strike in Berkeley.  He admits this proposal sounds fascist — is fascist — but the situation in San Francisco allows no alternative.

In many metropolitan areas, a prohibition on strikes by transit workers – similar to the constraints on police and firefighters – might seem excessive and unfair.  … It’s different in the Bay Area.

Public policy made it so.

This region did not just build Bay Area Rapid Transit and a web of bus and light-rail systems as an alternative to people driving in cars. It purposely designates public transportation as a desired way of life. It steers development toward transit-rich centers, and showers it with subsidies. It severely restricts parking in new housing and office complexes. This region, and indeed state law, aggressively discourages suburban housing tracts where cars are necessities.

Freeway capacities are intentionally suppressed because of the existence of mass transit. The $6 billion-plus new eastern span of the Bay Bridge did not include a single extra lane? Why? This region is supposed to be losing its asphalt dependence.

He observes that mass transit was mandated as a way of life by the planners in order to end the population’s dependence on the automobile.  What the planners didn’t say (or didn’t tell us) was that the mandated way of life created a dependence on mass transit.

From this premise Diaz’s conclusion follows.  Banning strikes may be fascist but it is necessary. Besides the other Blue Cities have already done it.

essential means essential. … Suddenly, the very people who bought into this sustainable vision are left with no way to get from here to there. …

The right of a transit-workers union to strike may be justifiable in some areas. In the Bay Area, where a transit-first policy guides all, the loss of BART or AC Transit (Muni strikes are illegal) is simply untenable. Other cities with no-transit-strike laws include New York, Chicago, Boston and Washington, D.C.

Gerald Ford’s observation that any “government big enough to give you everything you want is a government big enough to take from you everything you have” has often been used as an argument against tyranny. What not many realize is that it is also a warning against creating a single point of failure.  If you depend on government for everything then you necessarily depend on government for everything. 

The more ‘progressive’ and socially engineered a community becomes, the more herded together previously individualized and disparate systems become. Once the “inefficient” private alternatives have been eliminated the government-mandated system becomes “essential” since they are the only game left in town.

Nowhere is this truer than among the unfortunates who have come to rely on the EBT system for sustenance. Unlike the poor in the Third World, whose inadequate incomes are nevertheless severally derived, or supplementable by foraging or backyard agriculture, the poor in the First World live in concrete towers with a only plastic lifeline to food.  Stop that and you stop the whole shootin’ match.

But can the government ever  fail? Well at the very least it can never be allowed to fail. It is too important to fail or even be cut back, because once it falls over in a dependent society there is literally no alternative to it.

One of the least appreciated properties of non-socially engineered populations is they are diverse in the former sense that everyone brought their own contrivances to the public square. Of course we know today that diversity really means doing exactly what the government tells you to do.

Recently the Portland Public Schools spent half a million dollars determining that peanut butter and jelly sandwiches were racist, the bigoted product of “rugged individualism” and that to counteract this, it was necessary to embark on a diversity program so everyone did things exactly same way.

PORTLAND, Ore. – Dr. Verenice Gutierrez, a principal with Oregon’s Portland Public Schools, has become convinced that America’s “white culture” negatively influences educators’ world view and the manner in which they teach their students …

“What about Somali or Hispanic students, who might not eat sandwiches?” asked Gutierrez, according to Portland Tribune. “Another way would be to say: ‘Americans eat peanut butter and jelly, do you have anything like that?’ Let them tell you. Maybe they eat torta. Or pita.”…

In addition to teaching that peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are racist, PEG trains educators to view “rugged individualism,” “adherence to rigid time schedules,” and the belief that “hard work is the key to success” as traits of the dominant white culture.

PEG teaches that minority cultures value “color group collectivism,” “interdependence,” group success, shared property, learning through social relationships, and making life choices based on “what will be best for the family or group.”

But before “rugged individualism” is replaced by “color group collectivism, interdependence, group success, shared property and learning through social relationships” we might pause to reflect on some of the virtues of private initiative before it finally fades into the pre-Obama past.   One thing rugged individualism had going for it was that nothing failed all at once. Cars for example can break down individually. Mass transit is either “on” or “off”.

Cars might collectively grind to a halt if gas runs out, but only if fuel came only from a single government source. If the evil oil producers who have recently made the US a bigger energy powerhouse than Saudi Arabia are not stopped then completely drying up the fuel supply may be altogether impossible. And the disparate outcome of some cars still able to run will never do if we are to attain the uniformity that only socially engineered societies can achieve.

Yet there is one unsolved problem that must be addressed before the march toward a f single payer single source government services universe can finally be completed. It is the problem of who fixes the government when it breaks down.

For example Obamacare, which promises to heal everybody, has yet to find a way to heal itself. After six hundred million dollars and three years the brains of the government are unable to make their website work.  Bloomberg news reports that in desperation the government is turning to industry; that “the Obama administration, admitting the health insurance exchange has failed to meet expectations, is asking a group of the ‘best and brightest,’ including U.S. technology chief Todd Y. Park, to bring the site up to speed.”

Today when the government breaks we can still get the private sector to fix it. But who’ll fix the government systems when it becomes the Universal Set, when the collectivists finally succeed making everything into one giant, omireaching BART? Who knows.

But one things for sure, in the coming worker’s paradise don’t count on going on strike.

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Top Rated Comments   
San Francisco fascists plead that their unique conditions should give them the power to control both Management, by destroying private transportation, and also Labor, by prohibiting strikes. My aren't we special? Fortunately they often have the funny uniforms ready in the closet.

Strikes by transit workers are illegal in New York so things are different there? Oh that is good. A real knee slapper of a funny. Go ahead, pull the other one.

In a slightly related note the descent of New York under the anticipated de Blasio regime has already begun. My guess is that 80% of the police with less than 10 years of service will get out within the next two years. See

In Europe rail transit, that is inter-city mass transit, was designed to move troops during war and during peace time passengers. The crisis of 1914 was controlled by the belief in the mobilization schedules. In America the rails were built to move freight. Competing transportation systems offering individual choice and flexibility built the nation.

How many single failure points are there? Under Obama the FDA and Agriculture Department have attempted to extend their control to the point where government bureaucrats can function as a control point over our food supply. Obamacare is designed to lead to a single payer system where government workers can withhold medical care. Obama during the shut down ordered Chaplains to withhold Communion services.

There is a Science Fiction short story about a society dependent on moving roads. There was a militarized management cadre prepared to take over and operate when the workers went on strike. Robert Heinlein's, "The Roads Must Roll."
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
In fact the principal defect of the private system, from the socialist point of view, is that it works, thereby creating a system of haves and have nots. Those who can use the private system, i.e. pay for services rendered, have undreamed of service, whereas those who use the public system are stuck with DMV like efficiency.

Clearly this is unjust.

In order to fix things the solution is simple; it should be the task of all enlightened people to penalize the provision of private services by crushing regulation or confiscatory taxation thereby reducing the entire population to a state of uniform misery.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
"Yes that’s right. No right to strike in Berkeley. He admits this proposal sounds fascist — is fascist — but the situation in San Francisco allows no alternative." - Wretchard (summarizing John Diaz)

I looked around on the web for some sort of authoritative definition of Fascism. There seem to be as many definitions as people have political enemies. Everyone and everything is "fascist" to someone else, apparently.

Somewhere back in College, before progressive politics completely compromised the Academy, I recall learning that Fascism involved more than just authoritarianism, but in contrast to Marxism (where all things were owned by the dictatorship of the proletariat), Fascism involved the co-opting of private industryvia socioeconomic controls by government for nationalistic purposes. Nationalistic, being to the benefit of whoever the state declares worthy, since as the public workers unions.

In my interpretation of Fascism, a government that uses public policy and legal intimidation to compel companies to support mass transit while forcibly depriving the public of other options, is in fact the defacto Fascist at work. How a Fascist government controls or manipulates it's own public/private work force, is simply an extension of that Fascism. The only difference being, of course, is who's ox is gored. Preventing critical transportation workers from striking is simply the Fascists doing to their own direct beneficiaries what they are already doing to the rest of the public.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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All Comments   (76)
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Recently the Portland Public Schools spent half a million dollars determining that peanut butter and jelly sandwiches were racist...

WOW. I know for a while now that the West has lost its mind, but the depth of its absurdity still amazes me.

In addition to teaching that peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are racist, PEG trains educators to view “rugged individualism,” “adherence to rigid time schedules,” and the belief that “hard work is the key to success” as traits of the dominant white culture.

Perhaps, just perhaps, individualism, hard work and being able to follow schedules is part of what made the so-called "white culture" dominant? That and freedom and using reason. Of course, all those are in decline, which is perhaps, just perhaps, the reason why Western civilization is in decline.

PEG teaches that minority cultures value “color group collectivism,” “interdependence,” group success, shared property, learning through social relationships, and making life choices based on “what will be best for the family or group.”

"Color group collectivism"? You can't teach that to whites because if whites adhere to "color group collectivism" it's called racism.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
"What is a socialist? A communist in a white shirt."
"What is a fascist? A communist in a black shirt."
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Michael Ledeen says:
you don't have to look ahead at all; we're now living in a world without America...

So the single point of failure has already failed, nothing left but some jagged pieces.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Peanut Butter was developed by George Washington Carver to improve the diet (protein rich, peanuts) of poor southern farmers and provide a cash crop to help improve their lives. He was focusing on poor black farmers, but being a man of character, worked for all.

PS, I particularly love homemade, real peanut butter and boiled peanuts. Goober peas that is.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Two points that the mass-transit public planners always neglect -- the first has been mentioned here a few times. Today's public trains, subways and bus systems mostly started out as successful private enterprises, then became economically non-viable and were taken over by government in the face of bankruptcy.

The point has to do with why subways, trains and busses became popular in big cities in the first place. These public transit systems had their heyday in the latter parts of the 19th century, and they were economic successes because they provided a practical and economical alternative to owning a horse.

Private Subways and buses were able to charge premium fare prices because the alternative to their service was the enormous cost of owning a horse -- purchasing a horse, stabling it, feeding it, exercising it and watching it depreciate as it aged -- all in the context of a crowded inner city. That the rise of the automobile industry began the process of making private subways and buses uneconomical. The affordable, convenient alternative to owning a horse shifted from the subways and buses to owning an automobile. The car was much cheaper. This will never change. Today's mass-transit planners are permanently stuck in the 19th century -- providing a service that fewer and fewer people want at increasingly high prices -- and they have no idea why their projects are going bankrupt, because they have no idea why the great transit systems they are trying to recreate went bankrupt, or were even created in the first place.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Mr. Diaz has stumbled on to a truth even if he is coming from the wrong direction. Franklin Roosevelt and George Meany believed that government workers, they were called public or civil servants back then, were in a different class from private sector workers. They work for the public and had no right to strike. That is not Fascism. That is common sense. Unlike people employed in the private sector public sector workers can compel their employer-customers to pay the extra money to keep them in business. FDR welcomes you to the club.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
So I guess public employees who strike or government hiring quasi-private companies to provide service that the workers can strike are examples of half-fasct systems.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Fascism is the NSA giving competitive intelligence to GE and GE subsequently sharing it with China. No need for small business there.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Obama's Corollary to the Peter Principle

The Petronella Principle

Liz Birnbaum -

Lois Lerner -

Hillary Clinton -

Kathleen Sebelius -

A BOGO twofer, The Peter Principle plus the Petronella Principle FREE. The Gift That Keeps On Giving!
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Odd coming from Diaz, who prints only what he wants his chronic Comical to report.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment

You gotta love the situation where a highly paid, militant union is really sticking it to the residents of the most "progressive" city in the country.

Hopefully this will go on for weeks.

1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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