Single Point of Failure

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.

Did you know that you can purchase some of these books and pamphlets by Richard Fernandez and share them with you friends? They will receive a link in their email and it will automatically give them access to a Kindle reader on their smartphone, computer or even as a web-readable document.

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