Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Goodnight, Oakland

They say people get the leaders they deserve.

Today, Oaklanders indicated they see nothing wrong with their leadership. As far as I can tell, all the key incumbents were re-elected. That includes City Council members Jane Brunner and Nancy Nadel -- two candidates with virtually no support among the east bay's blogging elites.

I feel bad tonight for fellow bloggers such as V Smoothe, who spent many hours campaigning on behalf of Sean Sullivan. Not because these candidates lost, but because my fellow bloggers spent so much time on such a fruitless cause.

I understand the urge to compassion and the hope that collective action can harness this human drive to improve the lives of others. This drive led to Prop 98's defeat today, as well-meaning voters kept rent control in place.

Collective action in pursuit of compassion is the heart of liberalism, and also its undoing.

The problem is one of scale. Everyone knows of individuals who have positively impacted the lives of other individuals. Liberal theology contains many such anecdotes -- the poor worker who receives some money and gets a college degree, or the immigrant who finds a cheap apartment and starts a business.

Sadly, such anecdotes are usually the result of certain highly motivated individuals. They are not representative of anything but what one determined person can accomplish.

But liberals like to generalize. "It must be possible," they say, "to create a program which provides these same opportunities to the public at large."

In each and every situation where government has followed this formula, unintended consequences and gaming the system have destroyed the best of intentions. Such is the case with a rent control system that keeps San Francisco pieds-a-terre cheap for our wealthy bretheren. Such is the system which pays teenage mothers in Oakland to have kids, neglect them and ultimately raise murderers.

My friends. My fellow bloggers: Oakland does not want your help. And, largely, those you aim to help do not deserve your time and effort.

Oakland has spoken loud and clear: Oakland does not care about changes in leadership and government. Oakland is fine the way it is. Murders, rapes, carjackings and all.

I know that there is a tendency in the face of such defeat to think such things as, "we fought the good fight; we got our message out."

Let me say this very clearly. By participating in the political process in Oakland, you have wasted your time. You have accomplished absolutely nothing, save providing the government-media machine with a new set of intruders to repel. Our government is a self-healing mechanism, and you have strengthened its immune system for the next election.

No, if you want to make a difference, you must focus on individual action. Assist one person and you have done more than the government can ever hope to achieve.

Start a business. Employ people. Pursue gentrification. These are the things that will improve your surroundings.

Remember that this is not your government. It is their government, and we are all in their crosshairs. So, be selfish and self-reliant. Make decisions to protect yourselves. Be willing to leave if necessary.

Establish a Nevada HQ. I did.

But above all, do not participate in the process. The more you participate, the stronger the process. And we've all seen how that turns out.


  1. What are you tryin' to say? ...that the support of the "blogging elites" is irrelevant then? Keep digging Watson!

  2. I have to agree. It was a very discouraging night, especially with Nadel getting over 50% and avoiding a runoff, and Brunner's use of McCarthy tactics of guilt by association in her last minute hit piece. I had people point at all the organizations that endorsed Nadel/Brunner, like the Sierra Club and even the Wellstone Renewal Club (I wonder if Paul Wellstone were alive would he allow his name to be used to endorse someone using gullt by association tactics). The answer is all these organizations no longer represent the principles they once did. I am proudly a former member of the Sierra Club.

    With the same people in control of a city with $1 Billion in annual spending, and at the same time the most dangerous city west of the Mississippi, you would have to meet the classical definition of insanity to expect things to be different in the future.

    You are right, there is no hope to make this city safe enough to live in. And with rent control clearly entrenched, the city will continue to lose population (decreased 5% from 2000-2006) and lose rental units (decreased 7.8% in the same timeframe). They will continue to attempt to legislate to ban gravity: we DO have a housing policy in Oakland, and it's called rent control. And the decline in available units will continue unabated, because the city will continue to punish landlords for being landlords. And so there will be fewer and fewer people willing to do that, and only the vultures with iron stomachs will provide rental units.

    It is easy to see what Oakland will be like 10 years from now. Wonder whether "Mandela Food Co-op" will have opened by then (and how much taxpayer's money will have been poured down the drain). I, too, am planning my leave. Just need a decent housing market and I'm out. I can see what's coming and it ain't pretty.

  3. We believed in the American dream... We put so much effort into this election. We wanted to make things better. The basic belief in the wisdom of "the people" does not work in Oakland. This is like a foreign country which is beyond redemption.

    In our future: More lies. More taxes. More self deception.

    Oakland wasn't built to be a slum and a ghetto. Yet the current approach of the people elected guarantees that is what we will be. Let's pass more laws that are not enforced. Let's spend more resources to take care of people who won't take care of themselves. Let's enact more taxes to pay for all of this. Then everyone who has initiative and doesn't work for the government will move away and this place will just sink in to the bay.

  4. I feel hollow...and I am a liberal.

  5. Oakland maintains its course on the road of being the Worst Run City in America, the Most Corrupt City in America and soon I predict we will be the #1 Most Dangerous City in America.

    Then Oaklanders can celebrate by throwing even more garbage in the streets and lining up for their turn at getting shot in the head.


  6. Chris K. - that's precisely what I'm saying. Now, I could interpret your comment in two ways:

    1. You mean that since I'm a blogger I'm poking fun at myself. If this is what you meant, my response is simply that my goal as a blogger is not to influence the political process. It's to enlighten individuals. The political process is beyond repair.

    2. You mean that "obviously bloggers have a huge impact -- look at Obama!" This belief will be challenged and destroyed when McCain soundly defeats Obama in November.

  7. oakie -

    I am quite optimistic about Oakland, actually. But, I am cautious and therefore am ready to leave if fiscal danger comes.

    My optimism has nothing to do with public policy or antipoverty programs. It simply relates to Oakland's proximity to San Francisco and its continuing gentrification. Take a look at the census data from 2000 and 2007 and you'll know exactly what I'm talking about.

    In some ways, our leaders' failures are helping this process along. Their pet projects require money. To get that money, they allow market-rate condos and housing. That brings in higher income residents.

  8. [...] of us Oakland bloggers dedicated time and energy to the city council races, and East Bay Conservative had this advice for [...]

  9. Who is John Galt?

  10. Observer of the zooJune 6, 2008 at 2:42 PM

    Kaplan is not public official material. See