I think the rest of the nation would take it as a kindness if Nevada, Arizona, and Oregon were to seize those California Department of Food and Agriculture border checkpoints and turn their guns the other way and start shaking cars down for signs of dangerous invasive species, like voter’s registration cards and real estate brochures.
Sometimes, not very often, people will ask me why I chose such an – inconvenient – place to put down my geriatric roots. I’ve got a standard answer taped: “Keeps the tourists away.”
Here’s a free story. Several years ago there was a county council-clearing kerfuffle during which the council tried to impose a very long list of things residents wouldn’t be allowed to do anymore on their own property. Things like keep livestock and live in ratty old RVs and shacks. When pressed for a reason why this list was a good idea, somebody on the council replied – and I swear I am not making this up, it was published in the local paper – “People come here from out of state looking for property, and they have certain expectations. This is the only way to bring everybody’s property values up.”
A lot of local residents don’t happen to own their property as monetary investments. They value it just fine already the way it is, thank you, specifically because out-of-staters don’t find it attractive. Some of them took this occasion to loudly say so.
The council can’t legally pass new rules without open meetings where residents get to, er, express an opinion. Normally this is a fairly sedate affair, but not in this case. Cellular networks are your friends, and groups of residents spontaneously re-invented the flash mob right there on the spot. One meeting after another was overwhelmed and cancelled, no matter how inconveniently located or timed. The council members – large property-owners all, who still hoped to sell at a profit if they could only get the riffraff to clean up its act – kept at it until people started showing up with guns and nooses.
If I’d heard the “guns and nooses” story from only one mob participant I’d have shrugged it off as hyperbole. But those items apparently became very popular for a brief time. It was probably only symbolic.
Eventually the council gave up, which was wise. But the best part was yet to come. These people weren’t exactly first-string politicians. As in any poor rural administrative body, seats on the council were virtually hereditary. Until then almost nobody gave a damn about the council or who sat on it, and so it was dominated by a few relatively wealthy families. And so, since they apparently forgot that there even were these things called “elections,” it apparently didn’t occur to them that one doesn’t do such disruptive things just before the peons get to exercise their worthless franchise. And so now there’s a whole new council, which doesn’t say such things anymore*.
So yeah. Sometimes, to keep the tourists out, you need to turn the guns around.
*The very best part of this took a couple of years to manifest itself. For as long as I’ve lived here and apparently for many years before that, residents of the tiny town nearest where I live, which happens to be the county seat, have complained about the amazingly poor quality of many local businesses. The council got veto power over whether ‘outside’ businesses would be licensed to open in this town, and it exercised that power with a fist of iron. It was quite open about its reasons for this – it was protecting local established businesses from competition. Those businesses were largely owned by council members or family of council members, virtually all of whom belong to the same church. No, I didn’t say they were Mormon. Anyway, the new council majority – which mostly didn’t happen to operate local businesses – did not agree with this long-standing policy. And so it gradually became possible to buy a sandwich or plate of Mexican food that didn’t taste like you’d scooped it off the floor of a chicken coop, and every single crappy pre-existing restaurant in town went out of business. And so did a number of other businesses that had never before thought it important to actually perform a service well. So the old council members not only went out of office, some of them were subsequently bankrupted.