No Boondoggle Too Costly

Last week New Jersey Governor Chris Christie endorsed providing $875 million in state financial aid for the Xanadu entertainment and retail complex in the Meadowlands.

For those unfamiliar with Xanadu, Wikipedia has a representative picture of its ugly gigantism. The complex rises from the horizon appearing to be the result of a giant child who threw something together using mismatched Lego blocks. The gigantism is reminiscent of Marxist regimes trying to show off their grandeur in ways they don’t realize are ironic. If the project is ever completed, it will be one of the largest malls in the world.

The announcement comes at a time when Christie’s administration is cutting funding for schools and public transit. In the typical manner of conservative reform, they will keep forcing people to pay for bureaucracy, boondoggles, and enforcers, but will give them less in return besides a politician’s promise to lower taxes. Keep the coercive monopoly in place but give the “customers” less.

But apparently the People’s Lego Mishap is too big to fail. The Associated Press reports (“Christie backs NJ oversight of AC casino district,” July 22) that Christie said the project has come too far to abandon. He called it “the ugliest building in New Jersey and perhaps the United States of America,” but said “It is still a $2 billion investment.”

Even a self-styled reformer rules by the logic of government: “We’re digging ourselves into a hole, so let’s get more shovels.” Climbing out of the hole would make you look like a quitter.

It’s easier to dig when you can use taxation to make others pay for the shovels. Government is not funded by individual choice. It is funded through coercion based on the choices of those making the rules.

Government is structured so those who are most able to access the top levels of policy-making wield political power. Because of this, government responds primarily to the most powerful groups in society, who create solutions that everyone will be forced to follow. Government answers to the political demand of power, not to the diverse demands of individual actors.

Starting small and building networks of exchange and consensual aid from the ground up are the immediate steps that should be taken to release the burden of power structures. The sooner people are able to meet their needs outside of government and corporate behemoths, the more smoothly the giants can be slid off the backs of society to fail on their own time.

Anarchy and Democracy
Fighting Fascism
Markets Not Capitalism
The Anatomy of Escape
Organization Theory