A Different Way of Redlining

A week and a half ago, I wrote a review of an excellent play we saw about Los Angeles and gentrification (there are just a few performance left – you should go). This play looked at one plot of land in Watts, a community in South LA, as it transitioned from Gabrielano-Tongva ownership to Mexican to American (as a white suburb), and then transitioned with the 2nd wave of black westward migration into a black community, and then was transformed into a Hispanic community, and then — because houses were cheap — becoming a gentrified White community where the former owners were priced out. This is a pattern that has happened time and time again in Los Angeles: Look at how immigrants are being pushed out of Boyle and Lincoln Heights, and just ask my daughter about the changes occurring in West Adams, where she used to live.

So I was very interested when a friend posted an article titled: “Los Angeles is quickly becoming a place exclusively for the white and rich“, exploring how the black population of the city has been rapidly declining. The first two paragraphs are key:

L.A.’s Black population has declined by 100,000 since the 1980s, falling from 13% of the County population to 8% in just a few decades. Hollywood alone saw the displacement of 13,000 Latinos between 2000 and 2010, pushed out by rising rents to make way for upscale redevelopment. These are just two of the most eye-popping figures that illustrate a larger point: Los Angeles is increasingly becoming solely accessible to the rich, and the rich are disproportionately white. (“Black and Mexican households have one cent for every dollar of wealth held by the average white household,” according to The Color of Wealth in Los Angeles.)

We are witnessing the rapid creation of a new geography of segregation and exclusion in Los Angeles, as areas seen as desirable are being purged of those who cannot afford the sky-high rents that inevitably follow.

Los Angeles has a very segregated past that many people don’t know about. Minorities were kept in particular areas through the process of red-lining, which limited the ability to get loans and insurance. This led to many of LA’s problems with the East Side and South LA. There was White Flight that made the valley (there were only certain communities, such as Arleta, for minorities), and there was significant impact — present to this very day — on the LA Unified School District. Then again, there are all the racial tensions that exist with the LA Police Department and the LA Sheriff’s Department (who can forget Rodney King and other incidents).

What this article pointed out was that a different, more insideous, type of redlining is now occurring. The high housing prices in Los Angeles are combining with the depressed wages that minorities often earn to price minorities out of area. Downtown, which was once affordably prices for poor artists and minorities, is becoming gentrified and pushing out those that could once afford the area. An article about these rising rents noted:

Parker isn’t the only artist who faces a tenuous future in the Arts District. Named for the artists who made the neighborhood a creative hub in the 1970s and ’80s, the Arts District could soon find itself with few actual artists living within its borders — no small irony given its name and the fact that Mayor Eric Garcetti likes to regularly tout Los Angeles as an “arts capital” in statements and speeches.

At 800 Traction Ave., a warehouse building that began life as a coffee and spice factory in 1918, residents have received a 60-day quit notice. Just beyond the southern fringes of the Arts District, the Santa Fe Art Colony is expected to start charging market rates after operating for 30 years under a contract with the now-defunct Community Redevelopment Agency as a low- and moderate-income housing site; that contract is now expiring.

Mind you, this is probably not isolated to Los Angeles. Think about what is happening at the National level with income inequality, and the segregation of the wealthy — the haves — from the have nots. What do most of the “haves” have in common, in addition to wealth. Now look, at the National level, at the groups many of these folks are aligning with. Who needs Jim Crow and segregation when you have money and power and advantage.

Perhaps now “taking a knee” becomes better understood. There is not equal opportunity. Here’s another quote from that first article:

And it must be made clear that this is not a neutral process of neighborhood change. The winners are the real estate investors and developers who make hefty profits, and the wealthier incomers who get to live out their idealized urban life. The losers are the poorer residents that already live there, especially the majority that rent. Those that are displaced become homeless or are forced to move far away from their jobs, families, and communities. Those who remain must deal with rising rents, increased racialized policing, and the trauma of watching their community change for the benefit of outsiders. The negative health effects from the displacement and financial strain that come with gentrification are well documented.

Now consider the impact of former downtown and south-central residents only finding affordable housing long commutes away, and the impact not only on family life and childrearing, but on the employers.

The problem is clear. What can we do about it? Simple: We must work to have affordable housing everyone, and strive for a truly integrated and diverse city. We must fight the us/them divide, and learn to see people as persons, not stereotypes.

In the play I saw — which I strongly recommend — we learned that our cultures are not so different. We care about family, we care about place, we have similar foods with different names. If we just get to know each other instead of using wealth and property to separate us, our city can be even greater.


Things Come and Things Go

Today’s collection of news chum addresses two areas of interest to me: origin stories, and reports of things disappearing. Origin stories are interesting because we don’t often know where some popular things come from; many come from new or emerging trends. Disappearance stories, on the other hand, are often reflective or indicative — again — of trends in society.



Let Them No More

Reading about today’s shooting in Texas got me thinking — a dangerous thing.

For the longest time, what has been our answer as to why some man (and, yes, they are typically almost always all men — and often white men) has done something that has injured or killed one or more people?

Because they can.

Why did this shooter shoot up that place? Because he can.

Why did this man sexually harass that woman? Because he can.

Why did this man rape, that man abuse, that other man cheat, that still other man steal? Because he can.

But you know, that’s the wrong answer. The correct answer is: Because we let them.

We let weapons of destruction get into the hands of people that abuse them (be they guns or cars — they were in the hands of a man who used them for bad). We look the other way when that off-color joke or remark is made. We look the other way when women and minorities are paid less and treated badly. We let our leaders not pass laws or create restrictions or programs that might stop these actions.

Because we let them.

But you know what? That must change. We must say: Let them no more.

People with mental illness buying and owning guns? Let them no more.

People using positions of power to abuse and harass people? Let them no more.

People treating others as inferior? Let them no more.

It’s a simple movement: Let them no more.


Houseguest. Rhymes With P… | “The Man Who Came To Dinner” @ Actors Co-Op

The Man Who Came To Dinner (Actors Co-Op)Have you ever had an invited guest in your house who overstayed their welcome? A person whose visit you looked forward to initially, but who threw your home into disarray and your life into shambles? Someone with such an inflated sense of self that they believe the world revolves around them, and they never see the damage that their meddling can create in the lives of others? Someone who is a master manipulator of people and can convince them to do whatever they want them to do, no matter who gets trampled in the process?

That’s not something that would never happen in real life. No, never. Right?

No, I’m not vaguebooking again. Rather, I’m describing the key underlying premise of the classic Moss Hart and George S. Kaufman comedy that we saw last night at the Actors Co-op (FB): The Man Who Came To Dinner. Originally written in the mid-1930s by two renowned playwrights for their friend, Alexander Woollcott, a famous theatre critic and star of a popular radio show, the comedy describes an exaggerated situation that without the exaggeration happens far too often in households across the world.

The Man Who Came To Dinner takes place in 1936 in Mesalia OH, right after famed radio broadcaster and critic Sheridan Whiteside has come to visit the home of the Stanleys, but slipped on a patch of ice on the front step while entering. He is thus a prisoner of his medical condition, in a house in a town where he doesn’t want to be, with his executive secretary Maggie, for some unspecified period of time. Whiteside is a person who likes his life as he is used to it, when he is used to it, with whom he is used to it. Wherever he is, the world and the environment must bend to his will, for only if he is happy are those around him happy. Needless to say, this has drastically impacted the life of the Stanleys — Mr. and Mrs. Stanley, their children June and Richard, Stanley’s sister Harriet, and their staff — cook Sarah and butler John. Not helping the matter is an old-fashioned over-attentive nurse Miss Preen and the befuddled town doctor (who has written a play) Dr. Bradley.

Now, add a plot complication in the form of local newspaperman Bert Jefferson, who comes to interview Whiteside but ends up getting involved with Whiteside’s secretary Maggie, who falls in love — and lets Whiteside know she is leaving. Of course, this would throw Whiteside’s world into further chaos, so he involves friend and actress Lorraine Sheldon to interfere. Let’s just say the results are predictable, given this was written by a man who wrote many Marx Brothers comedies.

That last point means you have many additional characters show up who were essentially caricatures of personalities of the day, such as Banjo, Dr. Metz, Beverly Carlton. You also have wild absurdity, ranging from a cockroach farm, a delivery of penguins, an association with a home for paroled prisoners, and numerous telegraphs and name dropping with celebrities of the day. It is a classic convoluted comedy plot, with an incredibly large cast (19 people in more named roles than that) that you don’t often see in theatres these days (simply due to the cost of the actors alone, unless you are exempted by some sort of agreement with Equity).

You can read a more detailed description of the plot on the Wikipedia page.

How does one assess a story like this, especially in the present day? In its day, this was a classic situation comedy: extended silly situation, overdrawn characters (i.e., exaggerated characteristics), classic tropes. It certainly was the basis of many a sitcom: acerbic wit stuck in a place they didn’t want to be, meddling to get what they want. It certainly is funny today for the same reason.

But at the same time, there are troubling intimations of its time that might not fly today.  Whiteside constantly makes jokes about the sexual behavior of his nurse. Banjo pulls her onto his lap, despite protestations. In the context of the time of the play, they are funny; but in today’s Harvey Weinstein / Kevin Spacey world, our enlightened modern mindset keeps us asking: “Should I be laughing at that?”. Looking back with today’s vision, we know the type of man that Sheridan Whiteside is, and how much he respects the will and wishes of others.

This is the dilemma of classic theatre: it is a product of when it was written, and makes a statement of that time. The Man Who Came To Dinner, while still very funny on its surface, is also a statement. It is a statement about what can happen when bad behavior is allowed to continue unchecked. It is a statement of how men perceived to be powerful treat the people around them. The story of Sheriden Whiteside might be very different had it taken place today.

Is a story like The Man Who Came To Dinner worth seeing today? I still think so. It is still an excellent comedy with great lines; asking if one should skip it because of today’s sensibilities is like asking if one should no longer watch The Marx Brothers do their comedy. Enjoy it. Laugh. You certainly will with this production. But be aware with today’s mind as well, so that men like Sheridan Whiteside can’t behave like that today.

[As an aside, that’s the funny things about these writeups: Sometimes, I never know the direction they will go until I start writing them, and then the writing muse often uncovers something I hadn’t thought of in the moment of the show]

Director Linda Kerns (FB) has worked with her acting team to capture the broad caricatures of these characters in the cast, including the clear references to the Hollywood and Broadway and Radio personalities that inspired them. I’m sure this required some education of the younger generation who (alas) are likely less familiar with the greats of the 20s, 30s, and 40s.  She also got the movement and the blocking down well, which isn’t easy in this large cast on a small stage with clear limitations.

The Man Who Came To Dinner (Cast Photo Strip)In the lead position was Greg Martin (FB) as Sheridan Whiteside. Martin captured the character quite well, with all the requisite bluster and wit required. In his bio, it is noted that in his day job he’s a Deputy DA, so I wonder if he built his characterization on some of the people he has seen in court.

Playing off of Whiteside in the Girl Friday role of Maggie Cutler was Natalie Hope MacMillan (FB★, FB). MacMillan created the proper sense of both competence and girlishness required, and was a believable couple with Connor Sullivan (FB)’s Bert Jefferson.

The Sullivan family, who were hosting the Whiteside entourage, consisted of Mr. and Mrs. Stanley (Lawrence Novikoff (FB) and Deborah Marlowe (FB)), Mr. Stanley’s sister Harriet Stanley (Brenda Ballard (FB)), and their children June (Lila Hood (FB)) and Richard (Kyle Frattini (FB)). Each captured their unique characteristics well: Novikoff capturing the exasperation,  Marlowe the adulation, Ballard the kookiness, and Hod and Frattini the youthful naivete.

Also drawn and performed as the appropriate broad caricatures were Jean Kauffman (FB)’s Miss Preen (the nurse) and Irwin Moskowitz (FB)’s Dr. Bradley.  Each knew how to work the characters for the laughs they were designed to get.

Most of the other actors had multiple characters, often with one primary. Most notable among these was Catherine Urbanek (FB), who in addition to playing the one-scene character Mrs. Dexter in the first act, gets to be the standout actress Lorraine Sheldon. In the latter role, what is most notable about Urbanek’s performance is how she has two characters — the real Kansas City actress and the phony Lorraine character, and uses a clearly different voice for the two personas, which is interesting to watch. Also doubling as acting friends of Whiteside are Wenzel Jones (FB) as Beverly Carlton (also Convict Michaelson, Plain clothes man, and a choir person).  As Carlton, he only really has one scene but handles it with quite a bit of humor. Lastly, as Banjo (a clear Marx Bros. parody), John Allee (FB), captures the Marx Bros. zaniness well; he also portrays “Radioman” and “Baker”.

Most of the other characters don’t have strong individual characterizations, but are captured well by their actors: Kevin Michael Moran (FB) [Metz, John the Butler]; Karen Furno (FB) [Sarah the Cook]; Goreti da Silva (FB) [Mrs. McCutcheon, Wescott]; Hunter Lowdon (FB) [Convict 2, Expressman, Choir Person, Deputy]; and Chris Savell (FB) [Sandy, Convict Henderson, Choir Person, Deputy].  Catriona Fray (FB★) was the Lorraine U/S.

Turning to the production side:  Nicholas Acciani (FB), who just received an Ovation nomination for his design of 33 Variations, designed the set, which was a reasonable portrayal of an upper-class Ohio household in 1936. The arrangement of rooms and props worked well to eliminate excessive crossovers and permit hiding of some of the outrageous deliveries. It was supported by the props of Ernest McDaniel (FB), Property Master. I particularly noticed the Egyptian sarcophagus in the final act, and I wonder if it was purchased from the Colony Theatre as they cleaned out their lobby. Shon LeBlanc (FB) did the costume design, and Amanda Walter (FB★) did the hair and makeup, most of which worked well (there were a few cases where the wigs looked a little wiggy). Sound and light were done by Warren Davis (FB) and  Andrew Schmedake (FB), respectively, and both did a great job of establishing place and mood. Rounding out the production team were: Rita Cannon (FB) [Stage Manager]; Thien/Tintin Nguyen/FB [Assistant Stage Manager]; Nora Feldman [Publicist]; and Thomas Chavira (FB) [Producer].

[As another aside: While writing this up, I’ve been listening to the attempt to turn this show into a musical, Sherry!. I can now see why it didn’t work — it wasn’t the music, but the fact that this is a book that really didn’t need musicalization.]

The Man Who Came To Dinner continues at the Actors Co-op (FB) through December 17, 2017. Tickets are available online; discount tickets may be available through Goldstar. This is a very funny show that, while perhaps a bit dated in tone and attitude, will still have you laughing in your seats.


Ob. Disclaimer: I am not a trained theatre (or music) critic; I am, however, a regular theatre and music audience member. I’ve been attending live theatre and concerts in Los Angeles since 1972; I’ve been writing up my thoughts on theatre (and the shows I see) since 2004. I do not have theatre training (I’m a computer security specialist), but have learned a lot about theatre over my many years of attending theatre and talking to talented professionals. I pay for all my tickets unless otherwise noted. I am not compensated by anyone for doing these writeups in any way, shape, or form. I currently subscribe at 5 Star Theatricals (FB) [the company formerly known as Cabrillo Music Theatre (FB)], the Hollywood Pantages (FB), Actors Co-op (FB), the Chromolume Theatre(FB) in the West Adams district, and a mini-subscription at the Saroya [the venue formerly known as the Valley Performing Arts Center (VPAC)] (FB). Through my theatre attendance I have made friends with cast, crew, and producers, but I do strive to not let those relationships color my writing (with one exception: when writing up children’s production, I focus on the positive — one gains nothing except bad karma by raking a child over the coals). I believe in telling you about the shows I see to help you form your opinion; it is up to you to determine the weight you give my writeups.

Upcoming Shows:

Next weekend brings a Day Out with Thomas at Orange Empire Railway Museum (FB), as well as The Kingston Trio (FB) at the Kavli Theatre in Thousand Oaks (FB). The third weekend will bring Edges at the CSUN Theatre Department (FB) on Friday, the Tumbleweed Festival (FB) on Saturday, and Spamilton at the Kirk Douglas Theatre (FB) on Sunday. Thanksgiving Weekend will bring Something Rotten at the Ahmanson Theatre (FB). November concludes with the Anat Cohen Tentet at the Saroya (the venue formerly known as the Valley Performing Arts Center (VPAC)) (FB) and  Levi (a new Sherman Brothers musical) at LA Community College Caminito Theatre (FB).

December starts with ACSAC 2017 in Orlando FL. As soon as we return, we’ve got Pacific Overtures at Chromolume Theatre (FB) and the Colburn Orchestra at the Saroya (the venue formerly known as the Valley Performing Arts Center (VPAC)) (FB). The weekend encompassing Chanukah sees us back at the Saroya  (FB) for the Klezmatics (FB). We also hope to squeeze in a performance of A Christmas Story at the Canyon Theatre Guild (FB). Of course there will also be the obligatory Christmas Day movie.

Right now, early 2018 is pretty open, with only a few weekends taken by shows at the Pantages and Actors Co-Op. I did just pick up tickets for Candide at LA Opera (FB). But that will likely fill up as Chromolume announces their dates, and announcements are received on interesting shows. Currently, we’re booking all the way out in mid to late 2018!

As always, I’m keeping my eyes open for interesting productions mentioned on sites such as Better-LemonsMusicals in LA@ This StageFootlights, as well as productions I see on GoldstarLA Stage TixPlays411 or that are sent to me by publicists or the venues themselves. Note: Lastly, want to know how to attend lots of live stuff affordably? Take a look at my post on How to attend Live Theatre on a Budget.


Nottingham 2017

Nottingham Festival 2017Southern California has two Renaissance Faires. There is the big one — the granddaddy of all Ren Faires — in Irwindale (nee Devore nee Agoura). There there is a newer faire — Nottingham Festival (FB) — that started 5 years ago by some of the original participants, with the goal of being truer to the original ideas of the Faire than the granddaddy had become. We supported the kickstarter of Nottingham 5 years ago, and have been attending ever since. Today was opening day, and we just got back. So what did we think of this year’s Faire.

First, be aware that Nottingham is much much smaller. My guess would be ⅓rd the size — which fits right for the running time, people, vendors, and such. They simply don’t have the variety of the granddaddy, but that doesn’t make them any less enjoyable. We just get through faster.

The folks behind Nottingham run a second faire at the same location on the heels of Nottingham: Tumbleweed Township,  Tumbleweed — this will be its second year — is the old West (US) in the late 1800s. It is a time period that is a bit more accessible to many, and one that fits well with the Simi Valley location. Many of the vendors sell at Tumbleweed as well, changing their product mix as well. We went last year to Tumbleweed and enjoyed it quite a bit.

This year’s Faire was in the same site as the last three years, and the layout felt… comfortable. It was as if they had figured it out. There wasn’t too much walking. Stages were mostly accessible. It felt as if there were a few tweaks from last year, but it worked.

As for the other aspects of the Faire:

Vendors   There was a good mix of vendors, from some of our favorites, some of our friends, and some we hadn’t seen before. We liked the pottery vendor and picked up some pieces, as well as signing up for Farm Fresh delivery. There were a number of good clothing and jewelry vendors that had stuff we liked, but didn’t have a need to purchase. Prices were good.
Food  There were a small number of food vendors. Prices were reasonable, with ale/beer at $6. Selection was a bit of a different issue. I look for what I can eat (healthy, no grease), and what my wife can eat (gluten-free), and our options were relatively limited. So it was OK for a small Faire, but could have been a little better.
Music  Music was surprisingly light this year. There were some groups we liked (Merry Wives), but they weren’t there opening day. There were less wandering groups of musicians and dancers than usual. There were less musical groups at stages.
Entertainment  There were some groups we liked from last year, but in general we didn’t find the stage shows and they didn’t have the grab factor walking by. This could just have been the opening day mix, because I know some of the group are good.
Education  /  They had the Masters Pavilion again — which is one of the hallmarks of this Festival, but they didn’t clearly indicate who would be there and when.
Enthusiasm  The folks here are super friendly. We weren’t even wearing that much garb (I was in a mix of RenFaire and Tumbleweed, as I though it would be cooler and might rain), and we got loads of compliments.
Layout  They’ve gotten the layout down, eliminating the problems of the first year or two.
Bad Costumes  We really only saw one bad costume, someone dressed as a hell-boy.


Nottingham is doing a good job of growing at a slow place while not losing what makes it special. I look forward to next year and its further improvement.


Something to Chew On

Time for some more food related news items to chew upon:

  • Best Oils for Frying. Here’s something you don’t see everyday: Me using a link that someone sends me in email based on an old post. But this link was sufficiently interesting to pass on, and I thank Sebastian Beaton of Two Kitchen Junkies for doing so. It concerns the best and healthiest oils for frying, listing their pros and cons. The site itself looks interesting: a father-daughter duo looking into cooking and cookware.
  • Demonization of Gluten. My wife is gluten-free. She has to be for medical reasons; she has celiac. But there are many many others for whom this is the fad of the day, and they have gone on gluten free diets for no discernible benefit other than the placebo effect.  Freakonomics, a podcast I used to subscribe to but didn’t have the time to listen to, had a recent episode on this subject. By the way, it turns out there is also a Celiac Project Podcast.
  • Food Waste. One of the reasons I could never run a restaurant is all the food waste. But households waste even more; the amount is staggering. Much is perfectly good, more would have been good had we not forgotten about it in the back of the refrigerator. Here’s an article that puts a number to just how much food Americans waste, including what type of food is most wasted where.
  • Less Nutritious Food. When you think about climate change, what worries you? Rising sea levels. More intense weather. How about less nutritious food. It seems that the increase in carbon dioxide is making our food have less nutrients.  From the article: “Every leaf and every grass blade on earth makes more and more sugars as CO2 levels keep rising,” Loladze said. “We are witnessing the greatest injection of carbohydrates into the biosphere in human history―[an] injection that dilutes other nutrients in our food supply.”

P.S.: I also have a fascinating post on the history of Cinnabon that I thought about including, but decided to save it for an origins post, combining it with a post on the history of Powerpoint and a yet undiscovered origin post.


This Is My City

As Jack Webb almost once said (yunguns, look him up), “This is my city, Los Angeles, California”. Here are a few stories I’ve accumulated over the weeks about my city, and places that I’ve actually been to or near:

  • Earl Carroll Theatre. I was at this theatre many years ago to see Ain’t Misbehavin‘. I didn’t know its historical significance then. It later became the Nickelodeon Studios, and will now be refurbished. Much of the glory is still there, as these photos show.
  • Daniel Freeman Hospital. The place where I entered the world many many (many) years ago. Later bought by Tenet Healthcare, and then closed. It is now being torn down, to become luxury homes.
  • Westside Pavilion.  Back when I was at UCLA in the late 1970s, this was a small surface shopping center with a market (Vons, IIRC), a good sushi place, a Sees Candy, and a large May Company (with a spiral driveway where I scraped a car once). Then it was “mallified”, taking all the character out of it and become an haven for the wannabe rich (the rich had Century City). It expanded, took out a perfectly good bowling alley. Today? Malls are out of favor, Nordstroms ran to Century City, and Macy*s (nee Robinsons May nee May Co) is closing. Anyone want to buy a mall? Rumor is that with retail out of favor, this will either become open-air shopping (like it was originally), or mixed use with housing and shopping near the Expo line.
  • The Panorama. When we went to go see Man Covets Bird, there was this odd little theatre across the street that we later learned was the Velaslavasay Panorama, an old fashioned type of entertainment from the time before movies. They’ve reopened, and there’s one last chance to view their installation of Effulgence of the North before they change it. It is described as  “a panoramic exploration of the limitless horizon which lies beyond a frigid terrain, illuminated by the ethereal Aurora Borealis.” Next to be installed: Shengjing Panorama. You have until Sunday to see it.

Trust and Government / Trust in Government

Earlier today, I did a post on Facebook about the increase in the California Gas Tax (i.e., the per-gallon tax at the pump), linking to the Caltrans website on SB1. In the post, I noted: ” For all my friends who are concerned about the gas tax increase that goes into effect today (12c a gallon — c’mon folks — that’s perhaps $3 a tank — the cost of a burger at McDonalds! — you can afford that for better roads — esp. at a tank a week), here’s a great explanation of where that money is going, and how it is restricted. In particular, take a look at the list of projects being supported.”

Some of the reaction I got took me by surprise.

I don’t want to go into the specifics of the gas tax. There was a bunch of debate on how it would be spent, but that’s not the subject I want to address here. Let me repeat that for those that can’t hear: This is not a post specifically about the gas tax. Got it? Good.

What really took me by surprise was the level of distrust of Government. There was a clear and strong opinion from a segment that believed that the government would mismanage any funds that it was given, and therefore we shouldn’t let them have any. This is a position I’ve heard time and again from Conservatives and Libertarians these days. It is one reason why I believe people supported Trump — he was campaigning against the untrustworthy government. Never mind that he was equally untrustworthy and … pay no attention to that man behind the curtain … but I digress.

Now, when I was growing up, it was us Liberals that didn’t trust the government. But that’s because they were lying to us, not mispending our money.

I don’t expect anyone to change their position on trusting government from this post. Everyone can point to numerous examples where government has misused our trust. That’s not hard. Further, any parent will tell you that once trust is lost, it is very very hard to earn back. It takes time — but with government, we don’t even give it the time.

Rather, what I would like people to take away from this is as follows:

  • What is the better alternative? In many cases, these functions can’t be done privately or by individuals. Privatizing the process has not worked. We need to work to make Government better and trustworthy, not blow it up or write it off.
  • Government funding is complex. Incredibly complex. There are different pots of funds that can only be spent for specific purposes. There are rules and regulations that end up costing immense amount of money, put in place because people misused and did untrustworthy things before (one need look no further than acquisition regulations). What might seem simple and sensical to us is impossible at the government level because of regulations — and then ends up looking like waste.
  • In some cases, government behaves the way it does for the same reason you manage your house the way you do. You budget for a certain amount of money to come in based on some rosy assumptions (“Sure, I’ll get that raise.”), and then they don’t. At your house, what do you do? You defer repairing the roof or the air conditioner so you can pay your food bill. In government, you take money from transportation repair so you can pay your prison guards and highway patrol officers. Remember: It’s complicated.

Our government may be vastly imperfect and incredibly frustrating. It may do things that you don’t like. But it is still much much better than some of the alternatives out there. However, for it to work, we need to trust in it and let it work, not actively campaign to tear it down or blow it up (which, I believe, were Steve Bannon’s words, not mine).