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Tuesday, November 04, 2003

Civic Duty

In order for me to renew my car registration I had to get another vehicle emissions test. The testing place is on the north end of town along Seattle’s ugliest thoroughfare. Highway #99 north of Green Lake Park is a total blight, lined with franchise businesses, car repair shops, and seedy hotels. It is about as tacky a business district as you are likely to find north of Tijuana, Mexico. Think of a four-way sewer. It is as if the planners of this city ceded this bit of real estate to anyone willing to build anything. I’m only glad that I don’t have to go out that way often.

Along with the usual licensing fees I had to pay my first installment for the new monorail (Something like $80 per $10,000 of your car’s value). Many Seattle residents are finding ways to register their cars outside of the city to avoid the tax. I guess these citizens want Seattle to be more like Highway #99 and less like the beautiful city neighborhoods where I live. Without a concerted effort towards mass transit all of this city will be paralyzed by the sprawl and congestion that afflicts the outer regions of the city. I guess the people who are avoiding the tax need the money to help make the next payment on their Hummer.

I was heading to the grocery store last night when I noticed a lot of empty parking spaces around my building—not a common sight in the early evening. My car was parked right out in front and I thought how nice it would be to actually drive to the store. I quickly dashed that notion from my head because I thought what a lazy fuck I would be if I couldn’t walk 2 blocks to the store and 2 blocks home again. I have been conditioned to walk because of the usual dearth of parking. To consider the car in my transportation model is fairly rare. It’s not like I’m some full-blown eco-hippie. I just hate driving around trying to park. I also know that I wouldn’t want to look at an eyesore like Highway #99 every time I needed to shop.

I don’t think my views are necessarily liberal or conservative. This is just about deciding what is the best way for a community to live. The people of Seattle have decided that public transportation is a better way to go than relying exclusively on private vehicles. We fucking voted on it and now a lot of car owners are deciding that they don’t want to go along with the plebiscite (my guess is that these are rich assholes with another residence outside Seattle where they can register their vehicles—poor people never seem to have the resources to cheat much on their taxes).

I’m sure that these tax cheats can justify their action (or inaction) by criticizing the monorail and saying they didn’t vote for it. They probably don’t vote at all. They have been brainwashed by the right into thinking that all government spending is bad (except military spending of course) and that the money is better off in their hands than funding a silly government project like mass transit.

I wish that we could house all of the people who voted against the monorail and who have avoided paying the tax out in the crappy suburban areas of Seattle. I wish that we could tax them every time they entered the city to enjoy the lovely downtown or to explore one of Seattle’s cool neighborhoods. They don’t deserve to take part in the civic pride most people have for this city. There are costs associated with citizenship and we all have to pay them. There are responsibilities associated with citizenship and we all have to bear them.

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