Dreamed 1984/7/19 by Chris Wayan
A hot day in the Central Valley. I'm in a small town on a loop of the Sacramento River, down on the boardwalk, talking with an acquaintance who lives nearby. I ask "So how's the town been doing?" without saying why I'm in town. He might blab and I don't want the townsfolk learning our secret. I'm one of the government workers who set up the experiment years ago.
We cut off all services and regulation and taxation, without telling them. No handouts, no restrictions. They're cut free. We wonder what they'll develop on their own. Anarchy! Will they create a better structure than the one maintained by handouts?
He says "Well, folks here always expected the government to neglect them, but they're mad these days; just can't get good services." They still don't realize they get NONE. They haven't innovated a bit--because we didn't TELL them they were free. Only now do I see we were inconsistent to try to keep the experiment pure by not telling them anything... when we DID tell them, in the past, to expect things that now are false.
We chose freedom FOR them. And that's not free!
A NOTE NEXT MORNING
I'm afraid this experiment in top-down anarchy and pseudo-freedom is less about the Sacramento Valley than about my life as a head-driven personality.
Battered by my girlfriend and ill for several years, I'm very cautious now. Slow to look for better work or a new girlfriend. Maybe I'm well enough now, but inside I still assume I can't handle them...
And just because my brain knows I'm well now doesn't convince my heart or body or soul... nor have I asked their feedback on how much stress I can really take. What if my head's wrong?
How can you innovate while the old rules still haunt you?
A NOTE 32 YEARS LATER
At the time I interpreted the dream symbolically. And it turned out to be true that my head was discounting how ill I still was--how much stress I could tolerate. My next decade was rough.
But today the dream looks literal--and bitterly prophetic. Starting with the Reaganites, for the next generation both parties quietly gutted health, education, safety, financial regulation, environmental, child welfare and jobs programs, to focus on high-tech innovation and international trade... while loudly insisting they cared deeply about working-class and small-town America. At least before elections! Working-class income and life expectancy have dropped--while fat cats get fatter. Enjoy your top-down freedom.
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