Thursday, October 12, 2006

A strange demonstration...

This is probably the strangest piece of news so close to home that I've seen in a while. According to the story, a caravan of big, slow farm tractors is going to heave its way through perpetually-congested Downtown Seattle.

Why? To stage support for Initiative 933, a measure on the upcoming ballot that would force the state to "compensate" landowners or developers for any economic loss incurred by regulations on land use. This would be a disasterous precedent that will irreparably impair the planning of sustainable communities unless the state shells out HUGE bucks to developers for their miserable plans to build more useless stores on tracts of dry grass.

But regardless of whether you support I-933 or not, the logic of this demonstration seems very... off. People who live in the city already regard farm tractors at best "quaint" and at worst "backwards" - tractors are associated with bumpkins and not with progress. And oh my Lord - the delays! Check this out:

"Vehicles will then make a left on Second Avenue and head south on that street. From there, they will go to Fourth and eventually return to Eighth and Holgate. Organizers estimate about 100 tractors, heavy trucks and horse trailers could participate in the event."
Now, I-933 supporters are going to immobilize Downtown Seattle, the state's most densely worked-in area in the middle of the state's most densely populated region, with farm tractors and fucking HORSE TRAILERS that only invoke feelings of romantic support from people far, far away from Seattle where there are more fingers on your hand than people living within a mile radius of you.

I feel like the overall effect is going to be a new cohort of pissed-off and confused people who are going to be very curious about what was so important that farm tractors held them up for two hours in the middle of the smog. Even just preliminary research is enough to find out who is behind I-933 (the building industry) and who is against it (almost everyone else, including all living former governors of Washington state). Combine that with the lingering tension headache from being stuck in traffic as the tenth John Deere rolls by, and I calculate many, many NO votes.

Am I crazy?


Travis said...

After actually looking at your post I must admit I found it to be a bit ironic, not to mention you missed a major point of the demonstration.

First, the irony:
You, as an anthropologist have stated that agriculture is the single most important development in human history. You must certainly acknowledge that the tractor also signified a major progress considering how it has managed to revolutionize the overall productivity of farms worldwide. Also I find your assessment of the population density of Eastern Washington to be terribly inaccurate, but I digress…

An effect of the rally downtown that you may not have considered is not how people in Seattle viewed the demonstration, but how those in the "backwards" half of Washington State viewed the demonstration. Consider having one's bumpkin-brothers basically give a big finger to all the liberal, espresso drinking hippies by causing a huge traffic jam in our city. Perhaps then we must consider that this demonstration really wasn't for us Seattleites.

I was listening the KUOW the other day and they were interviewing the Chief Editor of the Wenatchee World, one of the larger newspapers on the East side (and also what I used to read when I lived in Chelan), and how he had donated funding FROM THE NEWSPAPER toward the passage of I-933. Despite his lack of journalistic integrity, the newspaper actually has a very wide circulation throughout the Eastern Washington, and I have little doubt that other papers are endorsing the Initiative in a similar fashion.

In the end, I would merely suggest that you not get too comfortable in our progressive haven simply because when Bumpkins get mobilized, they have a tendency to surprise you, not to mention I don’t think they like being called bumpkins. Think back to Dino, they almost got him in office, and they could do the same for this initiative.

*Fun Eastern Washington Fact of the Day* Dino filed his appeal for the election results in the Chelan County Superior Court, which also happens to be in Wenatchee. Gotta love the home county doing me proud...(as I die a little on the inside)

Alex Kim said...

I concede your point about the image the demonstration creates for people in rural parts of the state, though I've seen very many newspapers in rural places also condemning the initiative.

Anthropologically, yes - agriculture is the seminal technological achievement of humankind. The surplus of food, along with the new stability of the food supply, allowed for new specializations of labor - thus the arts, philosophy, religion, and government flourished. After initial agricultural practices were started, it wasn't until the Iron Age that another leap occurred - again, it had to do with agriculture. Any guesses? Yes, the IRON PLOW. This dramatically increased the amount of arable land available to ancient farmers.

The iron plow, in some cases powered by a horse or donkey instead of a human, is still the primary means of aerating and turning fields in most of the world. Tractors do the same basic job, but with far fewer people - but their astronomical cost is out of reach to the majority of farmers worldwide.