Ask Uncle Dave
Uncle Dave Thinks You Should Vote
This doesn't have much to do with mountain biking. A bit. But not much.
I wouldn't say I "like" politics, but I understand its importance, and I spend a lot of time these days reading about how it will probably lead to the destruction of life as we know it. Indeed, I'm fairly suspicious of anybody who proudly proclaims their ignorance of politics. I understand it can, at times, feel like politics is this abstract thing that doesn't impact your daily life. Maybe this will be one benefit of Trump, in the long run? It is slowly becoming impossible to sit on the sidelines. Indeed, politics is government is society is life. Long ago, we figured out that by pooling portions of our resources, we'd all be the better for it, and in an nutshell, that's what we're talking about.
This is what I don't get about the small government/low taxes brigade. I understand wanting to hold on to more of what you've earned. I get that from a distance, the wall of bureaucracy that is government can seem unnecessary. I mean, I don't think anybody has ever campaigned on more waste and more inefficiency. It's unquestionable that governments don't move fast, and seem wasteful from the outside. But some of that is by design, to ensure that your money isn't absconded with. Or because having your decisions so thoroughly dissected requires a certain kind of thoroughness. Or even just because the work being done is something that no private organization would dare to take on. I see the appeal of "starving the beast". But arguing against government feels to me like arguing against society in general. I mean, sometimes I think it would be pretty great to just retire to a cave on an island somewhere and never have to see another person ever again, so I can relate. But there's still an expectation that the government will prevent a marauding band of barbarians from braining me with a 2x4 implicit in that daydream.
And within all of this, municipal government is the lowest of the low. Because of the de-centralized nature (and lack of local newsrooms), local government gets the least coverage, and thus, the garners the least interest. Until something goes wrong. And then we expect a mayor to move mountains, even without the authority to change the laws we're angry about or to create the taxation that would be necessary to fix the problem. So much time is spent talking about these large, potentially incurable problems that we end up ignoring the crazy amounts of stuff that Cities do in fact look after. Depending on where you live, those people holed up in City Hall will probably have some say in how your garbage gets collected, where your sewage goes, what sort of state your drinking water is in, how your traffic flows, if those roads are pockmarked with potholes, whether or not you get a parking ticket, if your library is stocked with books, how much development your neighbourhood will see, whether or not a new park gets built, if the fire department shows up to save your house, and maybe some kind of say in the amount of force the police get to use when they arrest you for jaywalking across a bike lane. It’s fascinating how people don’t see this, and how so many candidates seem to have no understanding of how this might work. Like arguing against higher taxes while advocating for a doubling of sanitation services. Or claiming to be the "libertarian minded party of law and order" while pushing to build a stadium so that the NBA can return to Vancouver (Atlas shrugged and then went in for a dunk?). I mean, if the candidates themselves don’t know what the hell they’re talking about, why should we?
So, you really should be paying attention, but you're probably not (no judgement). How many elections are happening in British Columbia this month? The ElectionsBC list of candidates is 191 pages long! No wonder nobody really pays any attention. It's much easier when all you need to worry about is 3-4 leaders yelling at one another on a Federal or Provincial level. You just choose the person who seems the least objectionable and move forward quickly and easily. But on a local level? Man. I have to wade through 158 people running for a total of 27 positions. That feels crazy, and seems almost overwhelming enough to skip entirely.
And somehow, within all of that word salad of saving the world, you have to find some kind of balance between the inspirational and the practical. Affordable housing, or more bike lanes? End the fentanyl crisis, or tear down the bike lanes we just built? Solve global warming, or pick up the garbage more often? It doesn't get much of the glory, but we're voting as much for all of those simple things as the big ones. The things that we take for granted like running water, working traffic lights and paved roads are probably more likely to be impacted than anything. And that's it. That's society. That's where your tax money is going. That's how we've managed to get to this place where we are. Because if we were all responsible for figuring out where our own sewage went, we'd have shit pooling up ankle deep in the streets. Only, the streets would be a dirt ditch and the ankle deep shit would be knee deep shit. And we probably wouldn’t have to worry about all that shit because we would have poisoned ourselves by drinking the water that was contaminated with all of the garbage we didn't know what to do with.
What does this have to do with mountain biking? Well, nothing, really. When elections roll around, if we're feeling energetic (we being NSMB), we'll sometimes get around to talking to a few candidates and tangentially connecting it to mountain biking. Obviously (I'm assuming nobody else is going to), we didn't really get around to doing that this time (not yet - Ed.). And, I'm kind of glad. I mean...if you live in the DNV, you absolutely need to go out and vote for Matthew Bond. But at the same time...this shit is kind of (in my opinion) a lot more important than whether or not a few trails get built for our bikes.
So...I mean...I don't really want to do this much work either...but I'm going to...please, if you live in BC, take an hour or two this week. Find a list of your local candidates. Take a few minutes to read up on each of them. Strike out the ones that are demonstrably awful. Compile the others into a list. And then find another hour this Saturday to go and vote. It's not that difficult.
If elections go well, it's possible Uncle Dave will once again become chipper enough to answer some letters. You should send him a question just in case that happens.
Uncle Dave's Music Club
I think I'll probably always have a bit of a soft spot for NOFX.