Creative Destruction

December 13, 2010

Musical Chairs

Filed under: Content-lite,Popular Culture — Brutus @ 2:10 pm

Like many American cities, Chicago has a “thing” about its parking. It’s very difficult or impossible in some neighborhoods to find an available space, and the Loop is pretty much a no-go zone unless one is willing to pay upwards of $15 per day to park. Those who can do without cars opt for iGo or Zip Cars. And then there is the whole bizarre parking meter scandal. No need to go there.

So I was curious to learn of a website advocating Chair-Free Chicago to address the longstanding tradition of protecting one’s snow-shoveled parking space with lawn chairs, two milk crates and a board, or other similar contraptions. On a purely practical level, defying someone’s marking of territory, however illegal wrong it may be to claim public space, is too risky for most. Property damage is too costly and finding another space is prudent.

Of course, the expectation is that one’s neighbors will behave more like criminals rather than neighbors. There is plenty of evidence for that. So while I can appreciate and even applaud Chair-Free Chicago for its advocacy, neighborly behaviors are a luxury that most people abandoned a long time ago, and appeals to our better natures are mostly for chumps. Ironically, when if things totally melt down and civil unrest becomes widespread, forbearance and a sense of community will be the things we most need.

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