Well, I spent the whole weekend at the 80/35 festival. Some thoughts:
– As Abby observed, it was much more interesting people-watching than the Fair.
– There were a lot of people there whom one might assume from their appearance that they were into natural living, but oddly the people who I saw who I KNEW to be into natural living, or the ones who stopped at the NLDM booth with comments such as “what a great resource” or “I use this website all the time” were not the ones you’d peg from a distance as being into natural living.
– The Do More Village was an interesting mix of social groups and Everybody’s Favorite Liberal Causes. I was mulling over the fact that Natural Living Des Moines could probably be lumped into the Everybody’s Favorite Liberal Causes group. Funny.
– Some of the music was good. Some was not good. Even the good stuff wasn’t good enough to want to listen to for an hour at full volume. Wow. Holy Loudness, Batman.
– I managed to avoid talking to the Planned Parenthood people all weekend. I knew such conversations would be fruitless, but potentially way more fun than talking to the formula companies at Oh Baby. I did chuckle when the Planned Parenthood volunteer shouted out “Free Condoms!!” as I passed. A hundred comebacks drifted through my head, but I had to pee so bad, I didn’t stop.
The most disappointing and thought-provoking incident from the whole weekend were the three times I stopped to chat with the Iowa Stop Global Warming (or something like that) booth. Because you’d think, even if I disagree with the premise, I’d still have a lot in common with them. You know? I think, when it comes right down to it, conservatives and liberals, those who buy into Man-Made Global Warming and those who don’t, still have a LOT in common environmental-wise.
But, the first conversation went like this:
Me, reading the petition about Iowa Needs Light Rail. “Hey, Light Rail would be awesome. I’ve long wished we had light rail. Then over the last week, I started looking into it, and learned that the vast majority of light rail systems run very large deficits. They can’t turn a profit. Even if you take the start-up costs out of the equation, they can’t make enough from ridership to pay for the expense of running the system. That seems to be a really big problem. What’s your answer to that?” Because I really wanted to know. I really want light rail to be workable!!
“Well, that’s just not true.”
“Actually, it is. The Minneapolis system runs multi-million dollar deficits each year. Chicago’s CTS is not profitable. The big NJ system is not profitable. I think the only light rail system that IS profitable is in Seattle. But all those cities are much larger than Des Moines.”
“Amtrack is very profitable in the northeast corridor.”
“OK, sure, do you know what the commuting population is in that area? Plus, the time savings that people experience by taking a train instead of a car?”
“But as gas prices go up, the cost of a train goes down.”
“The relative cost.”
“To the taxpayer?”
At this point, the young man appears confused. “No, see, as gas goes up, the relative cost of a train goes down.”
“Are you talking to the individual rider, in ticket prices?”
“No, the relative cost.”
“Oh, ok. thanks.”
This man clearly memorized the talking points but without any real understanding. And it’s too bad. I WANTED him to convince me. I was ready to be convinced.
The next day, I learned that their other petition was to “dear candidate” and essentially said “we think Iowa should solve global warming.” OK… ignoring that they clearly are in need of a lesson in basic goal setting, I asked what specifically they are proposing here. How can we solve global warming, and what is their group doing about it?
We want more energy-efficient housing, cars, and alternative fuels.
Sounds good. I’m generally more-or-less in favor of those things. How will we get them? Pass laws requiring them. Force people to build Green homes. Force people to buy Green cars.
What is your group doing to help facilitate people making these changes on their own, grassroots-type stuff? Nothing. It was just so disappointing.
Well, heck, folks, come over to Natural Living Des Moines. Facilitating Green and Natural Living to whatever extent you are comfortable. Without the government forcing it on you.
(Wondering what my beef is with forcing people through laws? Among them is the idea that then we have the government deciding what constitutes “green.” It’s the same reason I’m against so-called “fat taxes.” Sugar and Butter would surely be on the list of Bad For You Foods, but they’re far better for you than their man-made substitutes. I don’t want Uncle Sam deciding what makes Green and what doesn’t.)