Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The traffic light analogy

In the city traffic light is a fact of life. People know from their daily experience that regulation of traffic flow is necessary, even if incovenient when you are in a hurry. In the rural area, traffic light is regarded as an undue intrution to personal freedom and judgement of the traffic situation.

This difference in daily experience also explains the different opions about gun control. Rural residents see owning guns as the only guarantee of their own safety and security. Because of its vast space and longer distance, if there is a violent crime it will be over before the police arrive. For the city dwellers, on the other hand, the crowded, diversified, quickly changing environment make shooting back impractical. It will be safer for everyone if no one is allowed to carry guns in the city except for police. As a result support for gun control is strong.

This rural city divide may also to some degree explain difference in political ideology and party affiliation. The rural farm states are conservative because their living space is large and far in between. Naturally they prefer more freedom and less rules. For example, Wyoming, Montana, North and South Dakota are rural and conservative. In population centers like New York City and Los Angels people understand rules are necessary for busy, fast moving city life. As a result their leaning is liberal, which is giving authority to beauracrats, and everybody have to live with building codes, fire codes and so on.

US is a big country that encompass both rural areas and large cities. I think there is always going to be debates about which way is better - more freedom or more rules. I also think this is why a high degree of local autonomy is necessary: some areas need more rules; others more freedom. If possible, both should have their way.

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