West Lafayette is a diverse community. We don’t look, talk, think or act the same. There is no template of behavior that can explain why each of us does what we do. Nor is there one single source of information that can account for all action that we take; to claim there is such a source is a claim to deity.
How are the diverse needs, wants and beliefs of a community met and expressed? Through voluntary association and exchange we each act in a way to bring satisfaction to our own lives. We may disagree with our neighbors on the value they place on their desires, but we grant them the liberty to pursue the ends they want. My closest friends shake their heads at the things I value.
How do we, as a community, place value on the ends we desire? We don’t. What we value is the freedom (freedom, not anarchy, save the hyperbolic agreements for another day) to pursue the ends we desire. We do not value the ends, we value the means to the ends. As a community we do not value Chinese food, we value the freedom of the suppliers and consumers to pursue Kung Pao Chicken. It is freedom that allows individuals to use what belongs to them to pursue the things they want without infringing on others.
But what happens when we are coerced into giving our means to another, who dictates for us what our desired ends should be? There is a knock at your door, “Hello, I am here to take your money. Here is your veggie burger”. Nothing against veggie-burgers, if you like them fine, but not for me, thanks. I would rather keep my money and buy my own dinner.
Am I not free to decide my own actions? Thankfully for the most part, I am, as are you. But what happens when our individual wealth is taken and directed to an end dictated by another party? Why should the city of West Lafayette build a recreation/aquatic center?
Is there a need? If there was, wouldn’t it be met by another means? Recreation is not like police or fire protection, or streets and sewers. Recreation is a highly personalized activity. Golf is fine, I guess, but chess is better. Swimming is good, but walking is better. Hard to believe, but others would disagree. They value other activities more and would pursue them, or some other activity, that meets their desires.
How can government possibly know what all of its citizens want for recreation?
Is there a questionnaire that yields such information? Or, are city leaders myopic in their vision and focused on their own special interest (noble service in the public interest)? And if there is such a questionnaire, was the question posed as, “Would you like a recreation/aquatic facility if you knew it would cost each of your neighbors thousands of dollars”? Some how, I think the moral acumen of our community would be, “No thanks.”