Say it with us: "TANSTAAFL"

Thursday, October 11, 2012

An article in a local paper recently lambasted certain weekends visitors as unwelcome noisy bikers whose presence decibel-wise was not worth whatever money they might bring to town, regardless of the amount. The same piece accused the mayor for being actively pro-biker and therefore wrong.

Eureka has gone through similar cycles before, notably a point when buses of tourists were literally run out of town by a wedge of citizens so intolerant of their presence -- no matter how much money they brought to the area -- that in the end, the buses went away, and tourism subsequently fell away with them.

Psychologically, if applied to an individual rather than a community, this anti-tourist impulse would surely be categorized as Borderline Personality Disorder -- "I hate you/Don't leave me" is the slogan which best captures the condition.

"People with BPD also tend to see things in terms of extremes, such as either all good or all bad. Their views of these people may change quickly. A person who is looked up to one day may be looked down on the next day. These suddenly shifting feelings often lead to intense and unstable relationships."

The preceding paragraph does tend to describe a certain vector of Eureka's populace, doesn't it? And not just people in city government -- those members of city government who exhibit BPD characteristics simply reflect a larger constituency of which they are representatives.

But what is there to do? If this group of people are always going to indulge in self-destructive behavior regarding tolerance of groups they don't like, in this case bikers, then how do we prevent the city from cutting its own throat economically time after time after time?

Frankly, there is no good answer beyond not voting their advocates into office and ignoring the others as much as possible. Freud believed self-knowledge was the key to freedom, but subsequently we know this is not true. To be told what's wrong with you often acts instead as a sort of blanket permission to act badly.

Part and parcel of Eureka's sense of self is its sense of contrariness, and that's both a good and bad thing. Yes-men don't help anybody in the long run, and contrariness is part of our character as a community.

On the other hand, a wise man once said there are two kinds of people in the world, those who want to tell everybody else what to do, and those who want to be left the hell alone.

That group who want to tell everybody else what to do are well represented locally, but if we are going to make such a big deal about being a diverse community, then it isn't fair to limit our tolerance to certain groups and not others. Diversity for one is diversity for all, whether it's bikers or anybody else. Different businesses reap the rewards of different tourist groups. If your business did not profit by the Bikes, Blues & BBQ weekend, certainly others did, and your turn will come with a different event. Everybody has to eat, everybody has to pay bills.

As has been referenced elsewhere in this paper recently, people do not drive 600 miles to vacation in Berryville or Green Forest, as they do Eureka Springs, for reasons obvious to a small child if not to those who piss and moan about noise pollution. Eureka Springs is a brilliant destination for a whole lot of people, and many who come here return again and again, unless they're creeped out by resistance to their presence.

In a time when the country is just recovering from the 2nd worse economic climate in a century, we as a community do not need to adopt exclusionary or anti-business attitudes toward the people who happily flock here weekend after weekend to pay our bills.

There is a sound ordinance in place; let it be enforced. "There ain't no such thing as a free lunch," as Robert Heinlein once said. (Acronym-ized as TANSTAAFL). Most people may not enjoy the noise level, but only those who don't need the money are in a position to demand the bikers go away. People in that position might find it easier to go away to the country for the weekend themselves, rather than wish a pox on those of us trying to pay the rent.

TANSTAAFL. Say it with us: "TANSTAAFL."