Very interesting article!!! Santa Monica isn't the nice place to live that it once was, I think. The big-picture social observations here are something no one brings up, but we do think about traffic as being, not people, but cars.
Perhaps if it were otherwise there would be fewer accidents?
Equity amongst individuals, and between individuals and the government are legitimate issues for discussion here.
However, I reassert my position that this really has nothing to do with building bonds between individuals to form a meaningful connection. Yes, it is a nice thing to do and fosters good will amongst peers. However, the likelihood that two individuals interact again is low - I go on my way, and you go on yours. When people do not turn over there parking meters to a stranger they don't share contact information. How is this building community?
On the "bystander effect", aka "Genovese effect" - What's the parallel? There is no emergency to take responsibility for.
The 'fairness' argument certainly has many twists. The individual is always the one who has to personally give to maintain 'fairness' for a big and always needy government.
I immediately indentified with the unfairness of resetting a parking meter when a car moves so that the neverending wants of growing government can be satiated. Why is it unfair for an individual to give away what he has personally paid for yet at the same time be considered fair for the government to collect twice on the same rental? Government officials increasingly call the private sector greedy; yet the big bureaucracy denies it's own record of greed (They are an entity with more funds than most of our biggest corporations) by redefining it as a 'fairness' issue. To the present style of our government, that means it is only fair that government gets to keep and control every individual's hard worked for money and assets. I would like to protest the double taxation by reading a book in my car in my parking spot until my paid for time is used up. However, as always, it is an actual real person who would be harmed, not the taxing entity. The economics of the situation is another person would utilize the space better than me since I would really be done with it. In the end, it is alway the powerful government who gets the money as an unearned bonus because, as unfair as it is for them to not refund my money, it would be more unfair for me to deny my fellow man a needed parking space by protesting. You're correct, it builds community to give your paid for time to another. Shame on us for caring more about the person next to us instead of an anonymous government commission. As I watch the big spenders that have come to rule us instead of serve us, I am going to keep a wary eye on my "alms for the poor". Our own version of King Richard is coming for them.
Tom is correct in his assessment.
Probably not one of the leftists he upbraids would have had the intestinal fortitude to sign the Declaration of Independence. Not one academic did!..although they regularly sign every silly petition that shows up as full-page ads in the NY Times.
Matt's dismissal of the discussion reminds me of the paramount name for this train of thought - Kitty Genovese.
A perceptive and poignent essay. Thank you City Journal. The larger issue of the decline in community needs a bigger discussion.
It must be said that communities exist because they are distinct. Typically what makes them distinctive is shared faith, ancestry, culture, neighborhood, and/or history. Those forms of distinction have been assaulted by the Left since the great cultural revolution of the 1960s - which finds any allegiance other than allegiance to the state to be a threat.
The Left is correct in that understanding.
This article presents good arguments against smart meters. However, the nexus between the extra time on a meter and facilitating "social capital" is pretty weak. I do not consider this a serious argument against implementing smart meters