Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels and I actually agree on something. And no, I haven't changed my mind about taxing grocery bags.
About 5 years ago, I proposed that the state of Washington rid itself of Seattle and give that nuisance to France. This was during the run up to the Iraq War and, at the time, there was little to distinguish between the anti-Americanism of the French government and the anti-Americanism of the Seattle city council – except for the fact that the French made their point using pretty good English. Seattle’s congressman-for-life, Jim McDermott, even traveled to Baghdad on a flight funded by Saddam Hussein to regurgitate Saddam’s propaganda for consumption by the world’s media. France’s president was similarly in the pocket of the Iraqi dictator. France just seemed like a more natural match for Seattle’s purple-haired, caffeine fueled weirdos than the rest of Washington, which is more down-to-earth.
My suggestion made news in the Seattle Times and gained me an interview on a Seattle radio station. But in the intervening years, conditions have changed and I’d like to take it back now and issue an apology – to France. I now propose that Seattle should be given to Venezuela.
And now I have at least a partial ally in Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels. Recently, the esteemed mayor advocated secession from Washington, as doing so would free Seattle from the hicks who keep the mildew and moss capital of the world from achieving its proper status on the world stage.
“Our region should declare its independence,” Nickels thundered at a recent luncheon. “If we were a country, [our economy] would be just a little smaller than Thailand. We would be larger than Colombia, Venezuela. We are held back because our state and federal government still believe our economies are driven by wheat farms and timber logging.”
He was upset because his city is not receiving enough outside assistance in solving his region’s transportation problems and because the state legislature declined to violate the constitution by enacting gun control laws he wanted.
“We have rural legislators making decisions on things like the viaduct and whether we can keep our city safe,” Nickels whined.
I’m pretty sure that our local hick legislators would cast a similarly skeptical eye on other enlightened big city ideas of his, such as his 20-cent apiece tax on plastic shopping bags. It’s so sad that this creative Gulliver-like titan finds himself tied down by the intellectual Lilliputians from the far side of the Cascades.
But of course, the city of Seattle hasn’t shown much wisdom in solving its own transportation problems. A few years ago, the city voted to spend $1.5 billion to extend the monorail. What the heck was that supposed to solve? Does anybody really believe that the monorail is going to relieve road congestion? And then there’s Sound Transit, which vacuums up phenomenal amounts of money while its most optimistic proponents confess it could only reduce traffic congestion by about 1%.
Most people favor mass transit projects because they’re hoping that their neighbors will take the bus or the train or the monorail, and leave more space on the highway for themselves. Greg Nickels himself is part of that problem as he won’t use the bus, but expects everyone else to do so. It would make finding a parking space so much easier.
So, why Venezuela? Well, for one thing, Seattle and Venezuela deserve each other. I’d love to see Nickels, McDermott and Venezuelan strongman Hugo Chavez competing for television time. And I see little space between the ideology of Seattle’s most enduring politician, Jim McDermott, and Hugo Chavez, except that Chavez might be a little more respectful of wiretapping laws. Seattle should feel right at home as a Venezuelan province. And Hugo Chavez would welcome the additional votes as his attempts to consolidate his power into a dictatorship have encountered opposition at the polls. He would certainly appreciate the addition of a couple of million like-minded voters to propel his agenda.
I would also find it amusing to watch Seattlistas trying to impose their naive and self-righteous environmentalism on a developing country. In King County, you can’t clear blackberry bushes from your own land without permission. Even if Venezuelans seem to embrace Chavez’s socialism, if only by a thin majority, I doubt that they would tolerate the smug micromanagement style of a Seattle greenie.
We’d be rid of Seattle. Seattle would be rid of us. I’d be amused. Win, win, win.