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Posts tagged Nigeria

War on the Informal Sector (Cont’d)

  • Neutron Bomb Urbanism, from Stealth of Nations by Robert Neuwirth: in which Babatunde Fashola, arbitrary but energetic State Governor of Lagos, Nigeria, possessed of a gleaming vision and infrastructure and housing projects for Lagos, cordons off and destroys 10,000 people’s homes in the shantytown neighborhood of Badia East. This comes on the heels of his government’s destruction of homes and displacement of more than one million people in largely unannounced, government slum clearances [sic]. The same government has also demolished squatter communities in Makoko, razed street markets and criminalized street selling in the name of his gleaming visions and the socioeconomic cleansing that will scour his city of poor people’s homes, lives and livelihoods.

  • You will be assimilated: State of Illinois vs. Technological Progress and Human-Scale Trade, from Cameron Scott at SocialTimes. The company behind the Square credit-card processor — one of the single most beneficial developments in years for small-scale sellers, ranging from storefront small businesses to informal hawkers and yard sales (I use it myself for ALL Distro tabling events — is being targeted with a cease-and-desist order and a threat of massive overkill fines from the State of Illinois, because they offer an unlicensed alternative to existing businesses for transmitting money under the State of Illinois. Since they haven’t complied with the right paperwork for a state license that they couldn’t possibly have known they needed, based on the State Government of Illinois’ arbitrary declaration that it will classify them in the category of transmitting money rather than a merchant payment processor, the State of Illinois will now shake them down for a no-doubt expensive and certainly legally burdensome licensing settlement, or else it will assess a fine of $1,000 per transaction, $1,000 per day, and 4@@c3;2014; the transaction amount for continuing to process credit card payments for individuals and small businesses. As usual, the state’s mad insistence on compliance at all costs, with a maddeningly complex, largely arbitrary and in practice completely unpredictable set of bureaucratic requirements, means an assault on any disruptive technology or low-overhead upstart, even those that maintain a superficially respectable corporate front; the only way to survive is to call in yet more lawyers, fill out more forms, and to sink yet more time and money into making yourself indistinguishable from every other financial business in operation. Before the Law stands a doorkeeper, and you must be made to see that he is mighty; after all, the clash-of-the-titans competition between oligopolistic bureaucratically managed, government regulated finance industry has of course served us all so well that its business model must be locked in and secured against upstart alternative business models, at every opportunity, no matter the cost to low-overhead alternatives and infrastructure and services that community businesses and human-scale commerce have come to depend on.


How Bob Barr Became the Tinhorn Dictator of DC

Bob Barr holds his hands out, as if to say...

Whoa there, democracy!

(The Hon. Rep. Bob Barr)

District of Columbia citizens have long had to face the frustrations of being deprived of home rule and micromanaged by the federal Congress, which maintains ultimate control over the government of D.C., while having no members at all who are elected by D.C. residents. In 1998, the antidemocratic nature of D.C. government was made clear to the point of ridiculousness, as Congressman Bob Barr (R-GA) banned D.C. elections officials from releasing the results of a referendum on allowing the use of medical marijuana, fearing that the majority of D.C. voters would approve. Barr thus managed to effectively mimic Third World tinhorn dictators such as Nigeria’s Sani Abacha, who seized ballot boxes and refused to announce results of elections he feared he had lost.

Since the Barr amendment banned the counting of the results of a referendum solely on the basis of the content of the referendum (that it was to legalize a certain use of marijuana), the ACLU filed and won a First Amendment challenge to the Barr amendment, thus allowing the votes to be counted. As expected, the initiative to legalize medical marijuana in D.C. passed by an overwhelming margin of 69%-31%. However, Rep. Barr quickly went back to work in suppressing the will of the D.C. voters, eventually managing to push through a bill overriding the initiative and banning D.C. from enacting or carrying out the bill that they had overwhelmingly voted to pass.

When the Founders created the District of Columbia as a special area set aside from all the several states, the idea was to create a space for the federal capital which would not be beholden to the sectional interests of any of the several states. However, since the 18th century, D.C. has exploded far beyond merely being a city for the top branches of federal government. Within the borders of D.C. lies one of the largest metropolitan areas in the nation. It is long past time that the federal area of D.C. be reduced into a much smaller area for the federal office buildings, monuments, and possibly residential space for federal office holders; the rest of D.C. should be granted the full rights and responsibilities of statehood under the U.S. Constitution, thus restoring democratic rights to home rule and representation in Congress to the hundreds of thousands of people within its borders.

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