Golden City Council
Hi there. My name is Josh Thompson.
I live in Golden. More technically, Ward 2, District 1.
My wife and I live in these apartments, and love ‘em. (I like to rock climb. There’s a climbing gym a 2 minute walk away. It’s perfect!)
Why am I running for office, and what will I do once I get there?
My wife and I moved to Golden in 2014. We then left for a year and a half, and spent the whole time itching to return. We’ve been back for a year and a few months.
About the same time I got back, I started reading up on how American cities and towns had grown over the last hundred years.
And then I encountered the growth Ponzi scheme, and the more I investigated it, the more I got frustrated by it.
In most cases, we (average people) are allowed to live in a very small range of living arrangements, and those arrangements also set us on the road to bankruptcy.
In August of 2016, I wrote this short piece.
Since then, I’ve been marinating in interesting ideas, like the ones contained in the following books:
- Money, Bank Credit, and Economic Cycles
- Happy City: Transforming Our Lives through Urban Design
- The Problem of Political Authority: An Examination of the Right to Coerce and the Duty to Obey
- Everything I Want to Do Is Illegal: War Stories from the Local Food Front
- The Market for Liberty
- The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion
- The Privatization of Roads and Highways
- Folks, This Ain’t Normal: A Farmer’s Advice for Happier Hens, Healthier People, and a Better World
And much, much more.
There is basically a large group of thoughtful people who believe that with experimentation and freedom, we (humans) can slowly discover better ways of doing things, and, assuming good solutions earn money and bad ones lose money, the better solutions will win and spread.
This process of experimentation is extremely delicate and can be broken in many ways:
- Legislate against certain kinds of experimentation
- Subsidize potentially bad ideas
- Penalize potentially good ideas
- Calcify all of the above so we can never differentiate good ideas from bad
I, like many people who are reading this, am regularly frustrated by events in the world around me. I can’t do anything about that, though. I can impact my family, and the few people that read this and that I talk to.
What will I do if I win
I attended a few city council events, and found over and over themes of doing more of what got us into a bad spot, instead of less.
There are so many incredible people who care so much about Golden, and the community, but I find the looming power of the state overshadowing it so much, it makes the stakes for every single decision so high, that all of the concern and interest is directed to what the government can or will do.
I’d prefer to see the balance of power tipped more towards individuals in the community, and away from a rule-heavy government.
For example, the Golden Historic Preservation Board is a group of people who care a lot about Golden. They’re working hard to preserve valuable bits of Golden’s history, but because all of the power channels through the state (by “the state” I mean “the government”), most of the interest groups think first about how to influence the government, because that’s the biggest bang for their buck.
But like I’ve said before - I’d be a terrible politician.
(For a frame of reference, the fliers I’ve been passing out are not normal. One person who looked at it said “I can’t tell if this is a joke or not, but you should never let a voter see this.”)
All I can promise is that, per the style of everything else I do, I’ll write about it on here a lot, and explain my reasoning for various decisions. I suspect that in most cases, my answer will be some variation of “I don’t think this is an appropriate domain for government to be involved.”
The following is going to be published in the Golden Informer soon. It’s my “why you should/shouldn’t vote for me” pitch.
You probably shouldn’t vote for me.
Here’s some reasons you might want to vote for me, followed by some reasons you shouldn’t:
My wife and I adore Golden.
Whenever friends and family visit from out of town, my wife and I play “tour guide” and excitedly take them around town, and try to convince them (often, successfully) that Golden is the coolest place ever.
I’m sensitive to the range of perspectives on Golden’s affordability, because I want to someday see both my in-laws and children be able to live in Golden.
A plan that eliminates the option for people to move to Golden wouldn’t work - it would drive housing prices even higher.
A plan that lets Golden be “suburbanized” and become like Lakewood wouldn’t work either - it would kill what makes Golden special.
A community that fits only one demographic, or one income level, is one of hopeless uniformity. If you like Golden, and would like family and friends to be able to afford to live nearby, we’ve got the same goals.
I know very little, and am even worse at telling the future.
The way legislation tends to work is by codifying the current opinions of the majority (or a vocal minority), and making everyone live by those new laws.
These laws, born out of a desire to avoid some harm, lead to a rigid, inflexible, unbending solution that forces the community to conform to the law, instead of the law conforming the the community.
In contrast to this “opinions as law” approach, I love flexibility and experimentation, and dislike sterile, managed environments. Therefore, I will vote in support of experimentation, instead of in a way that assumes we have perfect knowledge and know the future.
I’m pessimistic on the ability of a bureaucratic organization to bring about new value to the world.
If “believing that governments can solve all of the problems and can make everyone happy” is a prerequisite to run for city council, you would not be reading these words right now.
Some people think governments can solve all our problems. These people may be better suited to functioning within a bureaucratic organization than myself.
I don’t actually enjoy politics.
I love being involved in the local community, but unfortunately, so much of what our local community looks like is completely dictated by local politics. So, if I want to be an active member of the community, it stands to reason I should be involved in the politics.
You might now be thinking:
OK, Josh. I’ve read this far, but tell me how you’d vote on (topic X).
Good question. My opinions on issues related to local government are informed by people/books/organizations like:
- Within Walking Distance: Creating Livable Communities for All, Philip Langdon
- A Better Way to Zone: Ten Principles to Create More Livable Cities, Donald Elliott
- Antifragile, Nassim Taleb
- The Problem with Political Authority, Michael Huemer
- Seeing Like a State, James C. Scott
Questions? Send them to [email protected]
Unless you say otherwise, I’ll take the core of your question, and my answer, and post it here as a bit of a FAQ section. I won’t include your name or identifying question unless you give permission.