“We’re trying to change peoples’ behavior!”

“We’re trying to change peoples’ behavior!”

If we are bound to improve, we need not trouble to improve. The pure doctrine of progress is the best of all reasons for not being a progressive. ― G.K. Chesterton

That’s how the person connected to Batavia city government (perhaps a city councilperson) responded to my column on the regressive nature of their dime-a-single-use-bag tax. “We’re trying to change peoples’ behavior.”

Of course, my semi-smartass response was their initiative, indeed, changed my “behavior.” Now, with the exception of Traders Joe’s where we’ve been armed with multi-use grocery bags for over 20 years, I will no longer shop in Batavia.

I further explained that if the federal government couldn’t convince 52 million American adults to get at least one COVID vaccination, despite their rampant obesity putting them squarely in the pandemic’s crosshairs, what makes anyone think they’ll change their plastic shopping bag habit anytime soon?

And this strange government incited anti-vaccine-ism has hemorrhaged into the at-risk older population who suddenly refuse to get their annual flu shots. The rash of government backed PSA commercials extolling its vast virtue notwithstanding, only 7 percent of Americans have rolled up their sleeves for the newest COVID vaccine.

They’ve “changed peoples’ behavior” alright, just not in the way they expected to.

It’s the same inexorable progressive social engineering impulse that’s behind the proliferation of DEI programs (Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion) currently plaguing local government. All these stilted agendas do is create the very reality they allegedly address. The second you inject identity politics into anything, it comes down to accusing white people of being “closet racists” while they turn minorities into victims who couldn’t possibly navigate this existence without progressive Caucasians lighting the way.

Then, instead of “changing behavior,” both “sides” simply dig in.

Not to mention the irony I’ve mentioned a number of times before. The Geneva city council loves to laud their DEI citizen task force and their brand-new city staffer, both who’ve consistently failed to address the glaring reality that Geneva’s municipal workforce is still 99 percent white.

And if they can’t change their own city government’s behavior, then what makes them think they’re going to get the rabble to “see the light.”

It was along these very behavioral lines that a reader encouraged me to watch the last ten minutes of the Geneva city council’s October 23 committee of the whole meeting. Having duly watched all 600 seconds of it, I was tempted to veer off on the kind of satirical exposition that would’ve become the stuff of op-ed legend.

But that’d be far too easy, and truth be told, their end-of-the-meeting progressive meanderings weren’t nearly as horrifying as they were purported to be. Though I do wonder if that’s simply a case of me becoming accustomed to their general insanity.

When the mayor asked for new business, First Ward alderperson Anaïs Bowring asked the mayor and city manager to encourage Genevans to leave their leaves on their lawns so they would provide “pollinators” and other small creatures with a more suitable overwinter hibernation habitat.

She clearly wasn’t aware of the abuse I took years back when I proposed eliminating Geneva’s fall leaf pickup in favor of letting mulching mowers do their thing in the Geneva Sun. I swiftly learned that one should never come between a Genevan and their leaves.

Ms. Bowring similarly encouraged the City to promote “No mow May” where residents would leave the leaves until June so those same small critters could emerge from their long winter’s nap intact. Of course, I mistakenly interpreted that as “No mo’ May,” a rap initiative ostensibly resolved to eliminate the month of May because they found the pilgrim ship name to be so offensive.

Again, it’s a just minor concept and no one said city council meetings had to be solemn affairs. But I do take issue with that governing body’s persistent inability to prioritize issues such that basic services and infrastructure requirements are taking a back seat to protecting “pollinators.”

But even if that weren’t the case, not only do these governmental “behavior modification” attempts inevitably fall flat, but they almost always create the equal and opposite reaction. So, what’s the point of progressives’ persistently coming back to them only to waste even more of everyone’s time.

If the federal government really wanted everyone to get a COVID shot, they should’ve announced that the vaccine would only be distributed to high-ranking elected officials and the Illuminati. The rabble would’ve been pounding down pharmacy doors to get the shot.

If Batavia really wanted their citizenry to bring their own bags to the grocery store, then they should’ve passed an ordinance making them illegal. Incensed by another example of “government overreach,” Batavians would’ve immediately resorted to reusable shopping bags.

Similarly, if Geneva wants us to avoid May mowing, all the city council has to do is tell their constituents they MUST mow their lawns at least eight times that month. The ensuing municipal rebellion would be so epic that Mel Gibson would likely make a movie about it.

Even the harshest justice system penalties fail to provide any type of deterrent behavioral effect. Between attorney’s fees, court costs, fines, and probationary programs, it costs at least ten grand to successfully survive a DUI charge. But even though EVERYONE knows that’s the case, it has  no effect on the chronic drunk drivers who wreak most of the havoc.

And if that five-figure threat doesn’t change their behavior, what makes a progressive city councilperson believe they will?

Unless local government wants to adopt my reverse psychology theory, it’s time for our progressive compatriots to face facts and let go of the notion that they’re some sort of self-anointed social engineers. Not only have their attempts proven to be a consistent failure, but they detract from the issues that really do require our attention.

And that’s a long list in the city of Geneva.

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