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L. Neil Smith's
Number 484, September 7, 2008

"Barry Obomber and Insane McCain"

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"I want it to be just a lake."
by Curt Howland
Howland -+at+-

Attribute to The Libertarian Enterprise

Yesterday, I took my family for an hour long drive to go to a "lake".

More than one co-worker had told my wife that it was a fun place, well worth the effort. I looked up their web site, and it looked ok but the web page was not what I'd call "professional". So be it. My daughter loves swimming, and my family had a small bungalow next to a lake in upstate NY when I was growing up. Fresh-water swimming it is.

So there we were, zipping down the superhighway, and my daughter comes out with, "I wish it were just a lake."

Her meaning is clear, she wants a natural lake: clear magazine-photo water, Purple Mountains Majesty, etc. A fantasy on the theme of "nature". To tell the truth, I'm just as seduced by the Sierra Club version of nature as she is. Wouldn't It Be Nice.

So I said as much. "Yes, that would be nice." Slime, slugs, frog eggs, leaches, alligators. Swarms of mosquitos. Dead trees, maybe some pollution thrown in for that "authentic" touch.

At that moment, I had an inspiration. A kismet, as it were. I'm glad that we were going to a lake which is someone's business. I'm glad we were paying to use their beach, rather than visiting the extremely life-sustaining natural margin between water and land. I'm glad this is a for-profit business, even sight unseen.

I tell her that no business is going to let there be an alligator in the water. No business is going to have rusted barbed-wire lying, forgotten, on the bottom to step upon. I assure her that, no matter how nice "nature" might seem from a distance, she's going to be happy about this.

Sure enough, what we find has nothing what so ever to do with nature. There is a 10 to 100 foot wide sandy beach around about 1/3 of what is obviously a man-made pond, maybe 1/4 mile in diameter. There is a big water slide, zip-lines, docks, paddle boats, and a snack bar. I'd say there are 300-400 people by lunch time, and it doesn't feel crowded at all.

I expect this used to be a swampy area of a farm, and the farmer realized that they had something better to offer. Something more economically efficient than the ubiquitous tobacco/cotton/corn farmland.

Did I mention picknick tables with charcoal grills, clean toilets, and 4 different water slides one of which was 175 feet long? Oh, and at least a dozen life-guards. Excellent parking, too. Someone has given this thought.

What I noticed most was that the sand was deep, clean and groomed, so that it was soft to walk on. The areas around the many picknick tables, located between and among pine trees, had been raked recently and had numerous well-placed trash cans. There were volley-ball nets put up, with borders marked out on the sand. Swings and monkey-bars for kids. The lifeguard at the big waterslide mentioned that she cleaned the slide three times a week.

I did see a couple of fish swim by me and my boy's legs as we were wandering around in the water, and there were small patches of algae floating around, and no oil sheen on the surface. Clean enough, I'd say.

What's the point, I hear you ask? Am I trying to sell you something here?

No. What I realized when my daughter said, "I want it to be just a lake", is that the emotional appeal of the perfection of "nature" is very seductive. It would be nice if nature worked that way, but reality isn't nice. Nature it not somewhere I want to take my kids to swim. Nature is dangerous, smelly and slimy. Kids are just another food source in nature.

It was a surprise to me, riding down the road like that, to have the benefits of capitalism laid out in front of me in perfect clarity. I hope it's of interest to you, too.

Oh, if you like, here's that web site:


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