Friday in Whitewater will be sunny with a high of 82. Sunrise is 5:15 AM and sunset 8:36 PM for 15h 20m 07s of daytime. The moon is a waning gibbous with 86.9% of its visible disk illuminated.
On this day in 1673, Marquette & Joliet Reach the Mississippi:
“Here we are, then, on this so renowned river, all of whose peculiar features I have endeavored to note carefully.” It’s important to recall that Marquette and Joliet did not discover the Mississippi: Indians had been using it for 10,000 years, Spanish conquistador Hernan De Soto had crossed it in 1541, and fur traders Groseilliers and Radisson may have reached it in the 1650s. But Marquette and Joliet left the first detailed reports and proved that the Mississippi flowed into the Gulf of Mexico, which opened the heart of the continent to French traders, missionaries, and soldiers. View a Map of Marquette & Joliet’s route.
Why don’t communities move from government solutions to private ones? (A point about Whitewater that is key to understanding both private initiative and the city: there is no one private path. Business people talk endlessly about business uplift, as though there were a choice merely between government programs and business growth. That’s a myopic view of private life. Many private activities are cultural or charitable, and are significant parts of a thriving community.)
For now, back to the question as applied to Whitewater: why doesn’t Whitewater move past fixation on government activity (of the city government and school district)?
An answer: community leaders either (1) falsely tout local government’s ability to uplift the city (and so draw attention to supposed public solutions) or (2) make a hash of projects and proposals (and so attract attention to public mishaps).
The first is boosterism, the second is bungling, and they both keep the focus on public, not private, actions. Private activity struggles to take hold in a place where government takes up so much social space in a small town.
Appointed public officials who promise too much or deliver too little make themselves a burden on residents. Whitewater is a low-income community; many residents have enough to address without public officials’ commotions. Appointees should be afforded ample coaching, but they should not be coddled. (I am convinced that, however uncomfortable it may seem at first, willing and sincere people can be coached to handle all sorts of intense encounters.) If they’re receptive to good advice, and follow it, then so much the better for everyone.
The libertarian concern, so to speak, is that government should be limited, responsive, and humble so that a myriad of private accomplishments and associations become possible. Well-ordered public institutions should do only so much as to allow for a private, spontaneous order, an order that forms and grows to meet human needs and desires.
And until public institutions are limited & humble, there’s a need for a critique, so that they might not be millstones around the community’s neck.
Whitewater does not have a margin for empty public promises, hollow public achievements, or chronic public controversies.