The Stoic Traveler

"Wherever I go, it will be well with me."

15 November 2007


L.A.S. s.d. C.L.:

We all have our guilty little pleasures, amice. They are the (usually) harmless activities that we hesitate to mention in polite company. The internet, however, is not polite company; judging by some forums I have read, it barely qualifies as "company," and is certainly not polite. One of my guilty pleasures is the television show Kid Nation on CBS.
The premise is simple: forty kids, ages 8 to 15, move to an old Western movie set in New Mexico. There, they try to build a society by consulting an "old" journal "from the late 1800s," and acting on its "suggestions." Each week there is a new "suggestion," each one invariably divisive and destructive of unity and a well-functioning body politic. Suggestions have included literally dividing the town in to districts (Red, Blue, Green, Yellow) for purposes of the weekly Showdown, introducing religious services (led, of course, by the kids), and, most recently, attempting to "equalize" the districts, so that every district is on an equal competitive footing.
In what might be the most egregious display of the show's Marxist bias, there is a scene in this week's episode in which the Town Council members (the four-kid "ruling" body) try to divvy up the strong kids, the hard workers, and the well-spirited through negotiations among themselves. They give no consideration to the feelings of the transplanted kids, no thought to what might be considered the semi-spontaneous ordering of their proto-society. Their thought is for "the greater good" and "making Showdowns fair" for everyone.
The result of their "fairness" is a complete wash in the showdown, angered and unhappy citizens, and, most likely, a complete reshuffling of the Council next week. The object lesson is clear: central planning fails.