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No permit, no problem? 2 men sick of waiting on government are fixing potholes themselves

Chris Lang and Mike Warren are two dedicated citizens who have decided to make Indiana’s problems their own. The two men launched Open Source Roads, a grassroots collective of volunteers, to help improve the streets of Indianapolis. Along with some friends, Lang and Warren fix potholes in their spare time.

The Department of Public Works has rated the streets of Indianapolis “poor” and says it will cost an estimated $732 million to make them “fair.”

“We want to fill a lot of potholes, and we want people to help out and see that we don’t need to rely on this monopoly for it, and I want that to be what starts the people in charge talking about change,” Lang told the Indy Star.

Glenn and Stu talked about this example of libertarian-inspired ingenuity on today’s show and if you want to help the group, they are accepting donations to 'Fix Muh Roads' on gofundme.com. 

This article provided courtesy of TheBlaze.

GLENN: So let me show you how things are changing.

Now, I think these guys -- I want to talk to these guys in about a week. Because I have a feeling things are going to change for them now that they're getting national attention, which I would find really unfortunate.

There are two men in Indiana that were really tired of waiting for the city to repair potholes. So they started a grassroots organization called open source roads.

And they -- they started to make an Indianapolis pothole map. And where the really bad ones are. And then they were tired of sitting around, waiting for the city.

So Mike Warren and Chris language spent their own money. And they're not -- you know, they're not wealthy. And they bought asphalt.

And now they're going around and they're filling the potholes in the city. Now, they're fans of Ron Swanson from parks and recreation. And one of them said, I've got a poster on my wall of Ron.

STU: And he's basically a Libertarian on the show. In real life, he does not seem to be at all, the actor that portrays him. But, yes.

GLENN: Not at all.

But he said they have gathered about five different friends, these two. And Warren and language -- and sometimes others, they go out on their weekends in their spare time and they fix the worst potholes in the city. We want to fill a lot of potholes. We want people to help out and see that we don't need to rely on this monopoly of a government for it. I want that to be what starts the people taking charge about their own life and start talking about change.

The city is going to fail at their own monopoly. Why should they have that monopoly? The Department of Public Works rated the city's roads poor. Said it would take 200 -- sorry, $732 million, to upgrade them to fair condition. So they don't have a permit for what they're doing.

STU: This is awesome.

GLENN: I know. But they say the city and the police officers, they're not stopping them.

Betsy Whitmore, chief of communications for the Indianapolis Department of Public Works, said in an email, that obtaining a permit to work on city-owned streets and right-of-way is important. So the city knows what's going on.

What kind of answer is that? I mean, I love that answer. But that's like a Texan.

I mean, just let us know what you're doing in the streets.

(laughter)

Can you imagine doing this in New York?

STU: I can't -- that's also -- seems like a way that they're saying, you better get a permit, or this is going to stop, no?

GLENN: I don't know.

So far, Lang, one of the guys, estimates they spend between 800 and $1,000 for tools and for asphalt. Part of the money came from their own paychecks and donations for their GoFundMe page, campaign to Fix Muh Roads. M-U-H.

STU: I love these guys.

GLENN: I know.

The two started April 2017, after Warren saw a video of anarchists in Portland patching their city streets.

STU: This is hilarious.

GLENN: I love this. The anarchists in Oregon say that capitalism and government are not necessary for society to function, according to the Oregonian. Okay. So these guys don't necessarily have a lot in common, except, you know, capitalism -- all right. In Oregon doesn't work.

But they both believe, we don't need the government to do the things that they don't do well. We can do this.

Language and Warren say, they are not anarchists and do not want to replace the Department of Public Works. But they thought a similar grassroots repair effort would help solve some of the problems on side streets, and call on the city to provide better service.

STU: That's really interesting. Because one of the classic complaints against Libertarianism is, what are you -- private businesses to have -- to run all the roads? Yeah, that would be fantastic. We could see how it works, when you drive around, let's say a business.

GLENN: Uh-huh.

STU: How many entrances to Walmart are in complete disrepair? They're not. Because they want people to drive on those roads and come into the store. So they make sure that they're kept up.

If you give private business an incentive to do these things and they will be done better, I love this though. This is a great idea. It's interesting, it's not -- there's a story we talked about with Toronto a few months ago.

GLENN: I am -- I hate this story, and I simultaneously love this story.

STU: Yeah. Because the outcome is unfortunate. Toronto said, they needed stairs to go down this little hill. It's not even a hill.

GLENN: It's like a park.

STU: From one level of parking lot into the park. It was a very short -- I mean, it was ten stairs, 12 stairs.

GLENN: Yeah.

STU: And it was going to be 55 to $60,000 for them to install these stairs. Well, a local guy -- this is like -- what? $55,000.

He spent $550 of his own money.

GLENN: He bought the lumber and the concrete.

STU: Yep. Built the stairs himself. Put them in. Perfectly fine stairs.

And problem solved. Until, of course, Toronto got wind of it and then came in and tore the stairs down because they didn't like the way it was done. Now, of course, you're always going to have issues.

GLENN: I think the point he was trying to make was, it doesn't take $60,000 to make stairs.

STU: Exactly. Of course it doesn't. We all know it doesn't. We even hear this with the wall, when they're talking about the wall on the southern border.

And they're like, well, it's going to cost $25 billion. You're just like, $25 billion for a wall? Like I understand that it's government and everything seems to cost more. But does that -- does that sound even remotely coherent?

GLENN: May I just say -- may I just say this, listen to what these two guys in Indiana said: They were asked, are you worried about getting hit?

While it seems like two people can actually fill potholes, there is a supporting group to protect the group from traffic. This can include an extra staff to hold warning signs for drivers and a driver of a blocker truck, to provide a barrier between pothole-filling workers and traffic.

Whitmore said, usually, the city uses five to six people. We pretty much get it done with two.

STU: That's great.

GLENN: It is. It is.

STU: Because there are -- obviously, like, if you had just guys coming around and building bridges across things, like you might have some issues. Maybe there's not engineering, necessarily. But if you have an understanding on how to do this and you can do it safely, and the other part is, with the exception of getting hit while you're filling in the pothole, it used to have nothing in it.

I mean, if they put marshmallows inside of it, it would probably be better than what it was. So it's hard to do damage when you're filling a pothole.

GLENN: It's remarkable. And now, who will be the first to stop these guys?

It's not going to -- can you imagine that? In New York City, I remember -- I remember when New York City began to change me. And it was -- I was standing at a subway or some place. And there was -- there was garbage blowing around everywhere.

Now, in some cities, I'm in towns and things, and I see garbage. I'll pick it up, and I'll put it in the trash can.

I don't do that in New York. You don't ever do that in New York. For multiple reasons, you don't do that.

STU: There's usually needles attached to each piece of garbage.

GLENN: Yeah, so you don't do that in New York. I remember seeing the trash blowing, and I remember thinking to myself, about a year and a half in New York, when the hell is the city going to do something about this?

And it just took me by surprise. I was like, what? And it was in front of our building. And I was complaining about the city. Here, go out and pick it up. Go out and sweep.

STU: Yeah. It's interesting.

GLENN: But you don't do that. And the city makes it impossible for you to want to do anything. They don't want you to do anything. No, no, no, no. Don't move that.

STU: I mean, a lot of that is people justifying their jobs and people --

GLENN: Yeah.

STU: But there's a longer term ideological reason for these things, which is to imprison you to govern. I mean, this is what they want you to believe. They like the idea that you're dependent on them.

GLENN: Uh-huh.

STU: It gives them the control. It gives them the power. It gives them everything.

So when -- and, again, these are little examples of it. But it goes deeper than this. People used to be -- I lost my job. I need to get a job. Well, then there's people arguing for 99 weeks about employment. Right? Ninety-nine weeks. That was never something.

Look, there are reasons. There are reasons that these things pop up. But it's a change in mindset, in which we demand from the government, things that we used to demand of ourselves.

GLENN: It is remarkable that I think this is beginning to change. I really think this is beginning to change.

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