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Point of View

25 Years and a Zero-sum Game

April, 2021

John Van Horn

Twenty-Five years seems to some like a long time, but for me it went by in the blink of an eye. Parking Today Volume One Number One was a little shaky. We knew little about layout, printing, and finding good content. Google was only a dream in Larry Page’s and Sergey Brin’s eyes. We subscribed to clipping services and received actual cuttings from newspapers that had a ‘parking’ subject.


As the resources of the internet matured and we became a ‘household word’ in our industry, finding content became at once easier and more difficult. We are inundated in articles, but had to become a tad selective to cull out the ‘advertorial’ from the ‘informational’. My goal to never print an article about how long it takes concrete to cure is intact, but I’m sure some of the stories we have printed leave much to be desired.


PT’s Publishing Assistant, Jordan Weiner, interviewed me a few weeks ago and that history of PT can be found on page 74. 


PT hasn’t been without controversy. For some reason unknown to me, a parking operator came unglued when we opined that 20 percent of the monies generated in a parking operation were never collected. We offered to audit any of his locations at no charge. He became quiet.


I have pushed some buttons in my blog, creating controversy, usually from folks who are too cowardly to use their names when they respond to me. Sometimes you have to have a thick skin to become, as Roosevelt (Teddy that is) said: “The man in the arena.” When you publish hundreds of thousands of words a year, you get bloodied from time to time. It goes with the territory.


Magazines aren’t published in a vacuum. Without people to read them, they simply don’t exist. Without you readers, we are nothing. I can offer you only my heartfelt thanks for your comments, support, and criticism over the past two and a half decades. My plans are to continue, God willing, for that many more. 


Someone wrote that the following was among the best pieces I have written. I offer it to you for your consideration:


Zero-Sum Game


I have come to the conclusion that, for many, the world we live in has become a zero-sum game. For someone to win, someone else has to lose an equal amount. Of course, that is so much garbage. Bill Gates won, becoming a zillionaire, while at the same time creating hundreds of thousands of jobs, hundreds of millionaires, and from what I can see, no one lost anything, unless you count the people who are still stuck with Windows Vista.


However, if you read the mainstream press, you find that there is no possibility for anything to happen in government if the winners don’t completely trounce and destroy the losers. We seem to be caught in a conundrum. Not only must I win, but I must continue to hate you, you loser.


Last week, an editor for the Los Angeles Times wrote a piece where she told the story of a next-door neighbor who, unasked, plowed her driveway, and from all accounts did a stellar job. The problem? He was of a different political persuasion from her and she didn’t know how to react. 


After calling him virtually every possible negative in her article, she still couldn’t bring herself to truly ‘thank’ the good deed. She twisted herself into knots assuming that the plowing was in some way a bribe to her to come over to his way of thinking. After all, for him to win, she must lose. 


Buddhists talk about the “middle way.” This refers to the Buddhist understanding of practical life, avoiding the extremes of self-denial and self-indulgence, as well as the view of reality that avoids the extreme positions of eternalism and annihilationism. In other words, extremes on all sides can be detrimental.


I’m not saying that everything should be cut right down the middle. How boring the world would be if there were no bumps along the way. Steel is forged in extreme heat. 


Without that ‘pain’ it would be soft and useless. We need argument, we need conflict. That’s how we learn and grow. 


However, when the combatants fight to the death, when the winners never win enough, we all lose.


There must be a better way. Perhaps not as ‘meh’ as a cut down the middle, but a way to understand that I can win through some compromise, and perhaps to understand that my opponent is not the devil incarnate, but simply has a different idea, opinion, or position. He or she may be wrong, but not evil.


Is it possible that the neighbor who plowed the snow-covered driveway simply felt it was the right thing to do? Maybe the only ulterior motive was kindness. Maybe not everything is about politics, or race, or who hates who.


Perhaps this should be a time of self reflection. Maybe, just maybe, it’s time to look inward and truly analyze our feelings. How scary it must be to believe that half the people in America are evil. Even the guy who plows your driveway.



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