Sunday, July 31, 2016

Healing Revolutions

Do I have any readers left? Blessings to those who read this. It has been five months since I last blogged here. The last year and a half I have not written much at all.

So much has happened. This past winter, I worked 100 hr weeks from Christmas to February, to finance a trip to Senegal West Africa, to vist my love in the Peace Corp. I was able to see the 1-5 millon person city of Dakar; her 500 person village, 20 km off the tar, on a wheel rut road you have to pass through 4 other small villages to get to; I saw the beaches of Saly, and ate 4star French quisine. Greatest vacation ever.

I quit my job and started my own residential remodeling business. I've found ample work, though one of the toxic legacies of the housing bubble that few people understand, is the grotesquely bloated code compliance regime built up during those heady days, now making life very difficult and maybe even impossible, for small businesses like mine. More on that later.

My battle with the city about my greenhouse continues. I applied for the permit I was ordered to apply for in my first hearing, Feb 16. They rejected my permit Mar 29, and then fined me $1460 in three seperate fines within seven weeks, for not pulling a permit. I had another hearing recently to contest those fines, I got a reprieve on the fines, so long as I apply for a permit with better drawings this time. I told them, I can provide you with drawings, but they will confirm your code will not allow for what I built, which is a solid, sound and secure greenhouse. I will probably have to find a structural engineer licensed by the state, to sign off on it, to even get the city to consider granting me a permit.

In adition, I've received four citations this summer for excessive vegetation.

So I haven't had much time to write, nor have I felt much like writing. This blog is full of commentary on the American experiment, but trying to make sense of that lately has proved a challenge.

Watching the media and the Democratic Establishment shut out Bernie and his supporters, has been distressing. Watching Trump go full megalomania in his acceptance speech at the Republican convention, was truly disturbing. It's clear to me he can't tell the difference between a terrorist and a protestor. His constant refrain of Law and Order sounded to me like the unleashing of the security state to kick ass with extreme prejudice.

Clinton was lauded for her optimism, which I found to be mere lipstick on a pig, but then I'm interested in policy decisions, mostly unmoved by lofty rhetoric. Her promise of continuity with Obama policies must mean more war and worse income inequality.

Still, the vision as articulated by the Democrats is vastly preferable to GOP doom and gloom, wrecking ball, authoritarian capitalist theocracy. Except for that Dem bit about turning America into a colony of some new Internationale trade cartel (TPP, TTIP, TISA), and war against Russia and maybe China.

The DNC Convention proved mostly that Hollywood and the Democrats are one. The stuff of make believe. Obama gave a fine speech too, notable mostly for his faiure to mention TPP, the espionage act, indefinite detention, drones, debt or specie extinction, but then real talk is not going to paint a picture opposite the gloomy and ever more rabid pessimism of the GOP.

Clinton might have jumped 25 points in the polls if she had condemned TPP and its wicked triplicate TTIP and TISA, with strong language, uniting a significant number of Bernie and Trump supporters, burying the Donald. Instead she uttered purely Clintonian doublespeak about trade: "If you believe that we should say “no” to unfair trade deals... that we should stand up to China... that we should support our steelworkers and autoworkers and homegrown manufacturers…join us."  

The TPP has been referred to many times by Obama himself as standing up to China, we can't let China write the rules of trade in the 21st century. From the neoliberal perspective TPP TTIP TISA are the next natural, logical step in total global hegemony. Few Americans believe this will be good for America or Americans. Obama is as neo-liberal in his economics as neoliberal gets. Speaking of continuity. In fact, these trade agreements were written by corporations and banks, to undermine democracy, to weaken nation states including America, to make them subservient to international trade law, and to disempower citizens.

If citizens are feeling powerless now, imagine all the important decisions for the water, land, air, immigration etc, defined and enforced by international tribunal?  America is already effectively a colony of this new Internationale, with NAFTA, and under World Trade Organization rules. TPP et al will only solidify that, and make trade monopoly the supreme law of the land by fiat.

When Hillary Clinton says "unfair trade pacts", it is impossible to know what she really means. I suspect, like the Chamber of Commerce and many elite donors flocking to the Democratic party, that Hillary will "come around" on TPP. They will paint it up, more lipstick on a pig, cosmetic changes to make it less obvious that some persons are more equal than others, and she will proclaim it fair and sign it.

That or Obama and the turncoats in Congress, will pass TPP after the election in the lame duck session, and Hillary will do nothing about it but increase hostilities toward Russia and China to distract.

I would consider that an act of treachery against the Republic.

So on the one hand, we have a Democratic Party working with congressional Republicans, to make America a colony of a New Internationale, while on the other hand, a GOP that wants to put the hammer down domestically, take a wrecking ball to American institutions and protections, and enforce by militarism a capitalism by oligarch theocracy.

Either way, the Republic seems deeply in danger. Not by forces without, but by conspiring forces within.

Meanwhile, I am just trying to make a living remodeling houses, which effort is exceedingly challenged by bureaucrats in city gov, administering International Building Codes (IBC). My three most lucrative jobs in 2016 have all been held up, a total of eight weeks and counting, by petty bureaucratic nothingness. I call it menacing disfunction, because there is no accountability, everyone you talk to will give you a different answer to every question, and there is zero awareness of the economic effect. It is truly an existential problem for me, reducing my income by 10% and counting, which income is already working-poor.

What do I hear from the Left about that? That because I am an educated white male I must be an oppressor? What does the Right have to say? They say they want to deregulate, but they aren't talking about IBC bedeviling of small business, they are talking about granting the right of Corporation, Bank and Oligarch to exercise "freedom" as they see fit, whatever that means for the health of the biosphere, or the health of America.

I admit I am beguiled by Trump's vision of dumping NAFTA, of pulling back on hostilities toward Russia, of pulling back on American Imperialism. But I am appalled by his constant appeal to the basest instincts, the megalomania of his prescriptions, and his might is right neo-darwinism. Every time I look at Mike Pence I see SS. While Trump promises a kind of wrecking ball approach to neoliberal economics and neocon warmongering, his tax cuts are a disquised feudalism, death knell to the social contract of social security, medicare etc, even the public lands. His demogoguery is distraction from and empowering of the very establishment he purports to attack. Trump/Pence purity patrols are not a thing I could vote for in good conscience.

Hillary on the other hand represents a continuity of Hope and Change, which in the main has meant more war and record income inequality, empowering of corp bank gov, including a militarization of homeland security and policing, at the expense of the citizenry. Blue lives do indeed matter, but what's with the black mercenary gear? Does anyone not understand, the military industrial complex, the war machine, is more powerrful and more bloated than it ever has been? If the military is depleted and weak it is not for lack of spending. Where would the Dow Jones be, Obama's vaunted economic recovery, if we cut security spending by a third? That the left has not held Obama accountable for his wars or his economics, is a sign that they will extend the same obsequiousness to Hillary. How can I in good conscience vote for that?

So in respect to the GOP boogieman behind every corner, the solution to every problem is a hammer/boot on neck, and Dem magical thinking that America is better safer stronger than it has ever been, while both seek to undermine democracy and the Republic? I don't believe either. I am repulsed by both, and have come to expect more war and worse income inequality, no matter which party is in power. All-inclusive totalitarian controls, or boot on neck show of force might is right - pick your poison.

What if I believe every human is a manifestation of the spirit, a divine being, that womens rights are human rights and every color and every shade and every queer are equal in their right to be free from oppression, to fulfill their potential, their gifts and peculiar genius, empowered with self-agency, in respect to the whole? What if I believe banks, corporations and government arrive at their power by people, and so are subservient in their rights to every human? What if I think the solution to our predicament is not more top-down economic activity, or debt, or war, but a shift in consciousness to include all the world's living creatures, the world itself? Where is my representation? Who represents me?

Bernie will still be in the Senate, with ten thousand times more people listening to him than there were two years ago. Maybe he can be a kind of check on the Imperial impulse. Maybe not. What revolution continues I don't know. The surveillance capacities such as they are, it is hard to imagine any revolution succeeding but one of peace. Government has a monopoly on force, and they are not averse at all to using it. If government can seek to bankrupt me for excessive gardening and building a greenhouse of scrap material from the waste stream, imagine their response to violence?

What the world and America needs right now is healing. Love. That begins with you. Learn to love yourself, heal yourself, help heal America and the world. That's the only revolution I care about.

(I'm not sure what to do about this blog. If you have any thoughts, let me know. WHD.)


William H Duncan said...

I just found out, the City of Minneapolis is indeed fining me $1460 for my Greenhouse. They are no longer even giving me the option to tear it down, to avoid the fines. I was under the impression after the last hearing, that the fines were suspended until Aug 11, in time for me to submit new plans, reapply. The next fine if they reject those plans, will be $1600. A month later a fine of $3200, on and on, if I have not torn down the greenhouse.

It is like a catch-22. They reject my permit application, fine me for not having a permit. If I push it any further they will put the fines on my property taxes and seize the house. I already know they will reject the new plans, because what I built, no matter how sturdy, no matter how structurally sound, no matter how functional, it does not conform to International Building Codes.

I can appeal it to the MN State Court of Appeal. If I don't tear down the greenhouse, by the time I have that hearing the total fines would be more than twice, maybe three times the value of the property.

I have less than a thousand dollars in cash, no savings. About $1500 in liabilities each month. All this for a greenhouse I built from scrap for $800.

But if I were a bank gaming the system, or a corporation polluting...

Well, apparently I have plans to draw, an appeal to write, and a public campaign plea to make....

Ien in the Kootenays said...

You have at least one reader, though one with egg on her face because I never did get around to going to bat for you as I had planned. My husband (80) got hit with a nasty neuro-degenerative disaease so I have my hands full at home. We did manage to get a somewhat saner government in Canada, phew. Though I do not trust Justin to stand up to corporate power any more than Stephen Harper did. Still, it is rather nice to have a P.M. donning a pink shirt and waving a rainbow flag in Pride parade, accompanied by a gay Syrian refugee for good measure. Please, do keep blogging now and then. Charles Hugh Smith, at least I think it was him, writes about 'friction' in amy system that becomes increasingly complex. Every new generation of bureaucrats wants to justify their job by adding some fresh rules, until the rules overwhelm the ability to get anything done. We have probably reached that stage. All the best to you.

Ien in the Kootenays said...

Wait. I just saw the comment. Rats. Keep me posted please, I cannot do much but if you put something together I will be happy to help share it.

Anonymous said...

Good Day. I was glad to see a link to your blog come up on one of my feeds. I appreciate your posts for you often touch some aspect of life that bedevils me. My ongoing struggle is with insurance, rules that make no sense (except to corporate bottom lines) and limit options. A civilization in decline that produces a bloated bureaucracy and excels at protecting it's own classes interests, is one of the Archdruid's predictions. Look about right to me. Good luck

Michael Sosebee said...

Good Morning William. I had never read your blog but I am now. I'm interested in your personal saga with the city and your GF in the Peace Corp. The political commentary is fine and I'm mostly in agreement with. I won't be voting for candidates with an R or D next to their name. I think progressives need to learn how to live in a wilderness (politically) for a decade and find issues that are closer to home. Perhaps down the road there will be some sort of break in the political duopoly. After all the Republicans were the break-out party of Lincoln in 1860 around the abolition of slavery. I'm just exhausted being perpetually outraged by the drip drip drip of scandal and corruption. It's my contention that there's going to be a crisis, probably environmental, down the road that will unite us all in our common struggle. Peace! Mike

William H Duncan said...

Good to hear from you all. No worries Len, about that. Your husbands needs are most important. I hope you are both well.

I have some ideas about further posts, and I will keep you up on what is going on with the city. Thank you.


John D. Wheeler said...

I still am happy to see when your blog pops to the top of my blogroll with an update. I have read everything you have written on here for several years now, even if I sometimes don't comment (I really hate typing unless it's on my laptop.)

But take care of real life first, we can wait until things calm down for updates. I can't even imagine trying to fight the battle you're fighting.

Luciddreams said...

I think you should keep blogging William. You are an excellent writer and you speak truth to power and you follow all of that up with your action. Words without actions are just about pointless.

I apologize for calling you a martyr on Face Palm, although I really do believe it to be true. Thing is, to be a martyr is not necessarily a bad thing. It has negative associations for obvious reasons what with Jesus being the poster child for martyrdom I suppose...and we all know how that one ended supposedly taking our sins with it. Those sins being mostly a product of our birth...which we have no control over. I often say that I was not born guilty of anything...especially not of being white with the white privileges that comes with it. I'm not going to feel guilty for my skin color while at the same time I can recognize the benefits. White privililage is a real thing and I admit that I use to to my advantage.

As far as your green house goes...there is no good answer to that. I fear it will not end well for you. They will either fine you to jail or just show up with some grotesque military police machine and ram it into the ground along with all of your "over grown vegetation."

As a landscaper I can say that people only see over grown vegetation when it's allowed out of the control brought on by the tyranny of small engines and lawn mowers. Especially when the vegetation is food producing. It's the great irony of this Druids life that I spend so much time running engines to fight back nature. The nature I fight back is a type of malevolent joke devised by man. Why do we even put shrubbery around the house and want lawns just so that we can spend so much time, energy, and money keeping it all in check. It's literally against the law to not cut your grass. Why have the lawn to begin with? Why do we build houses that require climate control or they rot? How much of our nations landfills are filled with roofing shingles? I go to the dump often with loads of biomass removed from clients property and I dodge the nails left by the roofers and their dump trailers. I'd say for every vehicle entering the dump an easy half of them are roofers with loads of roofing shingles most of which are fine. You get a couple damaged shingles and they rip the whole mess off and replace it and hall it off to the land of away. It's disgusting how we inhabit our landscapes, and the landscapes that we create.

Our world is a disgusting disfigurement of the human spirit. Nothing in our current way of existing is natural down to the monoculture poisons that we eat to sustain the cancer cells growing in us all.

Anyways, it's all depressing as hell, but what can we do about it? The good news is that it looks like the SUN may actually become a reality. Wendy just spoke to all of the officials of Inman last night about the SUN. It was very well received with the head honcho publically stating to all of the officials that "the SUN is a very good idea." Basically it was a green light. There will be plenty of Inman officials at the barbecue SUN is putting on in Saluda the day after the Harvest day festival which is the largest festival put on by Inman all year. We are the top sponsor at that festival and man of our SUN members will be showing up for that festival. You should strongly consider trying to make it for that weekend.

At any rate, keep blogging. If nothing else...keep blogging. Otherwise what is the point of what you are doing?