29 May 2009

Returning to the Scene of the Crime

The local Pittsburgh media is already awash with G20 hype. The local television stations have been falling all over themselves to bring "team coverage" to the story. Pittsburgh is in reality a small city so this is big news for our crack local reporters to beat to death for the next few months. Every angle is being covered- the economic impact for local hotels and restaurants, political impact for the city's mayor and the prospect of both non-violent and violent protests.

What nobody seems to be saying is why would the G20 be even welcome in this city ? The G20 coming to Pittsburgh is like the serial killer that digs up his victims to play with the remains (Ted Bundy did this, but that's another story in itself.) While the White House is trying to spin this as a reward for Pittsburgh's "recovery" from its industrial past, the numbers just don't bear it out. Pittsburgh has continually lost population over the past 30 years as its industrial base withered away and moved overseas thanks to the same forces of globalization represented by the G20.

Sure, Pittsburgh is now a robotics and healthcare powerhouse but if you're not designing robots or working for UPMC, what do you have left ? I encourage the G20 to take a tour of Hazlewood, Braddock, Duquesne and maybe take a field trip to Brownsville in Fayette County for lunch. Take a look at the ghost towns that straddle the Monongahela River which once buzzed with activity. Take a long look at the silent, rusting industrial hulks that employed entire towns. Their departure has, in turn, led to empty storefronts, declining school districts and even closed and consolidated churches. I work for myself and travel quite extensively around Southwestern Pennsylvania on a daily basis. Some of the areas I drive through seem like something out of movie- little ghost towns, industrial ruins, turkeys and deer running amok as nature reclaims its place.

Pittsburgh's primary exports are no longer industrial- its our young people who, degree in hand, head off to Charlotte, Atlanta, Phoenix or any of a number of other metropolitan areas looking for educated kids with a good work ethic. Allegheny County (home of Pittsburgh) has the 2nd most geriatric population in the United States. Although many locals would say its because Pittsburghers have such strong roots and never want to leave the area, I would argue that many more would if they could afford to. The police planning for the G20 probably shouldn't worry about young kids spoiling the show- I would worry about platoons of grannies ramming their scooters into the barricades.

28 May 2009

G20 Conference Coming to Pittsburgh

Break out the gas masks, the Gang of 20 is coming to Pittsburgh.


That's a Thursday and Friday. Why not make it a long weekend ?

Sewage Managers Gone Wild

Most of us assume that the federal and state governments are the prime forces of oppression in our daily lives. In reality it is your local government that given its proximity to you and your family probably has a greater unseen influence in how you live your life.

An ongoing case in central Pennsylvania highlights this. Amish families have been evicted by court order from their homes and had one of their family members jailed because they refuse to comply with local sewage codes concerning their use of out-houses. From the Pittsburgh Tribune Review-
  • "The Millers and other Amish in the ultraconservative Swartzentruber sect have reached an impasse in a clash of culture, religion and law with government agencies responsible for protecting public health and safety. Although two families were forced to leave their homes and one man has been jailed, the Amish say they aren't defending themselves because aggression, confrontation and violence — like the regulations they're refusing to follow — are against their religion." Link Here

I'm not a civil engineer but I would have some faith that a group of people that have lived off of their own wits and knowledge for the past 200 years would probably be pretty good at disposing of their own waste. The fear of poisoned wells is also a red herring- wells are typically hundreds of feet deep and unless the Amish are planning on holding rock festivals this summer, I can't see how the waste from two farm families and a small school could infect the water table.

It isn't about public safety. The safety card is what is always played by government to gain compliance. No, this is about the undbendning, unyielding power of the state immune to common sense and completely oblivious to the fact that it was created to serve the populace. To quote a county manager from the same article-

  • Deborah Sedlmeyer, director of the Cambria County Sewage Enforcement Agency, said her agency cannot practice selective enforcement.
    "They choose a simple life. That's OK, but they must do it legally," she said.

That quote should send shivers up the spine of free men and women everywhere. The implied message here is you can choose to live your simple life but you damn well better do it the way that we tell you to do it. Further on it the article we have a quote from a Sherrif's deputy that would have been thrown out as a defense at Nuremberg-

  • Sheriff's deputies Jake Kehn and Clint Divido padlocked the empty barns May 15. Watching them from beneath the brim of his straw hat, Andy Miller, 5, scuffed clumps of mud with the duct-taped tips of his battered boots as he moved back and forth in a red Roadmaster wagon.
    "We're just following court orders," Kehn told the boy's parents. "Good luck."

Just following orders. A defense as vile and empty as it was in 1945. The power of the state, at all levels, relies on the compicity of millions of faceless bureaucrats, managers, employees, law enforcement and countless others "just following orders." Just trying to make it to retirement, to get that pension and leaving common sense at the front door when they enter the office building. Fortunately for law enforcement in this case, the Amish are pacifists that accept the naked brutality of the state turning them out of their own homes with stoic resignation.

So young Andy Miller, as you sat in your wagon and watched the Sherrif's deputies padlock your parent's barns I hope you remember this day for the rest of your life. Your ancestors fled Europe to escape the oppression of the state. Unfortunately, it has finally caught up with you.

27 May 2009

"What a long strange trip it's been."

So, you ask, how does one become a Buddhist Anarchist ? Well, that's a bit complicated. This picture is of yours truly, circa 1986 while I was in the Army. I'm squinting into the Georgia sun sitting on Fryar Drop Zone at Fort Benning, GA waiting for a helicopter to pick me up so that I can jump out of it. I grew up a typical middle class kid, joined the Army when I was 18 and served out my 4 year enlistment. After that, I went to college, got a job, went to graduate school, got another job and finally started my own business. Along the way I got married, had a son, got divorced, got married again and picked up a step-son in the process. The American Dream some might say.

Well, a strange thing happened on the way to Main Street USA.

Two partners in my business stole a considerable amount of money, well all of it to be exact, and in the course of a few months I lost all of my savings, investment, house, a car, faith in the system, faith in religion, faith in the human race...you get the picture. Over the course of two years I suffered terrible bouts of depression, rage, anger and thoughts of violent retribution. Only my re-introduction to Buddhism (Theravada School) which I first studied in college, kept me emotionally grounded enough to start yet another business and soldier on.

My transformation into an Anarchist was a longer process brought about by age and experience and a general sense of disgust with our political process and parties, the media and the unchecked capitalism that led to the banking collapse. In short, I have gone from a staunchly conservative Republican to an Anarchist that despises both mainstream parties equally, views the Christian Right with equal parts horror and alarm and sees our media created President for what he truly is. Anarchism was an easy jump for me because it fit neatly into my lifelong mistrust of government, concern over the erosion of rights in this country and a general feeling that at some point in our history, the United States veered widly off course from its founders original intentions.

Helping to push me into the Anarchist school was the process of lawsuits, lawyers and even arrest during the dissolution of my old business. Nothing like the metallic clink of a pair of handcuffs to feel the oppression of the State. No, I wasn't guilty and was in fact cleared of the charge. To me however, that experience burned a feeling of incredible helplessness when faced with the power of Leviathan. Although I in no way promote violence as resistance against the state, I hope that you will join me in non-violent acts of non-comformity against the powers that be.

Some of my friends, family members and fellow veterans may not agree with my beliefs but I hope that everyone can respect them. At least nobody can call me biased- I dislike Hannity AND Colmes.

Pennsylvania's Organized Crime Family Grows

The Pittsburgh Post Gazette reports that Pennsylvanians gambled more in 2008 despite a national trend in declining casino revenues-
  • Americans were gambling less in 2008 but Pennsylvanians were gambling more, as the growth of racetrack-casinos represented the primary growth trend for the gaming industry, said a national report released yesterday.
    The American Gaming Association released its annual "State of the States" report, which showed casino revenues in Pennsylvania grew by 48.3 percent in 2008, far higher than that of any other commercial casino state. (The association does not track tribal casino revenue).Read more: "Pennsylvanians gambled more in 2008" - http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/09139/971070-454.stm#ixzz0GiHKCMR7&A
My home state of Pennsylvania is run by one of the largest organized crime families in the world- the Pennsylvania legislature. It already controls the sale of liquor through its monopoly of state stores, runs the numbers racket through the Lottery and has recently added casino gambling to its portfolio. Once prostitution is approved and taxed, our state government will have morphed into a criminal syndicate that will be the envy of gangsters around the world.

The decision to approve casinos in our state was driven by the government's insatiable need for revenue in order to further grow and entrench itself in the everyday lives of its citizens. I love reading the term "revenues" used in referring to money lost by our fellow Pennsylvanians- usually from the social classes that can least afford to lose it. The state has effectively cannibalized its own citizens as bus loads of bored geriatrics are dropped off to lose the little government assistance they receive. The case for casinos was ruthlessly sold by our governor as a way of supporting our senior citizens. This argument seems a bit shaky when you are handing them a check in one hand and guiding the other to the one armed bandit.

Competition with the state is ruthlessly surpressed. No gambling with friends or through bookies (who probably give you better odds, plus its tax free.) No making your own liquor or importing it from nearby states that charge far less. If I was a pimp, I would seriously be concerned about the state pushing me off of my own street corner in the near future.

Help break the control of the state. Next time Grandma is feeling blue and depressed take her to the park or the library, play some checkers or watch "Matlock" together. Don't give her a ride to the casino.


Why blog ? Good question. It's at best a completely self-centered endeavor and waste of time, at worst a waste of perfectly good bandwith and storage capacity. I thought about blogging for many months before I jumped into the process. For me, it will (hopefully) be a cathartic means of dealing with my revulsion towards politics, religion, the media, the Fascism of the state and the economic crimes inflicted on the many by the few. As a Buddhist, my feelings of loving-kindness have been stretched to the limit as of late by the continued march of government control at all levels in my life and the lives of others.

Thank you for visiting my blog. Whether you agree with me or not, I hope that you find your visit to be worthwile.
  • One of his students asked Buddha, "Are you the messiah?""No", answered Buddha. "Then are you a healer?""No", Buddha replied. "Then are you a teacher?" the student persisted. "No, I am not a teacher.""Then what are you?" asked the student, exasperated. "I am awake", Buddha replied.
  • "Government is an association of men who do violence to the rest of us." - Leo Tolstoy