Saturday, October 23, 2010

Life in the Ozone Lane

All day I have been thinking of changes to make in the story. I catch myself wanting to go hunt the characters down so they can just give me the straight info. This was while doing other things. On and off the items come to mind.

I caught some NPR radio which struck me as rather peculiar. One guest after the other must have been a sales person for enlarging the size and scope of government agencies and the areas of life and civilization they oversee.

I credit myself with coining the phrase,(which never caught on) "Newspeople are the government's salesmen", back in the late 70's. If I may say so, I believe I've been proven right. They did the same in the 60's and maybe forever, but people did not notice it as much. Just like they did not see how encroachments they thought were good ideas eventually could result in the tangled mess of today.

What strikes me is that a civilization should evolve to be safer and more secure in their wealth and personal freedom. In our case we have some serious crime issues, large neighborhoods the size of small cities where everyone knows it is Enter at Your Own Risk. And the wealth situation is quite screwed up. I'm not one who thinks the term "distribution of wealth" even makes sense in the free world, but I understand the concept.
How simple fees and BS hurt the homeless

Here's an example of a situation, one which I've witnessed. Let's say a guy is homeless. For whatever reason, he had drinking issues and hit the skids hard. He lives in abandoned cars, meter rooms, the park, wherever. He hits the dumpster behind the grocery store at night because they have a salad bar and have to trash the leftovers every day.

Then he happens upon a free place where people try to recover from alcoholism. He hits AA regularly, still living in the weeds, but people sometimes let him come over and catch a shower. He finds day labor with small time independent carpenters and contractors. A nearby shop makes a deal with him so that he can sleep there and deter thieves. He's really set on living again, not being drunk, and working hard. Everyone likes his work so he gets more.

Soon he has little projects on his own, or could have. He has a few basic tools now, but no car. he has a couple hundred bucks and someone is willing to part with an old but reliable ride for $100.00. If only he could afford to buy a plate and insurance he could go do that $1000.00 job. The state decides his car is worth $2200.00, so in order to get a plate he has to pay 176.00 plus the first time plate fee. No bucks now for insurance. He can't get the registration and all that going. Plus his driver's license expired and that costs money.

Being lucky, and in a place close to lots of sympathetic people, he still gets work. Doesn't usually pay much but it pays. After some time he gets the car worked out and slowly makes it up to having a roof over his head, and even has girlfriend drama. He's a real citizen.

If not for the fortuitous circumstances of being able to sleep in that shop, and the AA room next door where these independent rag tag employers get morning coffee, it would be ten times harder to overcome fees and taxes on even a gift car. That he actually made it, even with the luck he had, is really amazing, and a tribute to his inner strength of character.

When he was staying in the shop next door, he spent his nights reading all kinds of books. It was remarkable. I can tell you also, he was not the kind of person you would want to anger. Just had that thing about him, nice guy, but not one to take unnecessary abuse. Hell of a good carpenter as it turned out.

He seemed to enjoy my old car. Bill. I wonder how he's doing.

Think how many are just on the edge but the officialdom, fees and taxes of government serve to help keep them down. It may seem trivial, but in that situation self esteem is not at an all time high, and it is a struggle not to give up once you are back on the road, trying to become independent and useful. The myriad of official crap and its expense serves as an untimely smack down.

I don't know all the answers. Soup kitchens and all that are good, and I know they have agencies that do all this job stuff. Not everyone wants to deal with an agency, and should not have to if willing to work. The fact that it is becoming more difficult for such a person to climb off the streets without it is a sad state of affairs. Much of it from laws and taxes which claim to protect and serve us. I am not inclined to think they do.

I've seen people try to deal with the city or county only to be snafu'd by catch 22s. My feeling is that these matters are better handled other ways. But like I said, I do not have the entire model formulated. Loosen the stranglehold of officialdom and maybe realistic paths will become evident. And there are those who just aren't psychologically sound.

Bill was a rare individual. Very rare. I knew a few others back then who finally got off the street, but none were as clear a case of going from total zilch to reasonable survival as Bill. The others generally got straightened out enough to catch the eye of some girl with a rescue complex which led to a roof and food.

A female in such circumstances is a real nightmare. They often get taken in by organizations, shelters, good Samaritans. If they are lucky.

Anyway, I think something is missing in the whole scheme of things. Also, don't be fooled that there aren't a lot of seriously dangerous people on the street. there are. Some get popped in the psych ward or jail for a few days and right back on the street.

The way things are, their less than wealthy relatives can't afford to keep them, and general expense like what I described in Bill's case makes it harder for them to do what they need to do.

I blame too much government for most of this because that is what causes higher costs of necessities and stupid costs related to just trying to get mobile. Most people think that is nuts. I don't. Excessive governmental power is the root of most evil, including that often cited in the case of corporations and multi-nationals. Without the government connection and acquiescence they would find abeerent behavior more difficult for sure.

It seems that the more we have tried to put every problem and facet of life under regulation and taxation and control, the more trouble we have. It's the old diminishing returns thing. Something may be quite useful up to a point, then more of it actually becomes incrementally destructive.

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Ballistic Mountain, CA, United States
Like spring on a summer's day


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