Monday, March 12, 2012


Thirty days in the middle; on the road, sucking ribs, looking people in the eye, being on three shop floors, and being touched, no really touched, by southerners for whom the body is not a taboo, has had the effect of forcing me to consider what I think I know, and what I'm going to do about it.

Carrie took this pic from the car, on the road to Lockhart from Austin While the controversy rages in Texas the point missing from the conversation as I read it is, "Does anyone need this highway?" This from wiki: State Highway 130, also known as SH 130 and Pickle Parkway, is a tollway from Interstate 35 (I-35) in Georgetown to US 183 and SH 45 at Mustang Ridge in Central Texas. Portions south of Mustang Ridge are now under construction [As of 7/2010]. When completed, SH 130 will run in a 89-mile (143 km) corridor east and south of Austin, Texas. It parallels I-35 and is intended to relieve the Interstate's traffic volume through the San Antonio-Austin corridor by serving as an alternate route.... The highway was developed in response to the tremendous surge in truck traffic on the I-35 corridor brought on by the North American Free Trade Agreement during the late 1990s, especially truck traffic originating from Laredo, where the Texas Department of Transportation reported 150 trucks entering the United States every hour. A proponent of the highway's development, Capital Area Transportation Coalition, said that congestion along the I-35 corridor is costing businesses more than $194 million a year in higher operating costs and lost productivity.

State Highway 130 will initially be a four-lane highway, quickly expandable to six lanes.

Observe the pic again. No trucks, one car, no development, no nothing, but this sculptural fly-over to no-where.

What you don't see in the rear view mirror is the dually, 6 wheeled, 7 mpg pickup barreling up my butt, driven by a pony tailed blond on her way to her piece of no-where. She and 200 million others are taking to the road, to hell with 4 dollar gas. What I know: This way of life is not going to be rolled back. She and all those other millions who don't live in NYC or Boulder, or the other Portland, have no options. Any and all attempts by policy wonks inside Washington's or any other capitol beltway, have no idea what they are talking about when discussing moderating climate change by changing behavior.

As they said all Mardi Gras week in Louisiana, "laissez les bon temps rouler". This party, this worldly obsession with motion, (automotive, bodily, or emotional roller coasters) will rock on till it drops. And few give a second's thought to "what then". Those that do voice concerns are out of touch, derided as elite, and locked away in bastions of privilege. What hypocrite is going to haul Rick Santorum over the coals for his rant against the elite. Sure he gets it wrong. A true populist could, in one paragraph, blow his critics away. So you are going to tell me that all that coaching, pre-testing, c.v. inflating, application writing to "those elite colleges" which you are willing to mortgage your house for, are about having your child join the ranks of the hoi polloi. If you are not kidding, you're lying. He has got the issue and he doesn't know how to use it. The elite colleges produce elites who could build a road to nowhere, conceive of cap-trade, wage war on Iraq, and break all the banks.

The madness of bureaucrats begins with the reduction of people to numbers and the disregard for the fact that in the end, there are real names and faces and beating hearts who comprise their calculations. People are going to be impacted by the decisions of these technocrats. Obvious? Then why the millions of people hitting the streets as a reaction to austerity measures around the globe? Surely a government in touch with or truly representing their people would reflect their wants and needs. The disconnect between the elite and the governed has never been more obvious.

Applicants are standing outside a food processing plant in LA. The plant foreman tells me he can't get anyone to work full time anymore. He pays them minimum wage and the perk pack is full, but now they face having to contribute to their health care if they are full time and they can't afford it. Easier to work part time, deny the package, and find supplemental work. Only distant bureaucrats could conceive of a plan that could be so disruptive. Now workers across the country have to figure out how to "get over" yet more intrusion in their lives.

Lest you think that the bureaucracy is a big government based set of institutions you might find the following exemplary of something that you may have experienced. Ted and Lynn are hand building their own home. As they advance into their dotage they anticipate that one of them might be wheelchair bound. Ted designed and built a shower in their bathroom that was pitched in such a way as to allow proper drainage, and because it had no curb, will allow a person to wheel themselves into the area without assistance. Great idea. No says the local building inspector, "a shower must have a curb." His is a political appointment. He may well decide after luxuriating in his little fiefdom, to run for public office, expanding his empowerment. This is where it starts and where we should start to throw the bastards out.

I wasn't in Wendy's B&B in NOLA an hour when she said I was probably "over-educated." I don't remember what occasioned the crack but I'm sure I got the tone. I had said something that suggested I was out of touch with her and her kin up the river. She holds more degrees that I do, she is a nurse, but she is in touch with her roots and celebrates them. She never left for higher ground. She laughs with derision at the antics of the pols. She doesn't believe they can improve her lot. She will survive despite them. She has a support group of family. Family helped her improve her house, family gathers as often as they can, family is cooperating to care for mom. They didn't leave for the coast.

Four generations of family gathered on Fran and Major's lawn in Lafayette for Mardi Gras. Three generations ate "family style" in Monel's in Nashville. Sister Jane is there for Hedge as he negotiates his hospitalization (they live next door to each other). It is just these types of behaviors that are derided by the elite press that captions the return to family as "boomerang", the parents as "babygloomers" and the kids as suffering "delayed life transitions". Many are forced into these survival strategies. Others of us might consider mutual aid as a preferred way to live, even in better times.

I think the only smart move for those of us who want to survive a world managed by idiots is to reread Kafka from the perspective of the cockroach and appreciate that what he portrayed as a horror is a technique that will well serve those who adopt the metamorphous. Calamity is rarely total. Adaptive behavior is going to be the survival technique for the next gen. For the first time in 45 years we are rethinking the possibility of going it alone. I have no confidence that any official or his paid for service private sector replacement has our welfare at heart. Our families are either gone or scattered to the wind. We are going to seek out others who might have learned something from the prior failed attempts at communalism, and test the possibility that some intentional communities might have the wisdom to construct a viable alternative to madness.

1 comment:

  1. Hell with that "Bridge to Nowhere", we have thousands of miles of highways to nowhere, you just found one.
    (Enjoyed the visit Kids, Thanks, Dick)