Saturday, March 24, 2007

On the Taking Out of Garbage

Dear Bobert, apropos of goodness knows what, poses perhaps a rhetorical question:

But its the streets in the background that always grabs my attention. They're always a filthy and garbage-filled dungheap.

So where are the adults? The ones who should get of their "po' us" asses and clean the place up? What the hell is wrong with those people that they don't even try to keep their enviornment cleaner?
This, dear Bobert, is why everyone should live in a Third World country for at least six months. It gives a person Insight. It gives a person Insight into matters that should be obvious, particularly to engineers, but which aren't, so much, until you have lived through Total Cultural Immersion in a strange place.

You see, dear Bobert, Pretty Lady has lived in dirty Third World countries, and she has lived in ghettos, which come nearly to the same thing. And a very consistent problem that Pretty Lady had in these places (and even in New York City, come to think) was in getting rid of her garbage. Oh, her personal habits were ever the cleanest; she bagged up the sweepings, and the packaging, and the organic composty bits and the recycleables like nobody's business. Then she tied them tightly and parked them outside the front door.

Where, instead of disappearing, as they were wont to do in the clean suburban neighborhood where Pretty Lady grew up, they multiplied.

Pretty Lady was stymied, as to what to do or think about this situation, for quite some time. Because when Pretty Lady was a little girl, her mother explained that the reason we pay taxes is so that the government picks up our garbage. Thus when she moved to San Francisco, she simply could not get it through her head that despite the extremely high tax rates, the government was shirking its responsibilities. They had actually passed a law that taxpaying citizens must sign a contract with a private corporation for garbage removal; the ultimate indignity was that recycling was extra. The government actually expected Pretty Lady to pay Sunset Scavenger to make a profit on recycling her bottles.

(Then she got a letter from Sunset Scavenger, asking her to pay to put a padlock on her garbage can, because the homeless people were stealing their recyclables. Thus providing a necessary service for free, that Sunset Scavenger had a government contract to force her to pay for. Thus demonstrating the extent of economic delusion that legislation-happy communities can induce in their citizens.)

So for many months, Pretty Lady passively resisted this government intrusion in her life by engaging in guerrilla garbage disposal. She carried sacks of garbage around with her late at night, seeking an un-padlocked dumpster. She left them in murky corners, or thrust them in other people's garbage cans. Once, when she moved to a new place, the garbage collectors continued collecting for a good eight months before they noticed that the previous tenant's garbage contract hadn't been renewed.

When she moved to Mexico, however, the karmic tide was turned. People kept leaving bags of garbage on Pretty Lady's stoop; they would even let their donkeys take a dump in her callejón, where the feces would fester until the next torrential rainstorm rinsed it away. After a few months she figured out that there was a communal dumpster about half a kilometer away, and if she wanted a clean stoop, the only option was to haul it there by hand. Recycling? Ha! Pretty Lady grew accustomed to gritting her teeth at the sound of a bag of perfectly good bottles hitting the bottom of the barrel. Politically correct habits die hard.

All this to point out the obvious fact that garbage collection and disposal is one of those things which requires a certain amount of collaborative action on the part of a community to accomplish. If the community is unable to get its collective ass in gear, the garbage festers. Individual action counts for very little.

This is, of course, no excuse. Of course the adults should get off their debased posteriors and figure out a solution. However, such things as Systemic Governmental Corruption tend to make potential community organizers a bit cynical about the results of such activity; moreover, community organization is generally a time-consuming, unpaid and thankless task. Persons who are living in desperate poverty frequently lack the superfluous resources to spend in this way.

This is why anyone who wishes to make a significant difference in the way the world is run must start with the children. If you explain to a child, "good governments pick up the garbage; bad governments let it fester in the street, or force people to pay extra for what should be free," this child has a baseline Level of Indignation when he reaches adulthood. He looks around him, thinks "This is Not Right!" and begins to change things.

But when you allow a child to believe that things are this way, they have always been this way, and he is powerless to do anything about it, well, you have created a self-fulfilling prophecy.


Anonymous said...

It still grouses me.... no matter what the reasons behind it.

Our next door neighbor lost their jobs(he and her), got behind on the mortgage, so they packed up a U-Haul(24 footer) and bailed for another state to live with Mom and Dad, his or hers... I don't know which.

One other thing... the BOTH lost their jobs to "guest" workers who are working for less money and no benefits.

Thanks, Bush.

They let his nephew, cousin--whatever--and his famliy move in until the bank forecloses and reposesses the house, apparently a multi-month effort. Meanwhile, nephew is only paying the water and light bill(all electric house), since those institutions cut you off after one day in arrears. They quit paying for garbage pickup, which of course stopped, so it just piles up.... and stinks... and gets torn up and scattered by loved and treasured dogs who are allowed to run loose all night.

Point is, nephew and family have no intention whatever of lifting a damn finger to keep the house or it's yard in decent shape.

"Hey man, it ain't my house... I ain't about to worry about it, so f**k off dude..."

There is crap stacked up six feet high on the side of the house. The garage door has been destroyed and hangs open(hit by Mr. "I came home drunk and smashed into the door"), exposing a garage full of trash.

There are oil cans, old tires, a rusty grill, numerous boxes(full of crap), empty cans, boards, even broken toys, laying around the front yard and on the drivway.

These fine folks will not lift a finger to clean up the place, and until those finely dressed and perfumed twits at the bank decide to toss them out, we are stuck.

So, right now I'm a bit sensitive about adults that just won't do anything about their damned messes.

What we have is genuine white trash squatters living next door, trash scattered everywhere, and the city/county/state could care less.

One other thing... they BOTH lost their jobs to "guest" workers who are working for less money and no benefits.

Thanks Bush... keep up the good work!

Anonymous said...

Sorry, the Bush dig got inserted twice...

Pretty Lady said...

You make some good points, Bobert--one that trashy people are, indeed, trashy, and two that people who do not have a sense that they own their environment, or have the potential to own it, tend to become trashy.

They treat the world as their garbage can, in other words.

I do not understand, however, why your neighbors did not simply put their house on the market when they could no longer make the payments, instead of passively waiting for foreclosure. Are property values so low that they'd take a loss if they sold it, instead of breaking even and at least salvaging their credit?

Also, doesn't the sheriff have anything to say about squatters? I recall a friend of mine having to threaten an evicted roommate with sheriff action when he refused to budge after many ultimatums.

This also illustrates why garbage collection ought to be paid for out of a general fund from property taxes, and not on individual accounts. You can get along just fine if your neighbors have no electricity, but lack of garbage collection creates a public health hazard for all.

Can you talk to other neighbors on the block to see if anyone has any ideas on how to deal with this? Possibly if eight different families called the Humane Society about the animals, the Department of Public Health about the garbage, and the sheriff about the squatters, all on the same day, something might budge.

Anonymous said...

I just love your never ending hope for the future bullshit. It sincerely makes me think good thoughts... for a minute anyway.

"Politically correct habits die hard.

Best to not acquire them at all. It causes too many people to mind everyone else's business.

"Of course the adults should get off their debased posteriors"

My ass has never been debased... other then by my Urologist, which I'm fairly certain was professional and only a little humiliating.

Anonymous said...

They were typical Americans...

Figuring another good job would come along "any day now", sorta like it used to, like before the good middle-class jobs disappeared overseas and the remainders were dead end jobs ideally suited for our guest workers.

By the time they realized there were no jobs left they could do that would support them and their family, it was way too late. The bank refused to negotiate. Catch up 100%--NOW--or foreclosure proceedings would commence. So they bailed, just walked away.

And the local government has bigger fish to fry than their trashy nephew.

So we bear it, until the foreclosure grinds its way slowly to its final conclusion.

We just hope that whoever eventually buys the place(market here--this area--is very slow) has a much better sense of ownership... and pride.

Pretty Lady said...

Figuring another good job would come along "any day now", sorta like it used to

Really? Did it, once?

Anonymous said...

Oh, yes, PL...

Good jobs were once a standard here in America.

One parent--in a two-parent family--could make enough money to provide all the necessities with enough left over for some decent entertainment, a nice vacation, even some doo-dads for around the house/garage, or some surprises for the kids.

That would be enough money for a mortgage/monthly rent, would include mney for 100% of the food requirements, would include car payments, insurance, savings, etc.

Granted, not much was left at the end of the month, but the kids were not latch-key kids, left to wander on their own until Mom and Dad got home from work, usually late.

A romantic daydream? Flawed rememberances of the past? NO. It was really that way, until big business discovered foreign cheap labor, and the realization that Americans were starting to buy based on price, not quality.

A paradox: In those days, you could still buy quality for a lesser price, just less fancier.

Today, low price means imported junk that won't last a month. Clothes fall apart, elastic stretches and stays stretched, handles fall off, knives dull overnight, paint doesn't last even a year, supposedly high-quality brand-name tools and kitchen utensils rust and pit, plastic items break and fail, wheels fall off., drills dull in seconds... the list is endless.

Today's young adults don't have a clue as to what has been taken from them by the federal beast in Washington with it's NWO, NAFTA and GAT policies, it's "free trade" deals, and it's disasterous failure to enforce our immigration laws.

Judge Well Ye Wolves said...

bobert- this golden period you speak of lasted less than 40 years, from the late 30's to the 70's. Prior to that, were you a manual worker (factory or otherwise) you worked long, difficult and dangerous hours. As a rural worker, you worked even harder.
Society itself was very ordered,an example would be time. Your wife shopped during the day, since all the shops closed at 5. Manual skills in domestic life were necessary.
Frank Capra movies sold lies of happy endings. It was the world wars and universal education that broke open Pandora's box of the limited, ordered culture we once knew. Freedom now means freedom to fail horribly. Personal responsibility now means all of life's decisions are on you now, no matter how young or old, educated or not. There is no community to support you, and the family is fractured in the name of personal freedom. The pendulum will swing back, crushing people in its wake, traversing the distance between freedom and order, personal responsibility and group responsibility. I am so sorry for your neighbors. I grew up in Detroit, and know very well the story.

Desert Cat said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

"Foreman says these jobs are goin' boys / And they ain't comin' back."

Thank Bush. Thank Wal-Mart. Thank short memories. Thank ignorance. Thank convenience. Thank television. Thank fast food.

This place is rapidly becoming the Third World, especially here in Texas.

k said...

Bobert, there are some simple and practical things one can do to get those squatters out post haste. The foreclosing institution can *seize* the premises before foreclosure, and toss them. It's very simple and cheap. You can get this going yourself, in most communities anyway, by calling the health hazard to the bank's and the sheriff's attention. Explain how once you or a family member is bitten by those dogs and/or rats, or gets some awful disease, you'll be able to sue the bank and win hands down, since you've notified them of the problem. That will usually do it right quick.

And that jobs thing you were talking about? I was working then, myself. That was sometimes true. But for only one group: white males.

I'm not trying to stir up the sort of political outcry that leads to getting me called some *bitter feminazi,* okay? I'm just stating the simple facts I lived through at the time. I was there, and I saw it. I was trying to support my own tiny family, myself, and felt I had just as much right to work those jobs as the many less-qualified men who got them instead of me.

It seems to me that many people look back at those days with rose-colored glasses.

Anonymous said...


I hear you, loud and clear. It is quite true about jobs and white males, but it did not include all white males, a fact most everyone likes to ignore.

In the late fifties I was working as a trained technician with four years military experience, a two-year associate degree in electronics, for $1.25/hour with no benefits. That was a long way from one of those privledged white males everyone likes to toss up as an example.

The sad part is that while we as a nation were working on solving workplace inequities, wages nosedived when millions of women entered the workplace quite willing to work for less. And I'm not trying to stir up a political firestorm either, it's just a fact.

Basic supply and demand... millions more willing workers at every skill level in every occupation flooding the market suppressed wages, and they've stayed suppressed.

And it's not looking back with rose-colored glasses.

It was a goal and a lifestyle that we were all working toward, torpedoed by market forces.

We've never recovered from it, and the huge national and internatinal corporations have no intentions whatever of allowing us to recover... ever.

k said...

And I hear you, too, bobert.

I understand your sense of loss, at least as well as someone like me can. The world you'd envisioned, the one that seemed promised to you, didn't come through for you.

But to me?

That lost world was intrinsically unfair to women, and to many others.

An employer willing to discriminate against women, blacks, and others is certainly ready and willing to treat white males unfairly as well. I have never ignored that fact.

Once you know them to discriminate, you have seen their true character. Even if you're a member of the only group they seem willing to employ, their character is clear; and you should understand immediately that you may not have a fair future with them.

That *two parent/one working* family many envisioned was one where the man worked outside the home, and the woman inside. Not necessarily by choice. That was never a goal I worked toward, myself.

My own goal, from my earliest memories, was to be a free and self-supporting person. That meant taking personal responsibility for my financial life, too. When women are forced by law and/or custom to depend upon someone else for their income, for their food and medicine and the roof over their head, for their children, they are not free.

They are not allowed to take true personal responsibility for their own lives. So, to add insult to injury, they are scorned as being not quite responsible people. Not quite mature and grown up.

That goal you describe as something mutually sought sounds a bit like this: Woman marries man, bears and raises his kids; man brings home bacon. Woman worked like a dog - but not for money. Therefore, she wasn't entitled to Social Security benefits when she became disabled or old; neither was she usually allowed benefits under any of the welfare programs now in place. Those were reserved for the *working* people: men.

You may not have gotten paid fairly for your work, given your background. How would you feel if you weren't even allowed to get that kind of background in the first place?

See, women did enter the military and college, but it was extremely difficult, and rare. The veteran preference, plus that 2-year college degree you got, were essentially unavailable to even well-qualified women.

I was born in 1958. My first job, 15 years later - where I had to lie about my age to get a job - was $1.25 per hour.

Four years later, I worked for the US Post Office. It was considered a decent blue-collar job. Something a man could raise a family on.

I was the first woman working my shift at that post office. Ever. My presence was deeply resented; I was told more than once, with bitter venom, that I was stealing food from a good man by taking that job. Oh, stealing the food right out of his children's mouths, I was.

It was hard to get that PO job, even though I scored extremely high on my entrance exam. See, there were a lot of military vets coming home looking for civilian work. They got a 10-point preference on the test. Affirmative Action for Veterans.

What what happened with me at the post office was this: women were now granted a point preference too. Since I scored so high to begin with, this didn't actually affect me, but the men working there assumed it did.

I bore the brunt of their anger and hatred for some time. It was really vicious, but I won't bore you with the grisly details. However: At 5' 2" and 105 pounds, I unloaded the semi-trucks, etc. at about twice the production rate of the men. After the first several months, most of my (still 100% male) coworkers felt much differently about me. By the time I quit, I'd become a sort of mascot, a welcomed and even loved co-worker. The few holdouts who still spat on the ground in front of me, etc., did it rarely, any more.

It's not that employers threw open their doors to hire women because they suddenly realized we'd be cheaper to employ than men. We had to get the right to work by filing nasty lawsuits. Ones that, I think, most of us would have greatly preferred to do without. And I really do think those lawsuits that said we should get paid the same as men when we do the same job, should be prima facie evidence that we didn't actually choose to work for less money. We took it because it was a choice between unfair employment or no employment at all.

Starvation, especially if you have dependants, is not Taking Personal Responsibility. Not at all.

To have you or your kids do without essentials because women can't work, or get paid much less for the same job, then to be told we are irresponsible for that very act of working, is not just.

To be blamed for ruining the economic lives of everyone around us for doing so isn't just, either.

I truly do sympathize with you for your sense of loss. That ideal of a one working parent golden age is lamented by many. However: I also believe that what was lost was a position of superiority that was unearned, unmerited, and undeserved. In other words, the loss of something that didn't belong to those people in the first place.

So while I feel for you and others as individuals, I feel no sympathy for that group of society as a whole. I never stole food out of their mouths. They did steal it out of mine.

And I feel a powerful sense of gladness at the sight of young women today, going into the workplace with the firm - not quite accurate, but firm - belief that by working just as hard as a man they can get just as good a job, and get paid the same amount that the man does.

Even though those same young women have absolutely no idea what women like me went through to get them there.

I hope you have daughters or granddaughters or nieces, so that you can be happy for them, instead of sorry at losing what was not really so right after all.

k said...

Now: This one's actually for Pretty Lady too. And anyone else in like circumstances.

Bobert, you have a situation with those garbage-y squatters there. It's a problem in your life and it needs to be taken care of.

The way to do it is simple and painless. I used to cure problems like that for a living, and can still do it. In my sleep. Blindfolded and with one hand tied behind my back. Believe me, I know how. Creds can be supplied if you so require.

I can teach you, in a few sentences, how to fix it yourself, and fast. Or, I can do it for you, if you give me the address of the house in question. No charge. Such a deal!

However: The only way you'll do this, bobert, is if you're willing to take personal responsibility to correct this problem in your life.

Let me know.

Anonymous said...

how do you do it? burn their house down? what?

k said...

Of course not. That would be irresponsible.

One picks up the telephone, and courteously and respectfully says the appropriate things to the appropriate people.

Excuse me, anonymous, but I don't know who you are, and I'm waiting to hear back from bobert. I'll set out the specifics either to him, or if he doesn't respond, in a little post at my own blog.

Sit tight. The mystery will be solved.