Labor Day Off the Grid in Minneapolis
Off the Keyboard of William Hunter Duncan
Published originally on Off the Grid in Minneapolis on September 3rd, 2012
Discuss this article at the Epicurean Delights Smorgasbord inside the Diner
Please excuse my anger last post, with that tirade at my fellow Gen Xer. Prior to that, I had been gathering Frontenac grapes at my sister’s house, for my third attempt at fermenting wine. It went well, but for the city having butchered the grape vines. They sent a letter to my sister apparently, a demand to remove the “sidewalk obstruction”; but the letter never arrived, forwarded instead to the address of a friend (who is on the mortgage but no longer lives there [not me]). The city workers or contractors could have removed the soil and weeds that have encroached twelve inches onto the sidewalk from the boulevard side, but instead they took a gas trimmer and hacked off every vine on the the side walk-side of the 100ft length of my sister’s south fence, leaving a ragged mess of shredded vines, absconding with approx 100 lbs of grapes, a week before harvest. That’s about 30 bottles of wine equivalent @ $10/ bottle, plus the $250-$350 my sister will be charged for the “work” done, or $550-$650 for grape vines hanging over a portion of a sidewalk. That’s like twice the theft – which contributed to my anger at Payl Ruan (which I will continue to call him until such time as he proves that he will not help initiate WWIII.)
Ok, I’m still a little angry.
Plus, I was contemplating a new job, working as a temp for a big bank helping to foreclose on houses, if you can believe that. I wasn’t sure what to expect. How could it possibly be, that of all the jobs I have applied for, the one entity willing to hire me, for on-going employment, is a big bank? What sort of command and control oppression could I expect to butt heads with? Besides, the past four years. my attitude has been, I don’t make appointments before 10am. I’m up and awake at 5am now, to catch a bus, to get there by seven, to work for less than I make pushing dirt around landscaping with my friend Organic Bob, less than half I was making for The Behemoth at their world headquarters, just before the collapse of 2008.
My first impression was of a cattle yard, for documents. I wasn’t quite prepared for global bank document carts, 18in wide by 4ft tall by 4ft long, on six inch wheels, all carts being made of plywood, many of which are unpainted, of which there are many, painted and not. Nor was I prepared for a socialist bureaucrat’s utopia, the most ethnically and race diverse workplace I have ever encountered, where none of the thousand (at least) people looks particularly happy, but no one looks necessarily pissed off at the world, either.
I’ve spent the last week training as an auditor, to assure the documents are in order, before they are shipped back to the “investors”, Fanny and Freddie. Wading through the wreckage of the housing debacle, in other words, is what I have been doing. I wasn’t prepared for the sheer volume either, of the $275-400,000 houses and second homes, which account for about 75-80% of the loans I’ve audited. That’s not saying there aren’t people still in the houses I am foreclosing on, but most every loan I have audited thus far, has suggested outright fraud on the part of bankers and buyers, and over-reaching on the part of buyers, or intoxication, or outright obliviousness.
It’s a curious thing. The Fed made credit cheap, the government encouraged home ownership (BUSH’s “Ownership Society,”) while agreeing to back-up at least half the mortgages (HUD, FHA, Fannie, Freddie), and then they, Fannie and Freddie, contract-hire big bank to clear the mortgages big bank signed for the fees, to tens of millions of greedy, intoxicated and outright oblivious “borrowers” (not “buyers”.)
Nor was I expecting the very warm and genuinely concerned reception, from the training staff, who made the experience a great deal more enjoyable than it might have been. Everyone I have encountered has seemed, if not particularly joyous, astute, on task, and engaged in whatever they are doing. Doing the best with what they have, basically. The command/control is more ingrained in the structure of the system, less overt. More, I sense a people coping as best they can with command/control directives trickling down from above, which are what they are and are tolerable at least. If it was an overt command/control environment, people yelling and domineering, the work would be intolerable. As is, the work lends well to letting go into the task, to get one’s small part in the greater whole done, on time, and done well, depending on how much one wants to hold onto the job, or move into something more enjoyable/less exhausting than whatever one is doing now. We all show at least some mastery over technology, and/or ourselves; we even have a certain contempt for the technology. It’s not as fast as we are; it lags. Big Bank loses more money cumulatively, by far, from slow-ass technology that makes us sit and wait to get done what we are ready and want to get done, than Big Bank would lose if they just trusted us to do the work we are contracted and hired to do, and worried less about tracking us minute by minute.
Head trainer offered us copious amounts of cheap candy to keep us awake, and to lighten the mood, and to make the onslaught of information more palatable, during the training. I let go of my general prohibition on High Fructose Corn Syrup and gorged, while I consumed an extraordinary (for me) amount of coffee, to cope with the massive amount of technical information, and the early morning shift, which has been less a challenge than sitting in a room all day every day with a dozen other of the same humans. I brought veggies from the garden on Friday, a kind of cornucopia, which was well received. I’m optimistic about my immediate future at big bank, notwithstanding how I feel about modern economics generally.
Meanwhile I was listening to the Republican National Convention, on the radio. From about 8pm-close, approx, all three nights. About as much as I could stand. Which makes me a patriot, comparative to the majority of my fellow Americans. Of Ann ro-Money I can only say, I cannot listen to a word that flows from your mouth without juxtaposing, that you brought your horse to the London Olympics. I listened to Payl Ruan’s speech (I wonder what AC/DC and Led Zepplin have to say about being appropriated into the Republican war machine?) I hear many people (in the media) talking about the speech by Mill ro-Money, without saying anything (I found the incessant breathlessness of the final syllable of just about every phrase to be nauseating.) The only speech that really mattered, came from Condoleezza Rice. The elder stateswoman, the Republican Party rock star, speaking directly to the narrative, that the path forward is war in Syria and Iran, and conflict with Russia and China.
(Of particular interest, the narrative encapsulated, 1:35-3:40)
Mill confirmed it, with his attempt to initiate another cold war with Putin, so Mill could show some “backbone”, giving Putin exactly what Putin needs to regain power, to incite the Russian people against the West. Apparently the terrorism bit is wearing thin, so it’s time to ratchet down on some old rivalries.
Where is the media on this? No less than EJ Dionne of the Washington Post, claimed on NPR that neither Condelezza nor ro-Money even spoke about foreign policy! What sort of fukitol pharmaceuticals is everybody on, that almost no one seems able to ascertain the meaning of anything anymore? Or maybe EJ’s admiration of Condolezza Rice is a sign that he’s just a warmonger too?
That speech by Condolezza Rice was crafted in the very bowels of the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR). There is no economic policy, there is only war. Which is exactly what ro-Money, or Obama, will initiate.
The American people are being asked to dispense with their medicare, social security and safety net, to finance tax cuts for the wealthy so the wealthy can wage and profit from global war. ro-Money claims the potential to create 12 million jobs, in four years. I think he will, in an effort to prosecute the war, and expand the surveillance state; while another 15-20 million jobs are lost, in the debauchery – or the racket – of war, and the reality of declining resources.
The creepiest moment of the convention, by far*, was the mob. When ro-Money mocked O for his claim to want to prevent the rising of the seas, the crowd cackled, maniacally. When ro-Money accused O of wanting to heal the earth, the mob cackled deeper. Followed closely by, after a lie about America and dictators, the most intense chant of U. S. A. of the convention. And then the call to war against Putin. The rest of the world must shiver. I certainly did.
(A particularly enlightening sequence, 31:30-34:30)
There will be NO healing of the earth in a ro-Money presidency. There will only be chants to prevent the rising of the sea. Chants to incite global Armageddon.
Even the Outlaw Josey Wales called it out, that we might want to remember the ten years lost in Iraq and Afghanistan, in a faux conversation with Obama.
(4:45-5:18. Sorry I’m not skilled enough yet to generate the clip.)
In what otherwise might have been construed as a speech whoring for warmongers. Josey, of course, has nothing on Condoleezza. “Aunt Tomasina” is too kind.
But such an extreme statement is meant to elucidate the severity of the situation. Global war is being crafted. Troops and supporters are being incited.
Know, that such a path can only end in ruin. Which we seem to be walking into as greedily and obliviously as we did the housing debacle. And in the aftermath people will ask how did that happen?
I’m not going to participate this time, like I did buying this house at the peak of the boom. Hopefully though, me and my fruit trees and gardens will still be around when it’s time to clean up the wreckage of global war mongering. I really hope Americans are not that dumb.
Though at least the Republicans have a soul, as twisted as it is. They can talk about love without visibly flinching. Dems are comparatively soulless. More on that and the new job, this week.
*Though I seem to recall something from a video montage preceding Mill ro-Money’s speech, of which I have not been able to find corroborating video, Mill uttering the words, about Ann, “Oh baby,”…