Tag Archive | America

The Myth of American Self-Governance

Here in the United States, we are absolutely in love with this thing that we call “public property.” It sounds like such a great and noble idea–have the state take control of property and resources, and use them for the good of “the people.” Never mind that this is a verbatim description of socialism.

The Federal Government alone owns nearly 28% of all land in the United States, and much of it is in the west, where it owns nearly fifty percent. In Alaska, the situation is even worse, and the Federal Government owns nearly 90% of all land, even though, by all rights, the whole of Alaska was a private purchase. But never mind that, too. This handy resource incidentally lists “Public Land Ownership” by state.

“Public land ownership.”

If you add “state government land ownership” and “federal government land ownership” together for each state, you get figures that are absolutely shocking.

We colloquially call this stuff “public land,” in the same way that we say “We are the government.” After all, if the government owns all that land, and we are the government, then we own all that land. It’s a simple step of logic. Resting as it does on the assumption that “we are the government,” it would follow that, if it should turn out that we are not the government, then we do not own that land–some third party called “the government” does. So let’s move to Rothbard and have some logic dropped on the subject.

First, there is the argument of self-harm: if “we” are the government, then anything that the government does to us is considered voluntarily, and it is taken that we did it to ourselves. Quite to many people’s surprise, Hitler’s Nazi regime was democratically elected. By this reasoning–that in a democracy, “we are the government”–the Jews were not systematically murdered by the government. Instead, the Jews committed suicide.

This is not some word game. It is the logical conclusion of the fallacious notion that “we” are this third party entity that does stuff. Most assuredly, I am not the government. I have no hand in governance, and my votes to do so are routinely thrown away entirely. The people with government power–they are the government. Not you and me.

Then there is the argument of voluntary conscription. If “we” are the government, then if the government institutes conscription and sends many young men against their will to fight and die in foreign countries, then nothing untoward has happened. Because “they” are somehow the government, they weren’t conscripted; they volunteered to be sent, against their will, to foreign countries. I would hope it isn’t necessary to point out the absolute absurdity in saying that they volunteered to be forced to do something against their will.

Moreover, if the government criminalizes homosexuality, then the homosexuals who are arrested and imprisoned “did it to themselves.” After all, “they” are the government, so “they” somehow voted that they should be considered criminals and imprisoned against their wills.

It’s painfully obvious that we are not the government. In fact, this is so obvious that it wouldn’t be necessary to point out at all if this banality hadn’t propagated largely unchecked throughout western society. Those people who make up the city council? They’re not me. They and I are different people. Those people who make up the state legislature–they are not me. They and I are different people. Those people who wear badges and enforce the rules of the state and federal legislatures–they are not me. They and I are different people. We are not “them.” We are “their subjects.”

Representatives

“Fine,” the American liberal begrudgingly admits. “We aren’t literally ‘the government.’ But we do elect our representatives, who act in our best interests. Obviously, every single person can’t be their own government agent, and this is why representative democracy [what others would call “a republic,” of course] exists. So while you aren’t literally ‘the government,’ you are in control of it, because you pick your representatives.”

What a statement of astounding privilege. It must be nice to be so firmly within an ideological majority that one is assured representation among the government that rules us and that we have agreed “we are not.” Let there be no doubt: if you want to know what genuine privilege in the United States looks like, that is it–the notion that because we vote for our representatives we are represented.

As a Nietzschean Anarchist, I am an extreme ideological minority. In fact, I’m the only person I know who is a Nietzschean Anarchist. My ideal form of governance cannot be enacted by a third party representative, because the representative himself would be ruling me, and, as a Nietzschean Anarchist, I reject his authority to do so. So even if there were ten million other Nietzschean Anarchists out there, we could not be represented within the government, and the idea here is that if we do not think the governance system in place is compatible with our worldview, then we are not entitled to have the governance system that we want.

“Some exclusions apply,” would be a fitting end to the statement that “We elect our representatives.”

This state of affairs, where minorities of whatever flavor are not allowed a seat at the governing table, is entirely democratic–the rule by the mob, by the majority. Whoever has the most numbers makes the rules, and anyone who isn’t in that majority can get over it. Because I’m a minority of one, I am not entitled to self-governance as they are, and they are entitled to rule over me, whether I like it or not.

Already, the idea of “representatives” is on shaky ground. Some people have representatives. Have we not heard throughout the last 9 months that “Donald Trump doesn’t represent me”? Welcome to my world, where none of these people represent me. It doesn’t feel very good, does it, to be ruled over by someone with whom you disagree fundamentally? This is what you force upon me every time you elect your representative. You force me into the exact position that you are in right now because you are ruled by a government entirely controlled by Republicans. And those Republicans who felt this way in 2008, when President Obama was elected with a largely democratic congress–you are forcing upon liberals and people like me governance that we do not want. So it quite obviously isn’t “self-governance,” because it’s “governance by representatives.” And these representatives quite obviously do not “represent us.” They “represent some.” Those not represented… can just get fucked, as far as the ruling power is concerned, and this is ubiquitous throughout human history and American history, regardless of whatever political party or political ideology controlled the government.

As if all that wasn’t enough (which it should be), there is a deeper fallacy underlying the idea that, just because we can elect people to government, these people constitute “representatives” and are actually bound to do anything that we want them to do. Senator John McCain’s voting against the bill to “slim repeal” the Affordable Care Act is incontrovertible proof that “representatives” are what we already knew them to be–individuals with their own predilections, preferences, and concerns. They act in accord with our wishes only when our wishes overlap with theirs. It is a simple matter, when our desires conflict with theirs, to smooth over the matter and hold onto power anyway. If this was not true, then we would not have terrible approval ratings and such absurdly high re-election rates. While these ratings and rates are exaggerated on social media, there is still truth to them. As much as Mississippi despises Roger Wicker for being a typical neo-con, he’s not going anywhere.

As it happens, Rothbard also addressed the Representative Myth:

We cannot, in this chapter, develop the many problems and fallacies of “democracy.” Suffice it to say here that an individual’s true agent or “representative” is always subject to that individual’s orders, can be dismissed at  any time and cannot act contrary to the interests or wishes of his principal. Clearly, the “representative” in a  democracy can never fulfill such agency functions…

If these don’t sound like the “representatives” you think we have, then I would suggest the “representatives” that you think we have are not “representatives” as much as they are “people elected to power whose desires theoretically overlap with the electing individual’s to some degree, and, ideally, this overlap would cause the elected person to behave in a way the elector desires.”

In practice, however, the government and its members do, more or less, whatever they want. To restrain them, we produced a piece of paper and called it “The Constitution.” It is not “the highest law of the land” as people often suggest; it is more than that. It is the document that defined our government. It is the charter that defined our government. It is also completely meaningless today, with every single part of the Bill of Rights lying tattered and buried beneath 6,000 pages of legalese bullshit. Because if a judge can produce such an argument about how stopping and frisking people “totally” doesn’t violate people’s Fourth Amendment rights, then the government can freely violate the Fourth Amendment with impunity. The sheet of paper does nothing to stop them. It basically says “You must not do that.” Yeah, but they do that, so…

Back to Public Property

So if we are not “the government,” and if our representatives do not represent us, then what is the government? It is a cabal of people with the power to rule over us all. We are not those people, and those people only do what we want if it happens to coincide with what they want to do anyway. If this is sounding less and less like the “land of the free” that you think we’re in, I’d suggest that you probably attended a public school. Of course, their goal is not to create free-thinking, independent, autonomous citizens. That’s the last thing any government would want. Do you expect Wal-Mart to open up seminars and education programs on how to become self-sufficient? Of course not.

If this “government” is not us and is, in fact, some external thing that rules over us, then it follows that property it owns is not “public property.” It’s government property. If this was true, then we would expect the government to create all sorts of rules about how its property can be used, we would expect severe usage limitations on it, and we would expect it to use its enforcers–police–to ensure that “we the people” who allegedly “own” this property abide its rules and regulations. And, in fact, that’s exactly what we find.

Ostensibly, the American people are taxed to pay for roads that snake across the country. Supposedly, these roads belong to us, and we can use them as we want. Except that’s obviously not true, is it? Sobriety checkpoints, random insurance checkpoints, vehicular registration, drivers’ licenses, inspection stickers, and all kinds of other shit are required to use these roads that supposedly belong to us because we paid for them. And this state of affairs is supposedly okay because “we are the government,” so we imposed these rules on ourselves. Except we know this last statement is untrue, because we already proved it to be untrue. The government imposed these rules on us. It doesn’t matter if you agree with them or not–you didn’t impose them, and you cannot depose them if you have a change of heart.

Imagine that for a moment, if you truly think that we imposed these regulations on ourselves. Put yourself in the position of becoming a Mormon and having the epiphany that insurance is tantamount to gambling (which it is), and that you cannot, in good conscience, participate in the scheme (because it is a scheme–imagine if everyone was required to go to a casino and spend $100 in a slot machine every month knowing that “the house always wins”). What can you do about it? What can you do about it once you have decided that these laws imposed upon us are unjust?

Nothing.

Because you didn’t impose them, and you don’t control them. You are at their mercy, and the only reason this is somewhat escapable is because so many Americans reflexively have decided that the insurance scam is a positive thing (especially now that it has extended to health insurance scams).

This argument about “public property” applies to all public property. It’s a fiction. There is only personal property and state property, and we must stop confusing the two. If we understood that we are most certainly not “the government,” then this myth would have to fade, because it would become obvious that we and the government are entirely different things. We are the subjects of government.

Even if you agree with the Republican federal government, you are not governing yourself. You are being governed by other people, and you knew this eight years ago when you were pitching a fit because the Democratic federal government was governing you. You knew this to the extent that you flooded the White House website with secession petitions. And you, liberals, you know this now–you are not the Republican government, and neither are you represented by it. It rules over you, whether you like it or not.

And if you don’t obey, it will send its footsoldiers to kidnap you and imprison you against your will. If you resist this kidnapping, its footsoldiers will murder you. If you don’t respect its authoritah! to order you around and tell you what you can and can’t do, then it will send people to kill you. The bullshit lie that democracy and republic governments are somehow different, and that these truths are no longer truths.

We hold these truths to be self-evident–that all governments are created evil, that they are endowed by no one with the power to commit crimes without repercussions; that among these crimes are murder, assault, theft, and kidnapping.

Let’s Have A [Trade] War

Recently, a Chinese official warned that they don’t want a Trade War but, if there is one, then the United States would lose. I think this shows a lot of confusion about what is meant by “trade war,” because there isn’t a winner or loser in a trade war. Well, at least not in the sense that the Chinese government can win a trade war and the American corporations can lose one. In fact, the winners of a trade war are consumers, and the losers are producers. A trade war would be a good thing for the American People.

People talk about a possible trade war, and I get excited–fuck. Yes. Bring it on, please. There’s not a better way to save our economy than a trade war. As long as it doesn’t escalate into an actual war, there is absolutely nothing to fear from a trade war–in fact, they happen all the time, and they’re to be desired, because competition is the key element that drives down the cost of production by encouraging companies and nations to increase efficiency, cut waste, and lower prices.

But let’s get to a real example to explain what I mean.

Consider the Foxconn hardware, which has its various devices used in all sorts of consumer items from iPhones to Acer laptops. There are also Foxconn network cards–though they’re increasingly uncommon, and I think Realtek usurped them and Foxconn became just the chip manufacturer… It’s complicated and not really important to the point at hand–so consumers in the United States can buy Foxconn directly.

In real terms, a trade war with China would mean that they intentionally drove down the price of Foxconn hardware in order to drive American manufacturers of out of business. It’s similar to how Wal-Mart has a history of lowering prices to drive other companies out of business. It’s the same principle here: take a loss now to annihilate the competition, and then enjoy a monopoly.

But oops! We’ve already seen the problem, haven’t we? Indeed, there is no American manufacturer that competes with Foxconn. America doesn’t make network cards, are you kidding me? We may nor may not have research teams that devise new chipsets that are leased to other companies, like NVidia does, but I don’t think we even have that. So the grand effect from China driving down the cost of the devices manufactured by Foxconn would simply be to lower Apple’s and Acer’s costs in producing new iPhones and laptops. If it costs less money for Apple and Acer to make laptops, then that benefits consumers, even if it’s not at a 1:1 ratio. I mean, if Apple saves 3%, we wouldn’t see a 3% drop in iPhone prices, but we would see some drop–possibly 0.5% or even 1%.

We know this to be true, because it was only about a month ago that I finally replaced the television that broke down last year. The one that broke down last year was an off-brand I’d purchased from RadioShack for $200. It was a 27 inch television that didn’t handle 1920×1080 especially well, though it did do it. I replaced it with a 32 inch Sanyo television that cost $128 after taxes. Regrettably, the universe conspired to throw that television from my wall, where its screen smashed rather unceremoniously on my hardwood floor, but I can still buy another 32 inch Sanyo–not imminently, though in a few months, when things have calmed down–and will effectively have bought two larger televisions for a price only slightly higher than what I paid for one smaller television a number of years ago.

We lose sight of how much progress we have made in the United States, and how high our standard of living is, because we enjoy all the luxuries of modern society. Fifteen years ago, a 70 inch television would have been unheard of, and would have been either an imaginary item or a pipe dream for the majority of Americans. Today, you can get one for about $1,000. I remember one Black Friday sale around 2004 that Wal-Mart put 27 inch televisions on sale for under $100. But they weren’t flat screens, lol. They were enormous, about the size of a mini-fridge, and maybe had a single composite and coax input. Fast forward to last year, and Black Friday saw sales of 27 inch flatscreens capable of 1080p with 3 HDMI inputs, 2 composite inputs, 1 component input, 1 USB input, and 1 VGA input for the same price.

This is the hidden progress that Americans generally haven’t noticed. We complain about the American poor not making any progress, completely glossing over the fact that in less than 2 decades the American poor went from buying the gigantic CRT-type televisions while only the wealthy could afford LCD screens to having multiple LCD screen televisions, most of them ranging from “very large” to “uselessly large.”

Do you remember when a “big screen tv” meant this gigantic thing that took up an entire living room wall and was two feet deep? Do you remember when that “big screen tv” was a big deal, when it was a point of pride to own one? Again, just compare that to today, when it’s a rarity for someone to not have a widescreen, LCD television pushing at least 720p. The cost of televisions has steadily gone down over the decades, as a result of competition and things like the Foxconn example I gave above. It probably wouldn’t be instant, but the price of phones and laptops would steadily lower as the savings get passed onto consumers, who don’t stop to realize that they’re buying the iPhone 7S today for the same price that they’d have bought the iPhone 6S only a year before, only now the 7S is the latest and greatest and the 6S is a model or two behind. We haven’t stopped to notice that we’re routinely buying and discarding televisions that would have cost three children, half an arm, and one testicle twenty years ago for a half of week of minimum wage labor today.

The other direction that China could go is to increase prices. This also only benefits the United States. It’s a simple matter of supply and demand, and the relationship between them setting the price. Just as selling something for less than it’s actually worth will create a shortage of that item, so will selling something for more than it’s worth create a surplus of that item. One hundred people may be willing to license a Foxconn chipset for $0.50, but if only fifty people are willing to license the chipset for $0.75, then Foxconn has lost money, and that’s how economics works, and why economics always uses curves.

Demand and supply lines are only straight in simplistic economic exercises. In the real world, things never work that way. If I can make one hundred televisions for $50 each, that doesn’t mean I can double production and make two hundred televisions for $50 each. Average laws tell us that I would expect doubling the production to increase costs to about $60 per television. It works in terms of selling things, too, and is the reason that everyone in the world is used to things being cheaper when bought in bulk. One roll of toilet paper may be sold for fifty cents, but four rolls of toilet paper will be sold for $1.50, not $2. This is mathematically a curve, of course, because it’s obviously not a linear progression.

It’s obvious when we stop to think about it, and it’s the reason that a trade war–artificial changing of prices–benefits consumers and ultimately hurts producers. The consumer benefits from buying 4 rolls of toilet paper for $1.50 instead of buying four individual rolls for fifty cents apiece. The consumer has benefit from all the technological innovations and pricing wars over the last twenty years, and now a widescreen, flatscreen LCD television is as much a staple in American homes as the microwave. Oh, there’s another, of course. Microwave ovens were once the property of the rich and wealthy. Today, they’re so cheap and abundant that entire YouTube channels exist of people microwaving random things in order to destroy them. Ditto for refrigerators, washing machines, driers, hair blow driers, and just about any-damn-thing else you can think of.

It wouldn’t be all sunshine and daisies if China foolishly took this route, but it would, in the longrun, help the United States. There is a demand for Foxconn devices, after all. If I can produce bananas so cheaply that I can sell them at a cost that no one can compete with, then the bar of entry is so high that new companies won’t be able to enter the banana production industry. They won’t have the resources or knowledge necessary to compete with me, the very same reason that we see companies like Microsoft dominating industries with inferior products and shady business practices. There’s really nothing that can be done about this except wait until their monopoly destroys itself, because monopolies are self-destructing in the market.

As a monopoly dominates, it grows larger. This increases waste, inefficiency, and loss, not just because production costs and profits don’t scale linearly, but also because competition is the driving force that minimizes waste, inefficiency, and loss. Without someone to compete with in the OS market, Microsoft can release one terrible Operating System after the other, and practically force an “upgrade” onto everyone, while also losing money and absorbing losses due to bad ideas, waste, and inefficiency. They continue to grow, of course, because they’re the only option, and this only generates more waste, inefficiency, and bad ideas. With more and more money being lost to these things, Microsoft has to raise prices to continue making money, so Microsoft Office 2016 goes from $199 to $249. At first, this is bad for consumers, but it also means that a new company making an Office competitor has an extra bit of padding they can work with to improve their software. Maybe they couldn’t afford to implement this feature, because it would have increased the price of their software from $180 to $210, and selling their software for $210 would have made it more expensive than Office. Office, being the champion already and being cheaper, would win that contest. But if Microsoft has to mitigate its increased waste and inefficiency by increasing prices to $249, then the new competitor can implement that feature and still be cheaper than Microsoft Office.

Maybe the company American Network Chip Manufacturers would like to make its own chips, but can’t afford to because Foxconn’s chips are so much cheaper. Foxconn raising the cost of its chips just might mean that ANCM can finally afford to hire American manufacturers and still produce a chip that is cheaper than Foxconn’s. Oh, no, what a disaster! Hiring Americans and creating American manufacturing jobs?! Woe is me, how awful!

Although such a thing would still result in higher prices for consumers, which is the problem with protectionism and tariffs. If we put a 20% tariff on Mexican bananas and Jose starts selling his previous $1 ea bananas for $1.20 to cover the tariff, then obviously it’s the people buying bananas who are paying for the tariff, not Jose. But it’s a bit of a double-edged sword, because it also means that American Banana Producer can now charge up to $1.19 per banana and still beat out Jose in the market. Maybe American Banana Producer was about to go out of business because its banana costs can’t be lowered beyond $1.10. This is bad for consumers, who now pay ten cents more to buy an American banana picked by an American worker, but it also means there is now another American manufacturer with a job. And though banana farming isn’t the most lucrative industry, I would guess, industrial manufacturing jobs generally are.

It’s true that we’ve become a society of service people. Very, very little is manufactured in the United States, and that is a problem in the grand scheme of things. The only reason it works now is because much of the world hasn’t noticed that we’re giving them sheets of paper in exchange for actual goods they manufacture, but that gravy train is inevitably going to crash. I make a living fixing, installing, and configuring computers and networks, almost none of the components of which are manufactured in the United States. What happens to my job, when the USD collapses and China, Japan, and South Korea stop accepting the USD as payment? I’ll have nothing to service if Americans can’t buy the things I service. The very existence of our service-centric economy–from auto mechanics to gas station employees to I.T. people to fast food workers–is dependent upon the USD and the willingness of manufacturers to accept it. The moment–and I mean the very moment–that they stop, the United States will enter a depression that makes the Great Depression look like Disneyland. And that’s not hyperbole; the entire American economy will collapse, virtually overnight. The only reason it persists today is that we’ve managed to keep the world using a dollar standard–often by invading nations who want to stop accepting it. That can’t last forever.

Even so, the way out of that is obvious. It would take a while and would be tremendously unpleasant, but the solution would be to re-open all the American factories that have since been exported to China, Indonesia, Japan, and South Korea. A trade war with China would allow this to happen slowly, as opposed to all at once with the collapse of the USD, but it’s inevitable. The chips will fall eventually, and the gravy train will be derailed. We can count on it with as close to absolute certainty as a person can get. Having it happen slowly and over a years-long trade war with China would drastically reduce the hardship, starvation, and interim poverty. Having it happen suddenly at some unknown point in the future will result in widespread starvation. And that’s just a fucking fact.

So yeah. Bring on the trade war. Let’s do it. Let’s get it over with. The longer we kick the can down the road, the more devastating it’s going to be when it finally happens–like the requests to raise the Minimum Wage that are the most blatant examples of kicking the can down the road that we can look to. The Minimum Wage is a Price Floor on the price of labor, of course, and is only “necessary” because the market price of some labor is lower than the Minimum Wage. There’s a disparity between what a job is worth to an employer and what an employer has to pay, so any non-critical task results in a fired employee, because the employer isn’t going to pay someone $7.25 an hour to clean windows when the market price of a window cleaner is $2.50 an hour. So increasing the Minimum Wage just causes a greater overlap between “non-critical tasks” and “not worth it to pay someone to do,” the result of which is unemployment.

Economic law tells us that reckoning is going to happen sooner or later. The market will come to equilibrium one way or another, and it won’t be pretty when it happens. We should be reducing the Minimum Wage–or abolishing it altogether, I’d prefer–incrementally until such time as we can abolish it, not increasing it. Making the disparity greater is the dumbest thing we could do. Let’s get it over with. Let’s crash the train.

Let’s have a war.

As long as force, violence, and coercion are forbidden and it remains a market matter solved by non-violent competition, of course.

The Government is Driving Me Crazy

This isn’t finished–and it actually gets worse, due to what happened in court–but I’m posting it now because I don’t know when I’ll be able to get back to it.

As I sit in court this morning waiting on that judge to make his appearance, despite it being ten minutes after the time I was legally mandated to appear, I’ve got plenty of time to reflect on why I’m here. I’m here because the state has persistently screwed me over in the name of money.

In fact, my driving record would be impeccable if not for two things: the government, and other, careless drivers. I’ve been doing for 13 years, and I’ve had two accidents, neither of which was my fault. In one instance I was rear ended, in the other, more recent, someone attempted to turn out of a driveway in front of me, and didn’t see me coming. I’ve been ticketed for not wearing a seatbelt, not having insurance, for running stop signs that even the judge didn’t believe I ran, for not having insurance, and for not having insurance.

This entire thing is wrong. Why do we tolerate it?

It was only last year, or the year before, that Mississippi finally repealed the bill that forced drivers to buy inspection stickers. What was undoubtedly meant as a boon to the mechanics industry became a formality: Everyone knew at least one mechanic who would clear any vehicle. Yet the ticket for not having this sticker ran $500–one hundred times the cost of the sticker itself.

On the surface, the insurance regulation seems to make sense. Ignoring the overarching concerns about what right the state has to coerce me to buy something, if I’m in an accident then it’s not really fair to you if I can’t cover my responsibility. Never mind as well the fact that this is clearly a civil matter, and that, in the worst case scenario, you could sue me for damages. Yet after 13 years of driving, two of which were spent delivering pizzas in a city, I think the absence of any fault on my end serves as sufficient proof that I handle my end of the responsibility.

Strangely, no court will admit that I’ve never been at fault in a wreck as evidence that I’m responsible for the things I do on the road, even though they, better than anyone, have my driving record to look at.

Actually, insurance is obscenely expensive generally, but especially for me. Any driving ticket is considered a moving violation, including not having insurance and not wearing a seatbelt. These are tickets I obviously shouldn’t have in the first place. If I don’t want to wear a seatbelt in my vehicle, then that’s my business. If I solve my responsibility to other drivers by being cautious and careful, then I’ve solved my responsibility and insurance is a moot point. I don’t need liability insurance if I’m not a liability.

None of this matters, of course.

The episode of The Big Bang Theory  wherein Sheldon goes to traffic court struck home for exactly that reason: judges don’t want to hear it. They want to get you in and out. They don’t want to hear long winded, obvious arguments about how no one with any sense in their head would believe that you ran a third stop sign in two weeks when there was literally a cop right behind you. And even though the judge agrees, because you’re a respected businessperson in the small town and he knows you’re not an idiot, you’re still going to pay that $172 that some cop on a whim decided you were ultimately going to have to pay.

The Constitution has no place in American court rooms, especially traffic courts, where 13,000 page documents of legalese have been written explaining why it’s totally not a violation of our Fourth Amendment right to have paperwork demanded of us at roadblocks as we exercise our inherent animal right to move around the land. They assure us that it checks out, and we should totally trust them on that, but if we don’t then we can always read the enormous, confusing document ourselves. Because the founders who wrote a framework for our government that was less than thirty pages long totally intended for bills to become a thousand times longer than that. Certainly some part of the Bill of Rights should have mandated that all bills must be less in word count and page length than the Constitution itself.

I have no doubt that someone who has literally dedicated their life to understanding this minefield of complexities and jargon could decimate me in an argument about them. I’m not an attorney, and I don’t know or care about the gigantic documents they create in their efforts to convince us that this totally isn’t tyranny. For the most part, I don’t really care what they do in their world of make believe. It’s only when their world of make believe overlaps the real world, and I find myself losing an entire day just to be commanded to pay a fine, that it becomes an issue.

And it is a world of make believe that they’ve crafted. They aren’t the only ones; most Americans are fixated firmly on this world of make believe. Just recently, I got to listen to my father talk about Trump’s congressional speech, and how he’s looking forward to the perks brought on by President Trump.

What is he talking about?

Sugarcandy Mountain, really. Surely some part of him knows that nothing Trump does is going to have even the tiniest measurable effect on his life. In fact, this is true for most people. We’re in our second month of his presidency, and nothing has changed and nothing has happened. Everyone’s daily lives are exactly the same as they were a year ago, yet half the people are convinced things are about to get better and the other half are convinced things are about to become catastrophic.

Of course, “things” aren’t about to do anything or be anything. It’s all inconsequential. Whether the hope or fear that Trump would shake things up was well-founded or not, it should be obvious by now that the status quo reigns unchallenged. Shortly after his election victory, I said in a video that I think America just got played, and that nothing was going to change, which would piss off the people who voted for Trump, leaving them even angrier and less trusting of politicians than they were before.

Yet two months later, I’m beginning to remember that they honestly just lack the capacity to notice that, just as the average liberal lacks the capacity to recognize that Obama didn’t really do anything. Nor did Bush Jr., or Clinton. I’ve seen “Libertarians for Trump” continue praising the buffoon, despite his constant executive overreach, which, while it isn’t new, is certainly something they should be against–and were against when it was Obama.

I’d hoped that conservatives would seize the rare opportunity to actually begin embracing small government and states’ rights, but they have shown no sign of caring any longer. They just have a different set of pet issues they want the federal government to control than liberals have. I knew this, of course, and have said it as long as I’ve been writing, but I did hope that they wouldn’t be as stupid and hypocritical as allowing the federal government to usurp not just states’ rights but city and county rights as well.

It’s useless to point out the hypocrisy, though. No one has ever succeeded in getting a hypocrite to realize they were a hypocrite, and that’s only exacerbated in politics when the stakes and rewards are “OMG WE GET TO TELL OTHER PEOPLE WHAT TO DO!” Unable to resist that urge to tell everyone else what to do with their pet issues, they’ve stepped right back into the path of big government and have ensured that the best we can look forward to is another Democratic President in 4-8 years, and then, perhaps, another chance for conservatives to note that, since they didn’t like the liberal federal government telling them what to do, then maybe they shouldn’t use the conservative federal government to tell liberals what to do. But, of course, when it comes to issues conservatives care about, it totally doesn’t count as usurping states’ rights.

It’s now fifteen minutes after nine, 45 minutes after I was required to be here. The courtroom is still filled with the steady droning of thirty conversations happening at once, and neither the bailiff nor judge have made an appearance. The state and its puppets, of course, have no concern for my time. And why should they? They’re at work; this is what they get paid to do. If having a day in court meant that every judge, officer, and other associated person wasn’t getting paid for each moment they were in court, this shit wouldn’t devour our entire days.

One odd thing I noticed the last time I was here is that people with attorneys go first. I suspect this is true in every court across the country, but I’m not aware of any attorney who charges by the minute or hour in a courtroom, so the argument that the judge is trying to keep the people’s costs low doesn’t hold up. Several of my clients are attorneys, and none of them charge by the hour, while all of them include a presumed court appearance or two in their estimate.

It’s because, without exception, the judge used to be an attorney. If there’s any position I’ve ever thought about running for, it’s a judicial one. I would make a fantastic judge, if I do say so. Case after case would be dismissed unless the state provided evidence, and an officer’s word wouldn’t be enough. “Oh, you ticketed her for not having insurance? What proof do you have that she didn’t have proof of insurance?”

“Well, your honor, she didn’t…”

“Ma’am, did you have proof of insurance?”

“Yes, your honor.”

“Case dismissed.”

Most cops don’t even bother to show up. That’s how little our rights matter, and how little presumed non-guilt matters. Cops don’t even show up. I’m sorry, your honor, but where is the evidence that I didn’t have insurance? Where is the evidence that the officer didn’t take a lighter to my insurance card? No, your honor, I *don’t* have to prove that I had insurance; the officer has to prove that I didn’t.

Where is the evidence that I was driving on a suspended license? That the officer said so? In what vehicle was I driving? There’s no proof of this; the vehicle wasn’t impounded. Where’s the evidence that I wasn’t out walking when some cop arrested me and said I was driving? They didn’t impound the vehicle, so they wouldn’t be able to prove I was driving.

If I did attempt to dispute any of these charges, then it wouldn’t matter; the officer would be called in to testify. Of course, the judge would be happy to wait twenty minutes while the officer showed up. After then, it would be a simple question of the officer’s word against mine, since there doesn’t even exist evidence that this whole mess was caused by someone pulling out in front of me in the first place.

This whole thing is just ridiculous.

“Innocent until proven guilty.”

A statement so true that cops don’t even bother to show up to court, much less to provide evidence if they do appear.

A year or so ago, a friend’s son was arrested at 2 in the morning. He was pulled over in a city for having a headlight out. Before anyone comments that it’s dangerous to drive without headlights, I’ve had numerous military people inform me that drivers in Iraq don’t use headlights at all. Anyway, the kid was arrested because the father had left Xanax in the truck in an unlabeled pill bottle and couldn’t prove that he had a valid prescription.

With a discount because they’re a client, an attorney charged $1250 to take the case. The expected fines were $1000. In the end, the kid had to take three drug tests at a doctor’s office, and the charges were dropped, not appearing on his record.

If that had been me as an 18 year old, I’d have been fined. I’d have pled not guilty, explained the situation, and then would have been found guilty and fined. I’ve been there, found guilty for contributing to the delinquency of a minor when I was 18. It was that day that I learned how pointless it is to plea not guilty over a misdemeanor without an attorney. The judge doesn’t give a shit about your arguments. You’re guilty. It’s that simple.

The judge will listen to the attorney’s arguments, and, in my experience and observations, will just go with whatever the attorney says. The judge won’t fine you, because you’ve already been fined. You simply paid a private attorney instead of the state. Since the judge himself used to be a private attorney, it creates a cycle. Your attorney will be your kid’s judge. Your kid’s attorney will be your grandkid’s judge. They won’t fine you because they once made their money because judges didn’t fine people with attorneys. If they start treating people who have attorneys the same way they treat people who don’t, then their entire circle jerk falls apart.

Trying to put a vehicle on the road is an exercise of such obstruction that Stalin would be proud. First, you need a licence that you purchase from the state after buying two rubber stamps. This license, of course,

So the State is After Me

In a shocking turn of events that I honestly didn’t see coming, a few weeks ago I received a letter from the Internal Revenue Service telling me that I had about ten days to pay them an absolutely ridiculous sum of around $2,000. Why? I honestly couldn’t tell you. Based on what the letter says, I’m assuming it’s a mistake on their end, but it’s not like it makes very much of a difference, does it? Right and wrong are meaningless in this matter; if right and wrong mattered, then under no circumstances would someone put a gun to my head and tell me to give them two thousand dollars. With right and wrong discarded long ago, it’s irrelevant who is actually right.

Ohhhh… goody!

If the IRS checks and insists that I owe them this money, then I have two options:

  1. Pay them this ridiculous sum.
  2. Go to prison.

O’er the land of the free… and the home of the brave…

I received this letter shortly before the Thanksgiving holiday, and I attempted to call the IRS, only to be told that they were too busy and that I needed to call back. That’s well and good, except I work the same time the IRS is open, so there aren’t a ton of opportunities for me to call them and find out what the hell is going on. 2014 was a simple year, as far as my taxes are concerned–I worked for Harrah’s as a slot tech, filled out a 1040EZ, and that was it. You can’t screw up a 1040EZ–it’s like Paint By Numbers. Yet somehow “changes to my W-2” mean I owe them a figure that is about 1/4 of what I even made last year.

This is a shitload of money we’re talking about. It may not be for everyone, but that’s half of my Move to Vegas money. With my car currently in the shop–again, this time with a busted fuel injector, busted intake manifold gasket, and busted head gasket–it’s not like I’ve been adding much to the savings account through the last two months, but it will be a cold day in hell before the IRS gets that money.

Honestly, it will be a cold day in hell before the IRS gets this money from me period, regardless of what they say.

What’s really amazing about this is that the IRS has my income records. They know as well as I do that $1,979.60 simply isn’t going to happen. If it was that or jail, I could probably pay $400~ without it absolutely bankrupting me and leaving all my bills unpaid, but they should know better than that. I’m not just bitching, though. I am going somewhere with this, and I am making a few different points. This one being that the IRS, better than anyone else–other than myself–knows exactly how frankly impossible it is for me to pay that amount of money. So what the hell do they want from me?

Meanwhile, President Elect Donald Trump isn’t paying that much, right? I don’t know, because I never pay any attention to the candidates’ taxes or income.

I knew this was going to happen. Not because I did anything wrong, but because rumors began circulating of threatening letters from the IRS sent to everyone who hadn’t purchased insurance, and that certainly included me. I have an exemption that means I don’t have to purchase health insurance, which is good because I’m young and in great shape, have no health issues, and no need of health insurance; since no companies are offering rates that a young, healthy person like myself can find agreeable, I am not purchasing health insurance.

Through the last few months, I’ve been expecting to get one of those letters. Instead, I got one of these. And I am almost positive this has something to do with the Affordable Care Act.

Our government is in debt for twenty trillion dollars, a figure so large that not even the most insane mathematician can wrap their mind around it. Our government is absurdly broke whether it harasses me and imprisons me over this paltry figure or not. Moreover, I don’t owe the government this money. I don’t. The government proclaimed that I owe it this money, and because it controls the courts it can have a judge rule that I owe it this money. So let me paint this little picture for you.

I’m going on about my life, working and trying to move to Las Vegas where I can put my degree to use, be transgender in peace, and live out my life happily. I’m a relatively normal, law-abiding citizen. One day I get a letter from the IRS telling me that I owe them two thousand dollars, which is to me a very large amount of money. I contest it, but the IRS insists that I do owe it and that I have to pay it; if I don’t, I’ll be arrested for contempt of court or tax evasion or some other charge. Even under the best of circumstances, I can’t come up with that kind of money. I’m arrested and thrown in jail.

How is that not among the most fucked up things ever?

While you’re going on about your life, I’ve got paperwork that says you owe me $2,000. You insist that you don’t owe me that money, but I take you to court. At court, the judge agrees with me and tells you that you have to pay it; if you don’t, you’ll be arrested. Unable to pay, you are then arrested.

This is the true nature of the state, and I’d be becoming an anarchist right now if I wasn’t one already. This… is… ridiculous.

It’s like, “Damn. I knew the state was a group of predators robbing, killing, and kidnapping people, and I’ve long been speaking out against that–and now this group of robbing, killing, kidnapping predators have turned their attention onto me. Shit.”

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

Let’s not be unclear or ambiguous about this. It is the government’s Mission Statement to protect the lives, liberties, and happiness of American citizens. And rather than doing that–rather than protecting us from all manner of wicked humans we are told are lurking in the shadows, eager for the destabilization of the government so that they can rob, kill, and kidnap us, my very own government is declaring that I owe it a debt, and will use the existence of that “debt” to rob, kill, and/or kidnap me.

Any pretense of government goodwill falls utterly apart in this scenario. Just who in the hell do they think they are? They passed a law that said I had to pay them, invented some magical figure that I can’t possibly pay, stated that I owe them that large figure, and will rob, imprison, or kill me to get it. This is our government. This is the American government.

This vicious group of thieves, kidnappers, and murderers who have sworn to protect me, who managed to work up a twenty trillion dollar debt ostensibly in my name, have now turned their hungry eyes onto me. They don’t exist to protect us; they exist to predate us. Here are all the possible relationships to the government you can have:

  • Victim.
  • “No one.”

What I mean by “no one” is that the government is mostly leaving you alone. It’s not sending you threatening letters and telling you that you owe them a giant chunk of cash. You will never be under the government’s protection because the government doesn’t exist to protect you. It will leave you alone–probably if you bow to every arbitrary demand that it makes–but it will never protect you. It will either victimize you or leave you alone.

A lot of people like arguing against anarcho-capitalism by saying, “What’s going to keep me from robbing you, kidnapping you, whatever, since I’m rich and have better weapons than you?”

Do you see what an asinine question that is? There are good people out there who would protect me from you if you attempted to kidnap me. It happens every single day; we’ve got entire groups of people who dedicate their lives to stopping that kind of behavior. Yet who is there that can protect me from the IRS? What’s going to keep the government from robbing me or kidnapping me? Who even can come to my defense when the government sends its soldiers to take me hostage and kidnap me for not being able to pay its extortion fees? There is no one stronger than the government, and definitely not stronger than the American Government.

The ultimate warlords, the ultimate thieves, the ultimate kidnappers. That’s our government.

And if they decide that I owe them this money, there isn’t a goddamned thing that anyone can do about it.

I’d take my chances against you any day, if the alternative is to take my chances with the “benevolence” of the government.

Libertarians & Term Limits: A Contradiction in Principle

I’m still shocked every time I see a libertarian preaching the value of arbitrary term limit. Someone just posted this to a Voluntaryist / Anarchist group I’m in, along with a Gary Johnson video–ugh:

Want to do one thing that will help end tyranny? Force incumbents to have term limits. Vote them OUT!

Okay, well… See? This is self-contradictory.

For one, if you’re forcing incumbents out, then you’re hardly moving away from tyranny. In fact, you’re moving toward tyranny, by purposely creating legislation that is specifically designed to limit voters’ choices and, in some cases, to override their expressed wishes. This is the libertarian position? I honestly don’t see how.

“Oh, sorry! I’d love a third term of Jesus / Gandhi. But term limits.”

It’s nonsense.

If American voters wish to give Barack Obama a third time, then by what right does anyone step up and say, “No, I’m sorry you all voted for him, but I’m not going to let him have a third term”? If the majority has elected the candidate for a third time, then, ipso facto, only a minority wishes the candidate to not get a third term. How presumptuous to say, “No, I don’t care that you’re the majority and we’re the minority. We’re making a law that overrules you.”

And this is the libertarian position?

Isn’t the whole idea of individual responsibility and autonomy kinda a critical part of libertarianism? The idea is that a person should be able to use their resources in whatever way they want, as long as they don’t use aggression against others. I can choose to “vote for Wal-Mart” by purchasing from them, and that’s fine. They may become corrupt and establish an effective monopoly in rural areas, whatever. For you to come along and say, “No, you’ve supported Wal-Mart long enough. You can’t support them any longer. You have to support Dollar General now,” is the height of absurdity, and is a clear example of tyranny.

You are, in every sense, attempting to make my decisions for me. If I want to vote for Barack Obama and 51% of Americans want to vote for Barack Obama and the dude wins a third term, then who in the hell are you to say “No” to that?

Either you’re on board with the idea of a populace educating themselves and making decisions for themselves, or you’re not.

I totally agree that we should make some sort of attempt to vote out the corruption. In fact, I do that. But look–if we vote out the corruption, then we don’t need you coming along and using force, violence, and coercion to force out incumbents. If we vote for the corrupt politicians, then that is our right. In the end, the Senators and Representatives we have… They’re there because we voted for them–a majority of the people who voted… did so for the standing Representatives and Senators.

I don’t like any of them. Justin Amash is pretty good, and there are a few others that are decent. However, I certainly didn’t vote for any of them. If I want to see them replaced, then I can campaign against them, spread knowledge about their corruption, and raise awareness about them. In the end, though, the decision must be in the hands of the people when they go to vote. If they vote for those corrupt Senators and Representatives, then that is their decision.

You cannot tell them, “No, you can’t vote for this Senator again.”

Attempting to use arbitrary term limits to fix the corruption problem is the equivalent of using legislation to force your will onto others. If we have these politicians in office, then that means that Americans put them there. I don’t like it, either, but I would not dare presume to suggest that I know better than everyone else, and that it doesn’t matter what they want, that it doesn’t matter if they want Barack Obama for a third term, and that it doesn’t matter if they want Congressman W. for a sixth term. That is what you are arguing when you argue for term limits:

I don’t care what other people have voted for, would vote for, or are voting for. They shouldn’t even have the option to vote for these people again. Since they can’t make the right decision to vote these people out, I will have to make that decision for them, using term limits.

It doesn’t matter to me if term limits would minimize corruption. Lots of things would minimize corruption. Hell, charging into Washington armed to the teeth with weapons and forcefully taking over the capital under the Libertarian flag would minimize corruption. But that doesn’t make it right to just piss all over the will of voters and tell them who they can and can’t vote for. We could turn this into a socialist prison society built on rations and carefully controlled human interactions, with everyone under CCTV 24 hours a day, being monitored by everyone else, and that would also minimize corruption. That doesn’t mean we should do it.

The position put forward by Johnson and his un-libertarian stooges is exactly that: “The end justifies the means.” Because it would minimize corruption, it is okay to limit the choices that voters have. Meanwhile, they criticize the Commission on Presidential Debates for effectively limiting the choices that voters have. Can you imagine if Republicans or Democrats tried to pass legislation that third parties couldn’t appear on ballots at all? We would probably revolt. Yet that’s almost precisely what Johnson and his cassette tapes are proposing; it’s all the same thing: limiting voter choices.

Gary Johnson likes talking about black holes.

Well, what about that black hole? Once you start limiting people’s choices, unilaterally making decisions on their behalf because they can’t be trusted to make the decision that you want them to make, you jump right on that slippery slope of tyranny. That’s what I hear from the people who propose term limits:

“But I can’t trust the masses to vote out the corrupt politicians! I don’t want these politicians, and the majority just keeps voting for them! It’s not fair! We need a law so that they have to vote these people out!!!!11!!one!!”

For fuck’s sake, this person even used the word “force” in their post.

A libertarian… advocating the use of force… to achieve a political end. Once more, for the record, the Libertarian Pledge–the pledge you must take in order to officially call yourself a Libertarian–the pledge that is the crux of Libertarianism:

I hereby certify that I do not believe in or advocate the initiation of force as a means of achieving political or social goals.

Gary Johnson and his supporters need to revisit the Libertarian Pledge. It is as I just wrote. It is not:

I hereby certify that I do not believe in or advocate the initiation of force as a means of achieving political or social goals… unless I really, REALLY want to achieve that goal.

The Non Aggression Principle. That is where it’s at. That is the heart of the matter and the heart of libertarianism. If you believe that there are occasions where it is justified to use force as a means of achieving a political or social goal, then you are NOT a libertarian. Calling yourself a libertarian when you believe it’s sometimes okay to use force to achieve a goal is like calling yourself a Christian even though you don’t believe there’s a god. Sure, you can call yourself whatever you want, but calling yourself something doesn’t make you that something.

You are, more than likely, a classical liberal. I would absolutely call Austin Petersen a classical liberal, and Gary Johnson, too. Actually, I would say that Johnson is stuck somewhere between “classical liberal” and “liberty-leaning conservative.” But there’s no reason to put that fine a point on it.

There is a reason that the Libertarian Pledge is a vow to reject the use of force to achieve goals. If you reject that pledge, then you are not a libertarian.

If you think the end justifies the means, then you’re a classical liberal at best.

But certainly not a libertarian.

 

Dumb Shit Roundup

Guantanamo Prisoners Don’t Appreciate Indefinite Imprisonment?!

Evidently a few recent ex-Guantanamo prisoners have taken up arms and joined the battle, writes the Guardian, and it would seem inevitable that shouts of “We should never have released them in the first place!” will echo across the internet in coming days. I’m particularly looking forward to seeing the “libertarians for Trump” using it as an attack against Obama.

The truth, however, is murkier and not as simple.

To be sure, Obama should have kept his promise to shut down Gitmo, and it breaks my heart that there is not a word said about the illegal military prison in this election. Thankfully, President Obama ostensibly ended the unforgivable torture of prisoners (euphemisms like “detainee” allow us to obscure simple truths that shouldn’t be obscured), but that was only one demand we millennials had of Nobel Peace Prize winner Barack I’ll-bomb-ya, and we’re not entirely sure it’s been kept. Without the transparency we were also promised, we can only take the administration at its word, and the American government has never said a word that I’m willing to accept on faith.

Of course, shutting down this one unconstitutional military derailment of rights and liberty would have done nothing to solve the problem. The prisoners would simply have been moved to one of our Bastilles in Libya, Iraq, or Sudan. We’ve known for years that we have these moral outrages scattered across the globe; without a change of fundamental policy, closing one means nothing. It sets no one free, and it solves nothing. Worse, it serves to placate us, as the public example is stripped down, leaving us with only vague whispers of sister facilities that we can’t campaign for closing because we can’t prove they even exist.

I would be mad, too, if I had been imprisoned for several years, up to a decade, without a trial, without an attorney, and without justice. If I was tortured throughout those years by being forced to listen to pop music, deprived of sleep, and having feeding tubes shoved down my nose when I exercised the only method that I had of protesting, I would be angry, too. If I was forced to stand for 43 consecutive hours, waterboarded, drugged, and beaten, I would be a little pissed off, too.

So as Americans gear up to enjoy their typical circular reasoning that we have to bomb countries to make them into terrorists, then imprison them and torture them, but never release them because then they might become terrorists, I’d like to politely remind everyone to ask themselves:

Wouldn’t you be mad, too?

How many years of unjust imprisonment do you think it would take before you were ready to take up arms against the state that imprisoned you?

I certainly don’t advocate the initiation of violence, but you’d have to be certifiably insane to think that the U.S. weren’t the ones who initiated violence.

“How Dare You Try To Help Me?”

Students who borrowed money to go to ITT Tech are protesting and refusing to pay back the loans, saying that they now have useless credentials. It wasn’t terribly long ago that I talked with someone on Disqus about his student debt, how it wasn’t fair, and how he shouldn’t have to repay it. I pointed out to him that no one made him take out loans, and that college doesn’t have to be expensive. I incurred no debt from going to college, and neither did my aunt (the only other college graduate in the family), who has a master’s degree.

In the fifth grade, I was receiving stuff from Duke University. I stopped caring about school and stopped applying myself, but I could have applied myself. I just didn’t realize how important it was. Even being from a dirt poor family in Mississippi, I could have gone to Duke University on scholarships. I probably still could if I tried really, really hard, but it would be because I’m transgender rather than because of my merits.

I left college with zero debt. It’s not impossible to do. It’s not easy, but it’s certainly not impossible.

Someone once suggested that I go to ITT Tech. I do, after all, have a degree in the Management of Information Systems. That’s right up ITT Tech’s alley. But I didn’t. Instead I opted to attend a child school of the University of Mississippi, and then the University of Mississippi itself. Why? Why did I make that choice?

Because I trusted Ole Miss. There was no reason to trust ITT Tech.

I could very easily be one of the people faced with student loan payments with a degree from a school that is not useless. Jesus, hyperbole much? ITT didn’t lose its academic standing. It lost the ability to take students with the state paying the tab. Your degree is exactly as valuable as it was a year ago.

In Personal News

I interviewed Monday for a slot tech position at one of the nearby casinos. While I’ve not yet heard back, I’m confident in the interview and would say there’s a 70% chance I’ll get the job. That would be incredible. After six months I’d qualify for a transfer to another property, and could simply transfer to their property in Vegas. Additionally, the increased wage and regular hours would give me more than enough money to do it.

I was also contacted by an agent Saturday morning requesting the rest of Dancing in Hellfire, which is phenomenal news. First, this is the agent who I initially sent it to, and who I believed would want to take the manuscript. Two months passed, so I began to think I was wrong in that assessment, but she revealed that I was correct. There is still one hurdle left, since she has to read the rest of it, but I’m absolutely confident in that.

It appears that Dancing in Hellfire: The Life of a Transgender Woman From Mississippi will soon have an agent, and that will open a floodgate of possibilities, considering all the other manuscripts I have in waiting, if it sells well. Given the topic and the political climate, I firmly believe it will sell exceptionally well, and possibly New York Times Bestseller well. Hey, dream big, you know?

Having Dancing in Hellfire do well would change my life forever. A million copies would leave me free to be me without pressure for the rest of my life. I don’t know what the royalties would be, but Amazon offers 30%, which means that, using that as a baseline, 12,000 copies is all that I need to sell in order to get to Vegas. However, there’s also the selling fee and stuff I’ll get, but none of that is important.

The point is that the bar is low, and I have every reason to believe Dancing in Hellfire will raise way above that bar.

Thank you to everyone for your support, encouragement, advice, and criticism.

Asylum

This. This is exactly how I feel.

This. This is exactly how I feel.

Today I was faced with a problem. As I arrived on-site to set up a client’s computer, I got down into the carpet and began connecting things, and–“What the hell is that smell?”

It did not take long to find the source of the problem: the jeans I was wearing. Around the knees, there was an awful and pungent stench. I have no idea what caused it–they were basically fresh out of the dryer–but it presented an immediate and serious problem: after that client (thankfully, there was no one there, and no one would have been close enough to me to smell around my knees anyway–the only reason I caught it was because I was in the floor) I had two more to visit, and I simply could not visit them like that.

I told my colleague that I wasn’t going to be able to hit the other two clients, because I was going to have to sort out this issue. I only have two pairs of work pants, to be clear. Most of my male clothes are casual–black Tripp pants with chains and things on them, and not the sort of thing a person can wear for work. He told me just take his credit card and go buy some.

As I stood in the men’s clothing aisle at Wal-Mart, it occurred to me that I no longer even know what size men’s clothing I wear. I’ve been thinking in size 7 and 5, Smalls and Mediums, through the last year, and I’ve never bought many male clothes in the first place (a curious thing, too). In fact, my male wardrobe is just enough to get buy. It is exactly the minimum that can be reasonably had. I no longer own a single pair of boxers or men’s socks. I could probably sit and list, off the top of my head, every article of male clothing that I own. There are three types: Formal Work, Casual Work, and Casual. I have about two outfits of each, really. My male shoes are old and needing to be replaced, but I just don’t care about them. My Led Zeppelin shirt is practically grey now, but I just don’t care enough to replace it. One of my casual work jeans has a hole about as big around as a pencil around one of the knees, and I just don’t care enough to replace it.

Compare that to my female shoes.

It's worth mentioning they don't actually look THAT bad. It was muddy today.

It’s worth mentioning they don’t actually look THAT bad. It was muddy today.

So it was muddy today, and I haven’t bothered to clean them since I’ve been home. I’ll tell you about the horrible day shortly, but… it was not a good day. Yes, it gets worse than finding myself wearing a pair of stinky pants that smelled in a weird place.

Compare that to my female tennis shoes on the right, which are spotless and in remarkable shape. I’ve needed to replace (or at the least polish) my male shoes for something like two years, and I just can’t be bothered to. But I won’t let so much as a speck of dust stay on my female shoes.

IMG_2072[1]

Caption!

Of course, you wouldn’t know it from looking, but I wear my female shoes a hell of a lot more than I wear my male shoes. My male tennis shoes literally get worn only for work, and then only for some clients–the more casual ones. This same disparity exists between my flip-flops, as well–I have two pairs, and my female pair is in infinitely better shape. Each night, I put up my female flip-flops out of reach of the cats, because they try to use them as a claw sharpener.

No, cat, that’s what my recliner is for!

On the other hand, I don’t bother to put up my male flip-flops. In my defense there, though, the cats also don’t mess with them.

Right now I’m wearing a pair of jeans that are nicer, cleaner, and better than any pair of male pants that I own, including the ones that I bought today. I don’t give the smallest shit about my male clothing. It is a means to an end, and in some cases I’m actively beginning to hate it. The last thing I wanted today was to buy male clothes, and I made that clear. There’s a reason he told me to use his credit card–because then I couldn’t really object. This one I couldn’t fight, as I could the television and other crap he wanted to buy, because this was more or less necessary for work. However, there was no chance that I was going to spend my money buying clothes that I didn’t want.

“This is ridiculous,” I texted. “A true testament of how insane our society is, and how obsessed we are with the arbitrary values we place in things. I’ve got tons of really awesome clothes. Like really, I’ve got more clothes than I should, and I’m running out of places to put them. But because the angle of the legs on this pair of jeans is this way, I can’t wear them. Because the sleeves on this shirt are angled this way, I can’t wear them. Because the neck is cut this way, I can’t wear that shirt.”

It was surprisingly difficult, even with it being at no expense to myself, to buy male clothes. It felt too much like resigning to continued existence as a male. I didn’t want to buy new clothes, because I want to be escaping to where I don’t have to pretend to be a guy. I don’t want to replace my shoes because I want to move and just throw them away, not stay here for another year. I want to have moved before I have to replace them, the same for my pants and shirts. I give my colleague/employer credit for knowing immediately that there was no chance I was going to spend my money paying for more clothes, and that we’d have difficulties to deal with otherwise, but I’m not done with the story.

While on my way to the men’s clothing, I passed by the women’s clothing and immediately saw an outfit that I wanted. I’m in dire need of women’s shirts, and they’re the hardest things to find online for a decent price. I’m not interested in paying $23 for a shirt. I’m just not. Maybe one day, but I’m way too broke to find that even kinda reasonable. If I’m paying $23, I expect it to come with 3 shirts, at the very least. So sales racks and stuff at Rue21 are where I’d do my shopping for shirts–if I could.

It seemed so easy. Just walk by when there were no huge, burly, bearded dudes around, right? Quickly grab the outfit I was looking at, throw it in my basket, and reposition things so that they were covered as I went to check out. Simple, fast, easy.

So many people don’t get it when I talk about this. They say things like, “Just grab it. Fuck what people say.”

I can only shake my head at such things. Walk a mile in the shoes of a transgender Mississippian, and then come back with that. If I want to buy clothing, then I have to get a female friend to accompany me. I simply can’t stand in the aisle and inspect things, hold them up to see how they’d fit, or whether this top would match with those shorts.

“They don’t know they’re not for your girlfriend,” is another common statement.

Um… And?

Even if there were tons of guys running around Wal-Mart, Rue 21, Target, and Marshall’s shopping for clothes for their girlfriends (something the girlfriends wouldn’t appreciate, either) (and there aren’t anyway), it would be a flagrant denial of reality to say that people wouldn’t instantly guess that the clothes were for me. People aren’t that stupid. I knew when I went into the shoe store months ago and bought these awesome shoes that I’d get weird looks, not just for shopping for women’s shoes, but for buying a size 13–actually oversized, as it turns out I’m a 12, but it’s not like I could try them on…

The scathing, contemptible looks.

Of course, by this point I’m used to them. I’ve been getting hateful looks from people since being a goth kid in the ninth grade. However, the vitriol takes on a decidedly more lethal substance when you’re transgender. It’s not just people who don’t like my appearance or who don’t like my lifestyle; it’s people who feel threatened by my lifestyle. It’s not the female cashier that is the problem. It’s Bubba shopping with his girlfriend behind me. It’s Wyatt who is walking by. It’s the guy with a can of Skoal in his backpocket. It’s the guy who looks like he fell out of an episode of Duck Dynasty. These people are rare outliers in other parts of the world; in Mississippi, especially these more rural areas, they are the norm.

And there are tells, as I learned a few weeks ago, when a random girl at a store to which I’d never been asked me out of the blue if I preferred to be called “sir” or “ma’am.” That someone even asked this question should tell you right off the bat who we’re dealing with: southerners, for whom “sir” and “ma’am” are second nature. I don’t even think about it. A man older than me gets called “sir,” and a woman gets called “ma’am.” It’s one of the few things ingrained in every single southerner, and a dead giveaway to people in other parts of the country where you’re from.

I wasn’t doing anything odd, and this random person picked me out. No one will assume the clothes are for someone else; they will all intuit that the clothes are for me.

Even big dumb Bubba.

Seriously, Disturbed’s “Asylum” could easily be about being transgender and forced to repress it for so many years.

Release me

No remnants were ever found of it
Feeling the hot bile
With every fake smile
Though no evidence was ever found
It never went away completely

I try to hide from the unholy sound of it
Another day gone
Another night’s dawn
Dark forces pull me underground
They never went away completely

How can I feel this empty?
I will not recover this time
This loneliness is killing me

Will I never know peace of mind again?
I don’t believe it
I can’t achieve it
I think it all is just another sign
That never went away completely

Terror is coursing in me
Dreading the final moments
When I have to dream
And feel you die
([Background:] Death inside of me keeps a diligent watch on everything.
Keeps a terrible hold on my belief.
Just waiting for the moment when I…)

In Asylum (I live a lie)
Don’t you know I’m in love with you
And I wasn’t ready
For Asylum (Relive a lie)
To let go
Now it’s dragging me into your grave
Your Asylum (Forgive the lie)
Overcome by the feeling that I won’t get to join you in time
For the loneliness is killing me

Death’s images are all around again
They’re right behind me
They’re gonna find me
Judgment for the immortal sin
That had enveloped me completely

I know I’ll never know a peaceful night again
Afraid they’ll hear me
They don’t fear me
Punishment for the immoral crime
The debt was never paid completely

Terror is coursing in me
Dreading the final moments
When I have to dream
And feel you die
([Background:] Death inside of me keeps a diligent watch on everything.
Keeps a terrible hold on my belief.
Just waiting for the moment when I…)

In Asylum (I live a lie)
Don’t you know I’m in love with you
And I wasn’t ready
For Asylum (Relive a lie)
To let go
Now it’s dragging me into your grave
Your Asylum (Forgive the lie)
Overcome by the feeling that I won’t get to join you in time
For the loneliness is killing me

In the end there will be no suffering (more suffering)
In the end you will find out everything (not anything)
In the end you may question your belief (what belief)
In the end you will realize someday
How you were deceived

This has gone on too long (too long)
No more demonic dreams
Destroyer come to light
Because the memory is killing me

In Asylum (I live a lie)
I let go
Now it’s dragging me into your grave
For Asylum (Relive a lie)
Overcome by the feeling that I won’t get to join you in time
(without you) this world is not fulfilling me

Don’t make me live in Asylum
I live a lie
Don’t want to live in Asylum
I live a lie
Don’t make me live in Asylum
I live a lie

 

Shemale Lesbian Problems

I’m sexy as fuck.

3I have to be honest, though, that my muscles are seriously beginning to irritate me, even as there’s nothing I can do about them except wait and let hormones knock them out. I imagine that it’s going to take a while, because I’ve always been pretty muscular. I’ve lifted weights most of my life, too, which has caused a lot of people to be surprised when I have to do something that really shows my muscles–or just flex. When I worked at Domino’s Pizza years ago, we were messing around near closing time, and discussing exercising, and everyone was showing their muscles. When the conversation worked its way around to me, I was like, “Nah, that’s alright. I’ve gotta do some dishes.” They pressed, however, so I flexed.

People are always surprised, because I’m so skinny, but I’m seriously all muscle. When lifting weights years ago at a gym, I had to be strapped down while working a machine that had me pulling the weights down from above, because it was instead lifting me into the air. It was a reverse benchpress kinda thing, I don’t know what it’s called. But there were several people in the gym, and everyone was shocked that skinny little me was like “No, put 150 pounds on it. I’ll start there.” When I owned a Bowflex (Don’t buy a Bowflex), I had to order two extra 50-pound resistors, because the default weight wasn’t enough for me to get a workout.

When I got home from school everyday during early high school, I’d jump and grab the roof of our house, and proceed to do pull-ups while lifting my knees–there’s nothing that works abs as much as doing that. And when all that combined, I ended up with mostly a 6-pack abs and quite a bit of muscle on my arms. So there was like a decade or more of pretty regular weight-lifting, crunches, sit-ups, and pull-ups.

I’m thinking it’s gonna take a few years for estrogen to atrophy those muscles away.

2I’m also looking pretty good, though! I don’t normally do my makeup that well, but I had several hours over which to do it, and I had plans that night, so the extra effort was important. I could have gone anywhere I needed to go looking like that, and no one would have looked twice–well, they might have, but it would not have been because they suspected I might have a penis.

Well, except for the muscles.

Those still are dead giveaways.

_20160717_120753I am pretty sexy, though, and I do enjoy showing that off. I’m kinda torn on the subject, though, because I want to take extra care to avoid being stereotyped like many transgender people are. I can handle my abs being like the pic there on the left, and you can even see where curves are starting to develop. There are clear curves there, and I really like that.

Even my legs are pure muscle, though. Look at them.

Just one big ass muscle there.

My legs are okay, though. I’m not particularly bothered by my legs, though I don’t like my ass.

One of the girls I was recently talking to pretty obviously wanted me to keep being a guy. It does put me in a weird position, granted, because these two left-aligned pics… they seem more like the sort of thing that would attract a guy, not a girl, and I’m not trying to attract guys. I’m well aware how this works for me sexually/romantically, thanks.

Interestingly, I used to take pictures because I looked more feminine in pictures than I did in the mirror. I went from using a lot of Photoshop to using filters to using no filters to using the rear camera. Now, however, I find that I look more feminine in the mirror than I do in picture. Why is that?

Mostly, it’s mentality.

I know the blurring work is sloppy. I don't really care.

I know the blurring work is sloppy. I don’t really care.

I know that my friends are put off a bit by it, and seeing pictures like those two on the left and this one on the right leave them asking, “Um… What kind of girl is she going to attract with pictures like that?

Well…

Um…

One that licks ass, I suppose.

But no, seriously, I’m well aware of the problems it creates–I spend a lot of time thinking about that. It’s also true, though, that I’m sexually fluid–something that very few of my friends know, but may have guessed, and something which alleviates much of the problem. While I could never be with a guy in any serious way, I like having a good time. And there’s also the fact that: yes, there are plenty of chicks out there who would see that pic and be interested.

They’re not in Mississippi, though.

They think they are, but they’re not. They always end up back at that place, where they’re basically asking me, “Can’t you just be a guy?”

No… No, sweetie, I can’t just be anything except me.

I’m working on leaving Mississippi, though. I’ve got a GoFundMe Campaign aimed at that end, because it’s really important that I leave the south and go somewhere that I can live and exist in peace, security, and stability. If you’d be interested in donating or even sharing the campaign, that would be fantastic, and infinitely appreciated: www.gofundme.com/transgendermove . I’ve submitted a novel recently for publishing and have my fingers crossed for that, but that’s a long shot, you know?

Footsoldiers of the State

Sorry if this makes you uncomfortable. However, the facts support everything I’ve said here.

Before we begin, I want to say:

Great. I’m glad that we got that out of the way.

There’s a lot of conversation in the United States right now about police brutality, and it’s been hijacked by a racially motivated crowd that distorts the facts and twists the reality–it is a tool of the state, whether intentionally or not, to keep us distracted from the real issue because we are focused instead on a byproduct of that problem.

The real issue is police brutality and unchallenged police authority.

The false issue is one of Black Lives Matter, turning the police brutality directed at all Americans into something that is racially motivated, when the numbers and facts simply don’t support that narrative. Here’s a map of the incredible 1,186 people who were killed by police last year, in 2015:

police1

It’s hard to look at that without my heart breaking.

And the false narrative put forward by upper and middle America is no more accurate, either, as they insist that the police are our friends and are here to protect us. They are not. There is no protection from the police–quis custodiet ipsos custodes? Who will guard the guards?

No one.

When you are out there in the world, there is nothing that protects you from a random police stop, and you will learn very quickly that you have no protection from the police. “Checks and balances” become non-existent. You cannot argue with them. You cannot dispute them. You cannot challenge them. There are countless ways that the procession could go, but many of them result in a bullet square between your eyes. Even when they are being recorded and you’re a law-abiding citizen with a right to carry, as recently happened in a grotesque video that I will not link, the police are unaccountable.

As Llewellyn Rockwell wrote in Fascism Versus Capitalism:

The government is totalitarian because it acknowledges no restraint on its powers. This is a very telling mark. It suggests that the US political system can be described as totalitarian. This is a shocking remark that most people would reject. But they can reject this characterization only so long as they happen not to be directly ensnared in the state’s web. If they become so, they will quickly discover that there are indeed no limits to what the state can do. This can happen boarding a flight, driving around your hometown, or having your business run afoul of some government agency. In the end, you must obey, or be caged like an animal or killed.

That’s something that we Americans should keep in mind. When that police officer pulls you over, if he has it in his mind to give you a hard time, then there is nothing that you can do about it. The officer can tell you to step out of the car while he does his work. Then a K-9 unit will show up. Why? Did you give the officer any reason to think that you were on drugs? No. But you were young, and you have tattoos, so they brought in backup–a K-9 unit. Then the dog sniffs around your vehicle and evidently signals to them that he smelled drugs. Did you see that happen? Do you know that’s what the dog really signaled? Who the hell knows? Only they know.

So they tell you to stand way back there, by their car, as they search your vehicle. You ask them to hand you your cell phone so that you can record the stuff that’s happening, and they say they’ll bring it to you in a moment. What do they really do? They find your phone and start reading your text messages. Are you gay? Do you have obviously gay stuff on your phone? Better hope the officer doesn’t dislike gay people. Or ensure that your phone is locked. At any rate, they go through your phone rather than bring it to you, as the other officer combs through your vehicle, desperately looking for drugs. They open up the fact and find an unlabeled pill bottle–they’re thrilled! They nod knowingly, and you can see it in their faces. We knew it, they are thinking. And we got ‘im! Great day for freedom!

Then they open up the pill bottle and learn that it’s just being used as a container for assorted screws. What the hell else is so perfectly suitable for holding random screws? Of course, you knew all along that there were screws in it, because it was your bottle, but that says nothing about whether it is actually illegal to carry around an unmarked pill bottle, regardless of what is in it. They spend a few more minutes searching, and then they ticket you–somewhere between one and three tickets. And you escape, thankful that it’s over, thankful that they didn’t plant drugs–because there would have been nothing that you could have done to stop it. Then your life would have been over.

This happened to me a number of years ago, when I was pulled over for having a tag that was expired by six days–totally reasonable that I simply hadn’t known the tag was expired. I ended up with a total of three tickets, was delayed to the client’s that I was going to by an hour, and humiliated in the middle of Memphis as a K-9 unit arrived, signaled for drugs, and the cops spent forty minutes tearing apart my vehicle. And never found anything because I’m not fucking on drugs. Yes, I have tattoos. I was also wearing loafers, khakis, and a button-up shirt with a tie when they pulled me over, and clearly on my way (from the tech stuff in the passenger seat) to work. And the Collierville police got an honest to fuck K-9 unit after me.

They also went through my phone. I saw them doing it, though they didn’t think I could see them. The second officer had the door opened at the perfect angle for me to watch the first officer through the sideview mirror as he picked up my phone and went through my text messages.

I would argue that my Constitutional rights were violated that day. After all, the dog was a police officer, in the eyes of the law. By what right did the dog search my vehicle? Oh, sure, he searched my vehicle with his nose, but that’s hardly even relevant. He searched me, one way or another, and the officers used it as an excuse to totally reject my Constitutional rights,  because this dog–my accuser who I could not face because he didn’t even speak English and they were the only conceivable translators–gave them probable cause. Firmly beneath the state’s heel, I could do nothing but watch and hope.

Not terribly long ago, I was pulled over by a curious state trooper. It’s a long story. I had a very unusual vehicle, though, and he wanted to be sure that my paperwork checked out. I had my insurance card in the console, so I opened it up to give it to him, as he had requested, and–

Holy shit! My loaded 38 Special is sitting right fucking there!

Now, this is in no way illegal. In the state of Mississippi, I can (and do) keep a loaded gun with me at almost all times.

I snapped the console shut and threw my hands into the air. When the officer looked at me quizically, I shouted over the roar of the Interstate traffic that I had a loaded 38 in the console, and that I had stupidly put it on top of my insurance card. He didn’t seem to even care. He just kind of shrugged and said “Go ahead and get it.” So I did.

But it occurred to me almost immediately that I would have probably been dead if my skin was black. That is true, and it’s hard to escape that reality.

However, this is not to say that police don’t have some foundation for that bias. It is similarly hard to escape the reality that it is true–most violent crimes in the United States are committed by black people, not white people. Does this justify their “Shoot first, ask questions later” mentality? Absolutely not. I’m not justifying or rationalizing anything. No one despises police and police brutality more than I do. However, it does make sense that they would be less likely to shoot a white person than they are to shoot a black person. Is this okay? Is this acceptable? These two questions are irrelevant. We live in a world of is, not a world of ought. How things ought to be is largely irrelevant to how things are actually are.

Of course, more than 50% of people killed by police in 2015 were white, while a little over 30% were black, according to http://thinkprogress.org/justice/2015/12/28/3735190/killed-by-police-2015/ . However, they also have doctored the numbers a bit, as they have clearly lumped people of “Unknown” race in with black Americans. The Washington Post actually reports the numbers more accurately, but I can’t find the link at the moment, as about 120 of the people killed by police in 2015 were of “Unknown” ethnicity. The only way Think Progress’s number of 30% makes sense, versus the 25% reported by the Washington Post, is if those of “Unknown” ethnicity were mixed in with the black numbers.

Not that it’s important–it’s not seriously important to quibble over 5%.

When black Americans make  up 13% of the American population, but 25-30% of the people killed by police, it’s hard to escape the idea that black people are disproportionately killed by police. Based off their population, excluding all other factors, we would think that 13% of people killed by police would be black. But notice my wording here: “…excluding all other factors.”

There are other factors. Let’s take a moment to remember NWA’s “Fuck Tha Police”, for example:

Beat a police out of shape
and when I’m finished, bring the yellow tape
To tape off the scene of the slaughter

Now, really? You can’t have a culture that venerates stuff like that, and then be surprised when the people you’re talking about are more inclined to regard you as a threat. Again, I’m not excusing or rationalizing anything, but we have to be rational and reasonable here. Certainly, not all black people are part of that culture anyway, and certainly not all black people endorse stuff like this:

C'mon. Seriously?

C’mon. Seriously?

Who sees this going well?

Do you see a future college graduate? Or even a future high school graduate? No, it’s not because he’s black that we don’t see a future college graduate. It’s not because he’s black that we don’t even see a high school graduate.

It’s because he’s like 8 years old and is pointing a gun at the camera while wearing a wife beater (Hey, I wear wife beaters, too… It’s my main male look, in fact, but they do give a bad image). We see a future criminal. Not because he’s black, but because he’s clearly walking that path. He clearly thinks he looks cool, and there’s no doubt that his father there in the orange jacket was the one who taught them that this is cool. This image is why police are more likely to shoot black men than white men. I’m sorry that makes people uncomfortable to hear, but this must be addressed before we can resolve the issue of racism in the country.

If you have a part of the culture that loves lyrics like:

Beat a police out of shape
and when I’m finished, bring the yellow tape
To tape off the scene of the slaughter

…while proceeding personally along the path like we see in the image, then we simply can’t be surprised when people are superficially and, perhaps, wrongfully assumed to be part of that culture when the determining characteristic of who takes part in that culture and who doesn’t appears to be skin color. This excuses and justifies nothing. If, however, we have police who “Shoot first and ask questions later,” then we simply cannot be surprised if they disproportionately shoot people who appear, by cultural weights, to likely belong to that part of the culture.

But this isn’t a war against black people by police.

It’s a war against people by police.

So far, in 2016, 505 people have been killed by police. 233 of them were white–nearly 50%–which is in-line with the numbers from 2015, when 50% of the people killed by police where white. It’s simply not a case of Black Lives Matter. It’s a case of Police Authority Is Out of Control. They are out of control because they were never supposed to have authority–our democracy was not designed to accommodate a police force with the authority to shoot first and ask questions later.

There once was a time when law enforcement consisted almost entirely of elected officials, and people who those elected officials personally selected as upstanding moral citizens. They were constables and sheriffs, a glorified neighborhood watch who went around and performed citizen arrests because we didn’t want to be bothered with it. There was a time when even these elected officials had no more authority to stop and harass someone than you or I do.

Now look.

We have city police departments that resembled militaries, SWAT teams with ridiculous degrees of weaponization and training.

Look at this. Look. At. This.

Look at this. Look. At. This.

This is the problem. This is a police vehicle. This armored behemoth is a police vehicle.

Is it any wonder that our police are totally out of control, that they shoot first and ask questions later, when we have stupidly allowed them access to killing machines like that? These are police! What the fuck are they going to be doing that requires a vehicle like that? The gap between police power and citizen power has become so great that few people even bat an eye at this monstrosity that the police have to “keep the peace” and to “serve and protect.” They now shoot first and ask questions later, and no one points out that… No. When you put on that badge, you are knowingly risking your life in an attempt to protect the innocent. That is what it means to be a police officer. If you would shoot first and ask questions later, thereby creating a real chance of directly harming someone who is innocent, then you have no right to wear that badge. That is what that badge means, that you are willing to give your life to protect the innocence. If you would shoot first and ask questions later, then you are clearly not willing to give your life to protect the innocent. In that case, you are demonstrably willing to kill the innocent to protect your life.

My heart truly breaks for all the people killed by police, and I want it to stop. But they aren’t being killed because of their skin color. Not really. They are being killed because our police no longer are willing to give their lives to protect the innocent; they are willing to kill the innocent to protect their lives. This is the inevitable result of having a branch of the state that is actually on the ground, the ones on the frontline in the war that humans have been fighting for thousands of years against the state. This was always going to happen, from the moment we turned over responsibility to a designated police force that was in the employ of the state. We are not their employers. The state is.

The police are the footsoldiers of the state. They are the ones on the frontlines, maintaining the state’s order at all costs. It should be no surprise that they are no longer willing to give their lives to protect the innocent; that is no longer their job. The job of the police is to protect the rule of the state. They do not ask questions. They do not question orders. They obey.

And they tell you to obey.

And if you don’t, then they put a bullet between your eyes.

Wake up, America. The problem is not racism. That is a problem, yes, but police killing a disproportionate amount of black men is a symptom of a larger problem, and is not an illness. Stop treating symptoms. Start treating the illness.

The illness is that the police even have the authority to do this. The underlying problem is that police even can shoot first and ask questions later. Get rid of their ability to do that, and you also completely nip in the bud the killing of a disproportionate amount of black men. Treat the symptom, and the disease will remain.

This is happening right before our eyes. And we are not questioning the underlying power of the police that allows them to do shit like this in the first place. That is the real problem; that is the real heart of the matter. We are fast allowing the state to use the police as its footsoldiers, not as a glorified neighborhood watch whose responsibility is keeping the peace and protecting the innocent.

American-Police-State-21

Look, if I happen to be in a situation where I believe the person is a violent criminal, no one expects me to Ask Questions First. I’m not expected to give the person the benefit of the doubt if they break into my home, are trespassing on my property, or any other number of crimes. But I’m not a police officer. I’m not wearing a badge that says I’m willing to give my life to protect the innocent. No one is going to blame me if I shoot first and ask questions later, and they shouldn’t. I never agreed with the public or with society that I would give intruders the benefit of the doubt and possibly risk my life protecting the innocent. My responsibility is to protect my life.

This is not true of police, though. Police are required by honor, by goodness, by virtue… to give the benefit of the doubt, to Ask First, and Shoot Later. That is what that badge entails. They are there to protect the innocent, and they know before becoming police officers that they may very well have to give their lives to protect the innocent.

So why does that change in practice?

Why do we just pretend like it’s not a blatant violation of their expressed values that they shoot first and ask questions later? Someone who is willing to give their life to protect the innocent will not shoot first and ask questions later, because there is too much potential there for the person shot to be innocent.

The police are not our friends. They are not on our side. They are not there to serve and protect us.

They serve the state.

Never forget that.

This in no way means they should be killed–for fuck’s sake, can we stop killing people for two goddamned days? Please? Can we please stop killing people? I’m so sick of death and murder–whether by police, by white men, by black men, by the few women who commit murder. I’m tired of it. Can we please just try to swear off violence? For a few days? Maybe?

Can we just stop being violent animals for a few days? Three days? Can I have three days where we, as thinking, rational, emotional, loving human beings, stop killing people? This includes war. This includes ISIS. DAESH. Whatever you want to call them.

We are stone age barbarians with nuclear weapons. What could possibly go wrong?

C’est la vie.

I don’t like self-promotion. Even when it’s relevant, I don’t like self-promotion.

When I answer questions on Quora, I tend to answer questions that I’m interested in–obviously. This means that I’ve probably done a podcast or video on the subject, or at the very least have written an article about it, but I always find it so hard to link the content in question. Because I don’t like the idea of self-promotion.

Yet as I stand here trying to promote a GoFundMe campaign, I’m terribly aware that the only way… is self-promotion.

That’s what I meant to discuss in the last article, before I digressed, so now I’m writing about it.

As I said there, it’s no surprise that my friends don’t throw up donations. I don’t expect them to. Most of them are doing as badly as I am, and some of them worse–I at least have my own place and am not living on my parents’ land, after all. But there’s another place that I can’t turn: family. Not only do I have to be careful to ensure that my family doesn’t see me on Facebook and Twitter (I’m the only person in my family who even uses Twitter), but even if they did, there is no chance whatsoever that they would share the post, or that any of them would donate.

That’s what frustrates me about the #1 suggest on GoFundMe, Indiegogo, and everywhere else: “Share with your friends and family!”

Yeah, because I enjoy being ignored.

Of the many posts I’ve made about my campaign on my artist page and my personal Facebook page, no friend has shared anything. And they never will. These are the same people who wouldn’t spend ninety-nine cents buying my short story on Amazon. Hell, they couldn’t even be bothered to share those posts, either. I’ve often said that I’d have more luck getting them do share a kidney than I would getting them to share a post, but I’m not sure that’s true, either. I think they’d probably just sit back and do nothing.

That’s particularly frustrating because I’ve always made it a point to share things and help in whatever way that I could. When a friend of mine was raising money to start a business making vapor liquids, I donated $10 to him. I’m the only person who donated to him and shared his campaign, so it’s not just I who have the problem. It’s seriously not me; it’s them. And while I love these people to death for the (albeit limited) emotional support they’ve provided by being my friend, and for putting up with my rather… argumentative… comments without telling me to fuck off, that doesn’t change that it hurts to be trying for six months to do something, and to be able to count on one hand the number of times that friends have shown any interest whatsoever in it.

I’ve now paid $7.00 to Facebook for promoting one of my posts about the campaign, and that has yielded no result. Today I added Twitter to the list and am paying $10 to have one of my tweets about it posted. I have to do for myself the things that friends and family ordinarily do, because my family is non-existent (for all intents and purposes) and my friends are… a tad self-absorbed. They see the posts. And they just keep scrolling.

They say that you pick your friends, but not your family, and I’m not sure how true that really is. I didn’t have much choice when I picked my friends; we generally came together out of circumstance in high school, because we were the rejects, the ones who fell through society’s cracks. But realistically, I didn’t have a particularly large group of friends to choose from, and there was never really any “choosing.” The environment and circumstances handed me friends in much the same way that it handed me family.

Out of all my friends, I would have to say that the only one I think truly qualifies as an actual friend, and not merely “an agreeable person met through circumstances” would be Michelle Kelly, who I’ve never even met. And that’s not because she’s done this, that, and the other thing to help me; it’s simply because she shows the characteristic that a friend actually should: support.

When I came out as transgender, I made it clear to a lot of my friends that I was going to be leaning pretty heavily on them. They understood, because being transgender meant that I was about to be dead to my family. One girl in particular was supposed to be there–and then wasn’t. C’est la vie.

I’m not bitter or angry about it, not really, but it does frustrate me and sadden me. It’s a large part of the reason that I was so willing to drop everything and move to Vegas–thinking I had found that, as I said, “kindred spirit.” That person who would ensure that I wasn’t totally alone. That’s really what matters to me, as I have spent the better part of my life alone–something that a lot of people simply won’t get. Most people do have at least a parent they can go to, after all.

C’est la vie.

When a friend of mine called me a week ago and needed help with his computers, I told him to come on out, and I looked for power supplies to sell him that he needed. I couldn’t give them away, because they were business inventory, but I sold them for $15 each–one third the actual price. Not only was there no markup, I actually took a loss by selling them, and converted one computer from a “Just needs a hard drive” to “pretty much junk now” by removing its PSU. Then he arrived and I spent about 45 minutes troubleshooting things with him. I only put a stop to things when he basically wanted me to open up a brand new case, brand new motherboard, brand new CPU, brand new RAM, and put one of the computers together for him. That… crossed a line of friendship to me, especially since this was something he’d already done twice himself. I’m all for helping someone with something, but I’m not just going to do it for them. My colleague was coming down anyway, so I didn’t have another hour to dedicate to building a computer. And while I wouldn’t have let him pay me for my time, he also didn’t offer.

Two weeks later, and my GoFundMe campaign sits on my wall ignored, not even a Like. And if it did get a share, it would be an empty one, an obvious gesture, with no text or anything added, no, “Hey, this is a really good friend of mine who has worked really hard to overcome obstacles, but who needs a little help right now…” or anything like that.

No sign of friendship. Just a sign of obligation.

An obligation that would only be acknowledged if I brought attention to it.

When he first asked if I had a PSU, I said “No,” because I didn’t have one just sitting around. When he made it clear that he really needed them, I took time out of my day and pulled three. Then helped troubleshoot the problem.

Another friend contacts me somewhat regularly to have me do things remotely for his computer. I’ve installed and setup MotionInJoy for him, so that we could trick his computer into reading his 360 controller as a PS3 controller and remap the axes on it. I’ve helped him remove malware. All things that I charge people for on a daily basis, but the thought of charging him never crossed my mind–because he was a friend and needed help, and I was able to give it.

It’s a nuanced issue, obviously. I never helped them because I expected reciprocation. I never envisioned a scenario where this friend 3,000 miles away would be able to help me with something; I simply did it because he was a friend and I cared, not because I was obligated to or because I wanted him to be obligated to return the favor. But I think someone’s willingness or unwillingness to take three seconds out of their day to click two buttons and type a short message is probably a pretty good indicator of how much they value you as a friend.

My campaign can’t go viral if the people to whom I’m sharing it don’t forward it on. That’s how this sharing thing works–it’s a spider web. I share it with the thirty friends I have, and they share it with the 30-300 friends they have. In one act, I went from sharing with 30 people to sharing with 900 people.

In theory, anyway.

How it actually works is that I share it, and that’s as far as it goes.

When you’re literally trying to do something that will improve your life by leaps and bounds forever and that will allow you to actually move from a place of economic despair to stability and progress, it goes a bit beyond “disappointing” and flirts with “insulting” to hear only the crickets and see only the tumbleweeds after I effectively ask, “Hey, could you share this?”

But I will keep going. I will endeavor on. And when I have moved to Vegas and make new friends, they will find themselves systematically removed from my life. They weren’t there when I needed them, so why on Earth would they be there after the dust had settled?

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I will succeed. I will leave this wretched place, and I will put all this shit and this horrid environment of selfish people in the past.

And I won’t look back.