I have come a long way from where I once was, I have both progressed and digressed as person and as an American. I once thought that this was all about me, but I now know better. I look back on that strange person estranged from who I am now and I wonder, who that person was then, I wonder, who I have become and now question whether the two can ever become reconciled again.
I no longer travel in the warm orbits of the sun; instead I have become a dark solitary asteroid traveling through the empty voids of space. I have nothing and have been referred to as a transient. Imagine such a definition applied towards your own life. The sum total of your existence condensed to a single adjective, all your glories and all of your failures reduced to a single word definition of your life.
As a boy I had a paper route, I worked in high school for spending money and I worked after high school. I worked long hours, doing dirty jobs until slowly, I began to rise. I had been fully indoctrinated in the Horatio Alger image of America, where any boy can be president, but that was that other life of mine. I know now, that it was all a myth, all make believe to keep the young hopeful and hard at work and to keep them from rising up an killing their jailers.
I got married because all of my friends were getting married and I thought, I was supposed to, just more subliminal societal pressure. I bought a house from the Veterans Administration, windows were broken and the hardwood floors were ruined from the broken pipes. I attacked the project eagerly; I fixed the holes in the walls and the floors. I worked nights and weekends slowly changing it from the worst house on the street to the nicest. I cut down trees and hauled dirt to make the yard a show place. That was before, back when I still had a future, I built a sand box and swing set for my kids, I paid my taxes and I didn't complain.
I know better now, I've heard the punch line of the joke; it was my reflection in the mirror. I was paying a mortgage and improving a house that was mine but temporarily. I spent my wages at Home Depot and Lowe's and I helped their bottom line and yet there was no one to watch my bottom line. In 1995, I relocated to Atlanta Georgia. I took my little equity pile and bought another house.
I wasn't flipping these houses; my goal was to create a decent home that I otherwise could not afford. In 2001, I divorced. I began to pay child support which I paid religiously until July of 2007.
In 2003, I remarried and in 2005, I started my own business. My previous employer threatened me with lawsuits despite his declining my suggestions before beginning my business. The irony here is that he has fared no better than I have and has fallen from a higher perch. An Internet business" just crazy talk, I suspect. No sooner had I opened my business than I began to receive invoices from bogus companies claiming debts for services. I quickly learned the woods were filled with wolves seeking the unsuspecting but then the business took off.
I was paying the county and the state, I was paying my vendors and I was making a profit. As I sat waiting in my car for the red light, I looked at my bank deposit slip and read my balance of over $10,000. My bills were paid, I was living the good life and I look back on that guy in the car at the red light and I don't know him. He is a complete stranger to me.
Then in 2007, things began to falter, as business began to fail, I began looking for work. I went to work for an ambulance company which was also trying to keep their own heads above water. This small ambulance company with four used and aged ambulances was owed over a quarter of a million dollars by the Federal Government. Daily, I would hear them as they would beg for payment from various departments and from Congressman and Senator's offices, all to no avail.
I was laid off as the owners were two months behind in their own rent. I went to work for a company selling coupon books as a fund raiser. Each paycheck I received, drawn on a different bank from a different state. I began freelance writing; I had an interview with a company that cleaned air conditioning ducts. Money was short, the $ 10,000 was long gone, but the interview went well. I was called back for a second interview and then a third. But unbeknownst to my prospective employers it was hard to raise the gas money for these interviews. I had one final interview on Monday and I was so certain I was going to be hired; I brought my lunch and left it in my truck.
As I pulled into the parking lot something was wrong, the company trucks were there but there weren't any cars. I parked and went to the door and found a bright orange sticker affixed to the door. "Sealed- by the Georgia Department of Revenue," so ended that job. It began to be a struggle to keep the utilities on and needless to say, my marriage suffered.
While driving across town to collect my last check from the ambulance company I was rear ended by a person talking on a cell phone. The car was totaled and I was injured but to the insurance company despite their client being ticketed for the accident, claimed the fault remained in doubt. This was the beginning of my true education; I saw a corporation use law and government as a tool to dodge their contracted responsibilities. Their stated goal was to wait, delay and starve me out. Most people need their car replaced and despite a state law saying they owed me a rental car their answer was, sue us!
In July of 2007, I could no longer pay my child support. I had two years left to pay, a total of around $7,000. About this same time my wife suggested that I leave the home and I became homeless. That was over three years ago and now the state of Georgia claims my debt to be over $35,000 dollars. To get my license back they require $500 dollars down and a promise of $200 per month from a man who earns less than $100 per month. How can a homeless man argue with a state, when it takes weeks just to send me a form letter? $700 might as well be $7,000 or even seven million dollars. Without this driver's license, I have no legal ID. Technically, under the Patriot Act, I commit a crime just walking down the street but more to the point, I can't get a job. I can never pay the state as the total still grows. I can't vote and I am dispatched from this society.
That is all well and good, because on an intellectual level and an emotional level, I am also dispatched from this society. A society which would allow banks and financial institutions to pillage and dispossess tens of millions of Americans with assistance programs left under the exclusive control of the criminals themselves.
A politicized court system, a propagandized public who are told that my plight and your plight, is all our own fault. Citizens United? Need I say more?
I have watched as state governments have assaulted its own work force and demonized them in public. Over a hundred thousand school teachers have lost their jobs, just like I did. The follow behind me and wonder like I did, what did I do wrong?
The Congress of the United States has declared war on the United States Post Office, an institution established by Benjamin Franklin for Christ sake.
We face a Presidential election between Barack Obama and Willard (Mitt) Romney. These are our choices, as this charade is peddled to the propagandized as a democracy. The candidate from Goldman Sachs versus the Candidate from Bain Capital. Ten million homes foreclosed, falling wages and the debate is centered on tax cuts? If you are still waiting for the Republicans and Democrats to save you, you are waiting for a bus that is not coming.
Yet the highest crime waits in the wings, under an agreement by both political parties. If the two parties cannot reach an agreement on budget cuts there will be automatic budget cuts on January 2nd. The cuts are a dagger pointed at the heart of the poor, the unemployed and the struggling. These cuts will not affect exclusive private schools but will decimate public education. These things they say must be done to cut the budget deficit. The same deficit caused by tax cuts, wars and free trade agreements.
I know now of American freedom, as I can no longer board an airplane or Amtrak train. Yet through my three years of study in this American University of the streets, I have met you. You, who are me, you whose stories vary only slightly from my own. You who have lost your jobs, you who have lost your homes, your cars and in some cases even your families. You graduated from college with a degree in International studies but in the Nation's capital you work at the Hard Rock Cafe' and pay out two weeks of your earnings every month for your education debt. You've worked as a certified credentialed auto mechanic for six years and can barely afford your own rent.
The truth is" that the truth is. It is neither vague nor cloudy, you are no freer today in America than a peasant from the Middle Ages, you have no health care or retirement. Politicians eye greedily your Social Security. You live in a Police State and without your papers you have no right to exist.
"We need a Nuremberg to put on trial the economic order that they have imposed on us, that every three years kills more men, women and children by hunger and preventable or curable diseases than the death toll in six years of the Second World War". -- Fidel Castro