A Proposed Cease-Fire

cease-fire 

While I’ve greatly enjoyed venting my spleen at SoHum’s Bourgeois, I realize that you don’t all fit so neatly into my broad, and broadly negative, characterizations. I know a lot of you personally, and I know that you like to think of yourselves as basically decent people. Hell, I like to think of you as basically decent people. Why else would I waste my time communicating with you, but I also happen to know that the poor in SoHum are basically decent people, as well, as are nearly all of the of seasonal workers who descend on Southern Humboldt every year to harvest and trim your marijuana.

I didn’t start the class war in Southern Humboldt. I just answered it. I got really sick of seeing the way the middle-class treat the poor and homeless around here, and I got sick of the propaganda campaign in the local media. If the poor and homeless of SoHum were black, you’d call it overt, institutional and brutally violent, racism, but it just happens to be aimed at mostly white people. It’s just as ugly as racism, and just as hateful, but it’s something different. It’s a caste system, a community segregated by class.

caste system

Which strikes me as absolutely ridiculous, because nobody around here has any class. We can’t convince doctors to move here. Why? Not because of the climate, not because we don’t have plenty of natural scenic beauty, not because of traffic, noise or air pollution. Doctors don’t want to live here because no one around here has any class. This is the most low-brow community I’ve ever lived in, and this really ugly, scapegoating attitude towards the poor is just one example of our general vulgarity.

vulgarity periodic table

I understand your frustration. This town doesn’t look the way you would like it to look. You spend a lot of money to have a storefront on Redwood Drive and you want people to see your window display, not five hippies smoking a joint, but getting mad and calling the cops will not solve the problem. The people who hang-out in town live here, work here, and pay taxes here. They have a right to dress as they see fit and carry whatever they like. They can also walk their dog, smoke their cigarette and/or stand on the sidewalk talking to their friends, for as long as they like. None of these things constitute a crime. Now we all pay a special sales tax, Measure Z, so that local merchants can use law enforcement officers as bouncers and treat our public spaces like their own private club, and they’ve passed new laws to criminalize poverty. What an ugly waste of waste and money! It’s time to face reality.

face_reality

Reality isn’t pretty. The illegal marijuana industry isn’t nearly as benign as we’d like to believe. It creates tremendous economic disparity, and we see it on the streets of Garberville. This industry ruins many times more people than succeed at it. For decades, and still today, cops arrest nearly a million people a year for marijuana. They confiscate and destroy millions of pounds of marijuana every year, and every year thousands of people have their lives turned upside-down, lose their assets, spend time in jail, and/or have their good names besmirched with felony convictions, just to keep the price of marijuana high enough to make the dope yuppie lifestyle possible.

HCCC b

For every winner in this game, there are a lot of losers. You’ve got to figure that a lot of people end up on the street because of the marijuana industry, and you ought to accept that a lot of those people are here. It’s sad, but for a lot of people around here, marijuana is the only life they know. They’re like coal miners in West Virginia. This is all they know, so they come back to it again and again, never acquiring education, never paying into social security and never getting out of Humboldt. That’s one problem, but it’s not much better for honest working people.

coal miner and son

Most jobs in town offer $9-12 an hour. You will never find a place to live in Southern Humboldt that you can afford at that wage, and who can blame people for not working their lives away, just to pay the rent on a room to sleep in. It isn’t a matter of choice. A lot of people have no good options. They are all doing the best that they can, and they all deserve a little dignity and respect.

sleeping in public

 

In addition to our year-round population, we get a massive influx of seasonal workers every Fall who need low-budget accommodations. We’re going to have hippies. They will bring guitars and drums and dogs and sell stuff on the sidewalk. They will take drugs, smoke weed and drink. This is reality. The vast majority of the people who buy marijuana, sell marijuana and make marijuana are poor. These are your customers, your distributors and your manufacturers. Without them, there would be no marijuana industry, and all of that money you’ve come to depend on, comes from them.

Trimmigrant

We need to make space for people who are not middle-class, and we need services for people who are not middle-class. I do, genuinely, find the middle-class disgusting, revolting, obnoxious and belligerent. I don’t like seeing them on the streets, and I find them intimidating. I can’t stand the way they smell and I despise the air of entitlement they carry, but If I saw one meaningful action, something I, as a member of this community, could take some civic pride in, just one meaningful action that would make life a little easier for the people who are struggling, economically, and dealing with difficult situations, in Southern Humboldt, I could put aside those petty differences, at least for a while, and talk about some of the very positive things going on here in Southern Humboldt. 10 Bonus Points if it happens before the trimmigrants get here.

homeless in garberville

An Open Letter to Willie Nelson

Dear Willie,

willie nelson norml

I write to you today on behalf of marijuana smokers across the US, of which I am one, and on behalf of my community here in Humboldt County, California. I write to you because I read recently that you intend to market, or at least license your name to, a brand of cannabis products. I’m glad to hear it. I wish you enormous success on your new endeavor, and look forward to trying your weed.

WilliesReserve-

I know that you’ve been working for legalization since at least the Carter administration.

willie nelson jimmy carter

I’ve been working for it for a long time too.

me

Now that it looks like we have finally done it, here in California, the people who profited so much from marijuana prohibition, politicians and black market drug dealers, are working together to keep marijuana expensive through excessive regulation and taxation.

babylon bucks

This policy of high taxes and anti-competitive regulation insures that the black market for cannabis remains strong because cannabis in the legal market stills costs more than it does on the street. The black market for cannabis is destroying my community, not to mention some of the last great forests in the lower 48. We have grown pot for a long time here in Humboldt County. However, the recent dramatic expansion in cannabis cultivation here, has had serious impacts on spotted owl habitat, endangered Coho salmon and the Pacific fisher, not to mention the quality of life for the people who live here.

endangered in Humboldt County

The black market economy has had a corrosive effect on my community. The black market for marijuana has the effect of devaluing all other forms of work. Kids here expect to grow up to become drug dealers, like their parents, and they start young. This creates special challenges for our public school systems. Violent crimes, like home invasion robbery, murder, and violent assault have become commonplace in our small rural community, and we have some of the highest suicide and drug overdose rates in the state. Despite the supposed “economic benefit”of the black market marijuana industry, it produces a very deep kind of poverty in this community.

get the fuck out

Sure, there’s more money around town, thanks to the black market, but that money mostly goes into the pockets of the very worst people, and the promise of black market money brings more of these greedy bottom-feeders to Humboldt County every day, where they chop down trees, poison wildlife and convert local housing into grow operations in order to coldly exploit marijuana prohibition in the rest of the country. Believe me, the money that the War on Drugs has brought to Humboldt County has done more harm than good, and the harm the black market marijuana industry does to this community is expanding at an astronomical rate.

pot farms destroys forest

 

Humboldt County became a popular place to grow marijuana because of its remoteness, and because of the cover the forest provided. Today, drug dealers from all over the country come here to grow weed, but thanks to our work to legalize cannabis, they no longer need to hide under the forest canopy. They know that here, the county government loves their money, the Sheriff will ignore them, and that we have the infrastructure to supply them with all of the soil, fertilizer and grow supplies they need. However, the land here is steep, heavily forested and very poorly suited to agriculture. Marijuana farmers use incredibly wasteful production methods, and our remote location makes everything here more expensive. There’s no reason you couldn’t grow pot that was every bit as good as we grow here, for a hell of a lot less money, somewhere else.

cannabis-farm

That’s why I’m writing to you today, Willie. We have turned the tide in the War on Drugs, and we have forced the politicians to change the laws, but politicians and drug dealers remain as greedy as ever. We can’t let them continue to rip-off pot smokers. Pot smokers deserve deserve a break after all of these years, and it’s time for the legal business community to serve cannabis consumers with safe, reliable cannabis products at prices that put black market dealers out-of-business.

drug-prohibition

Pot is not difficult to grow. I’ll bet you could grow a hell of a lot of it in Texas, and I’ll bet you could grow it cheaper there, than we can here, even if you have to haul your water all the way from Louisiana. This nation needs weed, Willie, and Americans need reliable cannabis that they can afford. Thus far, the licensed legal growers in Washington, Colorado and Oregon have not begun to quench this nations’ thirst for cannabis. As cannabis becomes more reliable and accepted, the demand will likely rise as well. Also, as the price of cannabis falls, the demand will increase as people devise imaginative new ways to use cannabis. What that means, Mr. Nelson, is that this nation needs an enormous amount of weed, and we are counting on you and your company to produce it for us.

willie_nelson_better america

I know that you might feel tempted to smoke another joint and think about this for a while, but my community needs relief today. We need to stop this disease now, before it wipes out the last wild salmon, before it drives the spotted owl to extinction and before the last Pacific fisher dies of rodenticide poison. What’s more, we need to drive this insatiable greed out of our midst before we lose any more of our community to the War on Drugs.

no drug causes the fundamental ills of society

You have the opportunity to make a LOT of money for you and your investors, create jobs for American workers, and make marijuana affordable for the people who need it most. At the same time, you would save our environment, my community, and put violent drug cartels and greedy criminal gangs out of business. We should have done this back when Carter was president, but we absolutely need this ASAP, PDQ and NOW!

asap pdq now

It shouldn’t cost as much to sit on the front porch and smoke a doobie while you strum your old guitar, as it does to go out to a bar and have a couple of beers. American workers should not have to work an extra day each week, just to pay for the pot it takes for them to enjoy a joint at the end of a long day at work. Americans need the stress relief that cannabis provides, and they don’t need the extra stress of ridiculously high, prohibition-era prices, when they can barely keep a roof over their head and food on their plate as it is.

american workers struggle

When we started fighting for the legalization of marijuana, it wasn’t because we wanted drug dealers to be able to legitimize their illegal profits. We worked to legalize marijuana because we love marijuana and we don’t think that anyone should go to jail for it. The American people deserve marijuana, and after all that marijuana smokers have been through because of prohibition, we deserve safe, reliable, high-quality marijuana at a price we can afford. I hope you can make that happen, Willie, before it’s too late for my community.

Make-it-happen-

Sincerely, John Hardin

jh at bfr crop

 

What’s a Picture Worth

trash strewn field
photo credit: Thadeus Greenson

I noticed this image most recently in the North Coast Journal, but I’ve seen it, in one variation or another, in most of our local media outlets. Pretty much anytime the cops evict people from an “illegal” encampment, the press report appears beneath, or at least includes, a picture of a trash strewn field. We treat human beings like garbage. We force them into impossible conditions, harass them, abuse them, and then forcibly evict them. Then we show the picture of the trash strewn field, as though the purpose of the whole cruel, violent, unconscionable operation were to clean-up litter.

cleaning up streets

That picture is enough to incapacitate most liberals, who’s feeble minds freeze at the sight of it, caught in the cognitive dissonance between wanting to help the poor, and wanting to protect the environment. Liberals like to think that they are smarter than gun-toting, bible-thumping, immigrant-bashing red-neck conservatives, but they’re not, not by a long shot, and liberals fall for this stupidity every time.

stupid-liberals-yoda

Liberals watch well-fed, well-equipped and well-armed police officers forcibly evict the most wretched of the wretched from the most squalid of squalid, and treat them as though their condition amounted to criminal behavior, and the cops say “See, it’s not about the violent oppression of local citizens; it’s about cleaning up the environment.”

cops pick up litter

Liberals hear that and think, “Look at all that litter. That’s a real problem. I hate litterbugs.”

i hate litterbugs

Fascists 1, People 0.

straight talk straight fascism trump

In truth, it’s worse than that. It’s about economic pressures forcing all of us into impossible situations. It’s about watching our neighbors crumble under the stress, and then stepping around them, and avoiding their gaze. It’s about looking around, and wondering “How did it come to this?”

how did it come to this

 

“I know! You can tell. Look at that.” the guy would say, flipping to another picture, and then showing it to the person, adding, “Have you ever seen that much of anything come out of a dog.”

i love you poo

“Ewww” the person would say.

ewwww

He mounted some of the pictures on poster-board and brought them to town meetings, and he regularly called our community radio station to tell us, angrily, always angrily, that those people living down on the river bar were ruining our community.

ruining our community

To be fair, the guy did clean-up a hell of a lot of garbage, and he did pay a some of the people living in these encampments to fill bags with garbage and clean-up the area. I know he cleaned-up a lot of trash, because he would leave impressively large piles of it along Redwood Dr. between Redway and Garberville. He used these massive pyramids of garbage as fund-raising tools, to solicit donations from passing motorists. A lot of people supported this man’s efforts with cash donations, even though he offered no accounting of how much money he raised, or how he spent it.

mountain-of-trash

I cheered when he moved out of the area. He rubbed me the wrong way for three reasons: 1. He was always angry. 2. He blamed poor people. 3. His wife sold real estate, and he had a contract to clean-up foreclosed-on houses after the housing bubble burst. In other words, he and his wife, made money by making people homeless. Still, I felt sorry for him, in a way.

feel sorry for him

I could see that the guy was genuinely upset. He wasn’t happy. He looked like his head was about to explode. You could tell that it was more than he could take. He could not fathom the depth of the problem, and it all came out as displaced aggression. I can relate. It’s fucking brutal out there, and we’re all in over our heads. We’re all looking for someone to blame.

blame-someone-else-1

 

Democrats blame Republicans. Republicans blame immigrants, Muslims, women, liberals, the media, “welfare queens,” the poor, and anyone else they find, and all of those people blame the government. We all know it isn’t working, but we all blame different people for it. Our problems are much bigger than these petty quarrels. Much, much bigger.

bigger than martin

For instance,when it comes to housing, we have two choices:

two-choices apples

1. Standard Housing, which costs an astronomical amount of money, requires ridiculous amounts of maintenance, and practically demands a high-consumption lifestyle.
2. Homelessness, which is ridiculously cruel.

homeless change

Between those two ridiculous options, we have nothing. We know from statistics, that most people who live in Humboldt County cannot afford a home here. Either they spend more than they can afford on housing, skimping on necessities like food, medicine and utilities, while they work themselves to death, or they find themselves without housing and learn to survive that way.

homeless neighbor

They’re both shitty options, and I wouldn’t even call it a choice. More like, you try Option 1. You give it your best shot. If things don’t go well, you discover Option 2. Meanwhile, if you listen to the County Supes, the Eureka City Council, and their special consultant on homelessness for long, you realize that government will never solve this problem. In fact, the government exists specifically to create this problem, which is why there are cops out there evicting people from their squalid makeshift camps in the first place.

homeless scream

It’s not working. Government doesn’t work. Democracy doesn’t work. If you think the 2016 presidential election will change anything, you’re an idiot. Were you born yesterday? Don’t you remember all of that “Hope and Change” bullshit. Democracy doesn’t work. It never has. Stop believing in it. Stop teaching it to your children. In fact, stop having children, because you have nothing to teach them, and no future to offer them.

no future

Capitalism doesn’t work. Capitalism gave us Global Warming, endless war, and poverty. Civilization doesn’t work. Civilization gave us overpopulation, deforestation and the extinction crisis. Technology won’t save us either.

robot crushes man

 

A hundred years ago, we built innovative new technologies that allowed us to exploit the Earth’s resources more efficiently. We built new mining equipment culminating in the giant drag-lines used in mountaintop removal coal mine operations. We developed new oil technologies, leading to innovations like the Deep Water Horizon deep sea oil drilling platform, and the latest craze sweeping the nation, “Fracking.” Inventions like the chainsaw literally changed the face of the Earth. Today, we see the disastrous consequences of the enormous success of these technologies all around us.

dragline

Right now, technology revolves around exploiting you, the user. How are they doing on that? Do you think there’s still room for improvement? Is there anything left of you? I wonder. No, technology won’t save you. There’s no “app” for that. We inhabit a culture that has run out of options. No one, sees any realistic hope that things will get better, and it only goes downhill from here. That’s the story.

thats the story tigger

When you see cops intimidating, harassing and evicting people who have nothing, and nowhere to go, you are looking at the end of civilization. You are watching the interests of capital, crush your neighbors last refuge, and pitch it into a dumpster. That picture shows the brutality of the system, and that’s the picture that tells the story.

observers gasp

When you see that debris strewn field, it means they missed the story completely. It’s like they went to cover the Superbowl, but the only picture we see is the empty stadium, strewn with beer cups and fast-food wrappers. Unless they wanted to remind us that sports fans are a bunch of drunken slobs, which is true of most of us, by the way, they missed the story.

...after the tailgate party
…after the tailgate party

This Kind, Wonderful Community Called SoHum

sohum community

This past week, officers from our local VFW post changed the locks on the doors of the Garberville Vets Hall to prevent the building from being used as an emergency shelter during our recent spate of severe weather. We have no other shelters in Southern Humboldt, and hundreds of people live outside around here, largely due to the lack of housing, economic forces, and the nature of the cannabis industry.

homeless in sohum

A lot of these people currently work regular jobs in town that don’t pay enough to afford a decent place to live. More still, work in the cannabis industry. Of course we also have people who suffer from illness, mental or otherwise, that prevent them from thriving, and people who simply cannot cope with, or have given up on society, and/or life. It’s much too large of a population to make generalizations about, except to say that too many people in SoHum have too few housing options.

People protesting for squatters' rights at the home of the justice minister, Ken Clarke

We have a perverse attitude towards poverty in SoHum, although I don’t think SoHum is unique in this perversion. We try to punish poverty with more poverty. We attempt to drive poor people from our midst by withholding services, and demonstrating our hostility and disdain for them. It never works. Every year we have more poor people, and every year, the hostility increases. Isn’t it about time we faced the fact that not everyone in SoHum can be rich or middle-class?

park-boat-in-boat

Try as we like, we cannot run a town exclusively for the benefit of the rich and the middle-class. In fact, almost no-one in SoHum would be rich or middle-class were it not for a hell of a lot of poor people. The black-market marijuana industry makes a few people rich, but it makes a lot of people poor. Most of the money that comes into SoHum by way of the cannabis industry, comes from poor people. Besides that, poor people do most of the work necessary to produce and distribute black-market cannabis as well, but the secrecy of the industry, and a community in denial, demand that they remain unheard and unrecognized, if not, unseen.

workers transplant cannabis

Here in SoHum, not unlike the rest of the world, we have two kinds of people. A) people who make their living from what they own, and B) people who make their living from what they do. Around here, the thing that people own, that makes money, is land, and the thing that people do, to make money, is grow weed. The people who own land, the “owners” if you will, fall broadly into two categories: A) the dope yuppies, who got here first, and their kids. These people still think they are God’s greatest gift to humanity because they invented marijuana and hold a patent on it. They think that the rest of us are just lucky to get high, at any price, and that we should be nothing but thankful to them for it.

thankful for cannabis

Whenever you hear the word “community” used in Southern Humboldt, it refers exclusively to this group of people. Increasingly though, as the dope yuppies retire, they sell out to: B) large-scale distributors from out of state, who send managers, to aggressively expand production, often at their neighbor’s expense.

big grow humboldt county

Both the dope yuppies, and their successors, the big distributors, need help from the “Doers” in order for their land to make money. They need workers, lots of them, but not the normal 9-5 type workers. They need people who can drop everything and move to a remote piece of land, where they camp-out all summer while they do all of the work necessary to turn piles of soil into piles of cannabis.

pile_of_marijuana

These workers need to work hard in the hot sun, deal with primitive conditions, keep a secret, know the cannabis industry, and appreciate good weed. The pay is negotiable, and often based on a share of the harvest. Usually, the people who want these jobs have exhausted other options. Growers know who they’re looking for. They recognize desperation, and take advantage of it when they can.

take advantage

The people who want these jobs know that if you work hard, volunteer a lot, and suck-up to the right people, you can get off of the streets and into some abandoned trailer or shack with plenty of weed, and maybe even a few bucks in your pocket. If you’ve been convicted of a felony, didn’t finish high-school or have big gaps in your employment record, this might be the best job you can get. As a result, a lot of people come here, smile a lot, and try to find something nice to say about everyone.

hippie couple

“Oh, this is such a kind, wonderful community.” and “We feel so blessed to have found this place and want to contribute to it in any way we can” they say, as they help clean-up after a music festival. This proven strategy has helped many young “doers” find underground work and substandard housing where they produce most of the marijuana grown in SoHum. It has also contributed greatly to the swollen egos of the dope yuppies, who have come to expect lots of free labor and ass-kissings from hapless strangers looking for work.

carlin quote ass kissers

As the cannabis industry continues to grow, so grows this workforce. By now, they comprise the majority of the population of SoHum. These people make Humboldt County prosperous, and they pay a lot of taxes. However, they are not protected by workman’s comp; OSHA never inspects their workplace, nor will they receive unemployment benefits if they lose their job, and inevitably, they lose their job, and have to start from scratch.

start from scratch

So, we have a large workforce of people who don’t mind camping for extended periods of time, in an industry with a high turnover rate. In this business, generally, your boss and your landlord are the same person, so when you lose your job, you lose your home too. This happens a lot. The cannabis industry becomes a trap, and the workers in it rarely get ahead, so eventually, they quit, or get fired, but instead of complaining, they keep their mouth shut, and continue singing the praises of “this kind, wonderful community,” while they attempt to brown-nose their way into another job.

brown noser jlo

It shouldn’t surprise us one bit that we have lots of people camping around Garberville, because that’s the nature of the cannabis industry. The cannabis industry needs workers who know how to “rough it” even if local merchants prefer to cater to a different clientele. Most of the people who live here in SoHum have no use for dashboard hula dancers, makeovers or $25 dollar-a-plate entrees. They need a campground, affordable housing, cheap eats, a place to charge their cell phone and wifi, not that anyone cares.

nobody cares

Nor should it surprise us to hear so many praises for “this kind, wonderful community” from people who enjoy so few benefits from their participation in it. How could “this kind, wonderful community” exploit them more? In truth, land owners use the veil of secrecy that surrounds the cannabis industry to sweep displaced workers under the rug, and we see how “kind and wonderful” this community really is, by how it treats the least fortunate among us, on the coldest nights of the year.

ron machado in the rain crop

Class, or Class War

class_war___fight_the_power_

In recent weeks, I’ve enjoyed the opportunity to vent my spleen about the people who cause the most problems in my community, especially because I hear so much poisonous rhetoric on the other side, targeting the poor. I’m not a fan of class warfare, but when served, I will answer. It’s always shameful and small to pick on someone weaker than you, and it’s always heroic to stand up to a bully. The way I see it, in this current class war, unless you are squarely allied with the poor, you work for the rich.

join the elite

If you take sides with the rich, in this war, you deserve a punishment a thousand times worse than my stinging words. In this war between the rich and the poor, the middle-class becomes the battlefield, and no one deserves to be pounded into a smoking heap of rubble and ash more than the American middle-class, because the middle-class acts as the mercenary army of the super-rich.

oligarchy-of-america-0

The poor have nothing to lose, and everything to gain by standing up to their oppressors, while the middle-class face trauma and disillusionment, as they slowly wake up to the fact that, in this war, they were the bad guys all along, who wasted their lives, and the planet, on a fantasy lifestyle, that became an economic and environmental monstrosity beyond their darkest nightmares.

game over

When you’ve sold your life for trinkets and find yourself on the wrong side of history, denial becomes a coping mechanism For the rich, losing the class war compares to losing the civil war. Resentments and prejudice will linger, as today’s middle-class conservatives becomes the bitter poor white crackers of the future.

teabagger

But it doesn’t have to be that way for us here in SoHum. Here in SoHum we have no class, and that’s a kind of poverty that unites us all, from the richest dope yuppie, to the most wretched street urchin, so why should we let class war divide us? We shouldn’t! We should recognize that we’re all poor. Really, I pity us all.

pity us all quote

Why do we work so goddamn hard? Why do we break laws and sell our weed to out of state drug dealers? We do it because we don’t have enough money, right. If we don’t have enough money, it means that some of our wants and needs will go unmet. Am I wrong? Unmet needs equals poverty, and poverty means you’re poor. So face it! We’re all poor. It’s really true. I don’t care how entranced you are with your trinkets, or how jealous you are of anyone else’, we all live in poverty, and our lives are being stolen from us right before our eyes.

a ztolen life

That said, everything we do to make life easier for poor people, makes life easier for us. Think about it. What are the chances that you, or any of your progeny will find yourselves counted among the nations wealthiest one-tenth of one percent? It could happen. You could hit the lottery. Your new cannabis start-up could blow-up big, or your daughter could marry a rich old guy with a heart condition, but I wouldn’t hold my breath.

hold your breath

On the other hand, what are the chances that you, or any of your kids or grandchildren might find yourself short on cash with no place to crash, or be blessed with a personality ill-suited for gainful employment, or fall victim to alcoholism, or become addicted to drugs, or for some other reason, fail to thrive, economically? I don’t know the exact odds, but I’d bet on it, if I were you.

safe bet

That’s why it always makes sense to make life easier for poor people. When you make life easier for poor people, you make life easier for yourself. I’m not saying we have to spend a lot of money to help the poor, but if we at least stop paying people to punish, harass, and humiliate them, we’d all be ahead. If we could recognize that a lot of people who live here will never earn enough to money to afford a place to live under our current system of building codes and zoning ordinances, we could begin to solve a lot of problems by changing the system, instead of trying to change people. People don’t need more money; people need a place to be. Life is hard enough, let’s not make it any harder.

life is hard enough

When you make life easier for poor people, you make life easier for your self, and you make the world richer for everyone, because making it easier to be poor, lowers everyone’s stress level, which benefits everyone, and makes it easier to be an artist, craftsman, musician, poet or writer; you make it possible for the people who don’t care so much about making money, to put their energy into the things that really matter to them. When you make life easier for poor people, you make life better for everyone, and you encourage a flourishing culture. That’s why they call New Orleans “The Big Easy.” and that’s why people love it.

the big easy

People who appreciate an easy life and a flourishing culture, have class. Punishing the poor for their poverty only fuels their resentment, and perpetuates class war. So, we have a choice: We can have some class, or we can have class war. We’re all poor, and we all need somewhere to get out of the weather this winter. We can solve this problem together, or we can make more problems for each other. It’s up to us.

buy some class trump

Columbus’ People Rule

christopher-columbus

Today we remember the most horrific genocide ever perpetrated, the most virulent epidemiological event in the history of mankind, and the radical transformation of an entire continent.

Columbus lands

We named the day for the man who started it all, Christopher Columbus. Columbus and his crew brought a plethora of diseases with them on their long, perilous journey across the ocean, diseases of the body, as well as diseases of the mind, notable among them, syphilis, influenza, and the concept of private property.

columbus day hanging

Unfortunately, penicillin only cured one of them. The flu, and private property plague us to this day. The flu sickens millions, and kills thousands, in this country alone, every year, but private property has done far worse. The concept of private property has destroyed more than 95% of the natural habitat in North America, and it impoverishes billions of people all over the world, who starve, sicken and die in squalid, dangerous and abhorrent conditions. Whether you own it or not, we all pay a high price for the concept of private property, and in some way, it enslaves us all.

houses on coins

I realize that this seems like kind of a bummer of a holiday, but not everyone thinks about it this way. For bankers and government workers, Columbus Day is a very important holiday. That’s why bankers and government workers get the day off. To them, Columbus Day represents the epitome of what is possible when banks and governments work together. Only when banks and government work together, is private property even possible. Without banks and government, private property amounts to nothing more than an enormous pile of meaningless paper.

mortgage industry

Private property has no basis in reality. It is a contrivance, an artificial, arbitrary system rooted in violence and oppression, and only through violence and oppression can the system of private property continue. That’s why we have a sheriff’s department, and that’s what sheriffs do: They evict people, and they arrest trespassers. You can’t have private property without lots of well armed, and well paid thugs, and lots of violence. Private property is a complex system of greed and thuggery, that, if stripped of it’s longstanding illusion of legitimacy, could only be described as organized crime.

organized-crime-career-

Here in Humboldt County, however, we talk about property rights like they were sacred, and as though there were some principled reason to support them. There isn’t. Property Rights! Is just the rallying cry of greedy land owners complaining that government doesn’t kiss their ass enough. Calling them “rights” doesn’t make it any less wrong.

humcpr wrong

I could understand people being pissed off about human rights violations. I see plenty of those around here. I can certainly understand why patriotic Americans would be outraged by the civil rights violations I see, especially on the streets of Garberville. Believe it or not, all people have the right to peaceably assemble in all public places, including sidewalks, malls and shopping centers. Everyone has the right to carry a sign, to engage you in conversation, and to ask for your help, even persistently. Those are clearly established civil rights, that this country was founded on, and that veterans fought and died for. Make damn sure you respect them, and that your neighbors respect them too, before you come whining to me about your goddamned property rights.

buy me a pizza

When you think of “property rights” it should remind you that in addition to the high-minded ideals, like democracy, the separation of church and state, and inalienable human rights, for which the Founding Fathers are so rightly famous, their thinking was ultimately, firmly rooted in the same disease that afflicted Christopher Columbus, namely, the system of institutionalized violence known as private property.

private-property

We learn a lot about civil rights, human rights, and the Bill of Rights, in public school, but they mostly gloss over the implications of property rights, until you get to college, and take economics. That way, by the time you learn that property rights ain’t right, you’re already too far in debt, and too deeply invested in the system to oppose it, and/or you’ve already returned from some bloody hell-hole where you saw what happens to those who do oppose it. The fact remains that the concept of private property may be the most deeply flawed and most destructive ideas ever forged by the human mind, and we all suffer enormously for it.

teacher from the wall

This Columbus Day, let’s recognize Columbus’ legacy for what it is, a disease, a terrible disease, and by all indications, a terminal disease, and that the concept of private property forms the nucleus of this pathogen. The “CPR” in HumCPR might as well stand for Columbus’ People Rule, and it’s time we brought their reign to an end.

slavery goethe quote

Welcome, Willcommen, Bienvenida, to SoHum

welcome languages

As the days grow shorter, and the pervasive aroma of ripening cannabis flowers fills the air, young travelers from all over the world descend on Southern Humboldt to remind us how provincial we are by comparison. What we lack in culture, class and common courtesy, we make up for with money and marijuana. Believe me, if it weren’t for the money and the weed, these adventurous world travelers wouldn’t waste one minute of their precious time on us, but here they come, again.

here they come again

Sure, lots of interesting people come from all over the world to see the giant redwoods, but only marijuana and money brings interesting people here to see us, mainly in search of boring work. I’d think the opportunity to have a crew of people from far flung places like France, Brazil and New Zealand, sharing their diverse backgrounds, as well as their travel stories, as they trim your weed, must be one of the best things about the life of a Humboldt Dope Yuppie. Of course, I don’t think like a Dope Yuppie.

too much weed

Dope Yuppies don’t care about cultural exchange. Still, trimmigrants often advertise their cultural diversity to entice would-be employers. “Two Germans looking for work.” one sign I saw recently read. “For hire: Spanish couple, from Amsterdam…” began the classified ad I heard on KMUD.

get a job in marijuana fields

They have no idea. Ideally the ad should read: “White woman, under 30, with two breasts, seeks employment. Willing to work, ogling tolerated.” Face it. No guy, who has been stuck on a hill in the middle of the forest all by himself for the last six months wants to hear another guy tell him about how hot the women in Berlin are, or about the club scene in Brazil, or even about farming on a Kibbutz in Israel. He knows that he is not getting off of that hill until all of that weed gets clipped. He wants to see pounds of marketable product, and tits. That’s it.

woman with weed

Growers generally don’t maintain facilities for these seasonal workers, and at the time when growers need them, every square foot of indoor space is usually full of freshly harvested cannabis. Often, trimmigrants sleep on the floor of the drying shed, in the crawl space beneath the hanging herb, usually just a few feet away from a folding chair in which they will spend almost every waking minute of their entire two week, or month long stay. That is the life of a trimmigrant.

trimming pot

Yes, people from all over, come here, to one of the most beautiful places in the whole world, to spend 16 hours a day locked in a windowless room full of weed, operating a pair of scissors under unchanging artificial light. The work is not difficult, but it is extremely dull, and it demands long hours. If you can tolerate the boredom, muscle cramps and eye-strain, don’t mind watching a few weeks of your life evaporate, and don’t have a life to lead that you can’t just disappear from for a month or so, trimming weed can seem like a decent gig. A good trimmer can earn $1000 or more per week, and sometimes they even get paid.

not getting paid

Local merchants should celebrate this influx of foreign tourists. I’ve seen these kids eat at all of the local restaurants and cafes. I see them buy groceries and beer, and I’m sure they’d even pay for a place to camp, if they could find a reasonably priced campground. They spend money, but a lot of them come from places where they just naturally expect to be treated like human beings by the businesses they patronize. I guess that’s kind of a European thing, but, you know, we could give it a shot.

give it a shot

I haven’t seen much by way of hospitality extended to these people who have come such a long way to visit our little community. I mean, we put out porta-potties and throw a barbeque for the bikers when they come here to get drunk and loud at the Harley Run. I’ll bet we could get trimmigrants to spend more money here, if we treated them like we were glad to see them, and offered them things they needed and wanted.

give them what they want

They couldn’t be any scummier than the bikers; there’s more of them, and they stay longer. Really, these are some the nicest, most interesting people you are likely to meet in Humboldt County at any time of year. We should all make the most of our time with them while they are here. In that spirit, I say: “Welcome to SoHum. How may I be of service?” and “Wir sprechen Deutsch”

wir sprechen deutsch

(not really, but I’ll do my best to dredge up what I can remember from watching Hogan’s Heroes)

hogans heroes