Coping: Why I’ve Quit Politics

My political career is over.  Finis.  Kaput.  Toast.  Adiós.

I know we haven’t talked much about politics (of the local East Texas backwoods type) for a good while.

But the short version of recent events here is that Anderson County Texas does not require heavy trucks operating on poorly maintained county roads to post a damage bond. If the roads get wrecked, it’s the local residents who get screwed. Not the trucking operator.

When some local land owners decided to let a gravel mining operator come in, the 2.4 miles of oil-sand road that had previously been in reasonable shape, was trashed in short order.

The county didn’t want to do anything about it.

A bunch of us local people went down to the Commissioner’s Court (which would be a county commission meeting anywhere else) late last year and spoke our piece about the nuisance the gravel pit operator was causing.  Tearing up the roads was the gist of it, with a side-order of being run off the road reported by other, speeding, and the usual.

Eventually, the operator moved on, but the road involved was completely trashed.  And in response, the county judge (which anywhere else would be the county executive) then purported told  one of the local disenchanted people who’d shown up to complain that we’d “have to sign a petition…” 

It was clearly the classic political bullshit that you run into when the fix is in and the politicians don’t want to do anything:  Almost a dozen people show up, a huge number in politics in a county of this size and on a work day.  But instead of getting off their lazy butts and doing anything, they “papered” us back by asking for a petition.  If it’s not on paper with the political class, it didn’t happen.

This is Obama-like.  It is also, unfortunately,  typical of how career politicians work:  Give them an office and they’ll start making-up laws off the top of their heads.  There is no petition process in county law and there are a large number of our neighbors who have much less confidence in local government now that we have seen how it doesn’t work.

So I stepped up and filed – back in December – to run for County Commissioner in District 3.  I was full of fire and brimstone wanting to change that.

The fellow I was planning to run against is a republican and, in this part of Texas, that meant he would get 100% of the vote, since no one was running as a democrat.  Time was too short to mount a democratic campaign.  So I decided “What the hell…I’ll run as an independent.”

Up until the March primary it looked like it might be feasible.  But since then, two things have happened.

First, I read up on state election laws.  In order to make it to the ballot, as an independent, I would have to collect signatures (143 seemed to be the number) of people who didn’t vote in the March primary.

Key point of Texas election laws:  The two (corporate) party system is not designed to encourage democratic processes.  In order to run as an independent, you need to get 5% of the number of people who voted in the last gubernatorial (2014) – which is where the 143 came from.

But as I got deeper into it, seemed like the corporate duopoly has set things up to make running as an independent nearly impossible.

Here’s why:  My original plan had been to crank up the laser, the high-powered database tools, and simply mail these people who didn’t vote a personal letter and ask them  a simple question:  “Do the roads around here suck?”  If your answer is “Yes” – here’s something you can do about it…”

And then instruct people to send in their signature.  That ought to work, since the signatures would all be checked by county official.

No.  It doesn’t work that way.

Some called a “circulator” has to read this notice at the top of the form, out loud, to everyone who is eligible to sign – before they sign in.

This is how the R’s and D;s screw interested and independent-thinking people out of almost any chance of winning.  If you can’t find enough people – who were too damn lazy to vote in the first place, and then personally “read ‘em in” and then swear and affidavit to that effect, the signatures aren’t valid. 

I called the Secretary of State’s office and was told, in so many words by a staff attorney, “Too bad.  That’s the state law.  If you don’t like it, change the state law.”

I was going to explain about Kafka’s book The Prisoner, but it seemed pointless.  The fact is that in Texas, the deck has been almost totally stacked against anyone with an outside point of view.

Even at this, it still looked like there might be a statistical chance of winning.  Because I would have had the “hit list” of non-voters by about today, that would give me time between the results and data being available (today roughly) to go out and find people.  I figured if I could visit 2-people per day for 90 days (which would be 180 signatures, which would seem like it met the test) I’d be on the ballot for the November general.

While it would be no fun whatsoever, it still looked doable.  But I was wrong because…

Then the Second Thing happened:  There is a run-off election coming up.

The way the timing of this will work out, I can’t work from the pool of people who didn’t vote in the primary.  I also couldn’t work people who didn’t vote in the run-off.

Oh, and instead of about 90-days to collect signatures, we would be lucky to have 30 days.  And that would put the math at meeting and signing up 6-people per day, and that is not especially practical.

And that’s simply not workable.

I’m a writer/researcher/author (who is supposed to be retired) and when I am not doing that or being interviewed, or keeping 29 acres of land (more or less) under control, I have our portfolio to manage and that involves sitting in front of a computer.

In addition to running on a simple platform of fixing a road once paved turned into a washboard gravel and dirt experiment, I also wanted to help the county put more issues before people online.  Why not online voting, for example.  I mean, that’s where we have to go to save the (screwed up system) from imploding, right?

Forget it.

Short of a famous country-western artist volunteering to do a District 3 concert – where admission will be limited to those who can sign the petition – the odds of me going any further with this project have fallen very close to zero.

The political parties don’t want their lock on power challenged.  And to make sure upstart free-thinkers don’t come along, they place onerous rules on their citizens that prevent free expression and widespread participation.  By doing so, they prevent competition, and prolong their turn at the public trough.

Elaine and I are thoroughly disgusted. 

Elaine, by the way wants a new Lexus – and I’ve offered to buy her one.  But she refuses to drive it on crappy roads.  “It’d be like throwing away $45,000,” she explained.

She’s so upset that she’s started the paperwork to get a V.A. loan and go house shopping – in another state. (Did I mention she came out of her Army stint as a sergeant?)

I patiently explained that most everywhere is equally crooked when comes to politicians feathering their own nests…but she’s undeterred.

And since the odds of actually changing the system from the inside now seem be zero without joining The Party, I’m thinking she’s probably right.

From the I-Ching Inbox

As so often happens, when I’m nipping at the heels of cosmic truth about the corruption of government processes over time, especially when run by career politicians, along comes the Universe with a synch-wink.

It was an email from reader Jim and it had the subject line:  How to rig an election.

Got my attention, alright:

Greetings George,

Thoroughly enjoyed the 2 interesting reports today. This article from Bloomberg came across my feed at the office today. It’s a bit long but reads like a Tom Clancy novel. Thought I’d share it.

http://www.bloomberg.com/features/2016-how-to-hack-an-election/

I have been toying around with a couple of the Nooelec dongles myself lately with some weather satellite imaging and radar tracking and have looked at some raspberry pi projects that look interesting. Have myself signed up to take the Ham exam next week so I will have something else to spend money on when I retire shortly. Been on my want to do list since I was a kid but there was always something else to do like motorcycles and girls and that time spent playing in the Southeast Asian Conference. I was looking at the old tower down at El Rancho de Chaos and was wondering if there was room to support a couple more antennas on top of that monstrosity that mom uses to watch Judge Judy every afternoon. But then I thought hell that thing may not support my lard ass let alone a couple more antennas.

Peace.

The way see it, Reader Jim has done me a real solid here:  Reminding me that I do have some fine ham radio gear and a tower to look after, myself.  Sell the airplane, sell out of Anderson County Texas, and get back to civilization.  Manage the portfolio more aggressively – which is easier when you get 10 MB or better broadband with no uplink delays like we have on the satellite link, and relax a bit.  Focus on money.

I didn’t used to be a quitter.  But with my new resolution to say to hell with politicians and politics, I don’t view it as quitting.

It’s just coming to terms with how the game is rigged.  And when I put a big enough stake together, I might go down to Villacabamba Ecuador and hang with reader Bruce for a while.

I lived outside the US for a couple of years in the 1980’s (Cayman Islands) and now, with this experience of trying to change the system from within, I remember why I felt somehow a little different and even freer living in a country without an income tax.

Wherever we end up living, the good old boy network has run us off after 13-years.  The myth of Texans loving freedom? 

Sure. But only if you belong to the right political party and doing engage in independent thinking and glad-hand the good-old boys.

Since I was never any good at being a suck-up, this is where we part company.  Life is too short for bumpy roads and wasting time on hopeless political crap.  Good-bye Commission wannabe.  I’ll stick with the cute blonde and the money.

Write when you break-even,

George@ure.net 

Comments

Coping: Why I’ve Quit Politics — 38 Comments

  1. The opportunity to leave is getting closer to having the door shut.
    Try opening a bank acct in a Caribbean country answer y ou can’t. Not if you have an American passport foreign banks don’t want the added expense of fatca and I can’t blame them. Now they are stopping corresponding with offshore banks see http://www.tribune242.com/news/2016/mar/15/caribbean-tackle-correspondent-bank-woe-idb-meetin/
    As some one who has legitimate business and pays taxes on all income this scenario is of great worry since 90 percent of our clients are offshore. Run fast very fast of you can.

  2. Interesting comments. Oilman2 has a lot of good points (and glad to see another John Greer reader). Where I relocated to is a compromise but an OK one. I have 16 acres in the sticks but not so remote as George. 10 miles from a regional hospital with a good rep. Louisville is a little over an hour away with a top tier hospital for the complicated things (knock on wood). There are 3 volunteer fire departments within 5 miles. Roads are paved and in fairly good condition and taxes for 16 acres, 4000 square foot house, and 2 barns is just under 2000 a year. Because property is zoned agricultural, for any thing not done to the main house you can claim ‘ag exempt’, free permit and no inspections. And realistically, they don’t know what you do to the inside, and other than an addition, to the outside either if the house is not visible from the road (for me only the roof is visible). The area within 5 miles is farms and mini farms. The county is by today’s standards fiscally responsible. The downsides are that some of your neighbors will be models for a Jeff Foxworthy skit, and we do have winters here. Not like those up north, but definitely more severe than Texas.
    Remember that life is a chance and that everything is a compromise of some sort.

    James Johnson, ex-nuke

  3. Hi George, I’ve struggled with whether to comment on this. A great piece of advice is ‘never make a permanent decision in a temporary state of mind.’ I have struggled with living location for years, deliberating (& you may remember I don’t have a spouse for input -just a difficult older family member). It’s a confusing decision sometimes. If you are 75% satisfied with where you are, stay b/c Oilman2 is right – there are significant problems everywhere – HOA’s, environmental issues, gov’t, everybody in your biz thanks to smartphones & security cams. My decision was (over time) guided by life circumstances, including education, a HOA that I had to combat with attorneys, & my own personal safety as a single female. Now, even though I have an uphill battle to get this place the way I want it (no help) and can’t fully enjoy it right now – the issues I know + eventual peace of mind are better than renting, being around crowded cities or community people who monitor you at every turn. Due to my particular family circumstance I will always be somewhat “boxed in” but If I could just get my elderly family member out of my hair I could attempt to have a life of my own again. Since you have a good setup without interference there, I would say rent a corner of your land to a nice “handy” couple who can help you maintain your acreage & the road. They could helpb you in a medical emergency too. AirBnB more often to be with your kids while the renter maintains the ranch. Just some thoughts as I muddle through my own situation largely unguided. ALTHOUGH you’re always welcome to come be my neighbor here at East Coast, USA.

  4. George, seems to me that even YOU ,have again learned a ‘lesson in life’….even after all that you share with us…just another lesson be learned..even at our tender ages….riding the tractor on the back 29 …gives you ‘peace’…enjoy

  5. Embrace your bad road George. If it is too nice there will be a
    developer buy up a big block and put up 100’s of houses on 1 1/2
    acre lots. Then the city folks will flock to the “country” to live
    on their “ranches”. It is happening all around me in the Hill Country
    and frankly I feel like puking on a daily basis.

  6. I was wondering, my friend, if you really had it in you to swill in that crap and still be able to call it food. I didn’t care for these people in high school, nor college, and I really can’t find it in me to pretend to care enough about the perverse pleasure they seem to take in living that life.

    Holding office of any sort was never meant to evolve into the morass it has become, or maybe I’ve read too many “historical novels”.

    I say let many different people hold offices for much shorter terms and don’t allow them to make laws we can’t rescind as may seem to be fit. No benefits unless there are benefits for all.

    No, not socialist, more of a democratic-republican who thinks social responsibility should be important.

    Would it have been so hard to fix your road ?
    Just run a roller down it after all of that rain.

  7. I can, only, think of one word to describe the situation, which you are describing. “Amerigeddon”.

  8. Run away George. Run very fast and far.
    Return to your correct time zone.

    Bunnee

  9. Awesome clever take-aways to spring on people around here:
    -“count your taxes as the feudal tithe they are.”
    -“It’s not quitting. It’s transcending.”

    I’d stay where you are, until the alleged currency reset takes place. Sounds like you have an awesome fortress right where you are, and the Northwest/ Cascadia subduction zone might be in for a collapse.
    In more ways than one.
    I’d thought about retiring in a cheaper country, but it’s only cheaper as long as the exchange rates are favorable. And with all the talk about IRA’s, 401K, SS being seized to prop up the US government, we’d no longer be “rich gringos” of independent means.

  10. America, a country where there are simply no good decisions to be made.

    Make that first visit to an expatriate community as soon as you can. It is highly unlikely you will land in your spot on the first trip. But after that first visit, whether Costa Rica, Mexico, Panama, Ecuador, etc. you will know what questions to ask and what to look for in your research. The second trip will take you to a place that could work for you, you might have to change housing a couple of times to optimize, but the key is to not buy until you have been there for 18 months or so and have picked every expat brain you can find.

    I am planning a visit to Medellin Columbia to visit friends to check out options as a backup. Ecuador is running a severe deficit because of the oil price, and they are trying the tried and truly failed path of raising taxes. They could end up trashing the economy, and if things got dicey we might just want to hang out elsewhere for a few months. We would not want to have a forced move into a new area cold. And we certainly did not come down here to pick sides during a revolution. But during the last attempt to overthrow the government by the police, our local cops just played volleyball every afternoon as usual.

    • Medellin COlumbia?
      My friend is that jumping from the frying pan into the cocaine fire ?

  11. We never thought to change the roads where I grew up in Cameron county (lower RGV), we just counted ourselves lucky if we made it to our destination with nothing falling off the vehicle (old Ford Falcon station wagon or Econoline van). Can’t drive much faster than 15-20 mph over agro-country caliche without going deaf from all the rocks hitting the bottom of the vehicle. Even back then (1960’s-’70’s), politicians and other ‘officials’ were considered ‘so crooked they had to screw their socks on’, to quote my late grandfather, George Charles Morgan. Good luck with the ‘roads’.

    Regards,
    Robert in WA State

  12. I know you have Washington in your sites. I lived there 20 years myself. It has gotten excessively more liberal since I fled beaten and broken.
    I suggest Wyoming, maybe Idaho. Any state that only has one blue county can’t be all bad.
    Try this: Tie a liberal to your hood and start on a road trip across the U.S. When you get to a place where the population says “whats that?” in reference to your hood ornament, stop there and make your home.

    • Wyoming is way too windy and has 8 months of winter….thats why we moved to Eastern Idaho area….good climate, only 4 months of winter, lots of water via the upper and lower snake rivers, considerable hydroelectric power , low tax rate, living is cheap here and food (taters!) is grown locally like central California.
      Lots of fishing and wild game to hunt.
      This is a great place to live and survive with what we all know is coming this year.

  13. Now you have an idea of what it must be like for Trump to go up against the ‘big boys’ nationally.

    Never wrestle with a pig…

    Oilman2 is right. …what he said.

  14. Hi George, one suggestion that has worked for us in CA is to put the $ into billboard ads embarrassing each of the commissioner’s on their trips to the trough. Seems most of them will yield to public scrutiny if you hold them up for folks to see. Pictures on the billboard with simple one or two liners work well.
    Have a great day, steve

  15. ANY state, county, city gvt is, imho, rigged and corrupt. The average everyday person doesn’t stand a chance. I am so disgusted with the whole ‘game’ of politics – at all levels – I no longer vote in any election because you know what – it doesn’t matter. Doesn’t matter cuz the system already has their way without the vote (we just are not aware of it and they want the people to ‘think’ they are making a difference) OR, even if the people speak via their votes, and the gvt doesn’t like the outcome, the gvt will figure out a way to get their way….doesn’t matter what the people wanted. (hmmmn….sounds alot like some other countries). There is a reason gvt systems are so convoluted and difficult to navigate – they don’t want us to figure it out or have a chance to change it or win.

    And finally, as you always say, follow the money. Usually it has nothing to do with the right or wrong but rather, who will benefit monetarily from the vote or decision or action.

  16. Re: Texas/roads/politics/moving….REMEMBER: ‘everything happening to everyone on this planet right now it to make one more ‘spiritual’. i can see that you are not ready to understand this quite yet….but dont worry, you will….

  17. George, You aren’t quitting, just embracing reality. Been there, done that with the locals. It takes about 10 years to recognize it. I too, opted out of the sea of stupid to take up residence in an island of tranquility.

    Depending on the erection results, Costa Rica or Ecuador might be the next step.

    Keep up the good work. BTW following a lot of your observations and suggestions I have broken even.

  18. Having moved from NYC to rural North Carolina, and active in community politics both places. From a renter in NYC to a home owner here in NC, I found the corruption is pretty equal. The good old boys(in this case Repugnicans) who run the County do such venal things they put the Mafia types at NYC city council to shame. Every once in a while you can make a small dent but afterwards you are so exhausted and aggravated that you back off and turn to your neighbors – have a BBQ and do a little time out dance. Just take care of your own and keep writing.

  19. One of the hardest and most important lessons in life to learn is when to move on. It’s not quitting. It’s transcending. Good luck!

  20. George, What I Really like about your Columns…excluding those that focus almost “Rush Limberger Like” Climate Change Denying and Hillary/Obama Bashing… is your extraordinary ability to sustain them day after day after day. Well, to be more accurate Morning (Insanely “Pre O’dark Thirty” Morning)after Morning!
    You have so many interesting, and I’m sure accurate to some degree, theories on Economic, Political, and Humankind (and NOT of Humankind) type issues, that I find myself drawn to them day after day.
    Before reading the comments, particularly those of Oilman, I was All for the “Big Hurrah” for you to have finally come to your senses and get the Hell out of East Texas Politics, and culture and into an environment where you have would flourish without expending any vital forces that those of us in advanced stages of Life/Death Cycles, can ill afford to give to something so insignificant!!
    Oilman gave me a sort of “No matter where you go, there you are” type moment, and even though your travels and reporting from Ecuador would be so Selfishly welcomed by me(yes I’m leaning towards there also}, I would rather see you go back to the 42′ Westsail berthed in Bali type setup.
    Your sale of your beloved ‘Beechcrate’ is just the first step in the very apparent need to move to the place and environment that affords you the ability to NOT have to escape! IMHO

    • Yes, but if he quit – it was on his terms . . . if you are defeated – it is on someone else’s terms . . .

  21. Perhaps I mentioned this before, but I don’t vote and I try very hard to ignore politics except for the entertainment value. I am the same age as you George, but not as talented or motivated. Definitely not a type A, more like a type ZZZ. LOL i don’t waste my time.

  22. “But the short version of recent events here is that Anderson County Texas does not require heavy trucks operating on poorly maintained county roads to post a damage bond.”

    G. Removal of Defective or Abandoned Wind Energy Systems.

    6. A performance surety, in a form approved by the County Attorney, shall be submitted by the applicant prior to the issuance of a building permit in order to ensure removal of the wind energy facility when it is no longer to be used for wind generation.

  23. As they say in Costa Rica, ja,ja,ja (ha,ha,ha) for politics. Having visited family, gotten new glasses and paid US taxes, I am returning to Costa Rica where the food is fresher, climate is wonderful and I can live off of Social In-Security and still have enough left over to visit the grand children at Christmas. Ecuador is also good. Go for it!

  24. It might be cheaper and easier to weld a couple of lengths of railroad rail or similar into a v shape, attach chains, add some weights, and drag the road yourself with ye olde Kubota. If the point of the V is to the rear, this makes a pretty serviceable road maintainer. I had a neighborhood association with a similar problem. They realized it was cheaper and faster to buy an attachment for one of their many tractors, and to drag their private road whenever needed, than to try to use the legal system to extract 100% of their rights from a private tortfeasor. This really works well, and the perp took bankruptcy anyway. Considering your tax bill, self help may be the rational choice.

    • That’s a good approach, and one that I do myself locally(using a blade), but I’d suggest that George weld up a drag, and have a neighbor with a bigger tractor(Cat 2 or better) do the road. It’s quite possible that a neighbor already has a box blade.

  25. Ahhh G…. It is always interesting when people finally realize that George Carlin was actually right.

    I know you guys have tour back up right now, but it is honestly going to be little different anywhere. The draw for me is being AWAY, not nearby, civilization. Sure – people, especially absentee landlords, will sell most anything to enrich themselves. But most people are not those people.

    Roads are going to be much worse in other states, since Texas has the best road maintenance in the country. I just got back from a Louisiana funeral – and having driven your road, yours is better than many stretches of parish and city roads in Louisiana; Arkansas and Oklahoma are no better, nor is Utah or Idaho.

    The key, at least for me, is relying on the current system to FAIL. This is one reason why I own 4WD vehicles, drive slowly and do not want to be near a town. I’ve told you many times of my various run-ins with my city officials and their endless ordinances. The only fix for this is when people cannot afford it any longer or the power and money disappear from the system (hint: when the people cannot afford it any longer).

    Your HAM antenna is verboten in most cities without a special permit, which likely will require signatures. You will be unable to run out and pour a slab or change the color of your house without permission. No construction without permits and inspectors either. The worst part is your neighbors will actually turn you in at every opportunity – the number of brainwashed folks that believe obedience = freedom is staggering.

    At least where you are, there are no neighbors reporting on you, no permits required and no local ordinance police or HOA weenies up your bottom. You are mostly free to do as you want and ignore the laws and rules that are stupid and onerous. You just have to rely on your own resources and ingenuity, and count your taxes as the feudal tithe they are.

    This same system is duplicated from Seattle to Miami – and the only escape is to do as you already have. Even if Elaine does her research, realize that the internet is full of lies, realtors lie with vigor, every single municipal website is a complete web of lies and the same system is the standard no matter where you are. At least in truly rural areas, there is no money for all of this madness, and none to enforce it when they attempt to turn the screws. You can just ignore most laws as they cannot afford enforcement, know this, and curb their reach to the immediate municipal area.

    “Better the devil you know…”

    As another friend of mine has been urging for over a decade; “Collapse Now and Avoid the Rush”.

    • Oilman2 – I (almost) always like your perspective and commentary. Keep it up.

      – KK

    • OM2 Very well put. It’s always best to sidestep petty bureaucrats than to confront their stupidity. If you wrestle with a pig you only get dirty and annoy the pig.(unsure of quote)

  26. The cute blonde is always right. You should have figured that out by now. Ha. The game will always be rigged, George. Instead of being a politician, maybe you should try being a lawyer. Ha. Some humor for you that may, or may not relate to your political situation: I believe it was Gary Hart who said to Donna Rice….. I asked you to Lick My Erection, not, Wreck My Election! Ha.
    Have a good day.

  27. “The political parties don’t want their lock on power challenged.” Or, he who insists on souping with the devil ought to remember that ‘Luciferians’ are in charge of the chambers. ;-)