Tuesday, April 17, 2007

April 17, 2007- Urbanization and the Heavy Hand of Leviathan

In my county of residence (Hillsdale) in rural Michigan relations between people and the local units of governance are still pretty informal. That doesn't mean that the government at all levels isn't an expensive, onerous and stifling presence, because it is. However, that said and stipulated, it isn't nearly as bad as it is in the urbanized counties to its immediate east and north. When I have to “do business” with the local bureaucrats I have to visit them at their sinister mirrored glass civic palaces, they don't come to me. And the worse thing of all is the security arrangements. In Lenawee, Washtenaw, and Jackson counties you are herded into lines and forced to empty your pockets, (and the contents are inspected outside your view), you must surrender your purses, backpacks, briefcases, lunch bags and all else for “inspection” too; and it only gets worse. If you're wearing a belt, you have to remove it and hand it over until you leave. And ditto with cell phones, anything metal, pens, and/or anything else the creepy little private security types think bears closer examination. And further, just to add to the “compliance milieu” there is an armed uniformed Deputy Sheriff eyeballing you while the security team “processes” you.

Now keep in mind that this is all for ordinary people to come inside a government building which they paid for and maintain in order to pay their taxes, buy dog licenses, get building permits and other licenses, or look-up or file records (birth, death, deeds, etc).

I could see perhaps the need for security at this level at a courthouse or jail where criminal elements are being held or tried, because I do recognize many of the defendants are dangerous people. But all this just to file a remodeling plan for a bathroom or a garage addition? And for crying out loud I am so sure al-Qaeda operatives in their little caves in Tora Bora are continually scheming to get a suicide bomber into the Lenawee County Building or the Jackson County Civic center, eh? Maybe it's just me; as I grow older, I find that this kinda overkill on security operations is degrading to have to deal with. And “deal with” is the operative term. It isn't like you even can go anywhere else for the piece of paper that the state requires you to have to live your life or do your business in compliance with the law either.

So I already feel queasy just going there. But it is the flagrant abuse toward your privacy and dignity that just push me over the edge. Deputy Pig at the Lenawee courthouse waited for the person in front of me at the entry line to go inside the inner sanctum, and then took his very nice and expensive Blackberry cellphone/PDA out of the basket and turned it on and started scrolling through his phone numbers and other stuff. She didn't care about our reaction to this abuse, either. The owner had to leave it, and she was the only one around. Well, the only one around with a large semi-automatic pistol and the power to arrest. Her position and attitude made the rest of us lined up like cattle invisible to her I guess. Deputy Pig didn't even try to disguise her flagrant abuse of this man's privacy and property from the rest of us. Such an attitude, eh?

A small thing I suppose, but stuff like this bothers the shit out of me. I don't know how much longer I can stand it. It all builds up.

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Jeremy said...

"A small thing I suppose, but stuff like this bothers the shit out of me. I don't know how much longer I can stand it. It all builds up."

I hear you. That's why one of the things I'm interested in is non-violent, low-risk monkey wrenching with these stupid "processes" and their managers (such as this idiot of an officer you describe). We've got to find ways to make their lives as miserable as they make ours.

zrated said...

"non-violent, low-risk"

i'm unsure that there is such an effective alternative. i'm open to ideas, but in the end, i really think it will come down to violence. we are cornered by the hungry tiger of the state and i'm betting he will not let us talk our way out.

in the mean-time, maybe some social ostracizing?