So, here I am, stranded in the suburbs on the outskirts of town. It’s New Year’s Eve, an hour before midnight and I’m wandering around in the dark all alone… The Third World USA tour starts very slowly. It’s been over a week and it’s not yet off the ground. Of course I was sick. The flu hit me hard right after the solstice. I couldn’t get off the couch. And now, when I’m better, Ms. B. gets it. Mother Nature’s micro organisms are delaying the game. No doubt I’m still thinking about the metaphorical party… the incredible scene in my new epic story. But I can’t yet see the way to get from the here and now to there and then. At the moment, the real world dominates: economic bleakness and environmental devastation on the horizon and nothing but political absurdity and helplessness in response. Any sort of radical transformation seems impossible… Meanwhile, the streets where I’m walking are empty of people. The neighborhood is full of quiet houses. It’s almost a ghost town except for the constant blue glow that emanates forth from each home.
We’re skipping the First Night celebrations on account of our illnesses. Ms. B. is in the cottage watching movies with her sister while I wander through the neighborhood on my own. I’m stoned of course, and a little bit drunk. I’m approaching the calendar completion with the proper enthusiasm. Whiskey and weed makes for a fine New Year indeed. I’m thinking about my novel again as the blue lights blink. I’m thinking about traveling again as the blue lights blink. Total darkness… And blinking blue lights. I want to go…but something holds me back. I want to shatter the boundaries of this oppressive real world and enter the realm of the imaginary…but something holds me back. Yeah, I know, there are practical problems. The cash supply is mighty low. It’s too cold for the bicycles so we will have to drive the first leg. Ms. B. has craft shows to apply for before we can leave. The world is conspiring to keep us trapped. But there must be a way to get the hell out of here… The blue lights seem to be everywhere…. behind every curtain… in every home. Blinking blue lights and more blinking blue lights… I have to wonder what it all could mean…
Its New Year’s Eve morning and I wake up in a grumpy mood. The fridge is full of leftovers but there’s nothing I want to eat. I got no weed. I got no booze. I’ve been stuck sick in the house for a week. I’m feeling better physically but not really. More stir crazy than anything. I have an urge to go on an adventure. Ms. B. suggests the liquor store and a bottle of whiskey as a possible destination. “Hot toddy’s you know…will knock back the germs”.
I look at the pile of recycling and it’s depressing. How quickly it collects in this throw away world. In my universe, there’s no such thing as garbage. I like to imagine that everything can be re-used, recycled or composted. The world goes around in a circle not straight ahead in a line. But reality makes this principle hard to live up to. The tower of cans and boxes reaches to the ceiling. “I really should take those to the recycling center today.” Conveniently, the friendly neighborhood pot provider also lives near the recycling center.
“We need a couple of things from the grocery store as well,” says Ms. B. “I want to bake some bread. As long as you are going out anyway, why don’t you make a quick stop at the store?”
And so, my New Year’s Eve afternoon is here and I am on an errand run. I can’t help but wonder if this afternoon’s quest is somehow symbolic of the year to come. First stop the bank machine. I punch in the numbers and it spits out the bills? Wherever do these green pieces of paper come from? Believe it or not, in this world where I live, I can trade these pieces of paper for everything I want and need. First stop the liquor store where I make a deal with the proprietor. I give him some of the green papers from the bank machine and he lets me have a bottle of bourbon. It seems somehow unfair… I get booze and all he gets is paper… but the liquor man is happy with the exchange so why should I complain? After the liquor store I move on to the grocery store. I walk the aisles of infinite supply. I mean really. There’s no shortage of anything. Just look at this place. They take the green paper here as well. Thank the empire for the collective illusion or such transactions would be mighty complicated. I pick out the essentials from the well ordered rows; flour, honey, lemon, cider…I give green papers to the cashier and walk out the door to the motorized vehicle.
Yeah, that’s right, I’m driving. I’m using up some fossil fuels. I’d rather not, of course. But it’s pretty damn cold for a bicycle. No doubt if I lived in a sensibly organized world, I wouldn’t have to ever drive. But public transport is shit here. It’s all part of the idiotic conspiracy that force feeds us fossil fuels. But the supply seems infinite… I just go to the pump, hand over the green paper and the fuel keeps on flowing. After the bank, liquor, groceries and gas, I go to recycling. The left over containers that brought the supplies from the source must be returned to the source so that the cycle can continue. Unfortunately, the recycle center here looks suspiciously like a garbage dump….
After the dump, I stop in to see Dr. M. He is not a real doctor but he does have my favorite herbal medicine. As usual, he is manifesting his social dysfunction with various rants and raves about the incomprehensible. Today’s topic is the water supply and he sounds quite a bit like a character from my novel… Water is abundant but it won’t be for long. The 20th century wars were all about energy while the 21st century wars will be about water. The empire is collecting it in plastic storage bottles and storing it in warehouses. They are contaminating mass quantities with chemicals and pumping it deep under ground. It’s all part of their long term plan to commodify everything. When there is no more clean water left in the natural world we will have to buy it from them. They take away everything that is all around us and tell us we can’t have it unless we give them money. And then they won’t let us have money unless we do what they tell us. It’s a god damn conspiracy…
“Speaking of which Dr. M,” I say, “how many green pieces of paper do I have to give you for the weed?”
I make it back to the cottage in the late afternoon. I put away the supplies. The place is fully stocked. We now have everything. Complete abundance. Food, water, shelter, whiskey and weed. If today somehow represents the year to come… what lies ahead is abundance. But no, abundance is not the story we hear on the news. The economy is depressed. We are in a recession. We are not working enough. We are not producing enough green pieces of paper. More people need jobs. We need more green paper. The economy better start growing or we are in trouble…. I myself am quite broke. I have very little cash. I too need to get my hands on more green pieces of paper. Why? I say why? What do I need it for? I don’t eat the paper or sleep in the paper or wear the paper. The paper is just a symbol. What do I need that symbol for? The contradictory realities clash in my brain. Wealth is everywhere but the whole world is poor. Why are we trapped in this paper cage?
I drink a whiskey and relax. I smoke a joint. The New Year is almost here. Tomorrow morning I will make the first post. Then I will see what happens. Maybe it ends there. With a single random idea tossed out into the ether: occupy the water supply. Maybe no one will pay attention. Maybe someone will convince me it’s a bad idea. Who knows? All I can do is go slowly. One step at a time. After the first story sits for a while, I will release another and then another. It might attract attention, build momentum and transform into a full grown something. Or it might fall flat on its face after a few half-hearted rants. I drink another whiskey and relax some more. No need to worry at all about these things.
In the early evening, Ms. B.’s sister stops by with a pizza. After dinner, they download a movie and I go for a walk. I wander through the neighborhood of glowing blue lights and silent houses… What is the message that the blue light is advertising? What is the truth it is teaching us to believe? The New Year is coming and times are bad. Abundance surrounds us but we should be sad. All of this water, energy and air, food for our bellies and entertainment to spare. But we can’t touch it because of the cash. The metaphor imprisons us in an economy crash.
Hey, wait a second, did that rhyme? Sorry about that; sometimes the rhymes just kind of tumble on out. Anyway… where was I? I’m here in the suburbs. Trapped in the real world. I’m longing to get away, hit the road; begin this year’s journey on the infinite roads through Third World America. I’m wondering if Third World America really does exist. At the moment, I’m still stranded in what’s left of First World America, and the future looks scary…
Unemployment is high, businesses are closing, everybody’s broke, and no one is paying me to do stonework anymore because they can’t afford it. Where did all the money go? How come it no longer flows? The real answer to this question is simple. In the grand economic model of the world, the color map of the upstate NY region where I live has changed. We used to get the green color for a pleasant human living environment. But a couple of years ago, we got switched to grey. Grey is the color for a resource extraction region. If you are an international investor who wants to extract a resource, the first step in the process is to tighten the cash supply to the region in question so the people who live there are bargaining with a losing hand. Very simple reality. Our present poverty is the product of a politically imposed absurdity… Aaauugh!
But I refuse to accept that absurdity so I am setting out on this journey. I can still imagine another way. In my universe, I live in a region that is blessed with great natural wealth. We have lakes and rivers and farms and forests. There’s abundant food and lots of fresh clean water. There’s energy too, the renewable kind. With the solar power and wind power and water power and wood burning power, we have more than enough to provide for all our energy needs. We are also wealthy in culture. Music, art and theatre too; these hills have no shortage of entertainment options. Given all this, I ask what is lacking. The only thing that seems to be missing here is the incredibly useful, absolutely indispensible big fat green dollar bills.
So where do dollar bills come from? Why can’t we manufacture our own? That’s really the issue right now. The Federal Reserve manufactures dollar bills. They then give those bills to corporate banks at very low interest rates. The banks then decide whether or not to lend that money to people. Right now the banks are not lending. The money has stopped flowing. The reduction of the flow of money from bank to business to person to person is the cause of the recession…depression…economic despair. Everything else is a lie. The Federal Reserve prints the cash and lends it to the corporate banks but the banks are not passing it on. Why? Because of the squeeze play perhaps? Not just here in upstate NY but throughout the country. Has anyone noticed the extent to which the economic recession has paralleled the Domestic Natural Gas Boom? The nation wide hydro-fracking invasion has gone hand and in hand with the tightening of the money supply. Coincidence? Or are investors just playing the same game here in the homeland that they have been playing throughout the world for the last 100 years?
Pick a country… any country… that’s unfortunate enough to be wealthy in natural resources but somewhat disorganized in its governmental structure. Find a leader in that country… someone with charisma, charm and personality to spare. Give that leader a system, an ideology… a rational plan. Lend that leader money, lots of it… lend it to him freely. Sell him weapons and guns and security systems in exchange for the money that you lend him. Help him take over and gain control of the country. But lead him along so it takes a while. Lend him and lend him and lend him some more. Lend him until he becomes something that can best be described as the internationally recognized “owner” of large quantities of natural resources and then hit him with the sucker punch…. Start collecting on the debt. You don’t want to be paid in money of course, that’s just the card trick, the game and the illusion. Who needs the purple paper from Bullshitlandia? You want their fucking natural gas…
Anyway, you get the picture. That’s pretty much the game that the First World Economies have been tap dancing on the heads of the Third World Economies for the last 100 years or so. Then, something crazy happened. America played the game backwards and sucker punched itself. I mean seriously, it’s basic economics… EC 101. If you want to conquer a country, you raise taxes to pay for the fight. Theoretically, there will be a return on the taxpayer’s investment because you gain access to the resources of the conquered country. Meanwhile, the taxes raised are spent to buy weapons and energy and supplies for the war and the economy is thereby stimulated. It is an economic cycle that can continually repeat itself and grow the economy for as long as there are more countries to conquer. By fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan and lowering taxes simultaneously, America effectively sucker punched itself. And now, to pay for it, America is going to devastate its own landscape and suck out the natural gas.
Welcome to the Third World. America has now decided to conquer itself…
Anyway, enough of this walking around in the dark and cold among the blinking blue lights. I’m going back inside the warm cottage to ring in the New Year. I wonder if Ms. B and her sister are even still awake?