Tag Archives: capitalism

Tacoma Dome Parking – Logistical Nightmare

This is a post I made about a month ago but hesitated to post because it seemed too much like a personal vendetta to publish it. However, I think it does a decent job of giving a real-world example of how capitalism is inherently unfair and makes life more difficult for the average person, and after I’ve given it some time, I still feel as though I (and hundreds of others) were victims of fraud at the hands of The Tacoma Dome and their parking situation.

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I went to see Lady Gaga Saturday night at the Tacoma Dome in Tacoma, Washington and felt that my experiences with their parking was worthy of a rambling, pissed-off blog post. (My first thought was to make an all-caps Facebook post.)

The show started at 8:00 according to the ticket. My friend and I arrived at the Tacoma Dome exit around 7:30. We then waited in a single file, poorly marked line for nearly two hours for a parking space. Cars frequently passed us, and we theorized that all of them were cutting in front of us. Finally, just before 9:30 we finally realized we weren’t going to make the show, so we decided to pull out of line and either park somewhere far away and take a cab (I didn’t stop to think that getting a cab would have been impossible), or, I was thinking I could just abandon my car and pay the impound fee later.

We pulled out and saw the line of cars behind us, disappearing into a point on the horizon. We drove forward, passing maybe 50 to 100 cars and arrived at the front of the line. At this point we we were so fed up, we decided to turn around and sneak into the front of the line. I know that’s a dick move, but sometimes you get to a point where you just can’t take it any more.

So we made a u-turn, right in front of the traffic police. Naturally they didn’t say anything to us and just let us through. We pulled into the parking garage and the attendant came to my window and said, “Ten dollars, and do not tell me you don’t have cash.”

Fortunately I did have cash, and I payed her without argument, though I wanted to scream at her about the ethics of charging ten bucks for event parking when you’ve already forced everyone to miss the majority of the show. The fact that she said, “do not tell me you don’t have cash,” implies that she went through that kind of ordeal with other drivers. Every car that pulled in spent probably an average of a minute talking to the attendant, and if not for that, no doubt we would have gotten inside in a much more timely fashion.

We parked, then ran several blocks to the stadium. Lady Gaga had already played nearly half her set, and obviously the opening band was long gone (some band called Semi-Precious Weapons that I was actually excited to see). We were able to find the row where our seats were supposed to be, but we looked through the darkness and saw that our seats had been taken. (To be honest, we didn’t realize that they were bench seats, rather than individual seats, because it was so dark and crowded at this point there was no way to see details like that.)

We went back down to talk to an usher, who refues to help, immediately accusing me of lying to her as though I was trying to avoid going to my seat. So my friend and I decided to simply stand at the front railing with all the other people who weren’t able to get to their seats. After ten minutes someone from seats behind us came down and started screaming at us (you can’t really communicate when Lady Gaga’s in the background unless you’re screaming) because we were blocking their view. We tried to apologize and explain there was nothing we could do, but ultimately we refused to move because there was simply no where else we could watch the show.

So they went and complained to management about us. The usher’s supervisor came to yell at us, and I wound up yelling back, asking him to help us get to our seats. He refused to help, so my friend and I refused to move from the railing. Finally, he agreed to assist and brought us up to our row and was able to get the attention of the others to let us in. We finally made it to our seats a little after 10:00 PM, just in time to see the last third of Lady Gaga’s set.

Getting out of the parking garage was not as difficult. It only took an hour before we started moving, which realistically is pretty reasonable.

(This is kind of unrelated, but on the way out, the police were directing traffic, but for some reason were not making much effort to make their signals understandable. When they waved us through it seemed more like someone jingling their keys by their side than someone actually trying to communicate, so I could never tell if they were waving us through or their hands were simply unsteady.

Now this personally bothers me because my greatest phobia is being beaten by a police officer, and last year someone was leaving a Seattle Mariner’s game and misunderstood a traffic cop’s signals. As he drove through the intersection the cop took out his flashlight and smashed the man in the face, giving him a concussion. The Seattle police settled with the man for, I believe $70,000, but the police department made a statement that the officer had acted reasonably.)

The main issue for me is that all of this was based on money. If the promoters hadn’t felt the need to rake in every last dollar they could, they wouldn’t have over-sold the show. They could have sent out emails telling everyone that they didn’t have parking capacity, but that would have discouraged some people from coming. They could have stopped charging for parking to allow everyone to see the show, but they knew that Ticketmaster would not be refunding our money, so they didn’t care if they caused hundreds of people to miss a show that cost $100 per ticket. Basically, it’s all about profit and nothing about serving the community. As an anarchist, I believe the opposite. Community should come first; profit second.

Hmmm… so at $100 per ticket, at 20,000 fans, the concert promoters brought in 2 million dollars for that show.

During the show, Lady Gaga said something about how Hollywood and the media build up pop stars to be larger than life, which in turn allows those stars to treat their fans like shit. I personally can’t blame Lady Gaga for this mess because I doubt she even knew about the parking problems, but I found her statement quite fitting.

Then, the next day, I found this article: http://www.thenewstribune.com/2010/08/21/1309803/no-repeat-of-junes-parking-traffic.html, which basically makes the claim that parking was not an issue at the show at all. I can’t help thinking that was a deliberate lie.

I asked for my money back, just to see what they’d say. Naturally both TicketMaster and The Tacoma Dome officials refused, but the answer from the Tacoma Dome blew me away as their letter was filled with more lies, specifically, the lie that all other stadiums have the same kind of parking issues, as though I’d never been to a sold-out stadium concert before.

What I don’t understand is why the general population thinks that this kind of financial manipulation and deceit is more acceptable than a normal thief who steals in a more direct and honest manner and has more need for what he’s stealing. For me, this experience was more hurtful than any of the three times my home has been broken into.

Pain Killers Comparison Chart – Painkiller Summary

I was looking for some names for painkillers that sounded like they might still be in use ten thousand years from now for a story I’m writing and I came upon this page and thought I’d quote it for other reasons:

Pain Killers Comparison Chart – Painkiller Summary.

I found this to be an interesting example of the type of thing that drives me toward anarchism. How do people see law enforcement as such a good thing when it’s involved in this kind of cruelty?


The inclusion of high amounts of acetaminophen with all these medications is a rather CRUEL attempt by the pharmaceutical companies to prevent abuse, since overdosing will result in the destruction of the liver. I would describe this, at best, as “not very nice”. The Puritanical ethic at work, destroying livers, and lives.
“Let’s kill off all the druggies.” This is way beyond cynical.

Knowing that these drugs are abused, and then filling them up with the poisonous acetaminophen, is criminal malfeasance by the drug companies.

EVE novels and appreciation as currency

Today I got an email me telling me that someone mentioned my novel, Against a Rock, in a review on Amazon.com about The Burning Life, an official EVE novel released recently. Basically he said that people are better off reading my book. This put me in a good mood all day today, to know that the quality of my writing can hold its own against at least some professionally published works. I don’t know if I’m actually going to read The Burning Life… I suppose I should since I’m technically still writing EVE fiction, but judging from the fact that it hasn’t gotten any decent reader reviews on Amazon, and the fact that the first official EVE novel, Empyrean Age was pretty bad, it’s probably not gonna be worth it.

There’s a couple anarchistic viewpoints to be had from this. I feel significantly more motivated to sit down and write now since getting that free plug on Amazon. It’s amazing how far a little appreciation can go to getting a job done. It seems crazy that appreciation could replace currency as our primary motivation for getting things done, but once you get into something that you’re passionate about but doesn’t really make any money, like writing, art, open-source programming, running a website, volunteering, or political activism, you should be able to see how easily you can be motivated to accomplish things with little more than a sense that you’re having a positive affect on other people’s lives. Without currency I would certainly still be writing and programming.

The other thing I take from this is the familiar feeling that the better works are not being bubbled up to the top nor fairly represented. The books that get promoted are the ones by the people who know how to sell themselves, who are not always the most talented. It’s sad to know that so many talented artists have been lost in the shuffle because they didn’t know how to promote themselves or just didn’t get the right opportunity. I know that under real literary critics, Against a Rock would beat Empyrean Age and from what it sounds like, The Burning Life as well… but they’re the ones making the money.

I know this is a totally self-serving entry… perhaps this is my attempt to market myself more aggressively. Sometimes I feel I need to let my ego show a little more. ūüôā

Some Crack Capitalism

Last week I was hanging out at the local dive bar drinking my gin and tonic and the guy next to me was complaining about how he’d lost his weed. He started pulling everything out of his pockets and dumping them on the bar, crumpled wads of cash, cell phone, headphones, note papers, etc, but couldn’t find his pot. He finally gave up and went out for a cigarette. He came back in and told me that he had just accidentally bought some crack. Someone outside had offered to sell him a 20 sack, and of course he thought the guy meant marijuana. When he realized the mistake, the dealer refused to give him his money back and ran off. This guy asked me what I thought he should do, and I told him the only thing he could do was count it as a loss and flush it. He told me he couldn’t stand to waste money and was considering trying some of it just so that he didn’t feel like he’d been totally hosed. He told me he’d tried crack once before and didn’t enjoy it at all, but was still thinking about it.

I can sympathize with this as I feel the same way about money. I’ll stuff myself with a meal that I’m no longer enjoying and I know is not healthy for me, simply because I don’t want to see my money going to waste. It seems like there’s something about our society that ingrains this concept of money and the instinct to hoard, even when you know full well that it’s not in your best interest. I personally believe that this is a learned behavior, and another reason to believe that capitalism is not a long-term healthy solution.

He showed me the crack later, a tiny little rock, that we thought may have actually been chalk. This was only the second time in my life that I’d seen a harder drug (unless you count LSD or ecstasy), despite being a marijuana dealer for nearly ten years. I told him again he should just flush it. I could have bought it off him I suppose and flushed it myself, but I had this fear in the back of my head that I might be tempted by it. It was one of those weird, surreal experiences, even though it shouldn’t have been such a big deal. It was more than just a sign that I’m in the big city now. It was like the crack had some kind of ingrained spirit attached to it that I know has been a result of our general ignorance about it and reliance on government and television to tell us all about it. The problem with crack is that it’s hard to not be ignorant about it and not also seriously risk fucking up your life.

______      ______      ______

So on a somewhat related topic, I found this fascinating and surprisingly entertaining presentation about the economics of selling crack, which gives a lovely comparison of crack dealing to the McDonald’s corporation, pointing out some fun parallels with legal capitalism as well as some fascinating facts about the crack trade. My favorite part was his slam against the death penalty, pointing out that people on death row have a longer life expectancy than street crack dealers, making it kind of a joke to think it’s going to be an affective deterrent.

Sign the Food Revolution Petition

Join Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution and sign the petition.
"Seven billion American dollars are spent every month in Afghanistan, but we can only get 4.5 billion out of the government for a 10-year-plan to keep the obesity epidemic from killing children." - Jamie Oliver

I just discovered this new show on Hulu, Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution about some famous chef I’d never heard of who went to the fattest city in America to try and transform their school lunch program and promote healthier eating habits in America. I’ve only seen a couple episodes but it can be quite shocking at times to see how some people eat and what the schools are feeding to our kids, so I wanted to pass on the link to sign his petition to start making a transition in our public schools.

Junk food and healthy eating is something I struggle a lot with. It’s certainly a weakness of mine, but at the same time, our whole capitalism based society is blatantly promoting poor eating habits because it’s the quickest and easiest way to make a buck.

Check out his PDF of some shocking facts and figures on obesity.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Baconaise - "everything should taste like bacon. You can choose to agree or disagree."


Modern money theory and electronic currency

The other day I was exploring a neighborhood where I was considering buying a condo and found myself in a BBQ restaurant that looked like something out of an episode of In Living Color. As I stood in line I read all the crazy signs and looked at the random junk they had tacked to the walls, and noticed a sign that said, “In God we trust. All others pay cash.” and somehow I read this sign and yet it just didn’t click in my head that it meant no debit or credit cards. To me, “cash” means money that you actually have as opposed to money you are borrowing, but in this case, obviously, ‘cash’ meant old fashioned paper money. Fortunately I realized my mistake before they started my order, but I was pretty disappointed because the place smelled delicious and I was in the mood for a dripping pile of meat on a bun.

Just a few days earlier I was eating lunch with some coworkers and at the end we all busted out our debit/credit cards and the waiter commented that we were “card guys”, which we all found odd, since a few of us couldn’t remember the last time we’d actually used paper money for something. This is perfectly normal as far as I’m concerned. I’ve met numerous people who never carry paper money and all things considered, debit and credit cards are probably used more often in our society than paper money. As a society,¬†we’ve decided that electronic currency is now the standard form of currency, kind of how we decided at some point a couple hundred years ago that gold and silver nuggets would be replaced with paper notes.

So why do these rare businesses refuse to accept our standard, most basic, and most convenient form of currency? Well, something many people forget when they’re paying for things with their cards is the fact that these businesses are paying a fee for the right to accept our currency. They pay something like %1 on the purchases made with those cards, and they don’t see that as fair. They could simply charge a %1 fee to their customers to use their cards, but of course they are not allowed to do that because the credit card companies don’t want the public to be aware of just how much they are scraping off the top, so all of the business’s customers must pay this cost in the form of slightly higher prices, even if they pay cash every time. Some business owners don’t think this is fair, and I can’t blame them.

All the credit card companies are doing is facilitating a system to allow transactions,¬† a system which is almost completely automated, and the cost for them to do that is a tiny fraction of what they are charging for the service. It’s no different than if you wrote up a contract for a home purchase and the printer company that made the printer that printed that contract demanded %1 of the purchase price.

Back in the day when paper money was first replacing the old gold and silver currency, our governments took over the process for the benefit of the people and provided the service of printing money and preventing counterfeiting essentially at-cost. Granted, we still have sales tax, which is kind of the same thing, but at least in that case, theoretically, that money is going toward the benefit of the people instead of into the pockets of wealthy businessmen.

So why is it today that the government has not stepped in to facilitate our more modern form of currency? They continue printing an inconvenient, outdated and expensive form of currency instead of keeping up with technology and trends and providing the people with the form of electronic currency we obviously expect.

To me, facilitating our system of currency is one of the most fundamental expectations of government. Instead, they have been manipulated by the big credit card companies and have allowed them to get their hands in the pockets of almost every person on the planet.

Now big-business controls our currency and our ability to exchange goods and services on a global scale in a situation where no one but the fat-cats have a vote. I can’t understand why more people don’t see this as, first of all, unfair, and second of all, dangerous.

Unfair Tickets

I heard on the radio the other day about a group of 40 people who were suing the city, saying that they received unfair tickets given out by the automatic photograph system at red lights. It costs $100 for running a red light, and they felt that it should be closer to $20. The judge, however, felt $100 was not an unfair ticket price.

My first instinct was to side with the judge and if not for my anarchist ideals, I wouldn’t have thought twice about this. People really shouldn’t be running red lights, and $20, which for me represents barely more than half an¬†hour’s work, or even $100 seems like an insignificant sum in exchange for putting people’s lives in danger¬†for someone’s impatience.

My anarchist side, however, sees a couple problems. First is that half of these people, if not more, are not running red lights on purpose. Like most people, they had no intention of doing anything wrong, and would not choose to do it again, with or without the ticket. Accidents happen and people make mistakes. The judge knew this. We all know this. If this weren’t true, we could just raise the price of a ticket to a thousand dollars, maybe throw in a merciless beating from a police officer and we could put an end to people running red lights once and for all. Ultimately, tickets are not intended to promote public safety. They are intended to make a profit.

The other issue is the differences in wages and salaries. The judge is probably paid a good $140,000 a year to pass judgment over the lives of others and act like he knows the difference between right and wrong better than everyone else. $100 is completely fair to him. It’s less than a slap on the wrist. But he forgets‚ÄĒor refuses to admit‚ÄĒthat many people do not make $140,000 a year. Just six years ago I would work a full shift, finding myself sticky with sweat, and have barely fifty bucks to show for it. Some people work for that kind of pay and have kids to feed. A $100 loss can cause very real problems for those people. The average judge simply can’t understand that, and sometimes I can’t understand it either, after just a few years of making good wages. Working for a living seems like a whole different world, so I can understand how judges and lawyers can so easily lose all compassion for the difficulties that normal people face. This is just one of many reasons I believe the core¬†concepts of criminal justice and tickets¬†are inherently unfair.

Gone corporate – anarchist in corporate america

Well, I actually went corporate years ago, but now I’m moving up again in the corporate world. I got hired on full-time at the agency where I’ve been working the last six months. Before this I was making more money than I felt I deserved, and now I’m making even more, plus a whole complex¬†package of benefits.

I also get to do something I love, which is sitting in front of a computer coding fancy little user interfaces and dynamic animations for websites and banner ads.

I used to tell myself that I would never work for a major corporation, and it might seem odd that a devoted¬†anarchist would¬†have his own phone extension and company business card. As much as I complain about how society works I’ve found that making the best of it can build a pretty comfortable life.

I’ve realized in the last half-decade that anarchism isn’t about fighting back against the way the world works. Sometimes you need to deal with¬†it and make the best of it. I don’t believe I’m going to change anyone’s minds by working in a kitchen the rest of my life or make any notable difference by¬†going off the grid though I used to believe that I could.

The more corporate I become and the farther I climb up through the middle-class, the more confident I become that the whole system is skewed and unfair. I see people in the drive-through’s, working twice as hard as I do for a fraction of the pay, doing something that isn’t nearly as fun. I feel bad about that sometimes, like I’m just exploiting society and giving less back than someone who washes dishes… though I suppose you could argue that I am building things that people use and in my own tiny way, I’m pushing the bounds and expectations of technology, but the people making the WordPress plugins that do so much for this site are doing the same thing to a greater degree, and they’re not¬†paid anything.

Most people in the corporate world are not programmers who actually build something. Instead, their jobs involve pushing money around in one form or another. In an anarchist society, all that time and energy would either be going toward making the world a better place, or toward leisure activities like spending time with family.

I¬†still love the corporate world for my own selfish reasons. Without it I wouldn’t be able to order sushi or fancy espresso whenever I wanted. I suppose that as an anarchist that does make me a hypocrite, but I’ve decided that it’s better to be a hypocrite than to not care. As an anarchist, I would like to see a world where everyone¬†on the planet could order sushi and fancy espresso whenever they want.

40 Minutes with the IRS

It seems like every day I come across a new reason to be an anarchist.

I’m trying to buy a condo and to apply for a mortgage I need records from the last couple years. In the past I’ve ignorantly assumed that a massive government financial¬†institution like the IRS would keep better track of numbers than a “stoned slacker” like myself, so I haven’t been saving my tax information. In thirty years my credit union has only made¬†one minor¬†mistake. I figured the IRS would be similar.

I requested my W-2s for¬†’07 and ’08, and received both transcripts,¬† each listing one job. In reality, I worked two different jobs in 2008 and three in 2007. (I’m a freelance programmer so moving jobs is¬†normal.) Also, one of the jobs in 2008¬†gave me two W-2s¬† because I worked for them at two¬†separate times.¬†Today I spent 40 minutes on the phone with the IRS, and the nice operator told me that they¬†had no records of any of these jobs. She told me my employers never sent the forms, but I find that hard to believe when they¬†had no problem sending the same forms to me.

The scary part is how calm the operator was, as though this was a normal occurance that we just have to put up with. She kind of sounded like she was an Indian outsourcer, which would be ironic, but that’s just speculation. She didn’t offer any avenues of resolution, and didn’t seem to think this was even¬†a problem that needed fixing. I asked her if I was at risk of an audit now, since there’s naturally going to be discrepencies between my spending and income. She didn’t have an answer for that either.

Now, I live in an area with one of the highest crime rates in Seattle and I’ll walk around the streets after midnight with my hood¬†on and my headphones blaring, and being afraid never crosses my mind. This kind of thing, however, scares me. It’s always been one of my greatest fears to be wrongfully convicted of a crime, and to think about how the same system that lost four of my last six jobs is used to¬†prosecute people for tax crimes and money-laundering, sometimes destroying their lives, is just plain terrifying.