(updated: Sep 21, 2008)
I wanted to post this quote, which was written back in 1801 but has never been more relevant today. Amazingly, this quote is displayed at an 80 year old amusement park in central PA known as Knoebels.
I love this place because it is a family-run business with lots of history, but most importantly, they are relatively non-commercial and respect the environment. There is little pavement. Even the parking area is a big grassy field. Trees are everywhere. It's nearly hidden by trees and when you enter the park it's like walking into a magical world beneath a canopy of trees. Think a corporate owned amusement park would allow this? They probably have rules against trees and gravel due to "safety" or some other bullshit.
Look at the smaller trees growing in the middle of the path. They let them grow everywhere. Trees define this place.
The rides are old yet still fun and have lots of character. The roller coasters are wooden, and they rock. One of them is in my short list of great roller coasters.
It's very family-oriented. You can camp at the park, and they also have a gigantic swimming pool. Dogs are ok too. Again, think a corporate-run park would allow dogs?
Dude, look out for that tree!
Every time we visit family in PA we come here. It's costs nothing to get in. You only pay for rides, games, and food. You just walk in. No security gates, no metal detectors, no bag searches. Yet again, would a corporate-run park permit this?
Showing part of a new bobsled-like wooden coaster they are building.
Like being in the woods.
I love this place, but seeing that quote on a sign, sealed the deal for me.
Think about that quote. It's happening right now. The government so drowned in debt that your kids will be indentured servants to rich and powerful tyrants. The Fed and Central Bank manipulate markets. Witness the recent obscene announcement of a $1.2 Trillion unconstitutional bailout of rich bankers by our government, paid for by YOU, the American taxpayer. Think about what both candidates are promising, or not promising. Either one that is elected will change nothing. The US is broke.
I don't want to get involved in talking about politics, because the government's recent actions and the lack of leadership in this country makes me writhe in anger, so let me switch gears to focus on a story about the local kids that live in my mother-in-law's neighborhood in central PA. Every time I visit they stop by and ask if I want to ride with them. There's not a lot to do for these kids, but they love to ride their bikes. They were playing on these jumps but they wanted to build some dirt jumps. So I got a shovel and we found a big pile of dirt in an empty lot nearby and started sculpting one. We made a nice kicker and started hitting it and having a good time.
Then the old folks across the street started staring at us and then the next thing you know the owner (said he was, anyway) came by in a truck and says the neighbors are complaining and don't want us here. So we had to leave, even though it was just some neighborhood kids having fun, getting exercise and building skills. There really is no place for these kids to go. I told them about pump tracks and how to go about building a pump track, but without an older person to help them it's not going to happen, and they need to find a place to do it too.
So the kids have no place to go, and then I got to thinking about where you can go that's a public space. You have parks, and the streets in addition to your own residence assuming you own it. Now you're lucky if you live here because you have the beach (well, not if Wrightsville Beach had its way), and now a bike park -- a simple, natural place that's not all manicured or full of creeps. If you don't live near the beach, then you still have parks, lakes & rivers, and roads you have access to by car only. That is all. Everything else is privately owned, or is public space devoted to the automobile. It's why I disliked Texas, because the state is 98% privately owned and there is only one National Park as far as I know (Big Bend). Who wants to live in an area that has no natural boundaries, that just keeps expanding like rings in a tree? Not me. I need a boundary, which is why I like the beach or the mountains, a place you can go to get away from "stuff" and you have reasonable assurance that no "stuff" will be built on it (for now).
I just wanted to point this out because I think people believe they are free when really they are quite confined, which to me, is the illusion of freedom. And each year the people in power keep taking away more and more of your rights, for example, the $50 million of taxpayer funds (read: your money) spent at the recent Republican Convention in Denver to turn the place into a high-tech fortress so they can keep you corralled 3 blocks away from the convention, arrest you for any reason, and stick you in a temporary chain-link jail. They locked down the area. And they say Critical Mass inconveniences drivers.
Each year the cost of liquid fuel will keep going up, until getting around to those public spaces (and in general) becomes prohibitive, unless of course you have joined the human powered revolution and chosen to battle. But because we have built a car-dependent society, by extension, the wealthier you are the more free you are. Thus ownership equals freedom. And that is why the rich and powerful corporations that run this country (if the $1.2 Trillion bailout doesn't convince you of this then nothing will) will do anything to continue the greatest transfer of wealth from the middle class to the wealthiest. Until one day the people sober up from their stupor of consumption and realize they have nowhere to go and they've been raped, burned, and pillaged. Then they will move past denial into the blame stage and elect a dictator, just like the quote predicts.
Here is a view of democracy by Isaac Asimov:
"If two people live in an apartment and there are two bathrooms, then both have freedom of the bathroom. You can go to the bathroom anytime you want to stay as long as you like for whatever you need. But if you have twenty people in the apartment and two bathrooms, no matter how much every person believes in freedom of the bathroom, there is no such thing. You have to set up times for each person; you have to bang on the door, “Aren’t you done yet?” In the same way, democracy cannot survive overpopulation. Human dignity cannot survive. Convenience and decency can’t survive. As you put more and more people onto the world, the value of life not only declines, it disappears. It doesn’t matter if someone dies, the more people there are, the less one person matters."
And finally I leave you with this observation on ownership of land that I came across on the Internet but have not been able to determine who wrote it:
"It is a habitual conception that ownership of land is acceptable. Most societies are characterized by the convention of ownership. But if we claim the ownership of land, we also say that we have more right to parts of the surface of the earth, than other persons have.
We know that persons should be treated as persons and therefore as having rights. If we say here is a person who has rights, but this person has no right to stay on the surface of the earth, it does not make sense. If one does not accept that persons have the right to stay on the surface of the earth, it makes no sense to talk about rights at all. If we try to defend ownership of land using language in a rational way it goes wrong. The only way of defending this ownership is by the use of power and force. No persons have more right to land than other persons, but concentrations of power use force to maintain the illusion of ownership of land."
No I am not a communist, just a believer in having more public spaces for people, not cars, and the common good.
1. Paul from Raleigh said...
That sign couldn't be any more right, Read Plato's Republic and it speaks of the same dangers of The enrichment of the Few most powerful people over the general needs of society and how it leads to Despotism. Democracy breaks down to Despotism by a natural progression when our elected officials are not representatives of Virtue but only panders to mob rule.
Sep 22, 2008 @ 1:42 PM
2. booboo said...
Well let's stop bitching and start a revolution.
Sep 22, 2008 @ 5:26 PM
3. Reno said...
I wanted to share the Knoebels quote with friends but I was too lazy to type the sign. So I googled "a democracy cannot exist" and opened up an interesting can of worms.
This is an interesting link from someone trying to find the origin of this quote. http://www.lorencollins.net/tytler.html
It's amazing how difficult this quote is to track down. They don't mention Knoebels though.
Sep 22, 2008 @ 10:24 PM
4. SBA said...
Click here fax a letter to your US Representatives, including Sen. Shelby, one of the few that are standing up to this unconstitutional power grab by the very people who created this mess in the first place:
Fate may rest with Shelby
Sep 23, 2008 @ 8:20 PM
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