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Traveling, living, loving, exploring and trying to make some semblance of sense out of this crazy world.  


Thursday, January 27, 2011

If You Don't Like It...

In Petersburg, WV, if you don’t like the way things are, you are welcome to move.

If you think the building you live in is structurally unsafe or fails in numerous ways to meet national standards, don’t expect to find a Building Inspector to confirm or deny your suspicions… there aren’t any inspections for older buildings, and even if there were, there is no branch of local government charged with enforcement. Just pack up your bags and get out, buster.

If you think the wiring in your apartment is dangerous, you are welcome to hire an inspector out of your own pocket, since there are no actual City Electrical Inspectors… that duty is carried out by private contractors, usually the same ones who installed the wiring in the first place, or their relatives, since everyone in this town is related to within three degrees of kinship in some way or another.

This is a great system. It guarantees that everything gets approved and no one is held accountable. Slumlords get to do business as usual, illegal aliens and temporary laborers get treated like dirt the way they deserve and the campaign contributions just keep rolling in. No one loses their license, gets hauled into court or takes their business (and the tax revenues it generates) to another county. No one with a drop of personal integrity or responsibility stays around long enough to muddy up the water with things like ethics.

Of course this attitude also ensures that anyone renting an apartment or house in the city who has the gall to question the value of the dollar over human lives will run themselves ragged chasing the unicorn-like myth of Public Responsibility and Accountability into a blind alley, where they will find a neatly printed sign reading “Welcome to Petersburg, WV, where your value is equal to the size of your bank account and where you can have just as many constitutional rights as you can afford.”

If you don’t like the fact that the “Strictly Enforced” signs referring to Petersburg’s speed limits and parking and other laws are an open joke and were apparently just a way to spend extra budget money, provide work for sign makers in Elkins and keep a Petersburg Public Works crew of four men and two trucks busy for three hours doing the work a single man could accomplish in one with a stepladder, too bad. Don‘t let the door hit you where the Good Lord split you on your way out.

Are you curious as to why the various town and county lawmen speed through busy parking lots like they were running down the final lap at Darlington, drive while texting, smoke in their patrol cars when you can’t smoke in a bar and generally do their very best to ignore the numerous high-lift trucks, spinning tires, drinking drivers and thumping stereo systems that turn the average weekend night into a free-for-all right outside the Sheriff’s Department’s front door? Wonder why they completely ignore drunks standing right outside that door at 3 a.m. openly using and dealing drugs and staggering into vehicles that they are obviously in no shape to drive? The answer is simple, dummy; most of them became police officers to allow them to ignore traffic laws, avoid speeding tickets and DUIs… not to enforce the law and make the world a better place. Enforcing the law is a bad idea and only leads to bad feelings, overtime and too much paperwork.

Besides, it’s awkward having to explain why you arrested your uncle, niece, or cousin for Possession With Intent or Drunk in Public at every family reunion. And you don’t get invited back to hunt camp if you face up to the fact that maybe, just maybe, the local drug and moonshine market just might have something to do with all those radio-equipped trucks and ATVs that run the backroads all night during hunting season. Those are good, upright American citizens, mister… and besides, we need the revenue from their licenses to pay for all those parades and Christmas lights. After all, there aren’t enough meaningless signs to put up to keep Public Works busy all year long.

Did you ever wonder why people run for City Council to serve for the grand sum of $98.00 per month? It’s not to make laws that make the city a better place, it’s to make laws no one will enforce because most of them are broken before the ink is dry by the same people who made them or by the cops in charge of enforcing them. When you think about it, election to City Council is so much better than serving in Law Enforcement; unlike cops, people don’t hate to see you, you don’t get shot at or work long hours and you’re still pretty much immune to all the local laws.

Now, before you light the torches and gather the mob, before you begin writing your angry letter about how the police and Council members and Public Works employees and administrators of Petersburg are not all money-grubbing, narrow-minded, double standard moral lowlifes, that the city is a shining landmark in the long and honorable history of West Virginia, know this… I agree with you. It’s not that everyone in those positions is stupid, self-centered, corrupt and useless… just most of them.

And I know that this isn’t just true of this one poor little West Virginia burg… it’s a problem from Tuscaloosa to Harrisonburg to Needles, California.

But I ask you… if there are upright citizens and responsible law officers out there, what, exactly, are they doing to change the way things are and to perform the sacred duty they are paid and sworn to uphold, namely, to serve and protect THE PEOPLE of the city of Petersburg and the surrounding countryside?

After a decade and more of travel, years of observation and hours of deep reflection, I can only offer my own answer-

From what I’ve seen, as little as possible.


  1. thats a nice post, reminds me of a card i got for my dad many years ago. I even found the US version of it for you. here you go..

    I'm tired. For a couple of years I've been blaming it on iron poor blood, lack of vitamins, dieting and a dozen other maladies. But now I found out it ain't that. I'm tired because I'm overworked.

    The population of USA is 237 million. 104 million are retired.

    That leaves 133 million to do the work. There are 85 million in school, which leave 48 million to do the work. Of this there are 29 million employed by the federal government. This leaves 19 million to do the work.

    Four million are in the Armed Forces, which leaves 15 million to do the work.

    Take from the total the 14,800,000 people who work for State and City Government and that leaves 200,000 to do the work.

    There are 188,000 in hospitals, so that leaves 12,000 to do the work. Now, there are 11,998 people in Prisons. That leaves just two people to do the work. You and me.

    Boy Oh Boy.. And you're sitting there reading this. No wonder I'm tired, I'm the only one working.

    Hope you like that one.


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