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Mar-14-2011 14:50printcomments

Anarchy In The Streets of Mexico

Here in Mexico, people have a natural distrust of "authority". They are a step ahead of their American counterparts in realizing that those who seek and obtain power over others more often than not, do it for the wrong reasons.
Photos courtesy: Vic Pittman

(SAN BLAS, Mexico) - The last time I got a traffic ticket in the US, it was because my driver's license was expired by three days. This was in Silverton, Oregon. When the officer handed me my ticket, I asked him why he could not let something so trivial go with just a warning, and he replied that "It is for your own good... We are here to protect you" with emphasis added on "you".

So I took half a day off work and sat for nearly two hours with a bunch of other similarly protected individuals and watched as one by one, the price of their protection was laid out by the judge. When my turn came up she looked and my driving record and noted that I had not had a ticket in 31 years and commended me on a good driving record. She looked over her glasses at me like a benevolent grandmother and stated that because I had such an exemplary driving history, my penalty for letting my driver's license expire three days was only going to be $90!

"For my own good", I was sure. I later found out that under Oregon law, a person has a one week grace period to renew their driver's license..Judge Z. in her revenue grabbing zeal failed to remember that or just didn't care as long as I was not aware of it. Our son got a traffic ticket a couple of years ago when he was a high school student and working part time. He did a U-turn out in a rural area where there was no traffic, no one behind or in front of him, a clear field of vision, AND a deputy sheriff hiding in a church parking lot a quarter mile away. He got a ticket and by the time it was all said and done, his "protection" cost him $360...what he earned in ONE MONTH working after school. I believe in rules that actually make sense and make the general population safer, but the current system of traffic laws/fines/classes smacks of extortion to me.

And now there are the "classes".. Used to be "back in the day" if you committed a minor infraction, you paid your fine and that was it. If it were more serious, you went to jail and paid your dues there. When you got out, you could start over. Now the octopus of revenue enhancement has grown another arm, also touted as being "for your own good"...classes.

A friend of mine was pulled over by the Keizer police while he was riding his bicycle..the reason being," it was nearly dusk and he did not have enough reflectors". He pointed out that he was three blocks from home and had just gone to the store, but that did not matter. He was asked to empty his pockets and that is when he was found to be carrying a small glass pipe with a marble sized piece of pot in it. He was cited and given a court date. His court costs were cited at $240, his fine was $170 and he was ordered to go to "drug treatment" classes which by completion, cost him over $1000, not to mention the time and expense of attending these "classes".

This is a guy who has no criminal history, is a dedicated family man and a hard worker. He earned every one of the $1600 or so that the "courts of justice" stole from him. This and thousands of cases like it every day are nothing more than robbery... state sanctioned robbery.

Do I think that the kid who blasts through a residential area at 60 MPH should get a ticket? Hell yeah ! Drunk drivers? Lock em up ! But lets not be fools ..the vast majority of the fines handed down by pious demi-God judges are about one thing only... REVENUE ENHANCEMENT.

I remember the footage about four years ago of the Portland Police winching some guy's perfectly restored 68 Corvette up on a flatbed tow truck... they were all smiles and high fives.

The guy's crime?

Thirty pot plants in his basement. Revenue enhancement... If the issue were dangerous drugs that negatively impact society, then the millions of dollars that are spent waging war on pot would be diverted to getting rid of methamphetamine, plain and simple. But... there is no money in it.

Not much glory in being on the news while a dusty 93 Saturn station wagon with a broken windshield and a clothes-hanger radio antennae is winched up onto the flatbed, is there? No high fives for the camera? Tweakers usually do not have things worth much, or much money. That is just a fact.

I've been there, done that. And, people spun out on meth are usually paranoid and armed..much more so than the guy who smokes pot. Give anyone a choice of fighting a pothead or a tweaker... what do you think they will choose?

Here in Mexico, people have a natural distrust of "authority". They are a step ahead of their American counterparts in realizing that those who seek and obtain power over others more often than not, do it for the wrong reasons.

Last summer we were at the Sabado Mercado (Saturday Market) when the Federales busted a vendor who was selling pirated DVDs. They wore masks so that the people could not identify them and they made eye contact with no one. The other people basically loosely surrounded and glared at the Federales and I heard many mutterings of "pinche cabrones" ( f-ing bastards) . Two of them stood guard with machine guns..presumably to keep the Sat. Market crowd at bay, while they confiscated all the DVDs and left quickly..the guy selling them didnt even get a fine other than losing his DVDs.

This This town has transit police whose job is to keep the streets running smoothly and safely. There are many rules, but few are enforced. The main rule seems to be "Cause no problems, get no problems". There are a few traffic signs and a few one way streets, but other than that, it is an anarchic system of traffic. No one wants to get into an accident, get hurt or hurt someone else...THAT is the governing factor here, not the fear of the police and the ever hungrier "justice system".

The word "anarchy" is usually identified with masked hooligans throwing firebombs and committing pointless acts of vandalism and violence...nothing could be further from the true definition. "Anarchy" comes from the Greek word "anarchia" meaning no Gods or masters.

An anarchic society allows freedom of expression with acceptance and interaction with the other members as the "carrot" to encourage people to do good, and banishment and non-involvement as the "stick" for those attempting otherwise. Some Pacific Island societies were anarchic as were some Native American tribes, although whether women were regarded as equals is probably debatable.

Two things that are used here in place of the patrol car and salaried officers hiding in the bushes with the radar gun and ticket book handy are "topes" and "vibradores". Topes are basically speed bumps. Sometimes they are a series of molehill looking bumps and sometimes an across-the-road speedbump like we have in the US.

Vibradores are series of closely spaced speedbumps which start out fairly benign. but get bigger as you progress. Like the name suggests, they vibrate the hell out of your car if you try to ignore them. You cannot ignore them. I hate them..but the bottom line is, they do the job, assuming the job is not revenue enhancement, but is getting vehicles to slow down at places where they need to be slow. A perfect system..not a business.

Here in town, if you have something with wheels that runs, you've got a motor vehicle. At any given time on the streets of San Blas, you will see buses, cars, trucks, lots of motorcycles and scooters, entire families or groups of teenagers on four-wheelers, kids on dirt bikes, hundreds of bicycles, pick up trucks with eight or more people in the back, occasional horses/riders, street vendor carts and pedestrians all sharing the same roads. No one assumes "right of way" and you have to be all-attentive because you never know who or what will turn in front of you or try to pass you.

It actually is a very safe system..of course there are accidents and people get hurt occasionally, but not on a scale one would think. When there are accidents, the results are milder and usually amicably settled by those involved. Like when ant trails cross or flocks of birds take to the air without crashing into each other, there appears to be an unseen, unstated and unenforced system that unfolds naturally as people respect each other and expect the same consideration.

Everyone wants to get to where they are going without causing or suffering injury or harm of any kind. Could it be that even without the "protective" juggernaut of police, radar guns, guns, tasers, police cars, trucks, 4x4s, helicopters, attorneys, prosecutors, courts, fines, classes, jails and prisons... we are as safe here as we were in Oregon?

Could it be that the American system is NOT about protecting the citizenry as originally intended, but has become a business? An ever-expanding, taxpayer funded BUSINESS? The sheep financing the wolves?

It is time to rethink and redefine the criminal/judicial system in the US. It is time to redefine just who the EMPLOYERS are and who are the EMPLOYEES. Why does the alleged "Home of the Free" have more people behind bars per capita than any other country...many locked up for "crimes" that would not warrant a jail sentence in most other countries? Business?

The prison labor industry is huge, and profitable. Check it out. But it does not have to go that far..the traffic infraction/misdemeanor business is huge... and profitable also.

Did you know that in Oregon, the fines are already set for the different infractions ? So when the judge allows you to explain your side of it, all you are doing is wasting your time...the fine is written down and all the alleged "judge" does is read it off. It does not matter if you were speeding to the hospital because you were bleeding to death, if you plead guilty, you will get the ascribed fine... period. Does that sound like a fair system ? Do you remember getting to vote on this? I do not.

One has to wonder why we are paying these "judges" their ridiculous salaries when all they are doing is reading off the fines. Couldn't anyone do that? Are we paying six-figure salaries to these "judges" simply for protocol...for the appearance of fairness and consideration? And why must we "offenders" appear in court when the outcome is already set?

Why take time off work and spend the gas to sit for hours so that some overpaid "judge" can read off my fine from a preset list? So that we can say we "had our day in court" ? What a charade!

Here in San Blas, Mexico, traffic safety is a job, and not a business. If I speed through town, I will probably get a ticket of around 200 pesos..about $17 US.

That is a good day's wages here... nothing to take lightly.

But if I want to load up my pick-up with my family, friends and seven of their children for the half mile drive to the beach, or take the dirt bike or load the kids on the quad for a cruise around town or to the store, no problem. License plates are only necessary for vehicles with engines larger than 150 CC, but some of the cars around here have no plates or have plates long expired. One of my fisherman friends drives a truck with 1986 Washington plates on it.

If I rig up a motorized Taco stand out of an old Suzuki and a utility trailer, it is of no concern to the police unless I am somehow endangering others or making a large disturbance... period. For that matter, if I want to start a business selling tacos from my Suzuki/utility trailer motorized taco stand, I can just do it. No inspections, inspection fees, permits or permit fees. "What if I serve bad food?" you say? Well..I probably would go out of business then... anarchy, Karma, word of mouth, whatever you want to call it, will prevail.

So the inspectors and their fees and the permits and licenses are essentially unnecessary parasites that stifle the entrepreneurial spirit of the citizenry and make getting started in business more difficult and expensive. When we were running our sign business in Oregon, we avoided Salem jobs because there was a $110 application fee for each sign a customer wanted to put up.

So if a customer wanted four small "Employee Parking Only" signs to go on each side of their building, my cost to make, deliver and install the signs would be around $165 total, whereas the City of Salem would require $440. Does that sound fair? Who came up with that figure? That is a lot of protection money. The Mafia should have such a good racket.

Our sign business here is doing good...despite not being licensed, not having to pay for permits, not paying $450 to the Construction Contractor Board every year, or not having to pay city employees, some who were in diapers when I started my sign business, to inspect my post holes or my designs. I do not have to pass these costs on to my customers.

It is a win-win.

The police and authorities here know that the people for the most part, are struggling. If they start cracking down on people, handing out fines and seizing vehicles, the people will raise hell. The local economy will suffer. Contrary to what many may think, Democracy is thriving here. Protests are not uncommon. The police here go out of their way to be friendly as they recognize that to alienate the community against them would benefit no one. Community input is taken seriously here.

The spirit of revolution permeates Mexican culture. In Tepic, the capital of the state of Nayarit where we live, the main street through town is "Avenida Insurgentes", (Insurgent Avenue) just as it is in many other cities here. Even this small town has an Insurgent Avenue. The main thoroughfares of Juarez and Mexicali are named "Avenida Revolution".

Americans forget their revolutionary heritage and why it was that the colonists revolted in the first place. Most of those reasons have returned, bigger and more blatant than ever, yet the calls for change are faint and few. We are preyed upon by a judicial system that does not even try to hide it's motives or contempt for the "common man".

Our "public servant" politicians live like kings at the taxpayer's expense, write their own rules and are above the law. America has become a country where the ultra rich govern the poor and feed off their labors while contributing nothing themselves. Is this not the type of arrogant, oppressive monarchy our founding fathers rejected and rebelled against?

What happened to the American Spirit? Why is it that I see more "American Values" in action here in Mexico than in the U.S.

"The Spirit was Freedom and Justice..and it's keepers seemed generous and kind... it's leaders were supposed to serve the country, but now they don't pay it no mind..Cause the people got fat and grew their vote is a meaningless joke. They babble about law and order, but it's all just an echo of what they've been told"... - Steppenwolf "Monster" 1969

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stephen March 14, 2011 5:12 pm (Pacific time)

great author, look into how the ATF was busted selling guns to the mexican cartel, then blame it on the U.S. citizens to further gun control agendas. xlnt article tho.

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