Thursday, June 03, 2004

Feel Good Story Turns Sour

This today from The Oregonian: Resettled from park, father, girl slip away

You might recall an earlier entry of mine where a homeless, but well-kept father and daughter were found by a cross-country runner in Portland, Oregon's Forest Park. The policeman that found them was so impressed by them that he located a place for them to stay and work. Good samaritans raised about $6,000 to get them going...but it was not to be.

The father and daughter slipped away; presumably into the woods somewhere.

Police have withheld their last names to protect their privacy. Still, Frank said it had gone too far. He told Barkley that television-news helicopters kept showing up in the sky over the farm.

Frank felt "hunted" by the helicopters, Barkley said, and feared that kids would call Ruth "the Forest Park hillbilly" if her face showed up on TV.

"He was talking about leaving the state," Barkley said. "He said, 'We love it here. We don't want to leave.' But he expected the TV cameras to show up any day."

Frank and his daughter were living in a mobile home on the farm. Why would they give all that up?

If there were helicopters trying to find the pair, they didn't belong to any of Portland's news stations, according to news directors. None of them tried to track down Frank and Ruth from the air.

Most of America would say, "What an idiot!" They would be right, but they are also wrong.

What if you could live a life, however modest, that was free of:

  • Taxes
  • Constant paperwork
  • Dealing with people whose values you don't share at all
  • Bills for electricity, gas, water, sewer, rent, credit cards, fuel, insurance, mortgages, phone, internet access, car payments, home improvement bills, and medical costs
  • You need your social security number for everything
  • Your child must have state immunization forms for school
  • Your standard of medical care changes based on availability and type of insurance
  • If you aren't insured, the authorities steal your car until you are insured
  • Everything you do must be scrutinized to see if there is a data trail that can someday be used against you for something that isn't yet against the law or deemed wrong by society.

To those who say, "Yeah, so what?" I would say you don't know what we've lost in the last 24 years. To the father of this family who hasn't had to deal with the steady dearth of personal intrusions, they are downright scary. In fact, to anyone who lived in the 50s that could suddenly jump to today, this would seem to be some form of enlightened totalitarianism (which would vary depending on value system). We've come a long way in terms of comforts thanks to technology, but the same technology drives an increasing cycle of threats that results in a constant tightening of freedoms.

There is another side to this. The father is denying the daughter access to all of the good things that are part and parcel of living within "the system." If she gets Leukemia, she will probably die too young. If she steps on a nail, she might have a terrible time with tetanus. Although the guy is a Marine, he doesn't pay taxes like other Marines and so active duty Marines are weaker without his contribution. They also live on land they don't own. We would all like 40 acres and a mule, but that went away a long time ago (conveniently so Blacks and Indians couldn't get in on it).

I wish them both luck and health. I hope they reconsider leaving. I wish for freedom for the rest of us and that we reconsider the road we've taken. As Merle Haggard once said...

"Look at the past 25 years we went downhill, and if people don't realize it, they don't have their f**king eyes on ... In 1960, when I came out of prison as an ex-convict, I had more freedom under parolee supervision than there's available to an average citizen in America right now... God almighty, what have we done to each other?"

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

From Philrod Piddlewaif:

Sometimes it's best to be inconsequential.