You ever read something that makes you want to bash your face into your keyboard (“this blog” is not an acceptable or creative answer)? Okay, me too. Today it came from an article about the cost of tolls, published in the Dallas Morning News. I managed to evade it when it was first published, but Facebook (my nemesis) kept pushing it to the top of my newsfeed. Dammit.
I love Texas, I really do. But this is A Blog About Things That Irritate Me. Maybe one day I’ll submit “53.5 Reasons Why Dallas is the Best” to Buzzfeed. But here, all is fair — and hearing Texans talk about tolls (whether as consumers or as NTTA representatives) makes me want to cry.
First thing in this article….
The emergence of North Texas as Toll Road Capital, USA, represents failure of government of the worst kind. We have to pay for what we could do for free.
Oh, really? I forgot that the rest of America has free roads. They just appear over night, constructed by the street elves that make each piece of material out of magic, hopes, and dreams. I think the author is a Dallas native, so I’m not pointing the finger at him for this…for some reason this idea runs rampant in Texas. It’s like “the man” has come to destroy our fun and make us pay for our roads. Meanwhile, we don’t have a state income tax — and has anyone else ever made the drive from DC to Boston? Because it is $$$ and each of those states charges income tax to their residents.
I once reported the story of a 34-year-old single mother who spent 27 hours in the Allen jail and then the Collin County Detention Center. Police wouldn’t even tell her, at first, why they were arresting her. It was all about a toll bill for $11 from years before. She said she never got it.
I ended up having to Google it, but this is the case he’s talking about. If we had a debtor’s prison in America, Sallie Mae would be the number one reason people are in prison, not drugs. What genius created the TX provision that says not paying tolls is theft akin to stealing money from a business instead of equating it to credit card debt? Did it seem more likely that people would pay their debts if they were criminally prosecuted, and hopefully subjected to prison? I hear the going rates for jobs in prison are excellent. What does NTTA say about this?
At present, individuals do not go to jail for failure to pay a toll. If a warrant is issued and someone goes to jail, it’s because they failed to appear in JP court to address a citation for failure to pay a toll issued under Section 366.178 of the Texas Transportation Code.
At present? Who the fuck do you think you are, NTTA? Capital One can’t throw you in jail for owing $500,000, but god forbid you owe $10 to NTTA…at present you can’t go to jail…but maybe later. Enough of this bullshit thing where NTTA is publicly run and privately run and no one really knows what’s going on. You can go to jail for not paying fines to the state, but you can’t go to jail for not paying fines to a private corporation. Get your shit together. And why is Texas allowing this to happen? Why not just garnish your wages like REGULAR DEBT?
Here’s the thing. I’m not mad at the article (other than the ridiculous claim that non-toll roads are “free”). I’m pissed off that NTTA abuses its power — and I’m even more pissed off about people bitching about NTTA. I never hear people complain they’re going to jail. That is clearly a small, tiny portion of North Texas drivers. I’m pissed that people bitch and moan that roads should be free, that tollways shouldn’t have traffic, that the LBJ sliding scale HOV tolls are evil, etc. Just pay the goddamn toll. I’m one of a very few people I know of that actually pay the tolls. WHY?!
There’s this myth in Texas that everything is just different there. We get a tiny quarter inch of snow — it’s different than the snow anywhere else. We get a tollroad — it’s different than tollroads anywhere else. Not in the fact that you can, in a backwards sort of way, end up in jail. But because we have to pay the tolls. Let’s just take federal funding, charge an income tax, and call it a day…then we’ll see what you like better. If you’re going to complain about NTTA, complain about the weird public/private power it has, not that you can’t go places for free.
I imagine you all have been eagerly anticipating the new Red Wings arena, so I’m pleased to inform you that the design for the new $450 million arena has now been released. $450 million sounds like a lot, but only around $280 million will be publicly financed. Chump change! I’m pretty sure we spend that on corn farmers in a single week.
If you’ve never been, parts of Detroit look so bad that you forget you’re in America. So how is the city paying for this arena? Well, it kind of comes from the Detroit Public School system — the Downtown Development Authority, who is footing much of the bill, is allowed to take the school-tax funds for anything related to economic development. Because sports and stuff = thriving economy.
Of course, sports get another perk in Detroit — free water! Who owes the most money to the DWSD?
Palmer Park (city run golf course): $422,295
Joe Louis Arena (city owned arena, current home of the Red Wings): $80,255.25
Ford Field (city owned stadium, home of the Tigers): $55,803.94
Oh, okay. So who is getting their water shut off in Detroit? Just the regular consumers who owe over $150. Look, sports are important. They bring in so much money for Detroit. DWSD can’t just be shutting off the water at arenas and stadiums. Probably all those people not paying their water bills are busy spending their money at the stadiums!! Look at all that cash flowing in from sports! Miguel Cabrera alone is raking in $292 million; I can’t even imagine what that translates into for the Detroit economy. Trickle down!
Of course, the arena will create jobs — 1,100 of them, to be exact. Good! With only 165,488 unemployed people in Detroit, taxpayers will only need to shell out $38,700,000,000 for everyone in Detroit to get a job!
I think Mike Ilitch, the man behind this, has done a lot of Detroit. I don’t hate him. But I know that I do not trust this arena or its promises at all — I expect this to be more gentrification of the immediate area, and a lot less revitalizing. I do not trust that anything will be done correctly in the construction of this arena, given the water bill issue. Detroit has problems that run so deep it’s impossible to create 1,100 jobs and act like something is actually being done. There’s ways to backhandedly get $280 million to rebuild a stadium, but no one can make the argument that buying school and city buses that can actually run in the cold is economic revitalization? Jesus Christ — if you depend on the buses in Detroit in the winter, you’re screwed because half the time it’s too damn cold for them to come get you.
Cities don’t even make money off of stadiums, so this whole thing is a joke. I don’t believe that in an area without real public transit (sorry, PeopleMover), an expensive stadium will change life for most Detroiters. Detroit is a hockey town, but maybe it’s time people sit back and remember that Detroit is also a shipping town. Priorities.
In honor of next week’s TSA fee increase, here’s a fun game! Guess which ONE of these items I’ve had confiscated from my carry on…and which 2 I’ve flown with, no problems. Out of DCA. You know…the District of Columbia’s airport.
I’ll be back next week with an entry about the misery that is the TSA — I’ve spent my week traveling back to Maryland, and delayed flights and bag searches take a lot out of me. In the meantime, follow me on Facebook or Instagram!
Today is an entire day brought to us by The Onion, because the things I’m reading certainly can’t be real life. I lasted a whopping 3 weeks in retail, mostly because I have very little patience for stupid bullshit. Well, thank God I don’t work at Hobby Lobby! “Why, Manda?” you ask. “Do you use one of the 4 forms of birth control their health insurance doesn’t cover?” Pfft, please. I’ve spent the past 8 years working freelance as my own LLC — I don’t even have health insurance.
So what’s the issue? Oh, just people acting like a bunch of assholes by terrorizing people who are paid between $9.50-14 an hour, which is like 1/5 of what they should be getting to deal with stupid shit like rearranging craft letters to spell out pro-choice.When I had to sort shirts by size, I wanted to blow my fucking brains out. I bet the employees find this really endearing.
Oh, but don’t worry – in case you think that’s just stupid, they also brought condoms to hand out. In the store. Which DOESN’T MAKE ANY FUCKING SENSE. I might be out of the health care loop, but is there some magical PPO that gives you free condoms? Are Hobby Lobby employees banned from 7-11?? WHAT POINT ARE THESE PEOPLE EVEN TRYING TO PROVE? Do y’all know why I have this stupid stick in my arm? Partially because I don’t want kids, partially because I get blackout causing migraines if I’m not on birth control. GREAT. Once a month, I’ll just take your stupid condom and use it to help keep myself from chewing off my own tongue while I writhe around on the floor, crying over my cramps and vomiting until my migraine causes me to see nothing but black dots.
“Here, I’ve decided that because you work for Hobby Lobby and make double what the average retail employee makes, you must be really, really stupid. So I bought you these condoms. Because you’re poor. And stupid. Also since I’m not a customer and I’m just here to hand out my free stuff, I’m sure your boss doesn’t want me here. Glad I could make your job more difficult and awkward, and possibly get you in trouble. #GoWomen!”
What a bunch of condescending tools. It’s just belitting the people who work there — and making their jobs and lives more difficult. How presumptuous to walk in, just knowing everyone is so miserable to work there and can’t wait for you to show them the light. How highly you must think of yourself.
Plus, let’s be real. You’re handing out something that goes on a penis. To women. Yes, you’re really helping this whole birth control thing. I’d be WAY more impressed if people went and bought like 10 morning after pills and handed them out. Stick it to the man!Maybe “protestors” could spell out “Plan B” with craft letters, and directly below it fill a clear decorative vase with marbles and one-step pills.
The comments on each article I read (mistake number one: reading news article comments) suggested more crazy, creative, awesome things to do to protest. Like buy things and return them, over and over. That way real customers will have to wait and get angry! Or ask employees where things are and take up a lot of their time; it’ll waste the owners money (paying employees to help people who aren’t making purchases) and certainly won’t annoy the piss out of low paid staff who have to be nice to you.
Hey guys, I’m really getting into the spirit of all these awesome antics. I even have a suggestion! Maybe next we can take spray paint and just draw beautiful graffiti of a uterus over the front door of every Hobby Lobby!
I thought ridiculous displays of wealth were a serious faux pas for politicians? Well, guess not if it’s for titties! Mike Dickinson, asshat of the CENTURY, is requesting fetish stories and nudes of hunter Kendall Jones to the tune of $100,000.
Oh my freaking God. First the Prince William police try to take pictures of a teenage boy’s penis. Now this. I am embarrassed and ashamed to have been born in Alexandria. No wonder I claim Texas and Maryland as home.
Of course he’s super defensive and a total asshole…and then in a really bizarre twist, decides to quote Eminem in his own defense?
Well, much like Eminem…sounds like Dickinson’s brain is dead weight. Maybe he’ll be satisfied with Prince William County’s teenage dick pics instead of boobs.
Oh, the NSA. My most hated government agency, always tied right with the DEA and TSA. Ever since Edward Snowden leaked their documents last year, I’ve felt pretty justified in my hatred. While they’ve still had their defenders, I feel like lately they’ve taken a page from OCT and worked hard to alienate everyone who could agree with them.
Now the Washington Post has published the results of a 4 month investigation into the NSA. Absolutely nothing in it is shocking; everything in it is disgusting. “But wait!” you say. “The NSA protects us from terrorists! And if you don’t have anything to hide, why do you care?” Well, here are some highlights.
Scores of pictures show infants and toddlers in bathtubs, on swings, sprawled on their backs and kissed by their mothers. In some photos, men show off their physiques. In others, women model lingerie, leaning suggestively into a webcam or striking risque poses in shorts and bikini tops.
That means pictures of your children. Pictures of your lake days. That picture you took alone in your room for your significant other. Pictures targeted for certain people, not for the world. We cry out when our children’s photos are taken in public by strangers, parents champion not having pictures of their kids on social media — so why not care that everyone is seeing your toddler in the bathtub? Oh, but what’s that? You’re an American, so this doesn’t apply to you?
If a target entered an online chat room, the NSA collected the words and identities of every person who posted there, regardless of subject, as well as every person who simply “lurked,” reading passively what other people wrote.
Oh. Well. That sucks. Damn globalization.
So…why are we not more upset by this? I’m sitting here watching the news (CNN and Fox!) and no one is talking about it. The NSA is, really, a bunch of criminals. Your right to privacy is your most important right – it goes beyond what your state says, beyond a country’s constitution. No one would feel like they were really living if they spent their entire life being monitored and watched.
Do you think the people who are responsible for passing the legislation allowing this are comfortable being spied on? They aren’t. Glenn Greenwald covers this in his (amazing) book, No Place to Hide:
When the Senate Intelligence Committee’s chair, Dianne Feinstein, insisted that the NSA’s collection of metadata does not constitute surveillance…online protesters demanded that she back up her assertion with action: Would the senator, each month, publish a full list of people she emailed and called, including the length of time they spoke and their physical locations when the call was made?
SPOILER ALERT: The answer was no.
The way I talk in front of a group of strangers is different from the way I talk in front of a group of close friends, which is different from the way I talk when I’m with just my little sister. I’m sure you are all the same way. The best thing you can do to demonstrate how incredibly uncomfortable people can get when they lose their privacy is to walk around recording people. Why do you think we’re so uncomfortable with the idea of Google Glass?
At the point, it’s almost comical. Is there anyone left to defend the NSA? Probably not, but if you think they’re swell, I’d love to hear why.
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