Vlorbik's Diner

son of owen's cooking show

why i don’t live at the p.o.

Posted by vlorbik on March 25, 2010

i’m making zines again for trading
in the mail. much the usual thing
when i made my *last* zines, years
ago, was to withhold information
about one’s *residential* address
and publish only a p.o. box number.

so i wanted a p.o. box.
now, i’ve still got the apartment
just outside bexley (in what would
be its upper-right-hand corner
if bexley *formed* such a corner;
but instead there’s an area
of a few blocks including my
apartment complex that’s been
“cut out” in drawing the lines
on the map, so i’m in columbus…
but next to the fine new
bexley jail… where i suppose
it’s only a matter of time…).

but i *live* here on east livingston
with madeline in *her* house and use
the apartment mostly to house my cat
and books and provide a getaway so
madeline doesn’t become my hostage
in her own home like my manymany
wives (and a few of my exgirlfriends
as well). i figured it would be
a good idea to go ahead and set up
the new p.o. box at this end of
town at the livingston branch
a short bus ride up this main
thoroughfare through this slummy
part of the east side. dead wrong.

i ended up making four trips
and standing in four lines
and filling in two forms,
twice each, before i gave up.
and went back and got a box
at the bexley p.o. (in one
try). box 9679 cols oh 43209
(send stuff).

first time: okay, show two forms of ID…
what would have already been enough to
stop me cold a few years ago…
no problem. and fill in some forms,
also no problem. my residence is
in a different ZIP served by a different
branch of the p.o., though, so they’ve
got to run everything past *that*
branch and get back to me.

or not; i don’t remember what they
told me about that. anyhow,
they *didn’t* get back to me and
after a while i went back to inquire
as to the status of my application.
which was, evidently: fallen through
the cracks.

now, this isn’t a complaint about
the service at the livingston branch.
in fact, the woman i dealt with on this
second trip of my four-effort failure
went well beyond the call of duty in making
me feel welcome. she asked me right
away based on my appearance if i was
a photographer. now, if i’d’ve been
just a *little* faster on the uptake,
of course i’d’ve said something like,
“that depends, are you a model?”…
but anyhow i recognized it as flattering
and beamed my most winning grin at her
and engaged in some idle banter about
art and life… there was no line
behind me that day… before she’d
checked here and there for some evidence
of feedback from the bexley branch
and told me she’d send a reminder
around to them; come back monday.

but on the monday, there *was* a long line
and the worker i worked with couldn’t find
any record of any of my work so far.
start again: two IDs, fill in these forms.
and i’m pretty much convinced already:
okay, this system’s broken. i don’t
like to have wasted the trip through
the line though so i filed the forms
and came home and tried to forget the
whole sorry business.

you can just *see* what goes wrong.
everybody’s been overloaded with the
work of two people. *naturally*
when some out-of-the-ordinary
business from livingston branch
appears in bexley branch, it gets
shoved aside to be dealt with
when the rush dies. and forgotten.
there’s no *malice* here…
just government-mandated incompetence.
if the system *worked*, they’d
have to break it by overloading
it some more: this is the reaganite
doctrine, “government doesn’t work”
(so let’s continue to tax everyone
while insisting that they get their
actual *services* from for-profit
providers; this has now been perfected
with the so-called insurance reform).

but a little while later, i get a phone call.
it’s set up; come on down and get it.
i was very touched by this personal service.
somebody had noticed my frustration and
overcome the usual get-away-and-stay-away
reaction quite commendably and gone out
of her way to make me feel that, anyhow,
livingston branch takes personal service
seriously and i was *wanted* there.
i’m very nearly teary-eyed, in fact.
“thanks… this means a lot to me.”
god-damn fool.

and the next day i go and wait in the
longish line and no dice. so i give up.
we could probably have worked it out
that day i admit… almost certainly
i’d’ve been set up in one *more* try.
but this is just one heck of a long
way from good enough. this is the
service you get *before* you give
’em any money after all when there’s
still some reason to try to impress us.
and i was impressed all right.

it’s the same way in my exjob, of course.
hell, it’s the same *everywhere*.
you get to the end of a long line
at the god-damn grocery? the machine
breaks and of course the cashier
can’t fix it: sorry. try your
luck at the wrong end of *another*
of these long lines. or, what we
*really* want, deal directly with
the machine-that-doesn’t-work
*yourself*, so we can fire the worker
that can’t *work* the machine
(that, by design, doesn’t work).

any job where you actually *help* people?
you’ve *got* to be slowed down in doing so
so people can be charged more for *real* help
from our fully-qualified kickers-up-to-the-dons.
“competition” in the “service economy”.

i don’t have to wait for my body to break to imagine
the service i’m going to get from obamacare:
back of the line. i’ve seen a few good men
ruined already by lack of worker’s compensation
and now government has jumped with both feet
into the service-denial industry to “compete”
with the protection rackets. and i just wish
my liberal friends would stop trying to get me
to approve. that is all.

6 Responses to “why i don’t live at the p.o.”

  1. John Fonk said

    Isn’t the government ridiculous with their rules! They now need to verify your address if you happen to request a P.O. Box outside of the local post office zone where you live. The postal delivery person has to personally verify it. How stupid. What is he going to do peep through my window to see if I actually live where I receive mail? B.B. is trying to keep track of your whereabouts. I had to make a trip to my post office to get them to sign some stupid form and return it the the other post office where I got my P.O. Box. You can’t buy a stamp in a lobby any longer unless you have a credit card. I told the local postmaster this week not having stamps in machines is a step backwards. He said, ‘You can pick up stamps at the big grocery store chains’…, a step forward.

  2. preach it, brother!

  3. vlorbik said

    “big grocery store chains” are well and good for those with cars. but sure not a step forward for me. i’ve had madeline get me stamps over the net but i don’t exactly consider this a step forward either. i’ll be getting most of mine over the counter i expect since i’ll have regular dealings with bexley p.o. concerning zine stuff. coins that aren’t good for anything is one of the greatest outrages ever perpetrated on a stunningly clueless populace but why mention it now too late too late. virtual money can be pushed around at the whim of those with power over digital data but realworld three-dee stuff shows bothersome tendencies-to-stay-the-same-as-they-actually-are. so you can’t get stuff for cash. “legal tender for all debts” what a sorry joke you can’t even buy a fucking bus transfer in fucking chicago for fucking money from what i hear. doom doom doom.

  4. vlorbik said

    the poor pay more
    shall be the whole
    of the law.

  5. vlorbik said

    they’ll slowplay you in principle
    and claim they can’t possibly
    afford to do it any other way;
    next year will be worse because
    “grow or die”… in *every available way*…
    is built into their DNA.


    (okay… how do you make those dinky url’s again?)

  6. vlorbik said

    Neo-Liberalism and the Assault on Public Education

    By George Wright, BlackCommentator.com Guest
    Commentator Black Commentator May 1, 2010


    The nearly four decade-long effort to restructure
    public education along Neo-Liberal guidelines has
    accelerated since President Barack Obama assumed
    office. Neo-Liberalism is an ideology that calls for
    “limited government” and a market-driven economy. This
    project is being carried out on the federal, state, and
    local levels, while targeting publicly-financed K-12
    schools and higher education.

    Some of the objectives for restructuring public
    education include:

    1) shifting the cost of education on to students, while
    increasing their debt burden to the benefit of banks;

    2) promoting the expansion of privately-managed charter

    3) deepening the access to public educational resources
    for corporate-interests;

    4) smashing teacher unions, thus weakening the
    political power of those unions, and cutting the cost
    of teachers; and,

    5) eliminating multicultural, revisionist, inter-
    nationalist, and critical perspectives from the school

    On the K-12 level, this agenda has been promoted under
    the guise of “competitiveness;” “national standards;”
    “accountability,” “basic skills,” “excellence,” and
    standardized testing; while the assault on higher
    education includes budget reductions, “assessments,”
    “merit pay,” and curriculum reform. The 2008 collapse
    of the financial system, amplified by chronic
    overlapping federal, state and local budgetary crises,
    has provided a “window of opportunity” to intensify
    this assault.

    What are the roots of the assault on public
    education?;” How has that assault been manifested?;
    And, Why has that assault accelerated in the past two

    During the late-1960’s industrial-based corporations
    began to experience falling rates of profits. The
    reasons for this decline are complex, but at the core

    1) exhaustion of the automobile-industrial-complex
    profit accumulation model; and,

    2) deficit spending the Johnson administration carried
    out fighting the Vietnam War and promoting “Great
    Society” reforms.

    This resultant structural economic crisis caused both
    stagnant growth and inflation.

    Simultaneously, United States’ post-World War II global
    economic dominance was being weakened. Causes for this
    weakening include:

    1) the United States defeat in Vietnam;

    2) the emergence of West European and Japanese economic
    competition; and,

    3) the rise of Third World economic nationalism.

    This structural economic crisis led to state and local
    governments experiencing chronic deficits, leading to
    recurring cuts for public services, including public

    This reality was felt in California as early as the
    late-1960’s. In fact, in 1967 Governor Ronald Reagan
    made cuts in education spending, impacting both higher
    education and K-12. In response to the chronic fiscal
    crisis the University of California, the state
    colleges, and the community colleges began to increase
    tuition and rely on non-union part-time teachers. The
    University of California also sought more corporate and
    government funding for research purposes. K-12 schools
    had to regularly lay teachers off; expand teacher-
    student classroom ratios; and cut curriculum offerings,
    such as art and physical education. The education
    crisis in California would become chronically acute
    after 1978 when Proposition 13 was passed,
    significantly reducing the local property tax base.

    Furthermore, the structural economic crisis led
    corporations to search for a new accumulation model to
    generate acceptable profits. The profit accumulation
    model between 1932 and 1970 was based on government
    managing and regulating the industrial-based economy,
    while promoting redistribution of wealth to the working
    class. The hegemonic ideology which shaped that period
    was Corporate-Liberalism.

    The accumulation model settled on by the late-1970’s
    consisted of:

    1) shifting the manufacturing sector to the United
    States Sun-Belt and the Third World, where labor was
    non-union, costs were cheaper, and there were no labor
    or environmental regulations;

    2) restructuring the country into a non-union
    service-based economy;

    3) promoting the expansion of credit;

    4) carrying out conglomerate mergers;

    5) expanding real estate speculation; and,

    6) intensifying financial speculation.

    This model was underscored by massive military
    spending, providing profits for arms producers and
    commercial banks.

    Implementing the new accumulation model also involved
    constructing a new hegemonic ideology that would
    rationalize the new model. Thus, Neo-Liberalism was
    constructed during the 1970’s to serve that purpose. As
    David Harvey explains in Neo-Liberalism: A Brief
    History, this “consensus building” process involved
    corporations, foundations, media, public relations
    firms, and Republican politicians, combined with the
    emerging Right-Wing forces, including the Sun-Belt
    wealth, “free-market” economists, anti-tax activists,
    the Religious-Right, and Neo-conservatives.

    The policy guidelines Neo-Liberalism established are:

    1) deregulation;

    2) reducing the public sector;

    3) cutting taxes for the wealthy;

    4) privatizing public services; and,

    5) smashing unions.

    The political implementation of these guidelines aimed
    to transfer income from the public sector and the
    working class to the wealthiest people in the country.
    The Reagan administration institutionalized Neo-
    Liberalism, a hegemonic ideology which has shaped
    United States politics since.

    The move to restructure public education in the
    interests of corporate-dominated Neo-Liberalism came
    into fruition in 1983 when the Reagan-appointed
    National Commission on Excellence in Education issued A
    Nation at Risk. The report assessed the decline in
    student achievement scores and warned that that decline
    was an “internal threat that was more serious than
    Soviet Union communism.” Using language not unlike
    Reagan’s Cold War rhetoric, the report added that, “the
    educational foundations of our society are presently
    being eroded by a rising tide of mediocrity that
    threatens our very future as a nation and as a people.”
    The report aimed to restructure the governance,
    organization, and curriculum of public education. This
    would be accomplished by changing educational values
    and curriculum goals.

    Significantly, ANAR blamed the performance of public
    high schools for the economic crisis, while ignoring
    global and national economic, political, social,
    cultural, and technological factors that, in fact, were
    more to the point.

    The report called for: “excellence;” making schools and
    teachers “accountable;” national curriculum standards;
    “core courses;” and standardized testing. The report
    also called for federal leadership and more corporate
    involvement in public education; confronting educators
    (and a public) who wanted to promote more democracy and

    ANAR established an outline for a nationwide
    educational reform movement which would permeate
    schools at all levels. Very quickly most states and
    local school districts began to formulate and
    incorporate ANAR recommendations. Also, numerous
    educational associations and unions endorsed aspects of
    the report.

    Thus, a new national consensus was being established
    claiming that public education was in crisis and that
    corporate-oriented Neo-Liberal reforms were necessary.
    Moreover, the uneven, but persistent, state and local
    fiscal crises, which had begun in the 1970’s, continued
    to starve public education for resources. The assault
    on public education would occur on two-symbiotic
    tracks: the promotion of national policy and
    restructuring owing to budget crises.

    Presidents George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and George
    W. Bush expanded on the outlines of ANAR. The role of
    Clinton in the education reform movement reflects the
    Democratic Party’s shift from New Deal-driven
    Corporate-Liberalism to “bi-partisan” acceptance of
    Neo-Liberalism. Bush I proposed legislation, under
    America 2000: An Educational Strategy, aimed to
    standardize curriculum, and embrace school “choice.”
    The America 2000 legislation died in the Senate, but
    funding for education under Bush I increased

    The Clinton administration’s education policy was
    framed in Goal 2000: Educate America Act, issued in
    1993. That report aimed to further establish a
    national consensus on goals, curriculum, and standards
    of achievement.

    George W. Bush intensified the Neo-Liberal policies.
    This was initially seen with Bush II’s massive tax cuts
    for the rich. After 9/11 occurred, Bush II deepened
    that ideology in to United States foreign policy.
    Moreover, Bush II’s education policy, called No Child
    Left Behind, ratcheted up the assault on public

    NCLB legislated:

    1) improved teacher training and test-based licensing;

    2) annual testing in reading and mathematics in
    elementary schools;

    3) the chance for children in “failing” schools to

    Despite the inadequate funding the program received and
    growing criticism from the education community, NCLB
    was the law of the land.

    The 2008 Presidential election occurred during the
    worse economic crisis since the Great Depression. The
    economic shock devastated state and local budgets,
    causing massive reductions in public services, lay-
    offs, and housing foreclosures. California, already
    dealing with deficits and structural political
    impediments, experienced the most severe budget deficit
    of any state. Since the crisis began in 2008 Governor
    Arnold Schwarzenegger and the state legislature have
    made deep education cuts.

    A major reason for the 2008 financial collapse was
    Clinton’s repeal of the Depression-era Glass-Steagall
    regulatory regime in 1999, which allowed commercial
    banks to pursue unregulated mechanisms, such as “sub-
    prime mortgages.”

    Furthermore, corporate-interests recognized the crisis
    was so severe that to accumulate profits they needed
    government to intensify the transfer of public
    resources to them. This would mean that funding for
    programs which benefit the working class, elderly,
    youth, the disabled, and education would be transferred
    to the ruling elites in the form of bailouts,
    subsidies, and debt servicing. This largely explains
    why the assault on public education (as well as the
    rest of the public sector) accelerated since fall,

    Within that context Barack Obama was elected President.
    Obama has intensified the Bush II revised version of
    Neo-Liberalism: “limited government” except for Wall
    Street and the corporations.

    Obama’s education policy is a clear example. This is
    reflected in a statement he made, in February, 2010,
    after the Central Falls, Rhode Island school district
    fired 93 unionized teachers, alleging that they were
    responsible for “failing” standardized test scores. In
    what could be considered Obama’s PATCO Moment, he
    stated: “.if a school continues to fail its students
    year after year after year, if it doesn’t show signs of
    improvement, then there’s got to be a sense of account-
    ability,.” Just like Reagan opened the door for the
    attack on unions when he fired 13,000 air controllers
    in 1981, unionized teachers now are increasingly

    Obama’s education policy is called “Race to the Top,”
    although its objectives are no different than the
    aforementioned Presidential educational policies.

    Obama’s policy also exposes the conundrum that teacher
    unions face supporting the Democratic Party.

    In conclusion, under the current hegemonic ideological
    and economic framework, there is no end in sight to the
    assault on public education. ______________

    BlackCommentator.com Guest Commentator George Wright ,
    PhD is the author of The Destruction of a Nation:
    United States’ Policy Toward Angola Since 1945 (Pluto
    Press, 1997) and Stan Wright – Track Coach (Pacifica
    Sports Research Institute, 2005). He in Professor
    Emeritus from the Political Science Department,
    California State University, Chico. His research
    interests include: International Political Economy,
    African International Relations, and the Politics of
    International Sport.


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