So, you may not have heard, but we’ve got a bit of a problem where we’re taking too much stuff out of the ground, and making too much other stuff with it. It almost feels weird to say that when so many people are trapped in grinding poverty, but as I’ve covered before, poverty in 2022 is not due to a lack of resources. The reality is that we’re over-producing. We’re making far, far more stuff than we need to, primarily because capitalism is a way to turn raw materials into money and power, and the folks at the top have less self control than my fucking cat. That’s why we have things like planned obsolescence, and it’s part of why garbage and chemical waste are such a huge problem. It’s also a colossal waste of energy.
None of this is new. None of this is a revelation. Apart from some of the words and perspectives in that paragraph, I could just as well have posted an excerpt from one of the Ranger Rick magazines I read in the 90s.
If we want a habitable planet, we need to dramatically reduce the amount of stuff we’re making. That doesn’t mean a worse life, or even necessarily fewer personal belongings. It means that the personal property we do have will be built as well as it can be. It means producing fewer things of higher quality (more on this theme in a future post). The step before giving up everything is making sure that we’re using the resources we have in a responsible manner. That means no more products designed to break so customers need to buy more. That means much less in the way of “single-use” products, and it also means making sure that when something like a machine no longer works, we salvage the parts to make other machines run.
Since we’re on the topic, I’m personally of the opinion that we ought to halt most of our mining, and return those sites to Indigenous control. That should come with a blank check for cleaning and restoration of the land, and help setting up more sustainable mining practices if that community decides that they want to do so. At the same time, we focus on using and re-using what we’ve already got. We need to actually recycle. We need to mine the landfills and junkyards. The goal is to both reduce the energy expended on extraction, refining, and overproduction, and to take a more active role in healing and supporting the ecosystems that give us life.
I’m sort of just riffing on this, because I want to give an taste of the kinds of conversations we probably should have been having for a while, and we should definitely be having now. You know how I started this with “you may not have heard”? Yeah, that was a joke. I feel like this stuff should be obvious to any halfway reasonable person.
I’m over-explaining now because apparently it’s possible for fully grown adults with real power and responsibility to still not get this shit.
Own a dirt bike in New York City? Ride around and find out what happens to them. pic.twitter.com/g9ZLg8c2pH
— City of New York (@nycgov) June 21, 2022
What the fuck is this?
Why is this happening?
What is going on in our society that this doesn’t trigger an immediate investigation for criminal waste of resources?
In what world is this pointless destruction less of a crime than riding dirt bikes in New York City?
We are facing an existential crisis unlike anything in recorded history. We know that we need to use our finite resources more responsibly, and our so-called leaders are performatively destroying functional, efficient vehicles. Because in a city infamous for having its streets choked with cars, dirt bikes are the real problem. Are you kidding me? Is this a prank show? Did some college kids get drunk and hijack an earth mover?
No, none of that. It’s our responsible, serious leaders destroying perfectly good vehicles and bragging about it.
This would be like incinerating a bunch of PPE at the beginning of the pandemic because you caught non-medical personnel with it. This would be like destroying a few tons of good food during WW2 rationing, because the person who cooked it wasn’t licensed to do so. Even if just taking those people’s dirt bikes was a legitimate use of state power (and of course it’s not), don’t destroy them!
For that matter, I thought our society was all about protection of property! I thought destruction of property was supposed to be a bad thing!
I am beyond fed up with public officials who act like this is all a game, or a play or something. They’ll do performative bullshit that demonstrably makes the world worse, and then expect us to praise them for it.
I think I’ve mentioned once or fifty times that repetition is an important part of getting any message across. I think another important part is knowing to whom you’re speaking. There are a lot of people out there who will not change their minds no matter what we do, and I’m sorry to say that a great many of them are the ones running things. I think it’s worth it to keep repeating most of the actual statements I’ve made in this post, but I do not think repeating them to people like NYC mayor Eric Adams will do any good. I feel the same about most of our leaders.
No, the repetition I’m building to is this: We have to take power away from these people. We’ve seen what they do with power when they have it, and I can’t think of a better metaphor for that than the braggadocious destruction of these dirt bikes.
We have to take power away from these people, and that means we have to build collective power. Organize, train, and practice taking action in coordination with other groups in other locations.
If you like the content of this blog, please share it around. If you like the blog and you have the means, please consider joining my lovely patrons in paying for the work that goes into it. Due to my immigration status, I’m currently prohibited from conventional wage labor, so for the next couple years at least this is going to be my only source of income. You can sign up for as little as $1 per month (though more is obviously welcome), to help us make ends meet – every little bit counts!
I wonder if the thing with dirtbikes and ATVs in New York is similar to what’s going on here in Oakland/SF Bay Area.
fairly frequently, there are groups of people (often without any safety gear, not even helmets(which is what concerns me the most…)) who will ride through downtown areas on ATVs, dirt bikes, etc., doing wheelies and other “stunts”, and generally riding recklessly. I find it mildly annoying at times, but they are mostly a danger to themselves.
I could definitely see the “law and order” sorts putting dedicated resources towards this type of thing, including confiscating/impounding, and destroying the vehicles. Just a silly spectacle all around…
Abe Drayton says
I get the reasoning, but it’s reasoning for a world very unlike the one on which we’re living.
The reality is that they should be phasing out the use of CARS in NYC, not punishing people for using more efficient forms of transport.
They should also be doing stuff like making the subway free to use.
The problem is that the people empowered by our system seem to be generally incapable of considering the things that we need to be doing right now.
@ ^ Abe Drayton : Yes – and time to change those people in charge.
Yeah, this is nuts – the dirt bikes crushing policy that is.
Good post thanks.
The idiots are riding dirt bikes in my city, too. They’re causing traffic accidents by darting out in front of traffic against lights and driving in the opposite direction of traffic in the middle of the landes, plowing through children and inanimate objects (mail boxes, cars, street signs, community gardens) and causing all kinds of noise at all hours with their vroom-vroom-vroom.
And of course nobody has any training, licenses, or safety gear. Often their dirt bikes are stolen. And we’re all footing the bill for their emergency care when they wreck.
It doesn’t bother me that their vroom-vroom machines are taken away. If someone drove a car that recklessly, they should have it taken away, too.
Abe Drayton says
I might be more inclined to agree with taking away stuff like this if I had any faith at all in the NYPD’s ability to even WANT to apply the law justly. They regularly destroy lives because they can, or because it make them money. I have a hard time accepting that everyone who owned these bikes “had it coming”, especially how often I see bikes and scooters similar to that being essential to people’s livelihood.
And as ever, the biggest problem in NYC transportation is cars, not everything else.
I lived in NYC for the first 21 years of my life and go back to visit often because I still have family there; public transportation is HUGE there because the logistics and cost of owning and maintaining a car is just too much money for most people.
I still occasionally hop on a train for a multi-hour trip to Union Station, and from there I can hop a subway train to wherever I’m going, including the Staten Island Ferry, from where I can hop a bus to get within half a block of some cousins.
I can’t speak to dirt bikes in NYC (I’ve seen regular bikes and mo-peds and scooters there), but in my city to the south, people absolutely do not use them as commuting vehicles; they use them to be ignorant, destructive yahoos. We’re not talking about people having fun in their back 40 having fun; these folks are tearing up parks and people’s yards and the community garden and causing havoc on the highways.
Abe Drayton says
And I’m on board with stopping that behavior, absolutely. I’ve just lost all faith that law enforcement would do that, vs taking transportation from folks who need it. The last few years have given me a low opinion of them.
I also think you’re equating people just riding 10-speed and touring bikes — who I’ve never seen be harassed — to work to deliver various things (bike messengers) and people going for a bike ride on a trail…with the idiots with gas-burning vroom-vroom engines cutting off cars, popping wheelies and toppling over backward in front of city buses and getting run over, themselves running over local wildlife (turtles, birds, garden snakes, etc.) for the joy of destruction, and driving through pedestrian crossings when there are children trying to get to school. I have no problem with these folks losing their gas-wasting noise-machine toys.