A lot of my business buddies and friends prefer to live in the city or in suburbia. For me, at this juncture, suburban living is about half-over. My work in the oilfield required me to live here, within driving distance of my clients and subcontractors. It was also a great place to raise my kids (all grown) about 30 years ago, based on school criteria (gang crap, drugs, education opportunities, sports) and to expose them to more varied things in life.
To make a long story much shorter, the oilfield is in the toilet and the schools have become very much babysitting services and indoctrination classes for how to be very stupid both socially and thought-process wise. Those are NOT my words, but the words of my kids, who all went to the same high school. They are from 24 to 30 years old; a farmer, beer/wine expert, weaver/seamstress and a lawyer. They told me point blank that they are strongly considering private or home schools for their own children, based on their experiences.
I own 40 acres up within a day’s horse ride of George Ure. It wasn’t intentional – he and I talked about this years ago, when we first actually met. It seems we did the same threat assessments and ran out many of the same possible disaster scenarios. My bit of land now has 3 sheds/barns and an apartment – replete with sewer system, water, propane, electricity – all from hand cleared land in a former hardwood forest. One of my sons is currently living there.
The reasons why I wanted this land are becoming a key part of societal fabric. So let’s discuss a few and how they compare.
Ownership is something few think about. Do you own your house, free and clear as they say? Where I live, ownership is neither free nor clear.
My house note is $650/month and my property taxes and home owners insurance are $785/month. The taxes and insurance are required in escrow account according to my mortgage agreement – conditions of the lowest interest rate agreement I could find.
My 40 acres is $400/month (nearly paid for now) and has taxes of $150/year. There is no mortgage, just a simple note, as it was bare unimproved land when purchased.
My suburban place is ¼ of an acre, with neighboring buildings within 20 feet, easements surrounding each parcel 10 feet inclusive, and a very specific set of laws regarding appearance and behaviors allowed. These include:
- no overnight parking of trailers on the street
- no unlicensed or unregistered vehicles visible on property
- no boats parked in driveway
- no parking on lawns
- no personalty (discussed below)
- permits, city approval and required contractors for any home modifications
- grass height cannot exceed 6 inches
- no vegetable gardens in front yard
- specific roofing types/colors required
- changes in exterior color schemes must be ‘conservative’
- there is even more, but you get the picture….
One of the things that HOA’s and cities have latched onto is an archaic legal term called ‘personalty’. This means personal property, and was coined into wide use at the end of the 19th century, primarily in the northeast. It was widely used to keep people from blocking alleys and accesss to buildings in big cities, and numerous ordnances in cities deal with ‘personalty’
For HOA’s and cities today, personalty has been twisted to mean ‘anything we do not like’. I have personally been hit with fines and warnings for the following ‘personalty’ violations:
- mower visible in side yard for more than 24 hours
- ‘unknown object’ in driveway (a diamond drill bit)
- lumber in driveway on saw horses
- decorative boulders in yard (had to explain to officials)
- yellow trash cans visible from the street (gray and green acceptable though)
- 4-wheeler in driveway (3 times warned, then threatened to confiscate as a junk vehicle due to no license and registration)
My farm is absolutely without any of these rules. In point of fact, there are NO county inspectors within the county, thus building and building code matters fall to the states rural electrical, plumbing and construction codes for dwellings, which every RV or mobile home meets. My nearest neighbor is ¼ mile away and is not a permanent resident but a weekender. I can own and park anything I wish to on my property, and paint my home purple if I am so inclined.
My outrageously high taxes support an actual ‘code enforcement’ division within the local police force. Their ‘job’ is to ride around and make sure people conform in all respects. It is such a crap job that the 2 guys they originally put into that division have retired early, and the turnover rate is 6 months before a LEO finds something better. Prison guards have less turnover.
So what else differs from suburbia to rural living?
Police response time at my suburban home is about 3 minutes due to the small size of our little city and the 24 working police that are on the payroll. At the farm, the response time is about 10 minutes, depending on whether I call the sheriff or DPS.
If I file a burglary or stolen vehicle report in the city, there will be no apprehension or even attempt to solve the crime – the motions are gone through in order to supply you with a document. This document is to be used for you to file an insurance claim, and that is the end of it. The stolen vehicle goes into a database, and if an LEO stumbles across the vehicle, he gets credit for closing the case. Not my words – the words of our former police chief. Welcome to the big city.
If I file a burglary or stolen vehicle report at my farm, the locals actually know the people and the bad guys. Vehicles stolen by locals (like teen wannebe gangstas) are normally recovered. They also work to find property of higher value, like 4-wheelers. The local Game Warden actually finds a lot of tractors and 4-wheelers if they are stolen by local criminals, and tips the sheriff or DPS.
In the city, police are adversarial and actively searching for violations to make quotas – rolling stops, speeding, inspection/registration violations, illegal turns, etc. When you are stopped here, it is almost normal to expect police to try and find further violations. If you are at all ‘non-compliant’ (a VERY subjective term), then the K-9 guys are called in and your vehicle tossed. I see this roadside every day, usualy more than once. The only time I ever interface with police here in the city is for violations or traffic accidents. The one time we called about someone breaking into my car and stealing things, an LEO came by and didn’t even introduce himself or provide his name – just told us that we should park all cars in the garage. As if all 4 cars (kids) would fit in the garage.
In the country, well, let me give you a true story from the month right after I bought my property…
I made an illegal U-turn with my trailer, because I forgot something at the farm. There was nobody coming in either direction, but a sheriff saw me as I completed the turn. He followed me and pulled me over.
He introduced himself (Mark etc.) and told me he wasn’t going to write me a ticket for the illegal turn, but told me that in that particular intersection he had worked 5 accidents in 6 years. It was a bad place to make a U-turn, so suggested I didn’t do that in future.
Then he asked me what I was doing, and I told him bush hogging my new property as much as I could, and he then asked if I was alone. Then he reminded me that it was 102 degrees and almost August, so be sure and take breaks and drink – don’t get tunnel vision on that tractor. He asked where my property was, and told me he would check on me later.
Four hours later, I heard his siren, and looked up from my tractor. There was Mark, and I shut the tractor down. He asked if all was ok, and I told him it was and that I was about to wind it up for the day. He got out of his car and told me he lived 6 miles down the road. He handed me his business card, with his personal cell nmber written on the back. He told me if I ever needed help or assistance, be sure to call him and he would get here or find whoever was closer to help me. Didn’t matter for what, he was there to help me.
There is a tremendous difference in law enforcement methods and procedures when one looks at urban versus rural. Yes, there are good and bad guys in both environs, but the methodology and even the thinking of LEO’s are different when you look at the urban versus rural.
All this is poised to get terribly worse if you live in the city. From the Washington Post:
“On 57 monitors that cover the walls of the center, operators zoomed and panned an array of roughly 200 police cameras perched across the city. They could dial up 800 more feeds from the city’s schools and traffic cameras, and they soon hope to add 400 more streams from cameras worn on officers’ bodies and from thousands from local businesses that have surveillance systems.
The cameras were only one tool at the ready. Officers could trawl a private database that has recorded more than 2 billion scans of vehicle licenses plates and locations nationwide. If gunshots were fired, a system called ShotSpotter could triangulate the location using microphones strung around the city. Another program, called Media Sonar, crawled social media looking for illicit activity. Police used it to monitor individuals, threats to schools and hashtags related to gangs.”
This is where urban LEO’s are taking us – where ‘threat levels’ are pre-assigned based on the data they can get their hands on and criteria they establish on their own. Knowing how very often databases are simply wrong, this is a bad way forward.
If the guy who owned your house before you was busted for pot (which may be legal in a few years), or was busted for a firearms violation, then your ‘threat level’ will be elevated just based on your address. That is, unless there is someone scrubbing the data, and there isn’t. There is just too much of it being gathered and NOBODY is correcting it – it is raw data that is bought and sold on massive numbers of people and places.
“Threat Level” is a military term. An elevated “threat level’ implies a more tactically aggressive response and an anticipation of conflict before the LEO even arrives at your home. This is bad for both LEOs and citizens.
However, this is only possible in areas where there is a very massive tax base and income stream for police to utilize. This isn’t going to happen in rural areas for a very long time – the tax base will not support these toys, and toys is exactly what they are. These systems are so fraught with bad data and old data that using them as the basis for anything ought to be a crime.
The new ‘security state’ is built with your tax money – from the sweat off your back. Yet you have little say in this, other than to vote in an election, and then, your choices are limited to what is actually on the ballot. Federal grants, from money loaned to our government in your name, go futher to support this type of crazy ‘security’. None of us can stop the Federal government from borrowing money.
The two most important ways a man can vote are with his money and with his feet.
I support my local LEO’s at the farm with sales taxes and my $150/year property taxes.
I support my local LEO’s in the city with over $9000/year and sales taxes – with their tax base, this is just too much money for a country where murder is actually declining.
Yes, I will be selling my city place…
Now, one final thing that comes to mind.
When I walk out in my yard here in suburbia, I hear traffic noises, blaring stereos, sirens, even concert music echoing from a mile away. I cannot see any but the brightest stars, and there are “security lights’ glaring into my back yard enough that I do not need any of my own to walk around. I hear every conversation my neighbors are having on their patios, whether I want to or not (it is a matter of time before the cable companies are urged to place microphones on telephone poles in cities).
At the farm, I can see the Milky Way rise and set in all its glory every night that is clear. I can see stars that do not exist in the city. I hear the creek rustling in its bed if I am walking along it, the occasional coyote and animals bounding in the underbrush as I walk. I have frogs that croak and bullfrogs that rumble, which do not exist in the city any longer. I can walk by starlight alone without fear of tripping over something. And I do not hear any conversations unless I walk a quarter mile and start one…