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Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Do you know Jack Schmidt?

Jack Schmidt is an American and a regular guy. He does regular things, makes a middle-class living and has a wife and a couple of kids. He likes bowling and paintball but hates watching sports on television. In fact he hates television...period. "Life's too short to spend it hypnotized in front of a glowing box that tells you lies," he's said on more than one occasion. Jack is very opinionated. So much so, that in his spare time he likes to read political op-eds, think about how the country could be better, and argue on-line with people about various political topics.

Unfortunately most of the topics which he's most opinionated about, he's not terribly knowledgeable in. Like most Americans, he knows less than he thinks he knows, and thinks he knows more than most Americans. What he doesn't know, what he's never imagined, is that he's living in a fantasy world. His world exists in a state of flux and it's so unstable, so transitory, that the slightest shove, perhaps even the merest careless breath, could cause his ephemeral house of cards to completely collapse, leaving him merely another messy statistic that some other regular American has to scrape off of the sidewalk, and then sandblast clean.

Jack Schmidt thinks he's free. That's a lie they started telling him way back in kindergarten. They—and by "they" I mean people who get a government paycheck—began teaching Jack that he had all of these "inalienable rights." He had the right to say whatever he wanted, whenever he wanted to. That "free speech" right would guarantee that even if what he wanted to say made other people angry, still he had the right to say it. Jack was also taught that he had the right to peaceably assemble. To get together in a public place with like-minded friends, colleagues, and compatriots, to protest, discuss, teach, learn, meet, greet, or just have a picnic lunch. There were a whole bunch of rights he was told he had, but there are just too many to list here. If you're curious about what those rights were, they're still listed in an old dog-eared document called "The Constitution of the United States," and the attached "Bill of Rights."

What Jack hasn't figured out yet, what every regular American hasn't figured out yet, is that by hook or by crook, by stealth and artifice, by chicanery and malevolent intent, every one of those rights have each been stolen away, taken back, evaporated, and dismissed. The way they—and by "they" I mean people who get a government paycheck—did it, was to decide what right they wanted to take away from regular Americans, and then they passed a law, or reinterpreted a law, or just plain made something up that totally ignored that theoretical "right." Then they waited for some outraged regular guy to complain and say something stupid like: "Hey you can't do that! That's unconstitutional." Then they would laugh. Oh how they'd laugh! The arguing and bickering about the validity of the right would go on sometimes for years, but inevitably it would wind up in front of the SCOTUS—Supreme Court of the United States—where nine sober Justices would decide on narrowly partisan lines that Americans have no rights—inalienable or otherwise.

Poor Mr. Schmidt never saw that side of it unfortunately. He'd get all worked up about the latest SCOTUS decision but he never bothered to connect the dots. The dots unconnected were just dots, but a pencil and a little common sense would have quickly sketched a portrait that—had he seen it—would have horrified Jack Schmidt, or in fact the vast majority of regular Americans.

Governments aren't exactly like people. They're invented by people, composed of people, and designed to control people, and one day they die just like people, but they don't die the way people die. You see when governments die they take a whole bunch of people with them. The dying can happen overnight or it can stretch on for decades but one thing's for sure, no amateur theatre actor hamming it up and dying all over the stage ever came within a galaxy of depicting the gargantuan and gory death throes of a nation.

When Jack Schmidt makes financial decisions, his decisions never factor in the possibility of a King Kong-like demise with himself clutched like Faye Wray in an inescapable hairy grip. A line from a great American movie keeps asking a question of paramount significance in Jack's mind but he never answers the question, nor even realizes that it's been asked. The question that should consume every American regular or otherwise...
Phil: What if there were no tomorrow?
Gus: No tomorrow? That would mean there would be no consequences, there would be no hangovers. We could do whatever we wanted!
Phil: [thinking] That's true. We could do...whatever we wanted.
When a government is bankrupt, those who get a government paycheck begin to panic. Because they're the ones who make the rules, enforce the rules, and decide the penalties for disobedience, they logically conclude that during whatever kind of societal upheaval that might happen they're the ones in the best position to remain on top. Historically it has always been people like these who decide what rights if any the people are permitted to retain. Suddenly pesky little rights like owning a gun are found to be completely in the way of "progress." Likewise, having a fully stocked pantry when other people are starving is just completely selfish. When necessary work isn't being done because nobody's able to pay for the workers, suddenly that old 13th Amendment outlawing slavery will be reinterpreted.
Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.
There you see? The 13th Amendment has a built in exception. If you need some slaves, all you have to do is quickly pass some new laws that people are unable to obey or perhaps don't even know about, then once people ineluctably do break these laws you will be able to acquire a ready made work force. It's called fascism and it's what happens when governments go bankrupt due to excessive borrowing, taxation, and money printing. But Jack Schmidt is still quietly putting his savings in his 401K. He's still quietly paying down that 30-year mortgage, he's even socking away everything he can spare in an IRA that will one day hopefully pay for his kids to go to college. If his world were real, if there were actually going to be a "tomorrow," then he would be all set.

One final thing to point out. We now live in a country where things like THIS happen. What do you think they'll do when things really go tits-up?

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