[The following article, written by Bob Howard for Synthesis Weekly, was originally published in the print version of Synthesis on Monday, May 19th, 2008. He can be reached at email@example.com]
Keep on Drinking
By Bob Howard
“Be it destiny or free will, there are those amongst us who might do the rest of society a favor by staying on the couch, taking bong rips and playing the latest version of Grand Theft Auto.”
A Long History of Stupid: I’ve just started reading a biography of long-time FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover, and as a result, I’m learning quite a lot about the history of this country and the tradition of our government cracking down on dissent. This latest episode of our history is far from the first time the Bill of Rights has been superseded and suspended in the name of â€œsecurity.â€ I have yet to grasp the logic of suspending freedoms to ensure security when I thought that the whole thing we are trying to secure in the first place is freedom; but I digress.
Anyway, here are some interesting factoids I’ve picked up thus far: Remember when in protest of the French dissent against the â€œWar on Terrorâ€ our Congress made the brilliant move of re-naming French Fries â€œFreedom Fries?â€ Seems like a pretty creative manifestation of nationalistic stupidity, right? Wrong. During World War I, our Congress re-named Sauerkraut â€œLiberty Cabbage.â€ Our current stupidity isn’t even original! How do you like that?
Think the threat of terrorism is a new thing? Wrong. Just prior to and then after World War I, the Red Scare developed. Anarchists and Communists were on the rise and there were actually a series of letter bombs and bomb attacks that riddled the nation’s capitol and industrial power figures.
These attacks lead to a complete abridgment of the freedoms granted in the Bill of Rights. Anyone suspected of being a communist, a socialist, or a sympathizer â€” essentially any Russian factory worker â€” was rounded up in mass arrests and many were unceremoniously deported so quickly that there wasn’t even time for an appeal.
More heartwarming thoughts after the jump.
Prior to these post-WWI round-ups, in the year 1901 William McKinley, the nation’s 25th President, was assassinated by an anarchist named Leon Czolgosz. The assassin was upset because McKinley had been touring the country talking about prosperity and Czolgosz felt that the prosperity in America was enjoyed by the wealthy but built on the exploitation of the working class.
Today, I can’t help feeling that we’ve farmed out that exploitation, and as a result, the threat to our government isn’t coming as directly from within the country, but instead from foreign enemies who see American foreign policy as the implement of exploitation. But it is the same dynamic â€” wealth being built on the backs of the poor.
There has always been the argument that increasing wealth increases prosperity for everyone â€” from the CEO on down to the factory worker. I vacillate on this argument. Sometimes I think it’s better to make some money than no money. But then I also think, hell, I’d rather be poor and jobless than poor and working in a factory for 16 hours a day.
Graduation â€” Keep on Drinking: So graduation is coming up; an exciting time in the life of any young student. The whole world is one big possibility. In America, many of us are told from a very young age that we can do or be whatever we want. Essentially, there is a lot of truth in that statement. We need only look to our current President George W. Bush or our 29th President Warren G. Harding to see that mediocrity is no impedance when it comes to attaining the position as the country’s highest-ranking administrator.
In Bush’s case, the boy from Connecticut spent a good deal of his young adulthood staring at the bottom of a whiskey bottle. In fact, it wasn’t until he was 37 years old that he gave up drinking. Since then, he went on to be the Governor of Texas and the President of the United States for the last seven-and-a-half years. He’s managed to start two wars, mangle a handful of governments, scuttle the economy, waste the goodwill of the rest of the world and generate an animosity abroad toward Americans that is unparalleled in the short history of our country.
Jeez â€” it makes you wish the guy had just kept drinking.
To sum up, while you certainly can do and be whatever you want, it is not necessarily beneficial for everyone to realize that potential. Be it destiny or free will, there are those amongst us who might do the rest of society a favor by staying on the couch, taking bong rips and playing the latest version of Grand Theft Auto.
How’s that for inspiration?
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