We live in strange and unsettling times.  I was but a tyke during the late 1960’s and early ‘70’s, but I was old enough by the “end” to vividly remember the conflict and turmoil and emotional impact the issues of those days had on me, my family, and our country.

I can feel the next revolution coming; what kind of revolution I don’t know; but I have strange gut-level awareness that the current conflicts that are consuming so much media space are reaching critical mass.  The most prominent issue is the war in Iraq, the one that started out as punishment for the violation of U.N. sanctions and protection from “imminent threat,” devolved into reassurance that the imminent threat would take time to establish, and has now completely morphed into a broad-brushed, big-idea effort to remake the Mideast in our own “free and democratic” image, as we sort of admit that OK, maybe the threat wasn’t so imminent.  And now it seems that any “out” we may have carries a lot of risk on a lot of levels.  Lots of folks are made very nervous and angry by this progression.  On this issue the national divide has widened, and we are now running on 13 years straight in which half the country actively hated the President of the United States.

We have some intramural issues of deep cultural passion coming to a head, too (which mostly accounted for the hatred of our last President).  The courts are increasingly having trouble justifying gay people as second-class citizens on any rational grounds, and the homophobes of America are uniting in a comical (unless you’re gay) blend of fear, ignorance and righteousness (a heady brew of historically sound motives on cultural issues, especially if you like looking stupid and small later) to raise the fight to the next level:  Constitutional Amendment.  If they are successful, and my own evaluation of the math suggests they have a chance, the new amendment may usurp #18, the one that prohibited alcohol, as the most irrational and least practical concept this “free” nation, this nation founded on the ideas of individual liberty, justice for all, and protecting minorities from the “tyranny of the majority” has ever codified Constitutionally.[1]

Sexual preference between consenting adults, the promise of eternal love and commitment, monogamy and “family values” between two allegedly private people, outlawed in the Constitution!  Now THAT’S freedom, liberty and justice for all!

Educated Average Joe (E.A.J.) laughs, because he understands a lot of the private sexual predilections of members of Congress would be absolutely horrifying to the same folks pushing an amendment.[2]  Regular Average Joe (R.A.J.) is made very nervous and is defiantly opposed to same-sex marriage, but unfortunately not for any rational reason except in fact for his or her own personal psychological fears and ignorance, religious indoctrination, and some weird desire to butt into some stranger’s life who doesn’t even live in Joe’s neighborhood.[3] 

The Washington Post reported that the military—and by extension, this Administration—is only concerned about national security to the extent openly gay people aren’t helping with it, since they’re discharging Arabic linguists, arguably the most desperately needed field of expertise in the war Al-Queda declared and President Bush expanded, for failing to properly suppress a different sexual orientation than the one the military prefers, and periodically but regularly abuses. 

This is one of hundreds of examples of government gone absurd.  The hypocrisy and blind ideological stupidity we’re wallowing in right now as a nation looks from here in the libertarian middle very similar to that displayed by the September 11 pilots.  Moral superiority and arrogance run amok[4].   Even though they do occur to very different degrees, they’re just different points on the same continuum.  You just know George Bush thinks Christianity is better than Islam, no matter what he says.

It doesn’t matter if you think Christianity is better than Islam or Buddhism, or Hindu!  It doesn’t matter if you “approve” of gay marriage”!  This is AMERICA, and our government doesn’t tell us to what to do with our personal lives!  You think abortion is evil?  Don’t have one!  Won’t God punish these horrible human beings who’ve had an abortion in the end?  Aren’t you going to be ultimately vindicated?  Why isn’t this enough?  Or are you not really a believer?

Where is the faith on which you base your political decisions?  From here, all it looks like is fear and a power-grab.  Which all major religions, historically, have had an indisputable tendency to do.

Absurdity is very dangerous when it is institutionalized.  And institutionalized absurdity is all around us now, corroding Average Joe’s faith in just about every power structure out there.  So why should Joe bother to vote?  “Those people” are crazy! (The politicians and business executives and the religious leaders who call the shots each have HUGE numbers of high-profile hypocrites and actual criminals.)  Joe thinks the people who “run things” are drunk with ambition, money, and a seemingly endless drive to dictate everyone’s life before they sooner or later abuse their power, in one way or another, from one direction or the other.  Educated Average Joe can make a good case for the historical veracity of this claim; Regular Average Joe just knows it because even a blind man can see it, and R.A.J. feels it in his gut, too. [5]

After OJ, after the American Catholic Church scandals, after Ken Lay walks free for six years and counting,[6] after Janet Jackson and her resulting FCC investigation,[7] after manufacturing and tech jobs get shipped willy-nilly overseas because CEO’s can’t afford lesser-million dollar bonuses, after any number of moneyed white-collar criminals who have really seriously defrauded a large number of Joe’s out of a huge sum of money seem to get a cushier deal (even if they’re convicted) from start to finish, after Joe sees someone in every sphere of public life abuse their power, even Regular A. Joe can see it, you bet he can:  Joe knows it’s all about money now.  Everything.  Especially the political process.  There is no such thing as “absurdity” where large amounts of money are involved.  Joe can see this on TV, where he can get his packaged absurdity on the news and his straightforward, sincere absurdity on South Park or Letterman or The Daily Show.

Even E.A.J. doesn’t have the money to buy serious influence—he votes in good numbers, but is otherwise largely unplugged[8]—so the sense of powerlessness gets magnified because now we’re talking about a huge number of Joe’s (darn near 50%!) and the validity of this powerlessness disconnects our heroes from public life.  One vote is the extent of Joe’s influence, and he knows this just isn’t enough anymore.

In my own extreme well-educated and diverse corporation, political knowledge is light, to put it softly.  Even E.A.J has better things to do than care about the absurdity and powerlessness inherent in “politics,” which to Joe is an entirely different universe.  E.A.J. has to make money.[9]

When your government creates laws and rules that are so disconnected to any semblance of what really needs to be done in the PUBLIC (not individual private) interest, or what makes “common sense” to Joe to do, or not to do—lets give the gay Arabic linguists a pass, Joe says, even if R.A. Joe still doesn’t want this linguist to be able to marry—well, pretty soon your voting rate is hovering around 50%, and the fringes of political society are making all the laws in competition, just as fast and furiously as they can get the power.  The pendulum swings wildly back and forth, half the county always thinks the President is a maniac, and we start legislating issues that are absurdly microcosmic, and publicly irrelevant; that is, they have no tangible, real, visible public impact, like the sexual lives of consenting adults of all preferences.[10]  Or jarts.  This is not healthy democracy.

I am going to try to make the case that those lost votes contain a high number of libertarian-leaners, who by nature expect the government to, broadly, “leave them alone,” and consciously or unconsciously leave the government alone in return, all the way to the voting booth. 

Both parties have joined in mutual over-legislation, and the net result has been a steady erosion of individual liberty.  This started long before 9-11.  Maybe both parties think we split 50-50 on all the other issues, anyway.  I don’t know, exactly.  I would personally like to see a poll question that asks, “Assuming you are in no real and practical way directly hurting anyone else, do you believe the government’s jurisdiction should end at your door, and your skin, and your heart, and your mind, among your family and friends?”  My guess is that 70% would say yes, and the implications for those that prefer the government make decisions inside their own lives, well, how weird is that?  Politics has become a game over who could get their own personal agenda passed, and both parties play with vigor.  Meanwhile, Joe just wants less hassle in his life, and every time a new law or tax change happens, Joe is hassled just a little bit more, whether he knows it or not..  Joe now doesn’t even know if he’s being a criminal, and worse, he knows he really can’t be blamed.  Joe shrugs with hopelessness.

Those of us that tend towards freedom of person are more put off by the institutionalized absurdities, as absurdity is what informs our whole attitude about power structure in any form, and individual rights and responsibilities.  We can’t stand it when people sue for being stupid, and we don’t understand the lawyers who bring the cases, either.  “Have some personal integrity,” we think, at both parties.  Our entire existence is based on the simple, “I’ll handle it,” which logically translates, when you think about it, directly into not bothering to vote, or at least not bothering in any serious way with the details of what we’re voting about.

And absurdity comes most often from the far left and right of the political spectrum, in a weird dance; those know-it-all-do-gooders now most involved in the process from who gets elected right through who gets appointed to the judiciary.  Is it coincidence that absurdity is thriving so?  I think not. 

This rabidly patriotic American educated and very average Joe thinks pubic policy should be based on a cold evaluation of the public-interest facts, pure reason (dare I say, “science?), along with a baseline premise that the government’s jurisdiction ends at the individual’s body and mind and door, period.  Because it seems to me that this is the spirit in which this country was born, and why it still hangs on to kicking ass, even though it is also increasingly clear that Orwell had the evolution right, if not the year. 

It is pretty difficult to make the case against making public policy with reason and a laser-like focus on avoiding hypocrisy in your law.  As opposed to emotion and religion and the power structure’s current version of “morality.”[11]  At least if one is not talking with a moron.  And now, halfway through life, I see the American Ideal collapsing, and I am truly scared for my country for the first time. 

There are too many small institutional absurdities to cover without being more boring than I already am, like the warning label we pay for on the fishing lure that says, “Harmful if swallowed,” [12] but a few of the bigger, laughably expensive ones deserve some analysis.  My two favorites are the tax code and the War on Drugs, which President Bush re-declared in his lame 2004 State of Union speech.[13]

The laws of the land that say you can lose your life and possessions to marijuana while alcohol and tobacco remain legal are patently absurd.  These laws effectively allow me to go home from work, chain smoke and get drunk every night,[14] while simultaneously having (in a perfect legal systemyou know, our LAWS—what we use to officially determine right and wrong) at some point in time routed 80,000,000 Americans through the criminal justice system on MJ charges, at X (it’s a really big X) cost to the cherished taxpayer.  Incredibly, only about a third of America sees this as absurd.

There are simply no rational grounds on which to defend this paradox.    Was alcohol “moral” before Prohibition, “immoral” during, and “moral” again when the 18th was repealed by the 21st not 20 years later?  What a marvelously flexible take on morality![15]  What fantastic intellectual rigor!  Meanwhile, an entire city of 500,000 to 1,000,000 political prisoners rots in jails, costs us many billions, and takes up space that should be used for those that do the rest of us harm.

Virtually every average Joe has seen or been someone too drunk to be in public.  Joe knows alcohol is a drug, and Joe, or someone Joe likes pretty much and thinks is a good human being, enjoys it in excess (gets drunk) from time to time.  In private, Joe feels exactly the same way about marijuana.  Joe can’t really say this out loud, though.

“Drugs,” I’m shocked to need to report, have no inherent moral component, and which ones are “good” or “bad” is entirely a matter of culture, history date, and use habits, whether the substance is legal or not (See Rush Limbaugh). You can look it up.  Start with early 20th Century America, to make it easy.

What percentages of Americans know how hard it is to get an Amendment passed and then repealed?  Of those that DO understand how difficult this sea change is to legislate, can they imagine how big the mistake had to be to reverse it in a historical nanosecond?  How many can connect the dots to the laws of today?  As an old college professor of mine used to say, “the masses are asses.”  (Big kudos here to the government propaganda machine:  This is your brain if you think marijuana laws have any association with Reason, in an environment of legal alcohol and tobacco.) 

After a generation and a half of this horrible corrosive and destructive thing called drug abuse, wouldn’t we as a nation have by now already broken down if all the claims about the danger to society were true?  It isn’t like the War on Drugs has created much in the way of results over that period of time.  Those youngsters always seem to be coming up with new ways to get high.

The definition of bad government is spending a fortune in tax dollars to make an existing problem worse (or at minimum no better) than it already is.  How much money is the government’s credibility worth?  Iraq, Schmiraq!  80,000,000 of us are ex- or current criminals according to the law.  Now that’s protection from the tyranny of the drinking majority!  Who, of course, get treated medically, instead of criminally. 

Legalizing MJ or any other drug is not the point here.  The point is that the War on Drugs is the best current illustration of how power and money work with absurdity and hypocrisy to create indifference, then scorn, and sooner or later detachment.  The best example we have to examine of how Power and Wealth flaunt Reason to steal more Power and Wealth.  It’s what happens when “I know what’s best for you” marries Truth (sort of, in this case—we haven’t been able to vote for a lifelong drug free person for POTUS in quite some time), but keeps Hypocrisy as a mistress.

Joe knows society would probably be a little less dangerous if no one drank, too.  Didn’t work then, not working now.  Joe thinks politicians are idiots.         

The 4th Amendment of our Constitution has been eviscerated by this war; the police can now set up random roadblocks to make your sober self late for dinner, and barge through your door if they have reason to suspect “drugs” are involved; the burden of proof is not even on the government when they take all your stuff via asset forfeiture.  You must have purchased that car your kid’s friend left a seed in through “drugs.”  Innocent people get killed mistakenly all the time.  Abuse runs rampant, because most of us don’t use illegal drugs, so why stick your neck out for those that do?  It’s a beautiful thing if you’re the one getting fed by the $40,000,000,000 annual budget we devote to our 35-year-old war against an almost universal element of minority human nature, against, literally, ourselves.

And our politicians cry in the background, “We have to be more responsible with the People’s money!”  At the same time, neither party makes any noise about changing the War on Drugs in any serious way, unless it’s expanding it.  That’s just good politics.

The tax code is a far more subtle expression of abuse of power, and sneaks out of the everyday ordinary absurd into the surreal.[16]  But it is exactly like the Drug War in that it has become a self-perpetuating, money-sucking monster of epic irrationality, as far as sensible public policy is concerned.  The tax code is, after all, a “system” originally designed to collect money, 14 pages of a very reasonable and simple-seeming idea.  It is now 17,000 pages of 8pt. font, and some of it is designed to “encourage” or “discourage” behavior.  Regular Average Joe is very uncomfortable with the Man’s power in general and the tax code pretty much has him by the wallet—and our Joe’s know their wallets are their only tiny share of Power—in debate-silencing ways that are very creepy and odd.[17]

Joe sees the occasional newsperson ask why it’s taking so long to put Ken Lay behind bars, and almost invariably hears how “complicated” the Enron case is, with a shrug, as Big Media plays along that there’s just nothing we can do about it, and it sure is important and good that everyone investigating be so thorough.

And here the insidious evil of the tax code rears its ugly head:  Even Educated A.J. has to be paying reasonable attention, which he’s not because it is 17,000 pages of legal-accounting-speak, to connect the dots between why the Enron case is so “complicated,” “legally,” back to the tax code.  R.A.J. may again sense it on some level, but that’s about as far as it gets, because R.A.J. can’t be bothered with the trivia in the tax code in the first place, since he’s working more in cash and filing EZ anyway.  Both Joe’s know Lay will get it relatively easy whether he’s convicted or acquitted (compared to what would happen if Joe stole tens of millions, or even if it looked like Joe stole tens of millions), so Joe simply disconnects from the frustrating absurdity of it all.  Even Ken Lay is leaving most Joe’s alone, after all.  Joe is just one guy, and he thinks he can handle his own life without the government’s help, at least on the little stuff. 

The reason that Enron and other financial scandals are so boring to Joe is because Joe knows that armies of lawyers and accountants and actuaries are being directed by The Man to find loopholes and ambiguities in the tax code, in the law, places that can be “interpreted” different ways, and to take advantage of them.  “Legally.”  Joe knows that “legal” doesn’t equal “moral,” especially anymore, and Joe knows if a law or rule is complicated “legal” can be a hard thing to determine, indeed.  (Joe has recent TV History for reference material to support this knowledge.)  Joe says, “f**k it,”[18] and shakes his head in scorn at Power.  He is helpless to do anything about it, except for his single vote.  Joe just wants to be left alone, and so far he hasn’t been audited, so Joe has an unspoken deal.  He’ll keep quiet about it, out of fear of drawing attention to himself, and out of knowing he can’t discuss the Code intelligently,[19] and he’ll only cheat a little on his return, at least as far as the 25 pages of Code Joe thinks he “knows.”  He senses intuitively that the whole thing is built to cheat, er, I mean, “interpret.”  At least for the Have’s.  Joe has a creeping, malignant respect for the Have’s.      

Our non-voting Joe’s would just as soon replace the Code, personally, except a lot of them like that property tax deduction; but most importantly, Joe simply doesn’t think it will ever happen.  It is outside the realm of possibility.  Because to Joe it is complexity and powerful self-interest—something Joe doesn’t have—run riot, beyond absurd to begin with.  It never would have gotten to where it is if Joe had anything to say about it.  Thus there is no political hue and cry to do anything about it.[20]

Instead of losing Joe’s jobs as a result of the Man’s laws, starting over on the tax code in a sane manner would cause the Man to lose jobs.  Like THAT is going to happen, Joe laughs!  What would the tax and accounting professions and all the lawyers and insurance and drug companies and utility companies and telecommunications and banks, and Congress and their lobbyists and Big Media, and Big Software[21] do without 10,000 pages of accounting rules and 17,000 pages of tax code to tweak and exploit?  Less, that’s for sure.  Much, much less. 

And in that subset of job-creating inertia resides a whole lot of E.A.J.’s, the one’s who do vote.  We are stuck with the power-stick and absurdity of the existing tax code process because unraveling ourselves from it is too huge and frightening, and too upsetting to the power structure.  American E.A.J. is doing OK so far in his race with death for money,[22] OK enough to leave it all alone, right down to voting in the case of even many E.A. Joe’s.

Joe has not yet assimilated that the U.S. tax code is where Power and Money go to cheat legally; to build complexity beyond Joe’s ability and/or desire to comprehend or question; to keep Joe quiet with bones like the property tax deduction while Saddaming away all the juicy meat for themselves.  Joe hasn’t seen the relative total tax burden (all 17,000 pages worth, plus State and local) of the top 10% vs. the bottom 90% over the last 30 years in a way Joe can understand.  The tax code isn’t built for Joe, and he knows it.  Really, Joe just wants to be left alone.  Joe disassociates from public life.

Our Constitution serves as a model for Democratic Governments throughout the world.  The U.S. Constitution and the Declaration of Independence are the most magnificent political documents ever penned.  They have withstood the test of time pretty darned well, and this alone is everlasting tribute to the blood, sweat, and genius of our Founding Fathers, who understood the foibles of the human animal, and took great pains to account for them.

They understood that power begets power, that man is above all a creature of unlimited individuality, and they foresaw the potential strength in harnessing this variety of spirit.  They were motivated by the desire to escape the tyranny of a government that misruled them, and in doing so, bequeathed us a birthright, a libertarian streak, an impulse that we still hold on to by a rapidly thinning rope. The ability to choose our own course in life, with a wide degree of variance to the so-called “norms” within which all of us must live.  Particularly those imposed on us by our government or religious institutions.

They believed that if we as individuals were leaving others alone, our government should be leaving the individuals alone.

But they were not infallible, and for all of their genius were not blessed with omniscience, and they failed to anticipate some of the forces that led us to the place in time we now stand.  They had no way of anticipating the corrosive and corrupting influence of money in politics (they formed the country in part against “unfair” tax, so that wasn’t even in the picture; the Code was instituted in 1914), and they had even less way of anticipating the forces that led us to a 50% voter turnout rate.  Having devoted their very lives to the formation of a more perfect union, they cannot be criticized for failing to envision the widespread voter apathy and helplessness that Joe suffers today. 

Having sweat and bled for our perfect union, and worked so hard to balance the powers of government, with the tremendous capacity for reason our Founding Fathers possessed, they cannot be criticized for failing to anticipate that the struggle for power between our branches of government, combined with the aforementioned feelings of ignorance, powerlessness and apathy possessed by the general electorate, have put us in the position we find ourselves today, in which more and more power is gathered and controlled by all three branches of government, along with the monied interests that feed them, and less and less power and control is enjoyed by each Americans from whom that power and control has been seized.  Joe isn’t writing a check to every lobbyist that fights a cause Joe supports.  Joe doesn’t have the time, and Joe doesn’t have the money.

We have evolved from a government created of the people, by the people, and for the people, to one that is increasingly instead of the people, in spite of the people, and over the people.  The tax code gives birth to most of the latter, and then enables it, and the drug war illuminates it. 

So now we are left with a primary system, and increasingly a general election, dominated by the ideologues from both left and right, who, cyclically, get their way. All this disconnect by Average Joe, who just wants to be left alone, has placed us all in a position in which our Congress, especially the House, is populated with a high number of narrow minded people, who, on the left, seem obsessed with legislating our personal behavior and what we think and say, which is well illustrated by the explosion and extremism of sexual politics/law and the Orwellian control of the language of the “politically correct,” and the far right, who seem obsessed with legislating our personal morality and bodies, a historical failure of epic proportions, and the primary reason our Founding Fathers so carefully and explicitly separated Church and State.  Both fringes have been frighteningly successful at promoting their agendas, one little exasperated legislative compromise with the moderates, one baby step at a time, and damn the principles of freedom, rationality, hard work, and independence on which our country was founded.  Those of us who really want government to shrink (and I’m sure not talking about the GOP anymore), have lost hope, and largely just checked out. In other countries, it has gotten so bad people (women!) just blow themselves up to express hopelessness.   I guess it’s good we’re not there in mass numbers.[23]  A silver lining in every cloud…

We in the libertarian middle are being squeezed out of our freedoms, and it doesn’t happen overnight, boys and girls.  It happens one little step at a time, with a whimper, and I say to you that the process is well under way, from each major political party, and that one day it will come to a freedom or private thing dear to you, and odds are you’re not going to think it is pretty.

This is how Power and Wealth have always worked, throughout all of civilized history.  They want More, and since they’re making the rules, over time, they get More.  Even if only 1% of all power-people are self-interested and/or malicious, it adds up over time.  I think 1% is low, and that this concept is hard to argue with.

Government can and will always legislate against the minority, and the individual is the smallest voting block out there.

It is what our Founding Fathers tried to avoid. 

You’ll see sooner or later.  Too bad there won’t be anyone left to support you by the time you do.

John D. Onorato

2003-4


 [1] Kudos here to the GOP political machine, and raspberries to the Dems’.  The sound bite is now, “Activist Courts shouldn’t be deciding these things; it should be the ‘people.’”  Very effective on TV.  And not once have I heard any Democrat, or anyone in the “liberal” media, mention the Courts v. Public Opinion on any number of historical issues, like women and black voting rights and military participation, school integration, or interracial marriage.  These were all examples of fighting through the legal system.  Waiting for the “people” to make decisions on any of those would’ve set each back decades.  Think, “George Wallace.”[2] The folks calling for an Amendment would find the sex lives of lots of Congresspeople, except Rick Santorum and maybe Bill First, if revealed in full, globally at the very least, “kinky.”  Many Average Joe’s are working hard for as kinky as their girlfriends and/or wives will allow.    

[3] If two of these heathens DO move into Joe’s neighborhood, I support Joe’s right not to socialize with them in any way, even at the block party, and if the married gay neighbor’s house catches fire, God forbid or God willing, I support Joe’s right to not help in any way, and maybe even stand on the property line and jeer.  That’s between Joe and his God.  My God, however, would have a problem with not only the not helping but even the jeering, too. 

[4] Just for the record, I think the American ideal is morally superior.  Just not “universally” morally superior, which is how American domestic and foreign policy are currently executed, as that absolutist sentiment has contributed to virtually every major war ever, including the current one, apparently. 

[5] Joe will concede there are decent individual politicians and businesspeople, but Joe stands firm on the System here.  Insightful Joe also wonders seriously and with at least a little doubt about how he would handle immense power and huge money.  So he shrugs, ignores politics, and struggles to provide for his family.

[6] While whining he’ll hardly be able to get by on the $10,000,000 million he has left.  Think Joe can relate?

[7] Investigation?  What’s to investigate?  Absurd!  Oh, wait!  There could be fines involved!  And think of how many people object to public breasts!

[8] Ranging from completely clueless and/or “apolitical” (“That politics stuff is a whole different UNIVERSE!”) to, say, those who get their news exclusively from FOX or NPR; most voting AE.J’s check in to the process inside a week from Election Day, if that.

[9] And lots of them think they need to make it fast, 60-hour workweeks be damned. 

[10] I’m pretty sure oral sex between married straight couples is still illegal in a few states. 

[11] The grand history of theocracies pretty well sums up this point of view.  Women are chattel, literally, throughout the Bible.  The “consensus��? opinion of SLAVERY was more or less, “So?” and it took us nearly 100 years and half a million dead bodies to declare it illegal and immoral, officially.  And of course there’s, “The History of Alcohol Prohibition in America: A Case Study in Crime Creation.”  All of these things were ended through Reason.  And quite a bit of blood in some cases.  That’s why I’m worried.

[12] Sound too absurd to be possible?  Nah, it’s true; at least to the extent you can believe any “credible” news sources these days.  This all started for me with jarts, which I played with quite a bit as a kid.  In 1988 we outlawed them at the Federal level (!), because some kid someplace didn’t understand well enough that heavy sharp metal flying things were dangerous (!), enabling a horrible accident.  (I say the herd has a way of thinning itself out, and that stuff happens.)  I’ve waited for baseball bats and hammers ever since, but as I grew to better understand the convergence of money and politics, I learned those two will be a long time coming.  And in the background, our politicians (mostly the left in this example) cry for “personal responsibility.” 

[13] Flag burning is another good one.  The only sure way to immediately increase the number of flag burnings exponentially is to pass an Amendment banning it.  It’s hard not to laugh at supporters of a flag burning Amendment for this reason, at least until the fear sets in, since I’ll have to burn one and get arrested if the damn thing is passed.  This is policy designed to identify and prosecute those who disagree with you politically.  Three years into the guy’s Presidency, I can’t believe he didn’t throw this one in that crappy SOU of 2004, too.  It would have fit right in with his homophobia and his cry for steroid control.  (See, “Neil Bush” for yet another fine example of how well we heterosexuals have “sanctified marriage.”  And, for that matter, how the tax code works, or our politician’s drug histories.  Sorry, but the hypocrisy is just endless…)

[14] Nobody is saying this would be a good idea, but the law (not common sense or attention to the facts) indisputably allows for it.  Absurd.  And we’re not talking about children here, period.  I wouldn’t even let kids have their driver’s license until they graduated H.S.

[15] How could that be?  Morality is never-changing.  Just ask John Ashcroft or George Bush.

[16] See “Perfectly Legal” by David Cay Johnston, for a wonderfully readable (especially considering the subject), detailed, and academic explanation of what happens when rich, powerful people make tax law for long enough. 

[17] Even the perfectly honest Joes’s sense every year when they file that they may be unknowingly ripping the government off, or, at least as likely, getting ripped off by the government for not understanding some cool deduction trick or other dodge, or for not having the money to take advantage.  So R.A.J. and E.A.J. don’t want to make much noise about it, because within either of those scenarios lies trouble with the Man’s suffocating bureaucracy.

[18] Pardon my language, but this is what Joe actually says, if he’s paying attention long enough to notice. 

[19] One could devote their life’s work to the study of our tax code, and not master it.  Joe is unaware this is true, and really doesn’t care.

[20] Joe knows off-shore tax-havens ain’t right, though, so this is a viable political club to wield, but again Joe also knows it’s just “one line” in the tax code—probably 20 pages to E.A.J.—so what’s the point of getting too worked up, really?  So not too big a club; there’s more where offshore tax havens came from. 

[21] Who makes cool stuff for Joe to use to “help” Joe figure it all out and “simplify” Joe’s life at work and home as Joe dials through 13 menu-numbers on his phone only to hold with the help desk for half an hour.

[22] Not so lots of Mideast Muslim Regular .Average .M’s, but that’s a whole new topic, even though it’s closely related by and to Power and Money and Anti-Reason Government.   

[23] Though folks like Tim McVeigh and Anthrax Boy are surely angry and twisted, if not yet hopeless and suicidal.

7 Responses to “The Political Plight of Average Joe”


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  2. […] The Political Plight of Average Joe […]


  3. […] The Political Plight of Average Joe […]


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