Ah yes: a new nation independent of concentrated wealth, inherited privilege and minority rule, and governed by Enlightenment ideals and rationality. Sound familiar? Yeah, Norway is a helluva country.
Here in Petticoat Junction things have gone a little off track. One percent of the nation’s citizens take home 20% of all the income and own 35% of the nation’s wealth. Good thing my ancestors got the hell out of that economically lopsided 18th Century hellhole, England. The thought that I could be living under the oppressiveness of aristocratic domination and the undue influence of a powerful few is just…familiar.
While it’s true the British parliament famously dumped on the distant colonies, here in present day America 38 million people living in the 22 smallest states have 44 senators representing them. 38 million Californians, of which I am one have the representation of two. Bales of hay in Nebraska and clumps of sod in Kansas have a stronger voice in Washington than citizens of my state.
Taxation without representation? California gets 79 cents back from the federal government for every dollar it sends in. Kansas gets a $1.12 back for every dollar, Nebraska gets $1.07, Missouri gets $1.29, Arkansas gets $1.47, Oklahoma gets $1.48, Alabama gets $1.71. How come these insufferable deadbeats in Hooterville get to run the country? I’d say it’s time to pour the Earl Grey into Los Angeles Harbor, except, what am I going to drink?
I might take my chances with the British parliament even today. Despite a Tory plurality I’d get representation more suitable for the 21st Century at least, since unlike conservatives here the Tories there respire through their nostrils instead of their mouths. Consent of the governed? I haven’t consented to anything the U.S. House of Representatives has done in what feels like a couple of centuries.
Indeed, I love the story of colonial merchants dressed up as ordinary colonist dudes in order to raise holy hell in Boston Harbor over the inordinate economic and political power of the East India Company. Boy, were those the good old days, when corporate bigfooting could start a revolution…in America. These days we elect corporations wearing brown suits to higher office or we dress them in robes and put them on the highest court.
Age of Reason? Enlightenment ideals? A Republican member of the United States House of Representatives said, “Evolution, embryology, the big bang, all lies straight for the bowels of hell.” Republican legislators in North Carolina came up with a bill designed to elude predictions of rising coastal waters due to climate change by prohibiting measurement of the rising water. You couldn’t get any further from the Enlightenment if you sailed your boat over the edge of the world.
It would be nice to go all balanced and CNN gray, and say it’s everybody’s fault. But it isn’t. No, it’s plutocrats and corporations operating with virtual impunity, and a non compos mentis Republican Party operating in full contradiction of the Enlightenment ideals of reason, rationality, common sense and enlightened morals. Between Exon, Citibank, the demented freaks of the Republican Party with their manifestly disordered minds, and scarecrows in Oklahoma cornfields many of us feel ourselves all but invisible participants in this participatory democracy.
I’m beginning to believe the death of Voltaire in 1778 was no coincidence. A couple of years into the revolution, with preternatural vision he looked into the future and saw what the American experiment would eventually come to and it literally killed him to know he wouldn’t live long enough to ridicule it. I see a lot less Adam Smith, John Locke, Ben Franklin, Thomas Paine and Thomas Jefferson in the present comportment of the United States than the East India Company, dukes, earls and Looney Tunes. Viva Henry F. Potter
Independence Day? Better King George than Donald Trump, though the Donald’s hair has a remarkable resemblance to George’s hat.