Saturday, April 09, 2005

A Modest Scenario 

Here's a proposition for you. It's an Aristotelean either/or -- sorry about that, since such things rarely happen in real life. But, for the sake of argument, go with it...

Choice Number 1: You get one million dollars and you get to keep all of it. No taxes, nada, nothing. A million bucks in the bank, but there's only one catch. In exchange for this money, all of your favorite vices are outlawed. You can't drink, you can't smoke, you can't do whatever drugs you like -- prescription, OTC or illegal. You can't have sex with anybody but your wife, if you have one, and only in the missionary position, without birth control. If you're single or gay, accepting this offer means no sex at all, ever again. You also have to give up your choice of church (or no church) and go regularly to the church designated by the people giving you the money. And you can never say anything bad about the people who gave you the money.

Choice Number 2: You get one million dollars, but the government is going to take 38% of it in taxes, so you only keep $620,000, and may have to pay other taxes as well -- capital gains, inheritance, social security, whatever. But you'll probably walk away with half a million, or close to it. Or not. Requirements? None at all. You can drink or smoke or inhale whatever you want, fuck whoever you want however you want, go to the church of your choice, believe what you want. You can even tell the people who gave you the money to go fuck themselves fourteen ways from Tuesday to their faces. No one is allowed to come into your home or poke into your business and you are free.

Which scenario do you choose?

Now, I'd guess that most people would say number 2. They'd claim that money wasn't all that important as long as you can pursue what you want to do and be left alone, blah blah blah. And, if anyone -- anyone -- really analyzed the offer, number 2 is the only logical choice.

Why, then, do so many people pick option number 1? I'm thinking of people like Arthur
J. Finkelstein or JeffJim GannonGuckert. Or any gay Republican or Libertarian who voted for Bush. Or anyone who isn't a rich, straight, white male who could support the NeoCon agenda.

Yeah, sure. I'd bet that the logic behind the people who go for offer number 1 is this: Well, they can say I can't do all those things, but when I have money, I can do all those things. And you might be able to, until such point as you become embarrassing to the people who gave you the money.

I'll never understand people who can thwart their own self-interest for the sake of a little profit. Does it really matter whether you have half a million or a million? Isn't personal freedom and identity and the ability to make your own decisions worth more than a pile of money, which is an arbitrary device in the first place?

Every time I meet someone who's gay or black or hispanic or handicapped or female or poor and says they support the Republicans, I just want to bitch slap them back to the 17th Century and say, "What the fuck are you thinking?" Does your $9 tax cut really, really make up for the loss of self-realization?

Meanwhile, the religious nuts in Washington keep trying to dig their claws further into our lives, even as the polls show most Americans don't agree with their agenda. And it all makes me think, these are the kinds of things that lead to Civil War. The last one was caused by a disagreement over slavery -- an argument between people who thought that all humans deserved equal dignity and those who thought that darker humans deserved to be treated like cattle. Slavery didn't even really involve religion, except to the extent that some enlightened churches were against it. But the next Civil War is shaping up to be a religious battle -- a fight between the fundie morons and those who know better. An internal Crusade, as it were.

I seem to be spinning two threads, but I'm not. See, the argument to come is about whether to turn everyone back into slaves or not. Should we all be indentured to the religious bullshit of people who believe in fairy tales, or should we be free to pursue something higher for the human race? And, ironically, the party of religious looniness is also the party that will try to lure other people in with the promise of manna. The supposed non-materialists will drag allies to their side with a rope of gold and a chain of silver.

Shades of William Jennings Bryant. If you don't get that reference, please don't vote in the next election.

So, it's your choice. Pay a little less money to the public trough, lose some freedom. Or, get to be yourself, as long as you pay for the right.

Not the best of choices, but we're only human. Some moreso than others. Others, not ever likely in this lifetime. Pick your camp, and stick with it.

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