Studs Terkel was on Donahue yesterday, which is almost enough to make me want cable. Studs is 90 years old now, and allowed to say whatever he wants, so go read the transcript.
Here's my favorite part:
Suppose the president of the United States called for the United Nations as the most powerful guy, the wealthiest, says, “I will call upon a former president’s idea. America had a great, terrible despair, the Depression of the ’30s. And my predecessor, Franklin D. Roosevelt, said ‘I see one third of a nation ill-fed, ill-clothed, ill-housed.'
Free enterprise fell on its ass. Couldn’t do it. And they pleaded with the federal government to save them, and it did. And there was the SEC, the WPA giving jobs, PWA, CCC. So the very ones whose daddies’ and granddaddies’ asses were saved by big government are the ones who contend big government is no good.
So meantime, I’m before the United Nations. And I’m saying, “Think what he did. Now I see in the world, and you see, two fifths or three fifths of the world ill-fed, ill-clothed, ill-housed. Let’s have a giant Marshall plan, a plan right now to do it.”
What do you think would happen to Saddam Hussein? What do you think would happen to all the phonies?
Maybe the problem with those of us who are still young and jaded is that we haven't yet acquired the naive idealism of a nonagenarian. Studs expresses a thought many of us have probably had, kicked around, and dismissed since last September (and before). We've dismissed it because it is unworkable, impractical, impossible. Because we know no one would go along with it. Because we saw that even with Bono's help, the best America could do was pony up $200 million to fight AIDS in Africa, and then we saw that stripped away weeks later as P.R. for a sham "economic forum."
We know that such a scheme is naive because, as Wislawa Szymborska puts it
good and strong
are still two different men.
But, as that poem concludes:
the most pressing questions
are naive ones.
I can think of a million reasons why Studs' grand scheme, or one like it, can't and won't happen, but none of these reasons is good or beautiful or true.
As a favor to the old man, let's bracket for the moment the inevitable liberal/conservative debates that would arise over how to implement such a plan in a prudent and effective manner, and focus on the kernel of the idea: the wealthiest nation on earth could commit itself and its considerable wealth and power to the task of improving life for the billions of its neighbors on the planet who remain "ill-fed, ill-clothed and ill-housed."
Objections flood the mind. Practicality rears its ugly head. Dozens of valid responses spring to mind and dozens more less worthy, but perhaps more daunting.
"I’m not saying that will happen," Studs told Donahue. "I’m saying that must happen."
If the old man is right, then the task becomes to see these responses as obstacles to be overcome. They need to be identified, enumerated, analyzed and dispensed with in order. A vague dismissal -- Nice idea, sir, but it won't fly ... -- will not suffice. "Think anew," Studs says, quoting Einstein.
Idealism, of course, has produced some monstrous children. Studs condemns the "maladventure" of the Vietnam War, but that too was in part fueled by Idealism. The century we were born in (Studs, you and I) is rich with lessons about idealism gone awry, but those lessons may have as much to do with hope as with hopelessness. "Think anew."
The bottom line is probably this: most of the world is ill-fed, ill-clothed, ill-housed. This is intolerable. Some people know this and some do not, but what are you going to do about it?
Thursdays are good days for idealism. The weekend beckons with its promise of hope outside The Cube and we're given space to dream a bit about something bigger than the corporate grind. I'm a bit grinded right now myself, so I'd better get cracking on a piece of corporate bluffery due Tuesday.
The slacktivist may be a bit thin until this gets done. My apologies.
In the meantime, I'll leave you with the complete text of the poem mentioned above. Ms. Szymborska does not work for Disney, and is well set with her Nobel award money, so hopefully she will forgive this minor infringement of copyright.
You can decide whether the following reinforces or rebuts the comments above.
THE CENTURY'S DECLINE.
Our twentieth century was going to improve on the others.
It will never prove it now,
now that its years are numbered,
its gait is shaky,
its breath is short.
Too many things have happened
that weren't supposed to happen,
and what was supposed to come about
Happiness and spring, among other things,
were supposed to be getting closer.
Fear was expected to leave the mountains and the valleys.
Truth was supposed to hit home
before a lie.
A couple of problems weren't going
to come up anymore:
hunger, for example,
and war, and so forth.
There was going to be respect
for helpful people's helpfulness,
trust, that kind of stuff.
Anyone who planned to enjoy the world
is now faced
with a hopeless task.
Stupidity isn't funny.
Wisdom isn't gay.
isn't that young girl anymore,
et cetera, alas.
God was finally going to believe
in a man both good and strong,
but good and strong
are still two different men.
"How should we live?" someone asked me in a letter.
I had meant to ask him
the same question.
Again, and as ever,
as may be seen above,
the most pressing questions
are naive ones.
-- Wislawa Szymborska, from
The People on the Bridge, 1986.
posted by Fred Clark 2:03 PM
TO: Mr. L. Brent Bozell
President, Parents Television Council
You're missing a good show.
Reading over your list of the Ten Best Shows for family-friendly content, I found you left out one of the very best programs in prime time, one that deals regularly with themes of moral responsibility, redemption, character, virtue, family and -- the big ones -- love and death.
While the Parents Television Council is not overtly a religious organization, you seem more inclined to appreciate programs with explicit religious themes, so you might be impressed that the show you're missing deals both literally and figuratively with the theme: "If anyone would follow me, [she] must deny [her]self and take up [her] cross and follow me" (Matt. 16:24).
Taking up her cross has led the main character (twice) to lay down her life for others, embodying the Christian ideal expressed in the Gospel of John (15:13), "Greater love has no one than this, that [she] lay down [her] life for [her] friends." (The show is actually somewhat similar in structure to a perennial PTC favorite, "Touched by an Angel" -- with its protagonist literally coming down from heaven to be a servant for good on earth.)
Another Big Theme for the show you're missing during the past year was the nature of love and redemption. One character, played with great verve by James Marsters, entered the scene as frankly evil, but may have found new life by loving someone more than himself -- his storyline neatly parallels the set dramas of C.S. Lewis' The Great Divorce, but without Lewis' allegoric didacticism.
The show you're missing is "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," which, in addition to tackling all the weighty themes discussed above, is also consisently well written, well-acted and vastly entertaining.
I'd say more, but I just bought the first two seasons of "Buffy" on DVD and I'm kind of busy just now. (Although not as busy as this guy.)
posted by Fred Clark 10:53 AM
Timothy Noah is right. The Chatterbox calls on the New York Times to abolish its wedding page. The occasion for this suggestion was the Times' announcement that it will publish "reports of same-sex commitment ceremonies and of some types of formal registration of gay and lesbian partnerships."
This is a step forward of sorts: snobbish, elite heterosexual couples will now be joined by snobbish, elite same-sex couples on the wedding pages of the Times. This is a milestone for tolerance akin to the acceptance of super-rich executives-of-color on the nation's elite country-club golf courses.
As Noah says:
The wedding pages remain because a very small aristocracy demands that they remain. And when Chatterbox says "aristocracy," he means it largely in the traditional sense, i.e., "those who pass great wealth or power on to their children."
The kicker in Noah's Chatterbox column is when he offers what amounts to an apology for his own wedding announcement appearing in the Times. An apology is appropriate. The newspaper's wedding pages are all about Helmslian (as in Leona) class warfare, and only the winners are shown.
Doxagora calls the wedding pages "an ego wall for insider matches," and cites some examples that reveal a sad, oblivious bunch (more stuff, less fun). Fitzgerald was right: the rich are different from you and me.
The question now is what will Andrew Sullivan make of this?
Sullivan has been a determined, consistent and vigorous proponent of equal treatment for same-sex couples. But he seems even more driven by his bitter resentment of his former employer, The New York Times, and especially its editor, Howell Raines. The first sentence from Noah's Chatterbox accurately says: "New York Times Editor Howell Raines struck a blow for gay rights ..."
Which will win out? The immovable object of Andrew Sullivan's support for equal rights? Or the unstoppable force of his compulsion to criticize everything Howell Raines says or implies?
His predicament somehow reminds me of an antinomy from David Foster Wallace's Broom of the System -- the barber who shaves all and only those who do not shave themselves. (So who shaves the barber?)
posted by Fred Clark 3:06 PM
THE ALLURE OF FIGHTING TERRORISM.
Today's USA Today offers this article by David Moniz on the U.S. military's "recruiting boom," which Moniz attributes in part to "the allure of fighting terrorism."
The terrorist attacks of last September gave most of us a stronger and deeper sense of patriotism. That patriotism, combined with outrage over the cowardice and injustice of the attacks was a boon for military recruiters, but I'm sure those recruiters would never think of this as "the allure of fighting terrorism."
Anyway, this report of a "recruiting boom" comes just five days after a Los Angeles Times/Seattle Times story by Michelle Munn titled "Military finding it hard to recruit" (via Cursor).
The Times piece reviews the findings of a study commissioned by the Department of Defense:
Despite a threefold increase in advertising in recent years, efforts by the U.S. military to bolster its recruitment ranks are bearing little fruit, a study released yesterday says. ... A highflying economy through much of the 1990s may explain some of the lack of interest, the report says. But as the economy sputters and patriotism surges after the Sept. 11 attacks, there has been no corresponding uptick in military enlistment.
That same sputtering economy and surge in patriotism are two of the factors the USAT article cites as causes of its "boom." And USAT makes no mention of that "threefold increase in advertising."
Muniz quotes Maj. Gen. Michael Rochelle, of the Army Recruiting Command at Fort Knox, Ky., as saying, "All the services have had a good year, and I think there's no doubt there's been some spillover from Sept. 11."
Munn's final paragraph reads, "Military officials and others who track recruitment trends say the number of candidates seeking to join the four military branches appears largely unaffected by the terrorist attacks."
These apparent contradictions might be explained in part by the longer-term scope of the DoD study, and partly as a matter of emphasis. (Read the National Research Council's press release on the DoD study).
I would guess that these days military recruiters don't find their task very alluring in the current climate.
We have a president for whom the idea of sacrificial service is wholly alien. President Bush has consistently promoted a shallow, "please ask what your country can do for you" vision of patriotism and citizenship that deeply undermines the ethos on which a volunteer military relies. In our generation's darkest hour, when millions of Americans were inspired to dedicate themselves to a worthy patriotic calling, Mr. Bush fumbled this civic zeal by urging us to go to the mall and go shopping, reducing us from citizens to "consumers." (And cutting funds for medical care for veterans doesn't help promote patriotism and military service either. See here -- again via Cursor, who seems to read everything.)
Then there's the Loose Cannon factor. Vocal factions within the Bush administration seem intent on launching an invasion of Iraq, even if it means going it alone. The hawks insist they have a compelling argument for such an invasion, but they haven't been very forthcoming in sharing that argument with the American people. Until they make that case, I don't imagine that many young Americans are going to be eager to sign up for the cause.
But on the other hand, Mr. Bush has presided over massive job loss, and as Muniz points out, this means a wider pool of potential recruits. So there's that.
posted by Fred Clark 12:43 PM
The intriguing EthicsDaily.com brings us this RNS article on how some religious congregations are approaching the idea of "green consumption."
The article references a publication from the Center for a New American Dream called "The Responsible Purchasing Guide." New Dream says the guide "provides key steps congregations can take, outlines ways to undertake each action, and calculates the positive impact of those actions."
New Dream's site offers a variety of insightful resources on anti-consumerism, including what look to be some good materials for kids. Lots of links and articles that are worth a look. You can check out a .pdf file sampling the congregational guide here.
For extra credit: Contrast the religious ethic of environmental stewardship embodied by this guide with the shallow sloganeering of this article, also from Ethics Daily. It reflects on the biblical story of Noah's ark and gleans bumper-sticker "lessons" such as "When you're stressed, float a while," but fails to find any deeper meaning having to do with, say, a moral responsibility to protect other species from the consequences of human sin. Somebody missed the boat.
posted by Fred Clark 5:39 PM
POLLING APPEALS AND APPALLING POLLS FROM POLS.
[NOTE: I promise I'm done with the Mickey vs. Bread for the World thing. The following is only tangentially related.]
Not sure why, but the slacktivist received a "Dear Fellow Republican" letter in today's mail, along with an appeal from the ACLU. As a public service to those watchdogs on the lookout for "bogus interest-group polling," I present a random sampling from the surveys enclosed with the respective appeals. I'll let you guess which questions are from which letter, I've changed the wording of some questions only for purposes of uniformity.
Oh, and to spice things up a bit, I've mixed in a few questions from a Cosmopolitan quiz on the subject "Are You a Drama Queen?"
Answer the following A. Yes, B. No or C. Undecided:
1. Do you support President Bush's initiatives to promote the safety and security of all Americans?
2. Do you believe any proposal to restrict liberty should be made to pass a "necessary and defensible" test that asks a) will the proposed restriction really increase our security, and b) if so, does the security benefit outweigh the cost to such fundamental rights as due process, free speech and privacy?
3. Do you believe, after everyone at a big dinner has chipped in on the bill and you're still $20 short, that you should grill everyone until you find the cheapskate that skimped on the tip?
4. Do you believe government should not be allowed to invade anyone's privacy by wiretapping, Internet monitoring or other means without first demonstrating to a court that there is "probable cause" to believe the specific individual being targeted has committed a crime?
5. Do you support the creation of an Office of Homeland Security?
6. Do you believe that dressing for a date requires an hour trying on ensembles, plus time to call your date and say you'll be late due to a "fashion crisis"?
7. Do you believe that even in times of national crisis, the government should not be allowed to violate the Fourth Amendment protection against unwarranted search and seizures, and that any search made of private property should only be permitted with a court-issued warrant and after giving prior notice?
8. Would you support increasing the amount of security at airports, train stations and all government buildings, including monuments and museums?
9. Do you feel safe in your home?
10. Do you believe that if you're on a business trip --but your luggage doesn't make the flight -- it's best to bitch out the airline people then open your meeting with a five-minute speech about why you look rumpled?
11. Is your answer the same for international travel?
12. Do you believe a strong, independent judiciary is not only vital to the system of checks and balances that restrains the actions of all three branches of our government, but it is also our primary guardian of individual rights and liberties guaranteed by the Constitution and the Bill of Rights?
13. Do you believe that after an unexpected promotion you would panic about having to work overtime and dressing for the part?
14. Do you feel safe traveling in this country?
15. Do you support the use of economic sanctions against nations who do not actively support and provide assistance to Operation Enduring Freedom (The Defense Department's name for all military actions related to the September 11th attacks)?
16. Do you believe political dissent is an essential component of a healthy, viable democracy, and that it should not be discouraged or treated as suspect by government as a whole or by any individual representing government?
17. Do you support increasing the use of covert operatives in targeted areas?
18. Do you believe that if a friend bails on your Friday-night plans at 5:30, you are entitled to be seriously pissed off, because why is her time more valuable than yours?
19. Do you believe that weakening restrictions against FBI spying on political and religious organizations and on individuals exercising their right to dissent will not stop terrorist attacks against our country, but will make us less free?
20. Do you believe that if your gym changes the time-slot for your favorite step class so you can't make it anymore, that the most prudent course of action would be to complain to the manager, your instructor and your classmates in the hope that they will change it back?
21. Do you support the use of air strikes against any country that offers safe harbor or aid to individuals or organizations committed to further attacks on America?
22. Should we take the next step in welfare reform through faith-based programs?
23. Do you believe that all men and women in this country should be treated fairly before the law and that no one should be singled out for investigation, interrogation or detention based solely on their race, religion, ethnicity or national origin?
24. Do you believe that if you should spot a hottie at a black-tie event, you would likely pull your pal into the bathroom to stop you from hyperventilating?
25. Do you support the election of Republican candidates across the country and rebuilding our majorities over the next ten years?
SCORING: If you answered "Yes" to questions 1, 3, 5, 6, 8, 9, 10, 11, 14, 15, 17, 18, 20, 21, 22, 24 and 25; and also answered "No" to questions 2, 4, 7, 12, 13, 19 and 23; and if question 16 made you burst out laughing, then congratulations! You're Anne Coulter! Best wishes on the book tour, Annie.
posted by Fred Clark 5:01 PM
TIME, TIME, TIME
so just close your eyes, son
and this won't hurt a bit ...
TIME magazine goes green with a cover story on the upcoming Johannesburg summit on sustainable development.
The newsweekly generally covers environmental issues with the same slightly askew outsider's stance that it offers when covering religious issues. One appreciates the recognition that the subject is significant enough to merit coverage, and also the magazine's apparent concern for balance and accuracy, but there's also an inescapable sense that they don't quite get it. Like a BBC reporter covering American baseball, they come across a bit unsure of the local terrain. As newcomers into an ongoing conversation, they sometimes highlight the wrong voices, attributing disproportionate significance to fringe opinions and missing where the real story lies. Religion and the environment are also inherently troublesome for a magazine that views its readers primarily as "consumers" and not "citizens" or "neighbors."
The current eco-issue, however, is a pleasant surprise. The main article ably surveys some of the key issues facing the summit, acknowledging the importance of "development" as part of "sustainable development." And the valuable links page is bookmark-worthy.
But still it's odd that TIME's vision of a "green century" takes more of its cues from Silicon Valley than from, say, Lancaster County. TIME seems to believe that the problems arising from technology and consumption are best solved with more technology and consumption.
See for example TIME's "10 Technologies for You and the Planet," which looks more like a page from the Sharper Image catalog than a part of the agenda for "sustainable development." I have nothing against the "Spin-X" clothes dryer, which apparently uses less energy than a conventional dryer, but if the topic is really supposed to be "sustainability," then what about the even-more-efficient and cost-effective technology of the solar-powered clothes dryer my mother used to rely on -- you know, the clothesline?
NEWSFLASH to TIME: Wet clothing, when hung on a line or rack, dries without the consumption of fossil fuels or the threat of shrinkage.
But of course if you regard your readers as, primarily, "consumers," then you've got to sell them something. And the clothesline market isn't all that lucrative.
Green consumption has its place, as Brad DeLong argues here, in a discussion of the multiple benefits of buying a Toyota Prius. And one of my favorite catalogs is the (over-priced) sustainable-living consumerfest Gaiam.
But still, as Wes Jackson once put it, "contra-sumption" is probably more important for sustainability than even contraception. The starting point of "green consumption" is not a list of new eco-toys for the eco-chic wealthy, but rather the simple truth that consumption must have limits.
If you're one of the very, very few people on the planet who can afford them, you may enjoy the gadgetry of TIME's "10 Technologies." Otherwise, a better starting point might be Coop America's helpful list of "Ten Things You Should Never Buy Again." Coop's "Unshopping List" is also worth printing out, laminating in unsustainable plastic, and carrying in your wallet next to the debit cards.
posted by Fred Clark 3:43 PM
THE PLURAL OF ANECDOTE IS DATA.
(A LOVE-LETTER TO KAUSFILES)
From the most recent edition of something called "Habitat World":
If you think your life won't be touched someday by "the poor" -- think again. In fact, four in 10 Americans know someone living in poverty, and nearly half of all American adults are concerned that they will be poor at some point in their lives. ... There may not be even "six degrees of separation" between any one of us and grinding poverty.
Hmmm. Smells to me like some more of that bogus, interest-group polling. And it doesn't stop there. The article cites a report called "Voices of the Poor," which says:
Poor people care about many of the same things all of us care about: happiness, family, children, livelihood, peace, security, safety, dignity and respect.
But again -- no hard data. No explanation of methodology. Not even so much as an indication of what kind of sample of "poor people" were actually interviewed, or of what specific questions these bogus pollsters asked when interviewing these supposed "voices of poverty." For all we know, their survey was loaded with biased, leading questions.
"Habitat World" tips its hand as to its true agenda in the fine print under its masthead, which describes this supposedly objective publication as:
... the educational, informational and outreach publication of Habitat for Humanity International. It's purpose is to further Habitat's goal of eliminating inadequate and poverty housing as a witness to the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and to raise awareness of the issues involved in this work ... [emphasis mine]
"Habitat," it turns out, is an advocate for housing for the poor. Notice that all of these supposedly freely offered responses -- security, dignity, family, respect -- are things that stem from the ownership of safe, decent housing. Is this just coincidence? I think not.
Interest-groups like Habitat promote this kind of sham-research so they can use their supposed "findings" to manipulate public opinion in support of their selfish, narrow agenda of effectively providing and promoting safe, decent, affordable housing for the working poor. They're not interested in the hard science and empirical precision of model sociologists like Charles Murray -- they just want to dupe the public into contributing money to help abolish the supposed "scourge" of poverty housing, suckering people to set aside productive work in order to volunteer at worksites.
The ugly truth of issue-driven, agenda-laden advocacy groups like Habitat is that they actually contribute to poverty by promoting dependence.
What does Habitat for Humanity charge for the simple-but-decent housing it helps to build for poor families around the world? Nothing. By providing this housing for the poor and not for the hard-working middle class (or the harder working upper class) Habitat is creating a financial incentive that rewards the poor for their poverty, furthering the cycle of dependence.
Yes, yes, yes. I know. Habitat will argue that poor families cannot receive their new home unless they have first built up sufficient sweat-equity by helping to build their home and the homes of others. Habitat points to this diligent toil as supposed evidence that these poor people are supposedly just as hard-working as the home-owning bourgeois.
But this is a paradigmatic error -- we all know the poor don't work as hard as we do, otherwise they wouldn't be poor, would they? No amount of bogus interest-group evidence will be able to collapse the unassailable circle of that argument.
If only these shallow, parochial interest-groups would spend less time carping about poverty and more time on the really important issues, like obsessively fact-checking Paul Krugman.
posted by Fred Clark 2:10 PM
Last Monday marked the unveiling of the near-mint-condition slacktivist hotmail address. Thanks to everyone for your words of encouragement, criticisms, threats and offers for lucrative at-home employment and pain-free weight loss. For those keeping score at home, the address existed for four days before the spam started rolling in. The current tally: 79 percent legitimate mail, 21 percent spam.
I'll be posting some of your feedback here soon.
(P.S. To my new friend from Nigeria: the check is in the mail. Thanks so much for trusting me to help you out!)
posted by Fred Clark 12:57 PM
I'M A STRANGER HERE MYSELF.
After a too-serious week spent away from the blog at a too-serious place, I'm pleased for the chance to celebrate something seriously frivolous -- the 100th anniversary of the birth of Ogden Nash.
Mr. Nash deserves to be celebrated for his unique gift for what he called "the wry acceptance of our predicament." Or, as he put it:
What is life? Life is stepping down a step or sitting on a chair,
And it isn't there.
Life is not having been told that the man has just waxed the floor,
It is pulling doors marked PUSH and pulling doors marked PULL and not noticing notices which say PLEASE USE OTHER DOOR.
(from "You and Me and P.B. Shelley")
Serious literature types (and you know who you are) are free to debate the merits of Nash's art -- his poetry is perhaps more clever than beautiful, more witty than transcendant, whatever -- and to dismiss his light verse as merely, well, light verse.
But in his defense: if what he did was so simple and trivial, why didn't anybody else manage to do it so well? What other poet could be celebrated with a postage stamp that bears not only his likeness, but six complete poems? And what other poet would reward with such delight anyone determined enough to get a magnifying glass and read those poems?
The point here is that whimsy is serious business. Journalists and scientists and others too-often lacking in the whimsy department are obsessed with the pursuit of truth, but the truth, as often as not, is comic. To rule out whimsy before the fact creates a bias that may prevent us from reporting or discovering the truth accurately.
A corollary point: never trust anyone who seems incapable of whimsy.
Some examples off the top of my head: Jesus Christ, the Dalai ("one-l") Lama, Dr. Seuss, Albert Einstein, Walter Cronkite, Jon Stewart and Charles Peters all demonstrate a healthy dose of whimsy. I trust them. Ken Lay has no sense of whimsy. Neither does Dick Cheney or John Ashcroft. Draw your own conclusions.
Whimsy may also be what's missing in the great Eggers-Purdy debate of irony vs. earnestness. I'm a fan, for example, of those wonderfully sincere early U2 albums, and also of their ironic later work -- "Zooropa" seems as jaded and cynically hopeful as a Graham Greene novel -- but I've been most impressed with Bono's recent incarnation as a rock-and-roll court jester. Now that Mr. Hewson seems to be taking himself far less seriously, he seems to be doing more real good than ever. Jubilee is, after all, an inspired joke of sorts, a divine reminder that justice is supposed to be fun.
But before I wander further from the occasion at hand: Happy One-Hundredth Birthday Ogden Nash! Some online tributes and collections of verse can be found here and here.
And now, in the hopes that the following will be regarded as a fair-use tribute and not a copyright violation, two more. The first a worthy comment on the current "bankruptcy reform" legislation, the second offering some insight into the "integligence" of the whimsy-less Naderites:
BANKERS ARE JUST LIKE ANYBODY ELSE, EXCEPT RICHER
This is a song to celebrate banks,
Because they are full of money and you go into them and all you hear is clinks and clanks,
Or maybe a sound like the wind in the trees on the hills,
Which is the rustling of the thousand dollar bills.
Most bankers dwell in marble halls,
Which they get to dwell in because they encourage deposits and discourage withdralls,
And particularly because they all observe one rule which woe betides the banker who fails to heed it,
Which is you must never lend any money to anybody unless they don't need it.
I know you, you cautious, conservative banks!
If people are worried about their rent it is your duty to deny them the loan of a single penny, even though it be worth only 3 7/10 francs.
Yes, if they request fifty dollars to pay for a baby you must look at them like the English looking at Joan of Arc,
And thell them what do they think a bank is, anyhow, they had better go get the money from their friendly neighborhood shark.
But suppose people come in and they have a million and they want another million to pile on top of it,
Why, you brim with the milk of human kindness and you urge them to accept every drop of it,
And you lend them the million so then they have two million and this gives them the idea that they would be better off with four,
So they already have two million as security so you have no hesitation in lending them two more,
And all the vice-presidents nod their heads in rhythm,
And the only question asked is do the borrowers want the money sent or do they want to take it withm.
But please do not think that I am not fond of banks,
Because I think they deserve our appreciation and thanks,
Because they provide a valuable public service in eliminating the jackasses who go around saying that health and happiness are everything and money isn't essential,
Because as soon as they have to borrow some unimportant money to maintain their health and happiness they starve to death so they can't go around any more sneering at good old money, which is nothing short of providential.
ELECTION DAY IS A HOLIDAY
People on whom I do not dote
Are people who do not bother to vote.
Heaven forbid that they should ever be exempt
From contumely, obloquy and various kinds of contempt.
Some of them like Toscanini and some like Rudy Vallee,
But all of them take about as much interest in their right to ballot as their right to ballet.
They haven't voted since the heyday of Miss Russell (Lillian)
And excuse themselves by saying What's the difference of one vote in fifty million?
They have such refined and delicate palates
That they can discover no one worthy of their ballots,
And then when someone terrible gets elected
They say, There, that's just what I expected!
And they go around for four years spouting discontented criticisms
And contented witticisms,
And then when somebody to oppose the man they oppose gets nominated
They say Oh golly golly he's the kind of man I've always abominated ...
Oh let us cover these clever people very conspicuously with loathing,
For they are un-citizens in citizens' clothing.
They attempt to justify their negligence
On the grounds that no candidate appeals to people of their integligence,
But I am quite sure that if Abraham Lincoln (Rep.) ran against Thomas Jefferson (Dem.)
Neither man would be appealing enough to squeeze a vote out of them.
posted by Fred Clark 11:52 AM