All the best imaginary worlds are ruled by despotic governments. Your 1984, your Stainless Steel Rat galaxy, and my beloved Aeon Flux all invite the reader to indulge the fantasy of organized repression. And those are mostly just books—you can also find plenty of despotism in other media of fantasy, such as cable news or American political discourse. If you like to pretend that titanic forces are arrayed against you—and really, don’t we all?—now is an exciting time to be alive. Today is Friday, and probably we are not poised on the brink of a new world order. It would be kind of awesome if we were, though, provided the actual despotism never, ever actually happened. Won’t you exercise the imagination/wallow in the disastrous ignorance with me?
First, the good news: it’s not such a big deal that the six heirs to the Wal-Mart fortune collectively hold more net worth than the bottom 30% of Americans, as I read in this book review. It’s just that the bottom 30% of Americans have negative net worth, as I read in this blithe consolation. Tim Worstall seems to believe that knowing a third of the country is in long-term debt should console us about socioeconomic inequality, presumably because at least poor people are still working a lot. I guess the idea of negative net worth makes the vast wealth of the Walton family more just. A newly-minted doctor owes a considerable debt to society; he’s only learned to perform surgery, whereas the Waltons’ grandpa invented Wal-Mart. 90 million of us have a lot of catching up to do before we’ve contributed as much as them.
Ah, sarcasm, the lowest form of wit. I personally prefer unintentional parody, which is why I enjoyed this amazing Fox News segment wherein various commentators explain why women becoming primary breadwinners is a disaster for society:
Best appeal to an imagined state of nature ever: beginning at 1:35, Erick Erickson uses a meaning of the word “science” with which I am unfamiliar to argue that “when you look at biology, look at the natural world, the roles of a male and a female in society and other animals, the male typically is the dominant role. The female is not antithesis; it’s not competing. It’s a complementary role.” It’s like with arctic terns. The female guards the nest and raises the children, and the male works at a telemarketing center as an independent contractor who must provide his own health insurance.
According to Erickson, we as individuals in society have lost the ability to have “complementary relationships.” But just look at how well “anti-TSA activist” Ashley Jessica gets along with the poor woman who has to frisk her at San Diego airport. Props to A. Ron Galbraith for the link. First of all, the TSA is stupid and we should not passively submit to the escalating humiliations of air travel. Second, Ashley Jessica sucks. Her claim that a female TSA agent “groped” her is refuted by her own video, which basically shows an attractive young woman scowling through the worst five minutes of a tired older woman’s job. But that’s what fighting for freedom looks like. First they held their hands vertically between our boobs, and I said nothing, because I wasn’t a boob.
Meanwhile, in actual demonstrations of America’s growing disregard for individual rights, a teacher in Batavia, Illinois has been disciplined for telling his students that the Fifth Amendment allows them to refuse to answer a survey about drug use. One look at John Dryden and I immediately am on his side, because he is obviously the coolest high school teacher ever. (Coolest university professor: Albert Borgmann.) Also, high school is one long lesson in the difference between professed and practiced values. There’s learning about the Constitution, Rosa Parks and Henry David Thoreau, and then there’s locker searches and getting sent home for wearing a t-shirt with a dick on it. I would like to remind my fellow Valley High Tigers about the time our principal briefly shut down the student newspaper at the request of the student council. We all learned something.
Mostly, we learned that people will do what they can get away with. It’s not that Earth writhes in the grasp of a new world order; it’s just that assholes want to be in charge more than everybody else. That’s what makes them assholes. Heck, I’d do it too, if I were a jerk with few hobbies and no imagination. Oh, wait. Now I’m sad.