Monday, July 14, 2008

Phelps: an old confederate reflects on the past

Forgive me for this grumpy post, but turning 103 today prompts me to look back on my long, painful life as an American icon (oclast) and vent a little about our woes of today.

Empirical expansion - When I was born, there were 45 stars on the flag. We didn't need anymore then, and we don't need anymore now. In fact, with the admission of Wisconsin in 1848, we had all the states we would ever need and they fit nicely east of the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers. Sure, stopping the republic's expansion westward would have meant that Mexico would benefit from California's gold rush and the Texas oil boom, but that would just have ushered them into super power economic status along with us and we wouldn't be having the illegal immigration troubles we're having today by sharing a border with a third world nation. Plus, the Mormons would have been their problem in Utah, along with the injuns.

Whiny mama's boys - Those Republicans who bitch and moan about the Democrats wanting to limit free markets tend to forget their very own Herbert Hoover and how he fixed world wheat prices. Ol' Grandpappy Phelps, who liked to call him Her-Butt Heiffer, lost everything to the dusters of '32 because of Whitehouse market interference and the government-sponsored programs of the late 1920's that stole land from the Cherokee and tricked people into disastrously over-farming the High Plains. If it weren't for Prohibition and Grandpappy's unmatched skill with a corn mash still, we Phelpses would have resorted to horse theivery and land-grabbing oil scams like the Nebraska Cheneys we drove north into Wyoming. The point is, there's no such thing as a free market. The only thing in the market that the Republicans want to be free is the corporations' scott when cheating the workers out of rights and benefits, as in, "they want to get off scott-free when they're caught lying, cheating, killing, or defrauding." When it serves their purpose, they maniplate the free market as much as the Democrats. But it's the Dems who get the bad rap for it because they do it to protect the public's pocketbook instead of doing it to protect the Wall Street fat cats.

Socialized medicine - What, some things are OK to socialize and some things aren't? In my day, we didn't have anything socialized. Not libraries, not police forces, and definitely not "fundamental services." If you wanted the local fire department to put water on your blazing hovel, you had to pay them to do it. Teachers' salaries funded by school district taxes? Bah! Every man's child took a nickel to school with him everyday to pay his teacher for his education in the 3 R's along with a hefty dose of corporal punishment, a Protestant-centric world view, and historical studies that were decidedly lacking in any mention of those continental land masses and cultures east of Poland,west of California, and south of the Equator. And we'd be grateful to offer to muck our teacher's horse stall or milk his dairy cow for him. Now the commie liberals are demanding socialized medicine. Well, I'm against it. Who cares that a few million dollars in tax-funded preventative care could save the public and insurance companies billions of dollars of treatment down the road? Somebody who hasn't paid into the system might use it, and we're better off not having a medical system that's free to the public than having to police the freeloaders or fraudsters that exist in the system anyway!

The trouble is today, nobody wears belts or boot straps. In my time we used them for everything that ailed us. Lost your job? Well, you just need to find a new one by lifting yourself up by the bootstraps! Have a bad year on the farm and can't feed your family? Well, just tighten those belts and work hard for next year! Lost your non-government insured life savings due to some New York banker's stock market speculation so you weren't able to move away from your drought-ruined farm or pay a doctor to cure your wife's cancer? Well, just braid those bootstraps and belt into a sturdy rope and hang yourself from the rafters. It's called "taking responsibility for your lot in life." We had to do it in my day, and we should expect the young-uns of today to have to do it, too.

And a good old-fashioned switching behind the wood shack never hurt anyone.


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