In wake of Sandy Hook, Tom Tomorrow posted gun comics from years ago (some from twenty years ago), to point out just how long "we've been having the exact same conversation about guns."
In the shadow of the looming sequester, as elected government representatives, as they're wont to do, argue about whether they should choose between cutting services that help the poor and general populace, or raising taxes on the wealthy, I was reminded of this excerpt from a Kurt Vonnegut book, that I think helps to point out just how long we've been having this exact same conversation:
When the United States of America, which was meant to be a Utopia for all, was less than a century old, Noah Rosewater and a few men like him demonstrated the folly of the Founding Fathers in one respect: those sadly recent ancestors had not made it the law of the Utopia that the wealth of each citizen should be limited.This book was published in 1965.
This oversight was engendered by a weak-kneed sympathy for those who loved expensive things and by the feeling that the continent was so vast and valuable, and the population so thin and enterprising, that no thief, no matter how fast he stole, could more than mildly inconvenience anyone.
Noah and a few like him perceived that the continent was in fact finite, and that venal office-holders, legislators in particular, could be persuaded to toss up great hunks of it for grabs, and to toss them in such a way as to have them land where Noah and his kind were standing.
Thus did a handful of rapacious citizens come to control all that was worth controlling in America. Thus was the savage and stupid and entirely inappropriate and unnecessary and humorless American class system created. Honest, industrious, peaceful citizens were classed as bloodsuckers, if they asked to be paid a living wage. And they saw that praise was reserved henceforth for those who devised means of getting paid enormously for committing crimes against which no laws had been passed. Thus the American dream turned belly up, turned green, bobbed to the scummy surface of cupidity unlimited, filled with gas, went bang in the noonday sun.
E pluribus unum is surely an ironic motto to inscribe on the currency of this Utopia gone bust, for every grotesquely rich American represents property, privileges, and pleasures that have been denied the many. An even more instructive motto, in light of history made by the Noah Rosewaters, might be: Grab much too much, or you'll get nothing at all.
-Kurt Vonnegut, God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater
Disclaimer: Huge Vonnegut fan, as I own more of his books than not. The Rosewaters, obviously, are a fictional family, though may or may not share a likeness with historical and/or contemporary figures.
9:07 AM PT: If you are already a Vonnegut fan and this piqued your interest in exploring his work further, I would suggest reading Player Piano, and then see when that was published, and that will really blow you away about how ahead of his time he was, and how relevant he still is in ours.
If you have friends you would like to introduce Vonnegut's writing to, I would suggest God Bless you, Dr. Kevorkian, as it is so incredibly short that they would more than likely actually read it, and still get a good gist of how great a writer he was.
9:35 AM PT: Thanks to everyone for getting this on the Recommended list. Personally, I was torn on whether I wanted this diary to gain much exposure since it hinges largely on the writing that someone else did, but I do think that is balanced by the need for more people to see just what Vonnegut was writing so long ago.