If you incessantly forecast doom and gloom, it must be quite a pisser when the sun insists on coming up in the morning. But at least you have some nice light in which to repaint the letters of your “The End Is Near!” sign. Still, it would be so much better if the apocalypse would finally show up.
My father doesn't carry a doomsday sign, but he's been carrying on for several years now about our nation's inevitable plunge into communism. It's what “the liberals” want, you know. And “those liberals” control practically everything, so our doom is certain.
Dad is now taking bitter satisfaction in being vindicated—at least that's how he sees it—by the cover of the latest Newsweek. It's not communism yet, but what else is socialism besides communism in sheep's clothing? Anyway, we're sufficiently doomed so that Dad can proclaim that his dire predictions have come true. It's right on the cover of Newsweek, after all—a magazine that Dad disdains except when it suits him to do otherwise:
From: FatherFerox@aol.comComing from Dad, this is nothing new. I had not, however, seen the latest Newsweek, so I needed to find out what had elicited this reaction from my father. The cover story was titled “We Are All Socialists Now,” and that made it all clear enough. I fired back a mildly mocking reply:
Date: Mon, 9 Feb 2009 20:53:36 EST
Subject: I saw it comming!!!!
Hope things are going well for you, the rest of us are very worried. The environmentalists want to take our water and keep on piling on regulations that you have no time to do any thing else. and then I saw the cover on newsweek and my heart sank. I saw it coming but it came sooner than I thought.
Wishing you the best, Love Dad.
From: email@example.comAs a dutiful son, I refrained from correcting Dad's spelling or being deliberately rude. I even fought down the impulse to quote to him from some of my current reading material, and that was a challenge.
Date: Tue, 10 Feb 2009 18:28:20 -0800
Subject: Re: I saw it comming!!!!
Well, gee, it must be true if Newsweek says it is. Cover stories of magazines are never wrong.
And to think that President Obama managed to pull it off in only three weeks. The man is a political miracle worker.
Of course, to be fair we really should give credit where it's due. The free market system was actually discredited by the worst president in American history. His eight years of mismanagement and neglect of government regulation permitted one sector of the economy after another to crash and burn. The housing market and the nation's banking system were just the most recent disasters under his administration. He must be proud of the smoking ruin he left behind for others to clean up.
By an extremely curious coincidence, I am in the midst of reading Interface, a 1994 novel by Neal Stephenson and J. Frederick George, originally published under the pseudonym Stephen Bury. I ran across two paragraphs this week that would have certainly gotten Dad's goat. He would have been mortally offended had I suggested that these two paragraphs apply to him, but they do:
“Well, of course you're right,” he finally said. “The economy of this whole region is built on subsidies and federal programs. But people refuse to admit that because they want to believe in the cowboy myth. That their ancestors came out and made the desert bloom solely through their own hard work and pluck.Exactly. These words were put in the mouth of a crusty old Colorado senator, but they apply just as accurately to central California, where the desert blooms because of state and federal water projects (and subsidies). But don't tell Dad that. He'd burst a blood vessel at the thought that he is a “cowboy socialist.” Besides, he's still angry that others (such as cities or “the environmentalists”) dare to compete with farmers for the water in California's reservoirs. The government built those dams for him and his fellow farmers. But the water is running low. Any solution will inevitably involve significant government intervention in the stalemate between competing interests, but who has the will to do it? The growing cities aren't waiting: They continue to nibble away at agricultural lands throughout the Central Valley.
“Now, they were plucky, and they did work hard. But there are a lot of plucky, hardworking people in other places who have gone down the toilet anyway just because they were pursuing a fool's errand, economically speaking. The people who came here sort of lucked into a situation of cowboy socialism. Without federal programs they'd go broke—no matter how hard they worked.”
Maybe the end is near after all.