Saturday, January 03, 2009

Best of, cont'd.: Rant

From 7/22/07:

Despite my ongoing struggle with my mood disorder, I continue to expand my knowledge of local flora. Now for a rant:

Although they may beat me, stretch my skin on lampshades, inject me with polyphonic resins and ignite me with acetylene torches, I will not give up my secret.

My secret was passed down from generations, the secret that holds the universe captive, that makes the stars do our bidding and the planets follow meekly behind. To reveal it is not worth one life, much less many lives. No amount of organic matter can justify the telling of the secret for a mere reprieve from our planned obsolescence.

What is the secret? To ask that is to be a traitor to the living and no hero to the dead. When a secret is kept for generations, generations have agreed that its price is beyond rubies and gold, beyond a loft in Manhattan or a turn-of-the-century Victorian in San Francisco.

Many don’t understand that nowadays; many have gone over to matter absolutely, believing stuff is the central goal of our species. Perhaps it is. But my forebears and I resist the temptation. We consider our secret too valuable to sell.

The secret is obvious, of course; those who know it need not pursue it and those who don’t, well, no amount of money could secure the wisdom they seek.

I met a panhandler the other day in a greasy orange parka with a watch cap of green wool, straw-colored hair issuing beneath it, and the au courant, open-fingered gloves revealing dirty fingernails in the standard urban cliche'.

“Can you spare some change for a Vet?” he said.

“Let me see your discharge papers,” I said.

“Man, you some kind of hard ass? You don’t believe me? Agent orange wrecked my mind.”

“Agent Craig wrecked mine. Pull up your sleeves,” I said. He wouldn’t. Too many track marks, obviously.

“Go away, man, you’re bringing me down,” he said.

“Sorry,” I said, “As a general rule I don’t give money to liars.”

I relate this to tell you that mercy is not enough. Mercy has been hornswaggled, kidnapped, sucked up like nectar from a flower. If a con knows you’re giving something away, by God, he won’t lift a broom for it but his practiced, heartfelt earnestness will strive to unlock your heart.

So much charity is wasted on the persuasive.

The ones in real need are rarely so verbally gifted. And how many of us commit charity to make ourselves feel better, hmm? The better they say, "thanks," the better we feel.

We have the highest incarceration rate in the world, over 2 million prisoners in the U.S., approaching 0.5% of our population, easily outnumbering doctors. Our charges have a 67% recidivism rate within three years.

Half of our inmates committed non-violent crime, usually drug-related. If we released them, the money saved could fund universal health insurance (this is just an estimate of mine, when combined with present programs; I don't claim to have the math down, but the savings would be 300 billion).

The cost of maintaining one prisoner for a year in California is about $30,000, a figure above the poverty level for a single person, even if that person is forced to live in an 8 X 6 cell, sometimes with two other roommates.

Is this crazy or what?

And some guards, with only a high school education, overtime included, make over $200,000 a year--more than some wardens.

Upon discharge a prisoner gets a bus ticket and the clothes he came in with, along with any money he earned (at 10 cents an hour) that he didn’t spend on deodorant or cigarettes. God bless America. If there’s no “home” to return to, the bus takes him nowhere. Bleakness. Repetition. Devaluation. Reward for predation.

Everyone's corrupt. But society would collapse without enforcers. Who would police Iraq? Who would punish Scooter Libby? Who would object to political firings of federal DAs when the executive branch has full power to fire any they please?

The greatest danger to Plato's Republic is not poets but literacy. Especially literacy in the pursuit of facts. God forbid. Put on a dark suit and answer your roll call vote. Constituents are barbituates.

I listened with great interest to a medicinal herbalist the other day. “Milk thistle gives you a positive glow,” he said. “It’s good for your liver. Figwort helps in detox.”

Why do I bring this up? Because he’s dealing drugs and giving medical advice. Shouldn't he be in prison if the law were applied equally?

The worst doctors go into enforcement; those almost as bad go into business.

I have often said that if every statute on city, state and federal books were enforced, we would all be in prison. How would we then pay the guards? By making license plates?

Good and evil are not absolutes in society; they are defined by current culture. Heretics were formerly burned and now drug dealers are incarcerated. Witches were put to death but now Wicca is chic. Debtors once went to prison but are now offered more credit cards.

Am I arrogant? Is it arrogant to spew the truth as I see it without need to please any constituency?

I think not. People don’t have to read me. Take me off your bookmarks; to otherwise complain is a self-pitying paradox.

I can’t wait for sleep to come. Being awake is so much work. I’m so tired of the player piano of my brain. If only I could come by some new rolls.

Fuck everything that moves. Bless the rocks.

I hate you all as much as I love you. I flagellate myself to please you. How I wish for ataraxia!

Please receive this rant as a rant and not as an essay. Or don't. Eat me.

Oh, and as for the secret? Listen to the Beatles. If you don't decipher it you're not meant to.

2 Kilorats,


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