Sometimes I have a hard time believing it is the year 2008. It just doesn't feel like it. I was at least expecting levitating skateboards, like the one Michael J. Fox had in one of the Back to the Future movies. Not that I would ride it. My dog would like it, I'll bet. There are few things funnier than seeing a pug grin. I'd even buy him a little helmet, like the one moronic adults wear when they ride their bikes on a busy city street.
Instead, what I see are janitors on strike where I work. These are adults, in their 20's, 30's, 40's, 50's. They're making $7.50 an hour. After taxes and deductions for their benefits, there ain't much left. They certainly aren't going to be buying skateboards, levitating or not. I saw one of the elderly female janitors going into her apartment, located in some not-so-hot public housing. Some of the cars on the street were not only not levitating up and down, they weren't going back and forth, not unless people pushed them. It's a bit hard to keep a car running on $7.50 an hour, even if it is an 250,000-mile ex-taxi that cost $200.
These janitors should be making $30,000 a year. My grandfather, who was born in 1893, dropped out of school in the 8th grade, yet was still able to raise nine kids and live a middle-class existence. He installed and sanded wooden floors. But in those days, taxes, inflation, regulations, and the federal deficit were but a fraction of what they are now. What he did is now impossible.
My father told me that when he was a kid, his father would send him to the corner bar to bring back a big bucket of beer for the workers to drink. My father was about ten. Let a kid try that these days. And if you think that's bad, I saw a 90-year-old man carded for a pack of cigars at a Walgreens. "How old do you think I am?" he asked the clerk. "I don't know," she replied. "I'll bet you couldn't find your butt with both hands," he told her, and walked out. That's when I found that trying to stifle laughter makes you snort. She had a J-Lo "I Only Need One Hand" butt. Speaking of butts, I'll bet mine is smarter than the entire management of Walgreens.
When my grandfather was a kid, opiates were legal, so you could buy Bayer heroin at the corner drugstore. But when he was an adult, it was during Prohibition, so he was a bootlegger. Too bad he didn't become filthy rich running rum, like Joseph Kennedy. I wouldn't be driving a 2000 Chevy Cavalier. And I'd be in Congress, chasing Ted Kennedy around, saying, "Here, stupid drunken fat socialist piggie."
All people understand that when they get a tax cut, their salaries go up. Few understand that when businesses get a tax cut, they use the money to give employees raises, otherwise other businesses will use their newfound money to hire them away. (I really shouldn't say "all people." Richard Gephardt, who is as lacking in brains as he is in eyebrows, certainly doesn't understand it.)
Mean average wages haven't budged since about 1974, which is when Nixon severed the dollar from gold (who was advising him? His dog, Checkers?) In the 20th century, the dollar lost 99% of its value through the government inflating the money supply. Forty-five percent of that loss has been since 1983, nine years after the Checkers-brained Nixon allowed inflation to proceed with no brakes at all.
I believe if the unconstitutional Federal Reserve Bank hadn't been created in 1913 (thereby allowing inflation), if the IRS had never come into existence, if the federal deficit was a single-digit fraction of what it is now, and if all these asinine job-destroying regulations didn't exist, then those janitors would be making $30,000 a year. Most people don't know it, but half of what they make goes to taxes. Most of those taxes are hidden. How many people know exactly how much tax is hidden in the price of a gallon of gasoline?
Historically, people who have half of what they make taken from them are called slaves.
I grew up on The Jetsons and the original Star Trek. (I spent hours in front of the mirror, trying to raise my eyebrow like Spock. And I succeeded. Even today, I can raise my left eyebrow. But not my right.) As a little kid I watched 2001: A Space Odyssey goggle-eyed. I halfway expected 2001 to be like 2001. I expected Jetsons flying cars and those little Star Trek saltshaker thingies that Bones used to scan patients with ("You need a heart transplant." Plop. "Okay, done.")
Today ain't even close to what I expected, and I blame it on the State. (I won't blame it for my jumping off the barn roof with a blanket as a parachute. At least I learned my lesson by getting the wind knocked out of me. Seven years old, and I was smarter than the feds. I only needed to make a mistake once.)
In the past 3600 years there have been more than 14,000 wars. God knows where the human race would be if they hadn't been fought. With space stations, and with colonies on the Moon and Mars, I'm sure. Years ago I remember the writer Philip Jose' Farmer (who is now 84 years old) writing that as a teenager he hoped and prayed we'd be on Mars by 1940. I'll probably be dead before we have a colony on the Moon. The only way I'll get to visit is if I have my ashes put on a skateboard and levitated there.
I recently read an article that said it is theoretically possible to build a graser-a gamma-ray laser-in orbit. If it was powerful enough, it could be used to make the sun go nova. I just finished a novel – Joe Haldeman's Forever Peace – that postulated that within a few decades nanotechnology will be so advanced we will be able to put nanorobots next to a pile of sand and have them build a house. The people I talk to find that dubious. They're more liable to believe in an orbiting graser.
Such is what the State has done. They're always more advanced in war than peace. They've got the public believing it, too.
Now the US has turned into an Empire. I'm convinced we are going to invade Iraq, followed by Iran, Saudi Arabia, and maybe even Egypt. When that zombie Alan Greenspan inflated the money supply in the 90s, it went into the dot coms. Now his inflation is going to go into weapons manufacturers. More advances in war, but not in peace. Dubya the Tongue-and-Brain-Tied, thy name is Stupid. Not only is my butt smarter than Dubya, so is my pug's butt.
Empires always fall. I don't understand why the deluded people in the government, and their foolish lackeys in the media – the Rush Limbaughs and the Bill O'Reillys – don't know this (O'Reilly reminds me of Alan Dershowitz: a big mouth almost completely unhinged from his brain). There are, fortunately, people who do understand what is going on. Unfortunately, they are a very small minority.
This very small minority is going to be the one that saves civilization. They're the ones who are going to be a candle in the dark. The ones who Albert Jay Nock called "The Saving Remnant," the minority who understands the truth, and passes it on to the future.
Who knows? Maybe one day the human race will get it right. Maybe we'll somehow end up with government that protects life, liberty and property, like it's supposed to do. Maybe economists will give up the crackpot Keynesianism and its belief in inflation, taxation and deficits. Maybe we'll give up the Welfare/Warfare Empire. And if that day comes, then janitors will make $30,000 a year. And, possibly, my pug might just fly.