Thursday, December 10, 2009

Let's Beat Up the Unemployed!

I have spent the last two weeks shackled to my computer, sifting through five-point, nine-point and utterly pointless "jobs plans" offered by the White House, the AFL-CIO, Change-to-Win, the Center for Full Employment and Price Stability and the Chicago School of Economics. I have digested -- or rather swallowed -- all the lucubrations of the purveyors of job creation policy: those who advise even more deficit spending on infrastructure, aid to states and cities and extended unemployment benefits; those who call for WPA-style direct employment by the government and, of course, those who call for a lower minimum wage and a balanced budget to starve the unemployment out of the system. All these proposals leave me in a dazed state of mind bordering on idiocy.

Nevertheless I began to become dimly aware of an obscure germ of an idea buried deep in my mind, far superior to the whole catalogue of old wives' remedies I had so recently browsed. But it was only the idea of an idea, something infinitely vague. I left my room with a terrible thirst. The passion for bad boilerplate engenders a proportionate need for fresh air and distilled beverages.

As I was about to enter a bar, an unemployed recent university graduate approached me with a resume and looked at me with one of those unforgettable expressions which, if spirit moved matter, would overturn thrones.

At the same time I heard a voice whispering in my ear, a voice I recognized perfectly; it was the voice of my good Angel, or good Demon, who accompanies me everywhere. This is what the voice whispered to me: "A person is the equal of another only if he or she can prove it, and to be worthy of liberty, a person must fight for it."

Immediately, I leaped upon the job-seeker. With a blow of my fist I closed one of his eyes which in an instant grew as big as an orange. I broke one of my fingernails breaking two of his teeth and since, having been born delicate and never having learned how to box, I knew I could not knock out the young fellow quickly, I seized him by the throat and began pounding his head against the wall. I must admit that I had first taken the precaution of looking around me in this deserted suburb and I felt certain that no policeman would disturb me for some time.

Then, having by a vigorous kick in the back, strong enough to break his shoulder blades, felled the youth, I picked up a large branch that happened to be lying on the ground, and beat him with the obstinate energy of a cook tenderizing a beefsteak.

Suddenly -- O miracle! O bliss of the philosoper when he sees the truth of his theory verified! -- I saw that underfed carcass turn over, jump up with a force I should never have expected in a machine so singularly out of order; and with a look of hatred that seemed to me a very good omen, the decrepit vagabond hurled himself at me and proceeded to give me two black eyes, to knock out four of my teeth and, with the same branch I had used, to beat me to a pulp. Thus it was that my energetic treatment had restored his pride and given him new life.

I then, by various signs, finally made him understand that I considered the argument settled, and getting up I said to him with all the satisfaction of a cable TV network pundit, "Sir, you are my equal! I beg you to do me the honor of sharing my purse. And remember, if you are really philanthropic, when any of your colleagues asks you for aid, you must apply the theory which I have just had the painful experience of trying out on you."

He swore that he understood my theory and that he would follow my advice.


CZHA said...

Thank you for finally clarifying the distinction between the lazy, shiftless poor and the deserving poor.

Until they are roundly thrashed, the lazy, shiftless poor merely deserve maltreatment. Only when they are victorious in abusing those even less privileged (say, e.g., aging, delicate philosophers)do they become the deserving poor.

This exactly explains the stingy market of compassionate conservatism.

Sandwichman said...

With apologies to Charles Baudelaire for the brazen plagiarism.

Those accustomed to self-consciousness and mental analysis, who have often glanced backward to compare their past with their present, know that nearly all the images of memory and passion are gathered in the years when the child approaches the youth. A man's character, genius, and style are formed by the apparently commonplace circumstances of his early youth. It is then that the idiosyncrasy receives its peculiar tinge, genius its individuality, and expression its ground-colors. ;-)