Wednesday, August 03, 2005
THE LIZARD'S EYE
The last act of republican credulity will likely come during a great public health crisis, while an enraged public is demanding justice; and it will be a bitter outcry, since the lizard and his accomplices have done nothing but reject accountability, from first to last.
Compared to that edifice of republicanism, Calvin Coolidge, George W. Bush is a modern GOP activist. Writer Irving Stone described Coolidge as the absolute minimalist of all presidents, who put in four hour days in the Oval Office, and spent most afternoons asleep with his feet up on the desk.
"On the afternoon of the day that Treasury Department officials laid on Calvin Coolidge's desk the documented case for immediate and drastic control of the investment market, and he turned them away, defeated by his icy silence, he went down to the basement of the White House to count the number of apples in a barrel sent to him by a friend from Vermont."
"While Rome burned, Nero at least made music. But President Coolidge counted apples."President Coolidge famously said "The business of America is business." And for him laissez faire was a guiding light; change was a repellent concept. Borrowing money to risk in the stock market was actually good for business, he thought. And a great many ordinary Americans were doing just that. From 1927 until the market crash of 1929 (the year after Coolidge left office), a devastating "domino effect" was in process of playing out.
"Family savings were being poured into local banks. Local banks poured their funds into Wall Street"..."The savings of the nation having been absorbed by Wall Street, the people were persuaded to borrow money on their farms, factories, homes, machinery, and every other tangible asset, that they might earn high interest rates and take big profits out of the rise in the stock market. When Wall Street's huge foreign loans and dubious domestic loans were not repaid, America lost not only the cash of its savings but its collateral as well."Reporter Bob Woodward got a candid answer out of our current president, when he asked him how history would judge his war in Iraq. "History, we don't know. We'll all be dead." We hope he didn't mean "We'll all be dead, and soon." The words can also be interpreted to mean that the President is too busy making history to worry about his legacy.
David Brown, writing for the Washington Post, provides these unsettling facts:
"Ironically, for the current H5N1 strain of avian flu to gain "pandemic potential" it will have to become less deadly. Declining lethality is a key sign that the microbe is adapting to human hosts. That is one reason the 34 percent mortality observed in the most recent outbreak--a cluster of cases in northern Vietnam--has scientists worried."..."Such strains are rare. They arise from the chance scrambling of an animal flu virus with a human one."Brown reminds us that the 1918/1919 outbreak was one of the most lethal of these rare strains.
"At least 50 million people, and possibly as many as 100 million, died when the world's population was 1.9 billion, one-third of its current size." (Brown, Washington Post, 7/31/05)It's too bad that we live in a country where the reptilian mindset, known as the "bottom line", takes precedence over the more evolved construct of civic responsibility. Our tears are wasted; but let's belabor the obvious for a moment. We don't have a liberal government that would simply give the pharmaceutical companies their marching orders, and support the effort with subsidies..
No, the soul of republicanism is attached to the idea of waiting. The "market forces" must be in the right alignment. The drug companies will need to see a market incentive, before they can think about cranking up vaccine production or doing a jump-start on research. "The business of America is business."
"...the end of this world-wide vaudeville act, shall be a fool's prat-fall" or so my friend Earl Lewis once wrote, in the jacket of a book he gave me.All this seems to be coming true in the hands of the government that rules us now.
But even at this deplorable junction of history, it can't be right to give up on popular government. Perhaps if we keep shouting in unison, one or several of the engineers will pull the brakes on this runaway train. None of us alive now, wants to be twitching out of the depths of the reptilian brain, or blinking out of the lizard's eye. Over millions of years there have been some improvements; and now we share the same customs, laws and medicine,--and breathe the same contagious air--if it should come to that. Before we condemn another generation to years of suspicion, aggression, and selfishness, we need to see if we can revive public service and conserve something more important than profit.
Government has yet to counsel the public on this issue. And if the right questions haven't been posed, now would be a good time to ask.