If You Can Keep It

Sunday, January 01, 2006 at 08:55 AM

Upon emerging from the constitutional convention which formed the basis for our government, Ben Franklin was supposedly asked by a woman outside the hall, "Mr. Franklin, what kind of government have you given us?" To which Franklin replied, "A Republic, madam, if you can keep it."

If you can keep it.  A sage answer.  Neil Young knows that "rust never sleeps."  Franklin knew that corruption doesn't, either.

And I don't mean the endless attempt of private hands to sneak into the public coffers and steal away under the cover of trust and confidentiality.  No, getting rich the oldest fashioned way, by stealing it, is, God knows, more rampant today than at any other time in my life, but the corruption that Franklin addressed is the corruption of self-interest working incessantly to undermine the public interest.  It's a corruption that puffs up the natural self-interest in surviving and prospering, inflates it to a size that blocks out the equally natural empathy/sympathy for others facing the same difficulties that you are.

In short, it's the corruption of every decent, communal instinct that people have, the turning of reality inside out so that each person comes to view decency and communal action not as a good thing but as something so bad that it must be guarded against at every turn.  It's a corruption that never seems to occur naturally.  It requires a little "help" from people who just want to help you exercise your "common sense."  It oozes in from the mouths of people who seem "just like me," not those "eggheads" who always use more syllables than needed, the ones who always make stuff so complicated that you get a headache trying to figure out what to do.

It's the kind of corruption exemplified by "humorist"--read that as "blatant propagandist for the 'every man for himself' brand of unregulated capitalism--PJ O'Rourke's statement in a forum on C-SPAN that altruists are the second most dangerous people in the world, behind only the "true sociopaths."  As Mr. O'Rourke so smugly put it, "Altruists.  Who knows where they're coming from?"

Altruism?  Don't you mean "communism?"  Or, if you aren't red, how about pink?  Are you trying to shove "socialism" down my democratic and free throat?  No sir, you can't fool me, I'm an American, and I know that I have the right to be free.

Free to say what I want.  And I want to say that.....that...you know, what that guy on t.v. said last night.  The one with the somber face and deep voice.  Yeah, what he said.  I heard the same thing on two shows, and the second guy was even more somber and with an even deeper voice.  What they said.  I have the right to say that.  Fox, yeah, that channel, what they said.  They're straight shooters, they cut right through that liberal, socialist crap and tell me what I need to know.

That I'm free from government.  No damn feds coming into my world, telling me where to live, what to eat, what to teach my kids in school, when to pray.  I can live right where I live now, as long as I want.  I can stay here a long time, I think I can afford the heating bill for several years to come.  Unless that plant shuts down.   There are still rumors about that.  What's that place they want to go, Indoneesha?  Damn anti-American clowns still talking about taking the plant over there where people don't have freedom, don't have Christ.  Christ, they don't even have Christmas.  If only the government would just stay out of my damn life, like they said on t.v. last night!

Free to keep what I earn, if they'd quit taxing me to death.  Not to mention taxing my actual death!  A tax on death, for God's sake.  Not in America.  We're free.  Free to die without those socialist thieves coming in and taking a piece of what we leave behind.  Like when uncle Francis died last year.  We all chipped in and got him buried just fine, paid off his utility bill and the six of us split what we got for his furniture and his car.  Didn't need to have no government in there with their hand out taking a piece of that, there was little enough as it was.  Just like that guy said on t.v. last night.  Don't need to be supporting a bunch of lazy do-nothings, either.  Don't tell me you can't find a job.  Just about every store and fast food place in the mall had "help wanted" signs out.  Maybe that's where I'll go if they move th plant.  That guy on t.v. last night, he was talking about how you need to stay flexible to keep going these days.  Thank God we have the freedom to do that.

And I'm sure as hell free to say "Merry Christmas" when that time of year comes around.  I can say that out loud, when I want, where I want, and none of those idiot liberal jerks can stop me.  I can say it in July, if I want to.  If you don't like Christmas, what the hell'd you come to America for, anyway?  Uncle Francis didn't fight in that war to say "Happy Holidays," damn it.  He didn't take that shrapnel that made it hurt so bad when he walked so they could celebrate any "Kwanzaa" or whatever that is.  What the hell is that, anyway?  Doesn't that sound like that Japanese thing, that "Banzai!" crap?  Just like that guy said on the radio.  Was it the radio?  Doesn't matter, I think I heard the same thing on the t.v. last night.

Where the hell would we be without our freedom?  Thank God the president has the common sense to use his power to protect us against all those evil creeps who hate our freedom.  Some of those crybaby liberal socialists all upset about the president spying on terrorists so he can protect us.  And our freedom.  That guy on t.v. got that right last night.

Yes, "A republic, madam.  If you can keep it."  Or get it back.  Whatever that guy was saying on t.v. last night.