Did I Just Have Coronavirus?

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I would wake up in the middle of a cold far-north November night with chattering teeth, naked from head to toe but for thin underclothes.  Then I would discover that I had shivered quilt, blankets, and sheets off in a mass, every one, onto the floor.  By morning I was perhaps able to ease down the stairs to the breakfast room: a very important journey, because breakfast was guaranteed in my rent and was the day’s only full meal.  During the few daylight hours preceding another night of horrors, I typically dragged myself huddled up to the local library to do a bit of research and writing.  Darkness was falling by about four in the afternoon.  If I could find a few pence knocking around in my pocket, I might open up a can of macaroni and eat it cold; and if I was lucky, I didn’t throw it all up before bedtime.

That was 1981, as I recall, and I was trying to survive a few months in Wexford, Ireland, during a postal strike that separated me from the monthly checks I had arranged to receive from home.  In my compromised physical condition, I contracted a strain of flu that left several local people in the cemetery.  I was in my twenties and, apparently, capable of mounting a better resistance.  That didn’t keep me from losing somewhere between a quarter and a third of my original body weight (none too hefty at around 160 lbs.).  When my sister finally appeared at Christmas with money and a ticket to get me back to the States, she insists she only recognized me because I waved at her in an empty Limerick bus station.

The silver lining of that ordeal was that I’ve never really suffered from the flu since.  For all I know, I’ve never had another case of it.  More likely, I have been infected occasionally but fought off serious complications because of a degree of acquired immunity.  What I’ve read about influenza suggests that such partial immunity is not an infrequent result of exposure.

My enduring resistance is the more remarkable to me in that I proceeded to log about thirty-five years (depending on how you count seasons of semi-employment) as a teacher.  I was constantly moving about in narrow halls that grew thickly congested every time the clock’s minute-hand touched 10 (releasing one class in time for the next one to convene on the hour).  Young people who gave no mind to sleeping at night and who immersed themselves in a dense soup of contagion flowing from classroom to commons to gym to bistro to bar were forever depositing the disiecta membra of their respiratory systems in mid-air.  On top of that, Mother Nature didn’t endow me with a stentorian tongue of brass… so at the beginning of every semester, and almost every work week (for my weekends seldom required a raised voice), my vocal cords would usually become a bit over-stressed and leave me for a day or two with a mild soar throat.  I also have more than my fair share of allergies: mold gets me every time.

So… I ought to have been a walking Petrie dish for every respiratory problem known to humankind.  Instead, over the years that followed my reluctant “immunization”, I probably logged no more sick days than I might count on one hand.  Though I fulfilled my classroom duties at scarcely more than a whisper sometimes, I just about always got by.  In fact, the one case of stay-at-home illness I recall involved food poisoning.

And, by the way, I‘ve never had a flu shot.  You could say that I have a “trust issue” with the med/pharma complex, especially when its members nanny-nag us univocally with vague threats that government compulsion awaits in the near future if we don’t take our nice mercury-laced injection.

Would someone like me know if he’d just suffered a little bout of Coronavirus—someone, I mean, who works out hard for an hour every day and who has demonstrated a resistance to flu-like diseases (after being almost killed by one)?  I’ve tried researching relevant facts on the Internet: what are the initial symptoms, how long do they persist, what type of headache occurs, do mild or asymptomatic cases leave any distinct footprint at all?  The Internet just plays rope-a-dope with me, when it’s working (and the home-bound tens of millions seem be patronizing many of the same websites, which are crashing by the dozen).  Coronavirus turns out to be almost anything you want it to be—except always, always deadly serious.  No, don’t take it lightly!  But you may not know that you have it… or you may mistake it for a cold.  Like Macavity the Mystery Cat, it shifts shapes, melts into walls, and grins from a tree just when you think your fingers are closing on its neck.

I am, in fact, being fully serious.  I am seriously annoyed that something possessing the potential of being so serious proves virtually unidentifiable yet brings every facet of our lives to a halt.  I had a very odd headache last Monday.  I woke up with it, and it lingered most of the day, worsening through the afternoon but vanishing—mercifully—after supper.  It encased my outer skull in a hot, throbbing ring: it didn’t settle heavily over my brow like a sinus headache, pulse in my temples like a tension headache, or explode like a firecracker from my pituitary like the reaction I registered to a single dose of Flomax earlier this month.  Frankly, it made me remember in the dimmest terms what I could recall of… let us call it (in vile racist terms) Wexford Flu.  In a couple of brief instances, I wanted to vomit; yet that’s a natural response to any headache strong enough to leave you feeling a bit dizzy.

Sore throat, coughing, and sneezing?  Well, the pollen has just arrived in full force throughout North Georgia.  There’s certainly enough of it to start one’s nose running, and to create overnight drainage down the throat into the lungs that stirs up an early-morning hack or two.  Every puddle along our half-mile driveway has been dyed bright yellow as the forest promiscuously breeds (and there are many such puddles: the rain has fallen at record pace since last September, when the Weather Channel kept insisting that Climate Change had plunged us into a deadly drought).  Could my passing discomfort be a response to this cocktail of vernal pollinators?  Or is it… aren’t these the symptoms of Coronavirus?  Strange, that I haven’t really been very stopped up since last Monday.

Speaking of puddles… what about West Nile Virus?  (Again, pardon the racism—I just can’t seem to help myself.)  The mosquitoes poured out of incubation almost as soon as our windshields turned lime-green.  Some people die of West Nile, actually.  Shouldn’t we keep the children indoors until the next Climate Change drought strangles the insect population?

Okay, so I’m being facetious and sarcastic now.  Who wouldn’t be?  It’s a way of handling frustration—of mitigating anger.  Damn it, I’m 66 years old, retired to 25 rural acres that I might leave twice a week (church on Sunday, Walmart on Monday).  I already “self-quarantine”: if I’d been in Ireland a millennium ago, I would have made an ideal monk on Skellig Michael.  What am I supposed to do, then, with that strange headache and a brief sore throat?  Rush to the doctor and demand Coronavirus testing?  Why?  So that I may go back into self-quarantine if the results are positive?  I live in self-quarantine!  Why would I risk genuine infection, in case I actually had nothing but an allergic reaction, by entering a waiting room full of people equally convinced that they are blossoming CV-19 victims?  Or if they’re clean but I’m infected, how many of them die because I walked through the room to check in?

Am I not taking this seriously enough?  Or am I taking it too seriously?  Taking what seriously?  What if I carry an as yet unknown and unnamed virus?  What if I’m dooming dozens to an early grave every time I buy milk?

What if that bloody Flomax pill which almost killed me, and which millions of other men are taking, was concocted of contaminated (or deliberately poisoned) Chinese ingredients?  My headache appeared exactly two weeks after my first brief venture into prescription drugs since a Z-pack ten years ago.  Two weeks: that’s the publicized incubation period of Coronavirus… isn’t it?  Has the PRC oligarchs been releasing trial balloons of chemical warfare into our populace ever since we broke their hearts by not electing Hillary? Or have such black-ops war games been ongoing ever since we delivered the pharmaceutical industry’s assembly line to their shores?  Is the present panic a dress rehearsal for checkmate in three moves?

Am I sounding more paranoid than sarcastic now?  But how am I supposed to sound?  When the “pandemic” is such an existential threat that martial law has essentially been declared in many states and municipalities (including my hometown of Fort Worth, where a judge has rescinded private ownership of property)—but when our economy’s saturation in H1-B visa-holders and its invasion by hordes on our southern border are still not considered a “serious” crisis—why should I believe anything I hear from anyone in authority?  When—but for Louie Gohmert—the House majority leader would have sent to the Senate a bill she had completely rewritten after ramrodding its initial passage through on “getaway day”, why would I assume that my “leaders” are not playing games with me?

It’s a virus, all right.  Washington Virus.  And I’ve been infected so many times that my immune system has shifted into hyper-drive.  Believe no one.  Don’t trust, and don’t try to verify.  Verification is impossible: truth and falsehood have fused like the bright yellow pollen and the mud in my driveway’s potholes. Always assume, as did the veterans of Solzhenitsyn’s goulags, that everyone wants to fleece you—that “they” want you out of the way. And if exercises in futility amuse you, try to figure out who “they” really are.

What a life.  What a world.

Lies, Hysteria, and Utter Confusion: A Dying Society’s Danse Macabre

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My mind is scarcely any less cluttered and confused than anyone else’s at present.  Pardon me, then, if I open with several desultory observations.

Item: The “People’s Republic” of China purchased plant and equipment in northern Italy and then proceeded to transport 100,000 workers to the region from… Wuhan!  My single source for this stunning and acutely relevant (ergo deliberately suppressed) information was Daniel Horowitz’s Conservative Review podcast of March 13.  The modus operandi implied in the report, by the way, is indeed distinctly Red Chinese.  The PRC mafia has used it throughout Africa: bribing corrupt officials with lavish “public works” projects in return for the rape of Africa’s natural resources—then constructing said projects with imported Chinese who move on when the job is done (done as cheaply as possible: a new soccer stadium will fall apart in ten years) and leave the locals without any knowledge of how to make repairs or operate technology.  Read Howard French’s China’s Second Continent.

It’s anyone’s guess as to how many contagions such imperialist rapine has spread to Africa or transported from Africa to other parts of the world.  Of course, these exploitative tactics have also brought thousands and thousands of temporary Chinese laborers and “advisors” to China’s new BFF, Iran—another nation hit very hard by COVID-19.

Item: Chinese cities have the most polluted air on earth.  This is a generalization, to be sure; and as a generalization, it is unassailable.  One may confirm it by consulting any undoctored satellite photo and observing the yellow haze permanently gathered around China’s coasts.  Cars were banned from the streets of Beijing briefly before the start of the 2008 Olympics, and additional efforts were made to mop up the filthy skies just above the Olympic stadium for opening ceremonies.  It’s a safe further generalization, therefore, that every Chinese living in an urban area has respiratory problems, or a tendency thereto.  Not that we will ever know an accurate tally of the total deaths in China due to COVID-19… but any genuine figure would inevitably be skewed by the severe propensity of this oppressed and abused people to contract lung disease.

Gordon Chang communicated reports on Frank Gaffney’s Secure Freedom Radio broadcast (March 18) that Chinese police are now cracking open small apartments to find piles of corpses.  These are the remnants of families brutally quarantined in a small space with a single infected member.  Were such mortality figures ever to be tabulated honestly and objectively, we of course would emerge with no useful analogue to the disease’s effects upon a free society observing modern, humane health standards.  China’s experience of the virus teaches us little, and the mythical experience published by the Chinese Communist Party teaches us less than nothing.

Once again, almost no one has mentioned these general—and extremely relevant—facts within my hearing.  On the contrary, most media outlets are buying Chinese propaganda lock, stock, and barrel, as if only Italians and Japanese (whose cities are also far from unpolluted) have died.

Item: For the single most significant variable in discussing mortality rates is preexisting respiratory conditions.  Not age.  Naturally, there is a considerable overlap between respiratory problems and age: older people tend to find breathing a little more difficult.  My wife and I are both over 65, however, and neither of us finds our half-mile path (one way) from doorstep to mailbox a major challenge, even though it drops fifty feet and then rises by as much at one juncture.  We take this walk daily, as well as getting other exercise around our rural property—and, in my case, working out for an hour each afternoon.  (Feel free to verify my physical status further by viewing my baseball videos on SmallBallSuccess.com, where I frequently take a dozen swings off a rapid-fire pitching machine before turning to the camera for narration.)  We’re certainly not obese, Juanita and I, and we don’t drink or smoke.  We’re in better shape, cardio-vascularly, than many a wage-slave in his mid-thirties.

I’m starting to take deep umbrage, then, at the chattering media grackles—many of them posing as conservatives—who suggest that the over-65 demographic be quarantined.  No thank you.  How about we go three rounds, Steve Hilton, and the man left standing gets to quarantine the other to a chair with paracord?  (I’ve developed a BPH condition, as I shared last week; but as long as I don’t have to run to the bathroom, I like my odds against Cue Ball.)  How about, in other words, we have a massive review of the nation’s medical database and quarantine everyone with a history of respiratory problems?

Unfortunately, that purely facetious remark has real-world resonance: the Trump Administration has already been feeling out the possibility of an alliance with Google to identify “at risk” populations.  William Gheen of Americans for Legal Immigration (ALIPAC) polled his members last week and found near-hundred-percent resistance to the proposal that citizens expose their medical records to Google in seeking diagnosis of their cold-like symptoms.  (Resistance plummeted, however, when respondents were informed of Trump’s interest in the strategy.) Denmark has proceeded so far as to impose universal mandatory inoculations—with precisely what serum, I know not, since there is no antidote to COVID-19 or, strictly speaking, to any viral infection.  In the reigning lunacy of the times, however, is it far-fetched to imagine our own CDC Gestapo descending upon our homes with hypodermics or crime-scene yellow tape (or maybe yellow stars)?

Since the broadcast media, at least, seem uninterested in fine distinctions (age vs. respiratory health, Chinese vs. local contamination, Western European vs. Third World hygiene), what path is the panicked, hysterical lynch mob likely to take, and to which households?  Who knows?  Will young people be incarcerated for Friday-night excursions due to the risks that their behavior poses “the collective”?  Will the elderly (as defined in some manner no less ad hominem than my “cue ball” slur) have a cop monitoring their front door “for their own good” or “for the good of the many”?

When we’re already being fed so many raw half-truths and unthawed factoids, which of us would be comfortable tendering an arm to soak up whatever Super Nanny has decided to pack into her syringe?  Will it contain a cure for Climate Change—a euthanasia agent, perhaps, expertly designed to diminish the amount of human CO2 exhalation?

Item: Speaking of factoids… may I point out that the numerator of a ratio is meaningless with a free-floating denominator?  Twenty fatalities out of a group of one hundred is a slaughterhouse; twenty out of a hundred thousand is business as usual in a society that embraces constant high-speed driving and recreational drug use.  Inasmuch as most people who contract COVID-19 will register mere cold-like symptoms or no symptoms at all, how do we know what proportion of the whole is represented by the few dozen deaths logged so far?  Is this virus ten times more deadly than H1N1… or a thousand times less so?  When FOX scrolls updated death tallies across the bottom of your screen or local newscasters read the figure from their teleprompter, how are we to interpret “68” or “151”?  Out of how many infections—not “confirmed cases”, but the real number of cases (i.e., confirmations multiplied by some exponent)?   A thousand infections?  A hundred thousand?  Nobody knows… that’s the point.

Item: Speaking of the worthless (at best) broadcast media, may one ask what’s going on there?  Has everything else—Boko Haram, Maduro’s dictatorship, smoking volcanoes and earthquakes—shut down?  While the mainstream media are monomaniacally devoted to proving that Trump is steering the ship of state into shoal waters, FOX is equally committed to magnifying the crisis so as to recast Captain Ahab as Lord Nelson.  Meanwhile, maverick voices like Michael Savage (the world-renowned epidemiologist) are castigating both sides in favor of a bipartisan Armageddon message.  And as words collide with words in our swirling electronic black hole of hyper-condensed rhetoric, one man transmitting one humble podcast releases the useful information in ten seconds with which I began this long query.  After those ten seconds, it vanishes.  Sic semper veritas.

Item: And speaking of Third World hygiene and major news stories that have disappeared over night… may one inquire as to whether our porous southern border has now been secured against the flood of unvetted invaders from all over the world?  No.  The answer is “no” to inquiry, and “no” to security.  Even legally applying immigrants continue to be admitted and resettled without hesitation.  According to Representative Chip Roy, we haven’t (as of March 17) stopped accepting “asylum-seekers” from across the Bravo.  (Such adventurers, I suggest, must clearly hope for handouts or opportunities in illegal trafficking, now that all business has essentially been shut down on the Fruited Plain.) The President, fresh back from a cheery trip to India, is meanwhile shoveling more B1 visas in that direction as Americans are forced to stay home from work.

At a time when we’re told that we need a) to secure our population against unnecessary contact with people from distant lands and b) to prepare our hospitals for a sudden influx of patients, and when we are c) likely to suffer shortages in certain drugs because of our dependency upon Chinese manufacturers, our border with Mexico remains wide open, and our programs to resettle refugees from locales like the Congo and Iraq continue apace.  All of the Democratic presidential candidates (though we’re now down to one and a half) have invited in the whole world to consume what beds and medicines we have left; and President Trump himself is apparently poised to sign an emergency bill that reiterates our need for more immigrants!  If our being forcibly quarantined, and maybe even inoculated, is seriously under consideration because of the situation’s gravity, then why, at the same time, do we continue to see this mechanism for spreading infection far and wide operating at full strength?

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Look, I’m not trying to be an uncooperative, antinomian cul de cheval… but just because the nation’s running short of toilet paper doesn’t mean that I’m going to volunteer my head for service in those nether regions, either.  Some of what we’re being told is patent falsehood: no surprise there.  Some of it is imbecilically incoherent or contradictory—more so than usual, as if a crowded theater were in flames.  Some of it is characterized by the conspicuously absent—the large quantity of “not told” stirred into the “told”.  And all of it is being flung at us in the recent context of a fraudulent coup attempt, the fraudulent conviction of Mike Flynn, the fraudulent exoneration of Comey & Co., a fraudulent impeachment, a fraudulent promotion of constitutional values by “I’m with Trump” crypto-statist Republicans, the ongoing fraud of Climate Change now endorsed by Kevin McCarthy… fraud, fraud, fraud, fraud, fraud.  A steady diet of it from both sides of the aisle, going at least as far back as Bush Minor’s “weapons of mass destruction” casus belli (and maybe as far back as the details of the 9/11 narrative).  Now “they” are shutting down our businesses and chasing us indoors.  Who are “they”?

Personally, the shutdown works out well for me.  In retirement, I go to town once a week for groceries; and as I await Their Lordships of the Medical Establishment’s pleasure to attend to my prostate surgery in a few months, my case can scarcely help but be advanced if my fellow citizens are stitched up in a cocoon and not allowed to go glutting hospitals with their coughs and sniffles.  Yes, this works out well for me.

But does it work out well for our republic?  For whom, I wonder, is it working out politically?  The Chinese are obviously doing their disinformational best to leave us holding the CV-19 bag; the Democrats and their lackeys in classrooms and newsrooms see a new chance to discredit Donald Trump; the President himself, I’m guessing, is going full Jimmy Carter—nay, full Franklin Roosevelt—in an effort to avoid being defamed as the hands-off George Bush of Katrina; the One World Order ultra-rich who patronize Davos every year see a chance to crash every individual economy around the globe; and the Climate Change Nazis (pardon me for repeating this, but it should weigh on the mind of any sexagenarian) are likely relishing the excuse to thin out the planet’s human burden in some highly bureaucratic, pseudo-hygienic fashion.  “Eco-hygiene” has a much more sanitary, public-spirited sound to it than “euthanasia”.

On the other hand, I don’t seriously believe (pace Steve Deace) that the Chinese deliberately launched a pandemic in order to distract attention from their other problems.  I see the calamity as the sort of monumental gaffe, à la Chernobyl, that besets totalitarian regimes intent upon suppressing bothersome realities in favor of their fantastical perfection.  And the net effect of this particular gaffe, I think (I devoutly hope), will redound to the ultimate discredit of the PRC.  The Chinese people cannot be happy about the ruthless handling they have suffered from their government during the crisis (which, despite the party line, is probably far from over).  More relevant to our own politics, Americans seem ready at last to accept that we need to produce certain essentials here at home, whatever price we may have to pay for them at Wal-Mart.  I suspect (or is this another devout hope?) that we may even be prepared, at long last, to accept the folly of throwing open our national gates to every comer.  Actually, we were already so prepared: a majority of us, old and young, Democrat and Republican, rich man poor man, legal Hispanic citizen and redneck hillbilly.  Polls have indicated for years that we, the people want real borders that really function.  What I mean to say, then, is that—just maybe—we’re getting mad enough now to insist that our government representatives either step out of their locked conference rooms and do our will or go home.

If that sounds optimistic… well, I wish it were.  President Trump continues to allow the likes of Steve Mnuchin, Lindsey Graham, and Kevin McCarthy to warble in his ear; and a very plausible outcome of such political tone-deafness may just be that his “vast base” dwindles to a puddle in November.  “President Biden” has never appeared more of a possibility to me, in the same way that the dead limb fallen from the sky into the pond made a very satisfactory king for the frogs in Aesop’s fable.  If Mr. Trump emulates Republican “strategists” in showing no more sense than a hunk of deadwood, we could end up with no national sovereignty at all in a year or two just because those unfulfilled promises of a secure border—coupled with renewed pious assurances that “we need more immigrants”—drove voters to self-quarantine on election day.

I’ll Trade You Ten COVID-19’s for One New Pipe

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One of the reasons I’m writing this—the main reason—is that setting and achieving small objectives keeps me going.  I’m looking at waits for over a month to have further testing, the results of which will determine what surgery I will have weeks or months after that.  Meanwhile, I self-catheter three or four times a day and try not to make too many wild guesses about precisely what this or that member of the medical establishment meant by this or that casual remark or rapid-fire, jargonal answer.  And if I dare to seek further enlightenment by calling a number, I push one of several buttons, leave a message, wait two or three days for a response, and… and find myself left with more questions than ever.

Don’t talk to me about the evils of socialized medicine.  For nobodies like me, the nightmare is already here.  Thanks to ambulance-chasing lawsuits, Obama-era paperwork, and open admission for the Third World diaspora, many of us already no longer have timely access to treatment: the docs who haven’t retired are absurdly over-extended.  I’m trying not to hate, loathe, and despise doctors personally, though it’s hard when “specialists” work four-day weeks and so clearly love to dash off prescriptions that turn into a horror show if you research their side-effects. (Or if you actually use them. So far I’ve tried two of these made-in-Chinas for a total of four days: sever headache, dizziness, and nausea in both cases… no thanks.)

I know I’m aging.  I do get that. Death isn’t too far away, and it comes to everyone.  Maybe I still have a couple of decades, maybe not. His will be done. Just spare me, will you, the talk about the miraculous progress of our technology. “Jesus is coming to your neighborhood… in six months. Reserve a space along the road to touch his hem at nine-fifty on the last Thursday of August by pressing One now. Admission subject to revised CoronaVirus protocol.”

Ah, yes. COVID-19.  I’d take the virus hands-down over my current situation.  I’ve had flu before.  I almost died of a particularly virulent strain when, in my mid-twenties, I was stuck in Ireland and unable to receive my monthly check from home due to a nation-wide postal strike (speaking of socialist utopias).  Living on one meal a day, I made an easy target for opportunistic infections; and Western European populations of older people and other compromised groups did indeed die in the winter of 1981 by the hundreds (or probably the thousands).  So I know the flu, from its worst angle.  I’d take it over this: no-brainer.  But, of course, I’m not being given that choice.

Now I’m reading that hospitals may throttle back on “non-essential surgeries” until the Awful Horror swaggers through our streets and wanders elsewhere.  With my stock of trusty self-catheterizing rods (and they do elicit a certain affection, seriously: they’re the only friends I have, besides my sainted wife), I suppose I could go on for… I dunno; whatever time a sixty-six-year-old is supposed to have left.  And it’s somewhat comforting, in an odd way, to know that as I tend my garden or make my baseball videos, my radiator is actually better drained than it has been in over a decade.  Thank you, thank you, o Twenty-First Century, for self-catheterization kits!

But for doctors, medicine, the “health care system”… no, you can keep all that.  Keep it for the people who matter—and throw in a barbed-wire enema for them all, from me.

Again, as for the CoronaVirus—the latest best alternative to another impeachment trial, a new strategy that the Donald played right into for months by blasting and blaring away about unprecedented economic prosperity—yeah, stick that up your pipe and smoke it, too.  For about two decades, we as a society have smugly, stupidly, utterly ignored warnings about our power grid’s vulnerability. Part of the reason was that many of our subversive representatives (including a two-term president) actually liked the idea of priming the nation to be instantly brought to its knees by an enemy. Immediate checkmate. But even these traitor-ideologues were too foolish to comprehend that major solar flares occur quite naturally on a timetable that we don’t fully understand, but that seems to leave us long overdue for another visit. And the consequences of that visit would purge nine out of ten inhabitants of North America within a year.

But let’s not mention the unsecured power grid—or let’s just rule its risks “debunked”. Let’s rave hysterically, instead, about COVID-19. Round-the-clock coverage of the non-story, the apocalyptic pandemic that will kill one in five of us (figures courtesy of talking heads who calculated that Bloomberg’s campaign expenses, divvied up, would have meant a cool million for each of us)… babble and blather every bloody time you walk through a room with a plugged-in TV. “Stay home!  Wash your hands!  Drink more sanitizer!  Build a protective suit of toilet paper!”

I’d so like to have the flu instead of be walking my present path.  Any flu would do.  But I haven’t been given the option of wimping out.

So I’ll send the ramrod up the rifle’s bore one more time, order some more catheters just in case Amazon decides to hunker down under the shadow of Thanatos next month, and go fence the deer out of my new almond trees.

When I pass through the gate at last, I’ll find my grandmother, and we’ll share a good laugh about all of this… or maybe not.  My suspicion—my hope, my conviction—is that we’ll have far more beautiful, noble, glorious things to occupy our attention than American society of the twenty-first century.

What Millennials Hate (Unwittingly) About Capitalism IS Socialism

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Those who throw up a stop sign before the ill-considered remark, “This nation is a democracy!” tend not to follow with a very helpful qualifier, it seems to me.  “No, it’s a democratic republic,” they amend.  Well, okay; but the distinction can be almost pedantic.  Certainly the risks of democracy do not disappear just because popular will is channeled through a series of narrowing chutes.  In some ways, those risks are magnified.  How is it that blackguards ranging from Nancy Pelosi and Maxine Waters to John Cornyn and Lamar Alexander rule their electoral fiefdoms year after year without challenge?  Because “elections”, in their case, are mere formalities.  “The people” have grown as used to seeing these timeworn names in print and hearing them on local TV as an Irish tenant of two hundred years ago was accustomed to having Lord Clanricarde’s bailiff demand the year’s rent.

In a democracy, “the people” sometimes haul off and make very foolish choices.  The classic Hollywood Western features a preeminent example of popular will in action when the concerned townsfolk get liquored up and then storm the jail to lynch Injun Joe.  On the other hand, democracies can grow paralyzingly torpid, as I have just suggested.  Voters can be hazed and herded into uninquisitive, even fatalistic habits due to the cumulative effects of despair.  In recent years, I myself have tried—with mixed success—not to be one of those who just stays home and doesn’t vote.  What’s the use?  Obamacare versus Romneycare… open border versus a few miles of border wall and skyrocketing numbers of H-1 visas.  Why waste gas and stand in line for choices like those?

Communist dictators, of course, draw heavily upon the latter kind of “support” to retain power in their ongoing crusade of megalomania, having exploited the former “lynch mob” kind, usually, to vault into the authoritarian saddle.  As has been known since the days of Plato, a tight correlation exists between a riotous mass uprising and the ascendancy of a dictator.  Mussolini and Hitler were both put in power by a majority vote; they both stayed in power because the majority saw Stalin’s nihilistic, cutthroat brigades as the lurking alternative.

In the case of our republic, democracy (i.e., a one-man-one-vote selection of local representatives) worked well as long as people enjoyed the freedom to market their talents.  We all had a real stake in daily events, and so we formed communities of distinct individuals rather than a restless mob.  If you loved to bake cookies and cakes, you could hang a sign before the ground level of your home on Main Street and open the door to customers.  If I enjoyed tooling leather, I could hoist my own sign across the street from you and strew my front room with belts, boots, and baggage.  You and I, and all our neighbors up and down Main Street, didn’t need government at any level to do a whole lot for us.  We needed police to keep thieves from breaking our windows at night and snitching our cash.  We needed garbage collectors to keep litter and refuse from piling up noxiously.  We didn’t mind paying a small tax for such services.  Just as we gave value for the prices we sought from customers, so we willingly paid the costs of security and stability.

It’s been said that industrialization, soon accelerating into high-tech uniformity, tragically undermined this pastoral idyll.  I’ve said it myself several times in the past.  On those occasions, I’m afraid I may have oversimplified.  Yes, the Industrial Age wreaked havoc on quaint rural communities: witness Oliver Goldsmith’s long poetic indictment, “The Ruined Village”.  In the British Isles, the Enclosure (which Thomas More’s Utopia had roundly condemned early on) forced crofters into congested cities as monied interests sought to turn acreage to greater profit.  Similar imbalances resulted on our side of the pond, though less plainly (at first) an opposition of landlord to tenant or of robber baron to factory worker.  Railroads and canals determined how quickly farm produce could reach lucrative urban markets.  More remote locations tended to struggle unless a new industry (mining, smelting, railheading cattle, etc.) could reanimate the not-quite-self-sustaining township; and such transformation, of course, would have turned any small-town economy on its ear.

For a while, the agricultural South offered a fairly coherent contrast to the industrial North… but even though Spartanburg and Athens weren’t buzzing with steam engines and telegraphs in 1850, the cost of doing a more native kind of transaction had soared.  The influence of Yankee ingenuity and industry did not remain up-river.  Items that required artificial processing were seldom local products, and grew pricey.  Class distinctions were magnified by a more complex marketplace.  Many of the largest plantations, for instance—with their huge rosters of slaves—were founded by Northern transplants who had shifted their wealth to exploit cheap land down South.  The generator of this inequity was the protectionist tariffs demanded by the industrial North to favor its infant enterprises, whose captains as yet had far less interest in exporting than in staving off competitive imports.  The little-attended consequence was diminished receptivity in foreign markets to the relatively unprocessed riches of the South—as well as, paradoxically, higher prices on manufactures now shipped from Ohio and Indiana rather than Europe. (Interstate freighting expenses often exceeded those of foreign importation.)  Our Civil War, frankly, rooted much more deeply in such disruption of local harmony than it did in slavery (though to say as much is to contradict “public school mythology”).

Though I lay no pretensions to being an economist and have sketched out a complex historical situation very crudely above, I’ve seen the effects of national trends in industry and technology on Southern landscapes with my own eyes, over and over.  No, I wasn’t personally present to observe the post-war degradation of early Southern townships: vibrant communities once sustained by small farmers (few of whom had owned more than two or three  slaves, if any) that collapsed into “mill villages” of helots—wage slaves white and black—ruled by one or two elite families.  Yet I have lived and worked in and around many such mill towns.  Most of them, significantly, had already shut down their special industry by the time I arrived, their economy having been undermined a second or third time by interests with deep pockets that chose to move plants (now to Mexico or China).  I could usually discern just enough lingering ancient history to appreciate what had been lost from long, long ago: congenial lanes of tiny shops catering to farmers who might visit town twice a week—on market day and Sunday.  A smattering of these, most boarded up, hadn’t been worth the cost of razing when the carpet mill or the meat-packing plant came to gobble up 60 percent of the workforce at a paltry, unstable wage.

The moral of the story?  That macro-economic movements can topple the intricately balanced, serenely purring micro-economies of peaceful communities in a million ways… well, let’s call it a dozen.  A great stone plunging into a lake can capsize a small boat along the far shore in mere ripples.  This phenomenon, indeed, continues to be repeated sometimes as once-coherent settlements struggle to revive after each dousing under the hand of external exploitation; and every revival, it seems to me, is a little less convincing, a little closer to final, irresistible lapse into the swamp.

As a child in post-war Texas (post-World War Two: I was alive for some of the Eisenhower decade), I remember a Fort Worth where we could easily, quickly drive to the zoo or Will Rogers Coliseum or Safeway on Camp Bowie or Carswell Air Force Base.  That day is gone forever.  I can recall, too, an Austin where my grandparents could walk me from their home on West 14th and San Antonio to the Toy Palace (just beyond the Austin School of Beauty), thence another couple of blocks to the capitol grounds, and perhaps from there to Lamme’s Candies and a movie theater (not to mention innumerable haberdasheries and jewelers) up Congress Avenue.  All gone now… except for Lamme’s (which may or may not still occupy that corner across from the Capitol—but the patented praline pecan formula sells very well on Amazon).

Why did those streets of individuals, tending their fathers’ businesses or starting their own, yield to lofty bank buildings, parking decks, and international franchises?  Not because of the Internet: the reference points of my childhood had vaporized by about 1970 in downtown Austin, and probably before that in greater Fort Worth.  Why?

Because of zoning laws.  Because of city taxes.  Because of all that local government was now “doing for” every resident over and beyond mere policing and cleaning (duties which, indeed, were increasingly neglected).  Because of state and federal regulations, as well, that would have required small operators to supply wheel-chair access, multiple exits in case of fire, a minimum wage, insurance for employees… not to mention the exploding urgency of being covered against all varieties of lawsuit, imaginable and unimaginable.  Would your grandma baking cookies for her little storefront on Broken Antler’s Main Street ever have dreamed that she might be sued for not creating “gay” wedding cakes, or perhaps (as happened lately to a decades-old German bakery) for applying chocolate-icing smiles to her macaroons in a way that reminded someone of “black face”?

Do you see the pattern?  It took me years to make it out—and we can hardly blame our children, who’ve lived so much less of life than we and have been water-boarded in so much more “education” of such polemical furor, for not suspecting it.  Capitalism, it turns out, doesn’t grow from a tadpole to a trout to an all-devouring, self-devouring Loch Ness Monster.  No.  Prepare thyself.  Capitalism eventually morphs into Nanny State socialism; socialism is the torpid, horrid final phase of capitalism.  Marx’s dysfunctional utopia (a.k.a. dystopia) is not the new day that dawns over a hellish night of capitalist tycoons slaughtering each other: it is the long, pitch-black sleep that receives capitalism’s greedy, suicidal dusk.  Big businesses drive small businesses under by banning your bakery from your residence, by condemning my leather work for employing tools too sharp for OSHA standards, by fining Peter’s Tax Service for not having wheelchair access, by shutting down Paul’s casual for-cash computer repairs because the kid didn’t get an EIN.  Big business loves big government.  Bill Gates loves it when federal bureaucracy mandates Microsoft programs for use in the public school system.  Jeff Bezos loves it when Homeland Security elects to incorporate Amazon’s network for its binges of information-gathering.  What CEO of what mega-corporation wouldn’t want to be locked into a long-term contract with a national government whose audience is captive?

But what has this late-stage capitalist empire-building to do with free enterprise?  It has everything to do with a micro-managing Big Brother state that will require all to have flu shots (happy pharmaceutical companies!) paid for by mandatory insurance (happy, happy insurers!).  It has nothing whatever to do with freedom: with consumer options, with rewarded innovation, with competitive market forces, with daring maverick start-ups.  It’s the very antithesis of our pioneer tradition and our individualist ethic.  It’s what makes the corporate elite and the ruling elite fabulously wealthy out of the same slop-bucket… and, I believe, it’s a major part of what young people see when they claim to hate capitalism.  What they really hate is socialism operating covertly through final-stage capitalism—which may, alas, be the same thing.

We need to recognize, at least, that the two are close enough to the same thing—the Loch Ness Monster’s ravenous, filthy teeth and his stinging, excreting tail—as to justify our going on high alert.  Trust neither teeth nor tail.  Fight the creature by resisting all government intrusion into our personal lives.  Millennials, you know, have a strong libertarian streak.  We tend to associate their “lawless” streak with a craving for free weed… but consider, for that matter, just how well our avuncular government is policing the flow of marijuana right now, and extrapolate the effects to the fully legal, hyper-regulated mega-industry that Bernie Sanders longs to create.  A Vietnam War’s worth of our children die each year now of drugs smuggled in by Mexican cartels whose toxic impurities result from their manufacture in China.  And our federal government… is not securing the border, is condoning “sanctuary cities” through insistent inaction, and is deploring Donald Trump’s (periodic and inconsistent) efforts to minimize our dependency on Chinese products.  The open border supplies Big State capitalists with an limitless stock of slave labor, Chinese “interdependency” supplies them with limitless markets for their gadgets and gismos, and the presence of illegal residents by the million supplies them with assured electoral victories in the future for their congressional stooges.

What’s not to love about such capitalism?

Our kids just need to learn, somehow, that this stinking cesspool of the soul is not merely the look of capitalism without make-up: it’s also the carefully concealed face—the Janus/Judas flip-side visage—of socialism.  We older types need to learn that, too.  After all, if we’ve had longer to ferret out the truth, we’ve also been exposed much longer to the pious lies concealing it.

(See my video introduction to a series of forthcoming talks about libertarian alternatives at this YouTube location.)