Where Are The Solutions, Fred?

Fred Coughs'em Up

September 1, 2004

Sometimes I suspect that people do not adequately appreciate my service as the chief moral compass and guidance counselor to what is left of western civilization. I know, I know, it is hard to believe. Yet I get mail saying, “Fred, you sure do grouse a lot about the decline of just about everything. How come you don’t come up with, you know, some solutions? Anybody can bitch.”

Yeah, well.

Sez me, two kinds of problems exist: Those we can’t solve, and those we won’t solve. The ones we won’t solve are usually the worst, or at least the most annoying. How much sympathy am I supposed to have for people who, beating their thumbs with hammers, complain that it hurts? That’s the United States, thump, thump, thump. Our problems are solvable. We just prefer to complain.

Some solutions.

Education: Get big cement trucks, fill them with linoleum cement mixed with potassium cyanide and maybe thumb tacks. Dump this salutary porridge into the faculty lounges of the teachers colleges, being sure that the scoundrels are still inside. Put up signs all around saying “Mutant Radioactive Cholera Site. Go Away.”

Catch all the employees of the Department of Education and paint “Deer” on them in red letters, and then tell suburban deer hunters that it’s open season. They won’t know the difference. Put a bounty on certified teachers. Personally I would not want the varmints stuffed over my fireplace, but we could make cat food from them.

Then—I know this is extreme, and people will say I’m heartless, and low down, and shameful as a truss ad--hire smart teachers. Demand work from the kids. Yes, it’s radical. The cries of the little monsters would tug at my heartstrings. Do it anyway. I’ll just suffer.

Give parents a voucher for the amount spent in their school system per kid and let them spend it if they choose on unregulated private schools.

We won’t do these admirable things because (1) we don’t really care about education, (2) the education lobbies have influence in Washington, but voters don’t, and (3) minorities in a real schools system would fall even more obviously to the bottom. Disguising their shortcomings trumps teaching. Anyway, we probably don’t have enough linoleum cement.

Wars: Require that Congress declare war before we have one. Bring back the draft, exclusively for the fetid princelings of the Ivy Leagues. Give them to Marine Corps for training and, oh yes, please, let me watch. (Actually you could sell tickets to veterans to finance the program.) Strap their mothers onto the skids of deployable helicopters for two years each and feed them intravenously if need be. The ruling classes will see the uses of restraint.

We won’t do it because Congress is an ornamental body, and the mothers would die if they couldn’t get hand-cut smoked salmon. (Though I’m not sure why this should be an objection. They’re happy enough to let the kids of other mothers die.)

AIDS. Stop worrying about it. It is a voluntary disease acquired by doing things that we all know about and anyone can avoid. Homosexuals don’t have to be promiscuous any more than anyone else. HIV is a choice, like riding a motorcycle. If you want to do it, fine. If you fall off, don’t tell me about it.

We won’t, because homosexuals are thought to vote Democratic.

Immigration: Bring the military back from Iraq, where it doesn’t belong, and put it along the Mexican border, where it does. According to taste, decide to keep the illegals already in the US, or put a ten thousand dollar fine on hiring an illegal, half of it to go to the person reporting the hiring. Restrict welfare and public services to citizens and legal residents.

We won’t do it because we are as collectively paralyzed as a roomful of ed profs stuck in linoleum cement.

Affirmative action. I see two approaches, each being as brilliant as the other, or perhaps more so. The first is to require the entire population to submit to a test, the only question on which will be, “Are you a member of a group suffering discrimination or oppression?” If the answer is “yes,” they go to Leavenworth for two years, after which they will be retested to see whether they have learned anything.

The other is to democratize affirmative action, so that everyone can enjoy unearned benefits at the expense of someone else. This is entirely illogical. The people on affirmative action, I promise, won’t notice. Which is why they need affirmative action in the first place.

Finally, we could apportion emoluments without regard to race, creed, color, or national origin. But no, that way lies tyranny. The idea is probably communistic. In any event we will do none of these things because the Democrats get the votes of the affirmative action classes, and the Republicans imagine that they might.

Political correctness. Permit me here to inject a personal note into this otherwise dispassionate and thoughtful essay. Being as I am a purveyor of lies, distortion, sedition, and slander, this particular strait jacket offends me.

Last night I began a novel, which I hoped would march along the paths of literary acclaim like the works of Conrad and Dustyoffsky. And well it might have.

My tale began, “Having dispatched the blackguards who had beset upon him on the road, Lord Greystoke took him to the woods to fetch some faggots for a fire, but Mother Nature was a niggard with her fruits, and he found but few sticks and poor.”

You see. Rhythm, balance, clauses flowing as gracefully as trapeze artists swinging before an audience slavering for their deaths—but it seems that it’s hate speech. Unpublishable.

As a first step toward a solution, Congress should pass an amendment to the Constitution saying—oh, how shall I put it?—perhaps that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press.” The likelihood however that Congress will pass a law beginning with “Congress shall make no law” is exiguous.

A second idea is to suggest that people grow up, and try to stop being pathetic psychics cripples who squall like two-year-olds if they hear anything they don’t like. Society isn’t, or shouldn’t be anyway, a diapering service.

But none of this will work because too many people want to be diapered, pampered, and given things. Shutting up, studying, working, dealing with minor irritations, or manifesting any form of vertebracy, is out of tune with the national character. Solutions are to hand. Thing is, we don’t want them.