Here it is, January again. We've all survived another year and
another Holiday Season. It's amazing how so many holidays manage
to cram themselves together into one frenzied five-week span.
First comes Thanksgiving, our annual commemoration of the first
intervention by Americans to help starving foreign socialists
survive their own foolishness. When the Pilgrims landed in 1620,
they established an almost kibbutz-like communal farming system,
based on a curious interpretation of scripture. Its results were
more or less disastrous, but with the help of the local
Wampanoag indians they managed to survive the first year (though
half of the new arrivals died during the winter). So they
celebrated with a party in 1621, and after another year of this
foolishness, Governor Bradford finally figured out the problem
and assigned each family a private plot of land. Productivity
immediately rose miraculously and the colony supported itself
without further charity. Bradford later wrote:
"The experience that was had in this common course ... may well
evince the vanity of that conceit of Plato's and other ancients
applauded by some of later times; that the taking away of
property and bringing in community into a commonwealth would
make them happy and flourishing; as if they were wiser than God.
For this community ... was found to breed much confusion and
discontent and retard much employment that would have been to
their benefit and comfort."
The generous Wampanoag tradition lives on, of course, in our
foreign aid. One of the reasons the local tribe was so helpful
was the hope that the Englishmen might help them in their wars
against the Micmac from the north, the Narragansett from the
south, and the Pequot from the northwest. But the Pilgrims
weren't much help; the assistance just allowed the Europeans'
unproductive communism to survive another year, and the
Wampanoag were eventually decimated by war and epidemic
diseases. So this first instance of American foreign aid seems
to have had no better results for the indians than the State
Department's current efforts are having for us.
* * *
But Thanksgiving is just a warmup for the main events, the most
significant holidays of the year: Bill of Rights Day on December
15 and Tea Party Day on December 17th.
It was on December 15th, 1791, that the first ten amendments to
the Constitution were officially ratified. Several states --
including New York, Massachusetts, and Virginia -- had approved
the Constitution only on condition that a Bill of Rights be
included, and indeed North Carolina, evincing a healthy
skepticism towards politicians' promises (even though the
politician was James Madison), refused to ratify the
Constitution at all until the amendments were included.
I hope you celebrated in some appropriate way -- say, by writing
a letter to Governor James pointing out that the Bill of Rights
is the document that constitutes the ten commandments of
American public life, and as such it, rather than some
prescriptive religious text, should prominently adorn every
courtroom and government office in the country.
Almost eighteen years earlier, on December 17th, 1773, a band of
anti-government extremists -- tax resisters and militiamen --
dumped 342 chests of tea into Boston harbor. Americans had a
different attitude towards anti-government militiamen in those
days; future President John Adams said of this group, "There is
a dignity, a majesty, a sublimity in this last effort of the
patriots that I greatly admire."
I was sorely tempted to celebrate Tea Party Day by throwing a
bundle of glossy weekly newsmagazines into the Tennessee River,
but my wife made me dump my collection long ago when we cleaned
out the garage, and there's too much traffic on the bridge to
stop there anyway. Besides, some environmentalist might drown
trying to rescue the river from them. So I settled for sending
copies of Adams' remarks to Attorney Gerbil Reno, to our most
ironically named public servant, Louis Freeh of the FBI, and to
the only Alabaman universally loved by our national mass-media
propaganda machine, Morris Dees of the Southern Hysterical
Alarmism Center. I haven't received any formal reply yet, but
there have been strange clicking noises on my 'phone.....
* * *
New Year's Day is traditionally devoted to nursing a hangover
while preparing a list of virtuous resolutions for the coming
year which, if you had followed them the previous evening, would
have avoided the hangover you're currently nursing.
But since I've already given up forever my personal drugs of choice
(nicotine and caffeine) at least a dozen times, I decided this year
to get more basic and try changing my attitude: Be More Positive!
Quit kvetching about the government and emphasize the beauty and
wonder of American life!
[Sounds good. Let's give it a shot!]
Crime in America is a solved problem. We know exactly how to
reduce street crime -- repeal all laws that prevent individual
citizens from protecting themselves, and repeal all laws that
make it obscenely profitable to sell recreational psychoactive
drugs. When a drug addict can support his habit on $5 a day
instead of needing $500, and when if he tries to mug someone he
runs a fifty-fifty risk of being shot by his prospective victim,
he'll find a job flipping burgers or sweeping floors instead.
And drug dealers will take their marketing disputes to civil
court instead of endangering innocent bystanders with drive-by
shootings. When was the last time beer distributors shot it out
with each other? Right: during Prohibition. [Steady, now....]
Poverty in America is a solved problem. We know exactly how to
end it -- repeal all the laws and regulations that make it more
difficult to start and expand a business, and eliminate the 50%
drag of parasitic taxes on the American economy. For six
generations, penniless immigrants arrived in this country,
worked hard, and eventually became part of the Great American
Our standard of living stopped its incredible rise only when a
few self-described "progressive" intellectuals decided that they
could run the economy better than a hundred million individual
Americans, cooperating in our vast and incomprehensibly
productive free market. [Careful, that was getting very close
to a kvetch...]
War for America is a solved problem. We know exactly how to
keep American soldiers from dying in the kind of mass insanity
that has dominated this century -- just don't play the game!
Two centuries ago George Washington's Farewell Address
cautioned us to avoid "entangling alliances". Thirty years
ago the Vietnam protester's T-shirt asked "What if they gave a
war and nobody came?" How to live in peace is no big secret.
The politicians don't have the excuse of the Cold War any more;
we've won it: the Soviet Union is no more and Red China is
burying us in colorful plastic Kiddie Meal toys. So why do we
have troops in a hundred countries around the world, apparently
looking for some conflict to get Americans killed in? And
we're doing such a wonderful job for the Bosnians that now we'll
need to keep on doing it for another ... year? Two years? Who
knows? [Sorry, that was *definitely* a kvetch. You've blown it
Damn. Maybe next year...
[Say, didn't you leave out a holiday or two in there?]
Oh, yeah, well, they're religious holidays and I didn't want to
More of Craig Goodrich's observations can be found at Goodrich 4 Congress.