Friday, December 20, 2019 3:01 AM
The Quick Fix (2019Dec20)
Once, late last century, our office went non-smoking. This was a major shift in the business environment. Before anti-smoking groups lobbied for clean-air environments in bars, restaurants, and workplaces, every office had been a fog bank of cigarette smoke.
This was a perfect environment for a heavy smoker like me—I didn’t notice the stink or the lung irritation—I even let the kids hang out in my office. It was, obviously, a different time.
That all changed in the 1990s. Suddenly, I was expected to sit at my computer all day long without smoking. I panicked. I said, “Look, why don’t we just keep my office at the end of the hall, as a smoking area?” They said sure, and I was able to keep my environment cozy.
As days went by, other smokers found reasons to visit my office and, of course, have a smoke or two while we talked. It wasn’t long before my office became a crowded place—with smoke so thick it crept down the hall on little cat feet.
Luckily, the end of the hall is also where the back door was, so we changed the smoking area to ‘outside the back door’, and I got used to nicotine patches and exterior lounging. Change is the only constant.
I’ve been thinking about Capital. Karl Marx, who couldn’t spell it right, still found several glaring problems with the whole system of property and ownership. And that was before it became the bloody hell-scape it is today.
Long ago, the fight for freedom was a fight against the idea that people are born subject to another, against the idea of owning another. Now things are more subtle.
Today, we are born free. And the wealthy stand ready to sell us everything we were born free of. They’ll even loan us money—as long as we make regular payments, and keep our underpaid, unfair jobs, and pay taxes (for ourselves and the wealthy, too—they don’t pay taxes).
The framers lived in a world where one could fly off into the woods, kill the local natives, and scratch out a private kingdom with one’s bare hands. But we live in a world where you’re not allowed to kill the people that own everything. In fact, the cops pretty much work for them.
That seems very unfair to me. But, because I once created a crowded smoking section in my own office, I’m always very careful about offering my solutions. But, bottom line, their world had farmers and hunters. Our world has lawyers and traders. Pretending money and government don’t mix in our present-day democratic self-government is the blithest of hypocrisies, and desperate wishful-thinking on the part of the wealthy.