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Thursday, March 22, 2012

An American Fairy Tale....

'Brainwash' by Joseph Art
(This is a piece by Katy; a good friend of mine.  She writes over on this site, but I've long wanted her to guest-write on this modest side of the fence.  This is far from her first effort - but it's her first post here.)

Once upon a time, there was a place called America.

Now, America was a pretty great place, as far as places go. There was lots of empty land there. There was no official religion there, so you could practice almost any religion you wanted, even something weird like Anabaptism or Quakerism. Plus, in America, you could say almost anything you wanted to say without ending up roasting on a stake.

Still, America had a lot of problems and there was one that was worse than all the others. You see, the people in America were unable to distinguish between something that was another person and something that was not. So they might look at a comb or at wagon or even at an artificial legal construct created for the accumulation of capital and not be able to tell you if what they were looking at was a human being or something else entirely.

Let me give you a strange but true example of how this worked. You’re probably not going to believe me, but take my word for it for now. When Americans looked at a human-shaped with a lot of melanin in his skin and were then asked “Is this is a person?” they did not know!


They might say, “No, it’s not a person,” or maybe “Well, that looks like three-fifths of a person to me!”

A doctor might be able to tell you what this psychological disorder is called. I can’t tell you, but whatever it is, it caused all sorts of problems for the Americans. It took hundreds of years and a war before they really decided on an answer.

For the record, they decided that the dark, human-shaped things were in fact people.

They made up some new rules to remind themselves of what they had decided. These rules were called the Thirteenth, Fourteenth, and Fifteenth Amendments. The dark, human-shaped things were supposed to be able to take these rules into court, and if anyone asked, they could wave the rules around and say, “Yes, I am a person. See?”

But here is the thing. The dark, human-shaped things almost never got to use those rules, or at least not until a lot more time had passed.

Instead, some other things that were roaming around America got to use them. For a long time, Americans with money had been spending time building things called “corporations.” Corporations were these contraptions that rich folks stuffed their money into. If I was rich and you were rich, then the two of us might stuff our money into a corporation together, sort of like how people stuff straw into a scarecrow.

This was great for two reasons: First, the rich folks could gather a whole lot of money in this way and do all sorts of things with it. Second (and this was very important), if something bad happened and somebody wanted to sue the rich folks in a court, they could just point at the scarecrow. The scarecrow would pay for the lawsuit out of the money stuffed inside, and the rich folks kept doing whatever they’d been doing before. .

After America made the new rules – the ones I called the Thirteenth, Fourteenth, and Fifteenth Amendments – the corporate scarecrows started using the new rules a LOT. They ran into America’s courts and they said, “Look at us! We are people!”

And because Americans suffered from this weird ailment where they couldn’t tell if that was true or not, everybody sort of stood around. They shrugged their shoulders, and they assumed that the scarecrows were telling them the truth.

The dark, human-shaped things could not find jobs, and they were getting hanged from trees, and they were going to jail and dying of heart disease in disproportionate numbers.

But the corporate scarecrows? They couldn’t catch heart disease. The scarecrows couldn’t be sent to prison and they could live forever if the rich people kept stuffing them full of money.

Let me tell you: Once America decided that corporate scarecrows were people, that’s when all hell started to break loose!  Those corporations started going on a rampage, not just in America but all over the world. They messed up the rivers and the land and they kept stuffing more and more money into themselves, until finally some of them got so big you could not even see their heads anymore.

The corporations made decisions that mostly only helped other corporations.

Ordinary folks like you and like me, we couldn’t out-talk them. We couldn’t out-spend them. And we sure couldn’t outlive them. Things got worse and worse and worse for the rest of us, and we started fighting amongst ourselves a lot. Nobody seemed to know what was going wrong.

But then, just before everything went dark, a couple of the exceptionally good people had an idea. “Maybe we’re looking at this whole thing wrong!” they said.

They said, “Maybe the problem is that we’re not classifying everybody as people the right way.”

The rest of us sort of stood there, stumped, scratching our chins. (Behind us, while we were scratching our chins, the corporate scarecrows were ripping the tops off of mountains and stomping down whole forests of trees!)

We finally said to the exceptionally good people, “Well, okay. That could be right. What did you have in mind?”

And do you know what those good people did? They took a medical contraption out of a bag and they held it right up to this fat lady’s stomach. They pointed at her stomach and then something from inside showed up on a little screen. It looked sort of like one of those gummy bears that the children always love to eat.

“We know why things have gone wrong!” they said. “Do you see that thing in this lady’s stomach?”

Then the good people paused for dramatic effect.

We said yes. Yes, we saw it.

“That…” the good people said, “is a person!”

And the corporate scarecrows lived happily ever after.
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