Sunday, September 28, 2008

"The ShitHouse" - A fable for our time

I've made my decision for this presidential election. Amba at Ambivablog (a member in good standing of the Coalition of the Divided) arrived at the same destination but got there by another route. Reader and anonymous commenter FreedomFan dissents. He e-mailed me this fable, which we are sharing as a guest post:

The ShitHouse
There once was a country with only one restaurant that existed within it -- a chain restaurant that was called The ShitHouse. The ShitHouse restaurant had two kitchens it -- the kitchen on the left only served one item on the menu -- Donkey Shit, which was served on blue plates and blue table clothes. And the kitchen on the right served only one item -- Elephant Shit, and it was served on red plates and red table clothes. And the patrons ate all their meals at The ShitHouse -- breakfast, lunch and dinner. And so, after eating 3 meals a day at the ShitHouse, 365 days a year, for years and years -- the patrons got deeply immersed into arguing and discussing which SHIT tasted, smelled and felt better! Not only did the patrons keep eating it, they passionately defended which shit tasted better. "Damn, that's some good shit!!" "My shit tastes way better than your shit." "Those Donkey Shit Eaters don't know what good shit tastes like!" "Those Elephant Shit Munchers think their shit doesn't stink!", and on and on. The thing is -- the patrons had been eating shit for so long they had forgotten that there might be something better to eat -- like even just a hamburger, let alone a nice steak.

Of course, the ShitHouse advertised (as well as controlled most of the stories that appeared) on TV, radio and newspapers (which were owned by the ShitHouse) -- which kept the patrons coming in to eat and argue -- there was the 24 hour Elephant Shit News Network, and the Donkey Shit News Network, The Elephant Shit Tribune and the Donkey Shit Times, Radio stations WSHIT & KRAP and so on. The pundits (paid by the ShitHouse) had round table discussions about which shit was better, why it was better, and why the other shit was awful, etc. -- and the owners of the ShitHouse liked it that way too -- "keep shoving it in the patron’s faces and they’ll never know what they're missing!" they could be heard to say as they laughed with their powerful friends while stuffing huge sums of money in their pockets.

And the owners of The ShitHouse kept profiting from it and the patrons kept eating it year after year -- even though it kept getting more and more expensive for the patrons! The owners of the Shithouse didn't even care what kind of shit the patrons ate -- as long as they ate Donkey Shit and Elephant Shit!

Occasionally, a new guy came to town and tried to open a new restaurant -- a nice burger joint let’s say. But see -- the owners of the ShitHouse -- they also made the laws! So they passed laws that made it damn near impossible for the new guy to open up. And the TV, radio and newspapers never even mentioned this other guy -- not surprising since they were owned by the ShitHouse.

The patrons of the ShitHouse would often get pretty grumpy -- "times are tough, it's hard to make ends meet, etc." So, of course, they would quite often get around to complaining, The Donkey Shit Eaters could be heard complaining "If it wasn't for those Elephant Shit Munchers, I'd have more Donkey Shit to eat" and The Elephant Shit Munchers could be heard saying things like "those Donkey Shit Eaters want it so that I have to pay for my Elephant Shit and some of their Donkey shit too!" and so on...

And every two years, the patrons would go out to vote for what food they want served at The ShitHouse. The hard core Elephant Shit Munchers would wake up on voting day and say "Damn, I can't wait to get to the polls and vote for Elephant shit today" -- and then march right down to The ShitHouse for their 3 squares, and then on to the polls to cast their vote. The hardcore Donkey Shit Eaters would wake up and say "Damn, I can't wait to get to the polls and vote for Donkey shit today" -- and then march right down to The ShitHouse for their 3 squares, and then on to the polls to cast their vote. Some patrons couldn't quite decide -- after years of eating SHIT, they really wanted to eat something else, but on voting day they'd mull it over and say "Heck -- they only serve Donkey Shit and Elephant Shit at The ShitHouse anyway so I guess since I had Elephant Shit yesterday, I'll vote for Donkey Shit today." Other people would said "Well, I really don't like shit, but since that's all they serve, I'll vote for the lessor of two bad pieces of SHIT". Some people said they liked Divided Shit -- they feel that if the owners of the ShitHouse were somehow shuffled around so that you kept an even balance of the staff, that the restaurant might serve better shit -- or at least the shit won't taste any worse or cost anymore. -- And then the next day all the patrons lined up at the ShitHouse for their three square meals of shit.... and so it went, year after year...

The moral of the story??? If you don't like eating shit, don't vote for shit.

So this election, I'm gonna do what I've done since 1996 -- I'm NOT gonna eat at the ShitHouse. There's this little place hidden down the road called the Libertarian Cafe -- not too many people are familiar with it, they don't advertise on TV or the papers, but ... they do serve a damn good burger! They even have a web site --- -- and the current owner is Bob Barr. If enough people join me, maybe eventually we can create something closer to Divided Food instead of Divided Shit. We really need a strong third party in this country -- one that offers something very different than what the Dems and Repubs offer, and then a fourth party....That would really be divided government -- 3 or 4 parties, with the Dems and Repubs combined accounting for no more than 50%. But we can't just sit and complain about the Dems or the Repubs -- we have to look in the mirror -- we put them there! We've pretty much had what DWSUWF calls divided government for many years and look where we are -- one simple example, the national debt has grown from roughly $1 trillion to nearly $10 trillion in less than 30 years -- that's about $31,600 per person or $125,000 for a family of four. Isn't enough enough??? Real change is voting non-Democratic and non-Republican. And real change doesn't start by waiting for the other guy, it starts with each and every person not rubber stamping the Dems and Repubs back in for more. - FreedomFan
Thanks FF for that tragic and touching morality tale. Apparently this view is pervasive among the libertarian inclined. Jesse Walker, Managing Editor at Reason, expressed a similar if less poetic assessment in his recent debate post "none of the above":
"You can divide last night's debate into two parts: the argument about the economy, and everything afterward. In the first section, my basic reaction was Both of these guys are full of shit."
As I have posted here before, I am sympathetic to libertarian objectives but frustrated with a political philosophy that embraces political impotence.

All this political discussion has made me hungry. I think I'll walk down to the ShitHouse and order up a double order of tonight's blue plate special - the Economic Rescue Plan Shit Sandwich [ShitHouse Menu PDF]

Divided and Balanced.™
that is fair.

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