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Up One Side and Down The Other

Reading the newspaper is confusing these days. Which headlines are we supposed to believe? The one that says incomes are up? ("Household Incomes Rise" -- CNN/Money) Or the one that says poverty rates are up? ("Record Numbers Plunged Into Poverty" -- USA Today) Can the human mind contain such contradictory information and not collapse like a bridge in Minnesota?

Well, in the America of 2008 (or 2007, or 2006, or even, we hazard to guess, 2009), BOTH can be true! Like a giant Petri dish of social experimentation gone wrong, America is both the land of opportunity AND the land of desperation.

As the rewards for the winners have gone up (income, real estate, helicopters to vacation homes, etc.), so too have the consequences for the losers (debt, foreclosure, ambulance rides to skid row, etc.). America has always seemed to offer enough prosperity for everyone; but like a jar of sticky, greenback-filled peanut butter, our nation’s riches can only be spread so far. In greedily smearing the first few slices with the most gooey goodness, by the time the end of the loaf is reached it ends up with only the barest whisper of covering, as the blade presses harder, shredding those unfortunate last slices.

Is that fair? No, but it is human nature: who among us, having to make multiple sandwiches, hasn't liberallyslathered upthefirst few slices only to discover that by sandwich number five, that seemingly bottomless jar of peanut butter isnearlyempty, withmore yetto make? Now, some people, some countries, might measure all the peanut butter first, divide that by the number of sandwiches to be made, and then proceed to distribute the peanut butter over the sandwiches equally.

But that bit of socialist lunch-making won’t fly here in America. You want your share of peanut butter, go out and get it. There’s no free lunch here in the land of the free. That’s why we are the most successful nation in the history of the world, because we havenever put people before opportunity.

And as the land of opportunity, we have acted like agiant magnet, drawing peopleto our shores from all over the globe, pulled here against their weak-minded wills in theirsearchfor a better life – a life that assures three inalienable rights: "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness." But you’ll notice only two of those are promised; “happiness” requires “pursuit.” Because before America even existed, its founders understood that the most important thing a nation could offer was incentive. It was a brilliant and innovative motivational strategy: a contented populace was a lazy populace! How were we to expand as a nation and continue stealing land from the natives if we were satisfied with what we had?

And that’s how we get back to the current headlines of 2008, with all the false hope and doomed promises an election year can offer. What is another article about the growing inequality of the rich and the poor, the CEO and his employees, but another form of incentive? There’s a choice to be made! The rich and powerful, the Trumps and Buffetts and Gateses of America, got there and so can you!

But will you, even with hard work, luck, and opportunity? Probably not! Becausebeing successfulisn't easy, and if you don’t succeed, there will be consequences: back to the end of the loaf, and the last scrapings of peanut butter. Because that's the way our nation’s founders would have wanted it.

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Disclaimer: This website is satirical in nature and naturally satirical.  Although many of the facts, figures, statistical information, and events both current and historical contained herein are true and accurate, "Eat The Poor" also contains elements of parody, including exaggeration and ridicule, regarding events, public figures, corporations, government institutions, and others we find deserving of unwanted attention.  No harm is intended to figures both public and private and/or institutions or corporate entities mentioned herein.
The use of the phrase "herein" herein is hereby acknowledged to be unnecessary and excessive.

A Modest Proposal for a film by Kurt Engfehr and Ken Pisani.
2006 Ken Pisani and Kurt Engfehr.  All rights reserved.
All "Blogging Poorly" posts  Ken Pisani.