In the next two weeks, I will be posting a series, called "Finding Our Way Out," to suggest what the liberty movement should be doing right now. We begin with a short story.
It's 4 am Sunday morning. The party was a blast, but, frankly, I overdid it. I can make my way home, but, man, I'm tired! I tried a few nips of "the dog that bit me," but all I've got is a bad sick headache. I just want to drink a bottle of Maalox, go to bed, and sleep until Tuesday.
Last night (was it last night? It feels like fifty years ago), we sang those great songs, we drank to a world full of peace, joy, and plenty. We're going to abolish poverty and hunger and clean up the earth. The lion will lie down with the lamb, we'll beat our swords into plowshares, and the polar bear and spotted owl will thrive in their native habitats. And the women were awesome! You should have seen them dance! And they're going to be right in it with us! And we had people from all races. Like, you know, if we can all party together, so can the rest of the world! Yeah, maybe we were drinking too much, but we were, like, having sooooo much fun!
A couple of the guys, Barry and Ron, got into a fight. Ron's a real dimwit who says the world doesn't work that way. He's like, people want to live their own lives. He said some people don't want to drink our punch – he's like, we can try so hard to protect the environment that we can't make a living and that some countries don't want our stinkin' democracy. We ought to be, like, minding our own business. Man, did he get whupped! Barry's our hero! Now, he's progressive! He knows that our hope is in change! After all, who wouldn't want what we've got!
And you know what? Ron's lying there on the floor with a black eye, his nose out of joint, and blood in his mouth. You'd think he had learned his lesson, but, you know, he had the stinkin' audacity to say that this party's going to end. He said tomorrow, we're going to be sick. Me and my friends got together and spent several thou' with my CapitalOne® MasterCard®! And when we ran out of punch and food, you know, we went out and bought some more! This is going to be a party for the ages! I hope Ron falls into a manhole on the way home. It'll serve him right.
[Two weeks later]
I just got my CapitalOne® MasterCard® bill. Seventeen thousand dollars for that stinkin' party! Hell's bells, people buy stinkin' weddings for that kind of money! Like, I only make seven hundred a week – it'll take me years to pay that off – at 23 percent interest, it'll take me the rest of my stinkin' life! I mean, you know, it'll take half my paycheck just to pay the stinkin' finance charge! I called Barry and some other friends to tell them about it. I told them, like, you know, I really need help, man. They all felt bad for me. Barry gave me a twenty; but all the rest of them would do was give me some stinkin' IOUs. Put 'em all together, you know, and I might get fifty-five hundred in a couple years. I even called Ron. He was, like, "I told you so," and hung up. What a dimwit! Hey, I gotta eat, man. I went to the bank and you know what they said? You're maxed out on your credit card. You gotta pay it off before we'll give you more. I even called Dad. I shoulda known what he'd say. He's like, you're grown up now, son. You got yourself into it, you're going to have to get yourself out of it. I mean, that was an awesome party! I got the right to have fun! But right now, I gotta eat and pay the rent!
- Which is more likely in the next two years, that the Earth gets pounded by an asteroid, or that our dude will get part of his IOUs paid back?
- What do you think will happen if our dude keeps hanging out with Barry?
- Assuming that our dude is ineligible for any form of governmental assistance, and that deus ex machina* is not a legitimate technique in storytelling, what can he do?
- Why do you think that I am telling this story?
* Literally, "god from a machine," a theatrical technique used to resolve the conflict in a story in a miraculous and improbable way.