The Journal


Serving the Metropolitan Area


Since 1872



January 15th





By Jack Parnell - retired Congressman and Independent Presidential candidate


Syndicated by Acme Features


          Other day, I was taking the truck back home from Lexington... having had some more or less fruitless discussion with a man about a horse... or the vice versal… and came upon this flea market of Hell. Far as the eye can see were coffins - resting in mud, lying on parking lot gravel, being loaded and strapped down with bungee cords atop sad little Asian, American and European gas-misers; a whole stampede of kids opening and closing lids, playin’ Dracula, dogs barking, doing all those other dog-things dogs just have to do.  Other people with tape measures taking measurements agin’ the day...

          It's the old story: times so hard the local funeral parlour went bust; nobody able to afford a proper burial in these times. So the stock's going, pennies on the dollar, but as a do-it-yourself deal... out in the backyard beneath the spreading chestnut tree, like burying was done in the good old days, a’fore the chestnut blight.

          Well, I'm all for tradition, but we're in the deep dada when honest folk as drop dead after lives of work or lookin' for it can't afford the store-bought smokes or store-bought funerals.

          When I first thought of runnin' for President after steppin' away from Cannibal... pardon me, Capitol... Hill, I entertained brief thoughts of a glorious MacArthurian return; maybe a'front of fifty thousand good people brandishing torches, shovels and rakes (to whack them termites on the back of their wriggly necks and backsides). Was just a whiskey dream, however, as would pop, like most do, under the cold, cruel sun of global reality once I trekked to Arlington's Qual-Mart to price shovels, all of which, I quickly saw… as weren't the high-end sort made in Korea… came from Brazil.

          So I left that torchlight dream to rot by the side of the road like them flea-market caskets... they've got troubles enough down in Brazil (what with the burning down the Amazon to make grazing space for the gaunt and sickly cattle as end up in Big Macs) without pushy Americans storming the Capitol with their runaway shovels (as mostly rip up the middle, bein’ made of some tin compound, not that good American iron from Minnesota, where the T-wolves cyclone-bombed Houston yesterday, Bob Dylan was born and my pal Jesse was elected Governor). Things went so bad after our men in black destabilized the government in order to provide for that safe, secure (if not very sanitary) Olympics that Brazilians are still pouring over the Argentine and Chilean borders... there are people called IBASE down there who, honestly, measure the edible quality of the garbage down there some people there have to eat. Back in 1970, nearly half of what was thrown away in Rio could be scavenged and eaten by dog, pig or man. Ten years later that had dropped down to 37% and, by the turn of the Millennium, less than a third. Went up a tad on lefty crook Lulu's watch but as more land used to grow food was switched over to sugarcane for gasohol and grass for McDonalds’ cattle, by last winter, after the World Cup meltdown and the coup against Mister Bolsonaro by even crazier neo-Nazis, IBASE determined only 28% of Brazilian trash contained significant nutritional value.

          Too many people chasing too few calories, consequent from too few decent-paying jobs.  Here, there and everywhere!  Back in the spare room at Miller's Ridge, I keep a pair of Acme boots... made in the early 70's in Clarksville, state of Tennessee. Acme ran off to Puerto Rico in '93, leaving half the county to make a bonfire of old boots and throw the burnt heels at Randy Travis, who was to Acme what Michael Jordan used to be to Nike.

          At least Puerto Rico is American, sort of… they got American-style bankruptcy and corruption problems although when it comes to extending a helping hand to the disaster-stricken citizens with darker skins and different languages, Washington’s fist, at present, seems firmly wrapped around a tire iron.  So Acme might follow the example of the swoosh-gang, as moved their sweatshops from enterprise-unfriendly Indonesia to the territory of Saipan (over which flies the American flag... though not any of our child-labor laws). Shipped in more twelve-year old girls, making the same twelve cents an hour and charged them for rent and transportation so that, when they clock out after their twelve-hour shifts, they’re still in the red… and have to moonlight as prostitutes for vacationing swells from Hong Kong, L.A. and Tokyo. And if somebody squawks, out they go in cheap coffins and in come some effin' Vietnamese! Secret Vietcong toys and clothes, pickles, paperclips and radios saying “assembled in Taiwan” are washing over the American heartland like locusts, commingling with Red Chinese prison goods (ordinary Chinese workers are starting to get too costly for American corporations, not to mention the tariffs) and clothing from Bangladesh (some with slight scorch marks from the endemic sweatshop fires) and the infinitesimally more expensive junk from the rest of the Third World! As my late colleague Archibald, "Bum" Howser from Lou'siana used to say: "I'll take off my hat to 'em, but don't expect me to doff my rug!"

          "The United States escaped a lot of the political turmoil that has plagued other countries," warned Charley Reese, a big-time conservative newspaper columnist, back when mention of Vietnam still raised fur on the forearms, "because we have had a huge middle class. Deindustrialization will destroy that middle class. We will end up with a small, very rich elite and a large proletariat, the traditional formula for revolution."  I guess that means we should be thankful that those elites just tossed their outsourcing lariat over the proles, such as they are… or were… now with Amazon replacing all its persons with robots!

          If you will listen to the termites… pardonee moviemakes and chronic scold Dinesh D’Souza being a capable and culpable example… they will tell you that drawing distinctions between productive capital and degenerate (finance capital unhindered by either government or moral moderation) is really a plot against the Jews and is a certain mark of fascism, or Nazism… or progressive liberalism… or the altogether.  Then again…   

          Adam Smith... whom many venerate, but few actually read... attributed the wealth of nations as that ratio between "the number of those who are employed in useful labour and that of those who are not so employed." Among this latter, he included menial servants, kings, lawyers, priests, artists and the taxman, even standing armies - as being less efficient for the homeland security than citizen militias. Useful labour derived from farmers, manufacturers and their employees, and... lastly, and grudgingly... tradespeople. (He was aware of, but rejected, the contention of physiocrats like Tommy Malthus and, oddly enough, Fast Freddie Engels, as venerated landlords, but consigned merchants, exporters and the manufacturers of "vanities"… like, I don’t know; iPods, My Pillows and Moon Pies?... to termitistic obscurity.)

          More recently, a decade or so back, Scientific American glanced at comparative poverty rates, and determined those hereabouts to have been about as bad as in Romania, which facts they detail in this article "The Discreet Disappearance of the Bourgeoisie". Now "Bourgeoisie" is one of those buzzwords with a bad tag… being French for a start… but, after all, it's just one more term for the middle class, if a little more upper than lower. Most of 'em want to be rich, but need to stay middle-class (them Rolling Stones pointed out, then Donald Trump hijacked that difference), just as most low-rent people want to be rich, but would settle for rising up to the middle-class themselves, the way people did routinely throughout the last century and that one before (albeit sometimes with the help of Indian lands and African labor).

          Fact is, though, recent history's against them. Back when the average CEO only made a hundred times as much as his employees, some Berkeley professor opined: "The pay differentials aren't as bad as in King Herod's day, but we are heading back in that direction."  Last time I looked, it was five hundred forty… though it’s probably more like seven hundred, by now.

          Those Romanians with poverty rates the Scientific American people mentioned... they, at least, can blame their problems on Dracula jumpinout’n his low-rent coffin!

          Oh... forgot to tell you I did surrender to the temptation to profit off'n the misery of others; I picked up not one but two of those distressed caskets. Both fit snugly, side by side in the flatbed, and the dogs got to ride up in the cab. I'm keeping the cedar one agin’ the day and holding that lead-lined other for that Joker terrorist up in Boston, or the Honorable Joe Smoal, as carried the President's dirty water by pushing that UN Peacekeeping Occupation bill through. Whichever son-of-a-bitch goes first. It'll be only a little dented and smelling just a smidgen of dawg.