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The Village Idiot

As the machines roared

Jack Deatherage, Jr.

In the Carboniferous Epoch we were promised abundance for all,
By robbing selected Peter to pay for collective Paul;
But, though we had plenty of money, there was nothing our money could buy,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: "If you don't work you die."
The Gods of the Copybook Headings - J. Rudyard Kipling (1919)

(6/2017) One could think, or maybe not, that the educated, the elect and the anointed would understand Kipling's poem better'n I ever will. But the last 30 years of struggling to comprehend the world around me has led me to believe my betters ain't - ain't my betters. Nope. They's merely educated, elected and/or anointed, but seldom - if ever - better'n me.

I recall laughing at the county's state's attorney when he told me he would eventually catch all of Emmitsburg's drug dealers. None of the dealers I knew have been caught since that brief conversation, though the politician has since "advanced" to circuit court judge. And so it goes with the educated, the elect and the anointed. (Full disclosure: I voted for the SA even while laughing at him. At that time he was promoting a program that offered first-time convicted drug abusers a chance to get clean and sober rather than simply whiling away in the county's jail at the taxpayers' expense, and most likely advancing their skills and criminal knowledge. I've seen enough of the latter.)

Of course Kipling's poem is pointing out the flaws of progressive socialism and its bastard children - today's social justice warriors (SJW). (More disclosure: A long time friend (an SJW) recently died, taking with them useful knowledge I will never live long enough to acquire. Sadly, emotions ruled that one's political/ideological thinking while reality ruled in daily life. The SJW considered Kipling insulting. I considered the SJW to have been delusional - yet so practical in gardening, animal husbandry, wine making, preserving and barter as to confound me as badly as I confounded the SJW with my classical liberal thinking.)

When the factory was cranking out enough biker wallets to keep me pulling a lever, stamping a pedal, feeding the splitter, or pulling the trigger on a spray gun, I had hours of time to dream of things I'd do were I ever in a place I could do them. Unlike my SJW friend and the state's attorney, it never occurred to me to force people to submit to my fantasies by way of government dictate. And grand fantasies they were, until they inevitably smacked into government.

A cousin asked me what I would do with some lottery winning that left me with more than one hundred million dollars after the government raped the prize with a collective 40% tax hit. He felt I should share the loot with the clan since I hadn't earned it and give the bulk of it to some charity. After all, what could I possibly do with such a windfall? He was shocked that I'd not give away a dime of it, that I'd some selfish plan for all of it. What follows is the selfish dream I often spent the workday in.

I've long since picked out the properties (just outside of the town's limits) where I would build a museum/library, a restaurant and a theater. Actually, a school. A "free to the town's kids" school designed by local architects, built by local contractors (as long as I could find suitable professionals within the county, or state.)

The museum would be stocked by the Mad American-Bulgarian and cousin Luke as I paid them to tramp about the rock seeking out anything they thought worth preserving. The museum would be a replica of a building in the Mad One's home town she once told me was worth my visiting - expanded to accommodate not only the things she found worthy, but those I find interesting as well. A "common man's" museum filled with possibilities. Not only would the museum be open to the public (free of charge), the local kids showing any interest in art, history and crafts from around the rock would be encouraged to learn the various disciplines presented within, as well as the curating/caretaking of such an operation.

The restaurant would settle between the museum and the theater. Most of the raw foods supplied to the kitchen would be grown on the property. Everything else would be locally acquired. The restaurant would also have its own bakery and the kids interested in learning commercial kitchen skills would have the best teachers I could find to educate them in the culinary arts. From washing dishes to curing meats, from growing carrots to raising and slaughtering meats - I'd have it all presented at no cost to this place's kids.

Having toured the museum and sated one's pie hole, a comfortable seat in the theater would be the natural next step in a day-long adventure. I'm thinking of a theater along the lines of the old Tivoli in Frederick, the first stage theater I sat my ignorant self down in. A theater where one might see Abney Park perform live (after I had them flown in from the left coast), or a classic B&W flick such as "My Darling Clementine" might play on a "sliver screen". Of course, local thespians would be welcome, nay, encouraged to perform on the stage.

The entire fantasy would be geared toward educating the locals, kids and not, in any aspect of life involved in each of the three offerings. And every aspect would be offered. From study of soil ecology to money management, from washing chicken eggs to building stage props, from charcuterie to grubbing heirloom taters out of the dirt, nothing any child took an interest in would be ignored.

Oh, 'twas a grand dream I dreamed as the factory machines roared and the hours drifted by in pleasant fantasy. Still, no matter how I built the dream, designed the buildings, filled them with art, foods and actors the mental paradise was always invaded by the vile worm - government.

Obviously I'm not an ideological collectivist. I see government as "the problem" more often than itís being a benefit. So deeply has the worm squirmed into my thinking I can no longer see the details of my phantasm of a free school. With machines no longer filling my head with their clatter and roar I now find the daydreaming time better spent in fitful naps, bread-building, perusing bread books, or sipping something numbing that I didn't build.

What would happen today should I wake to find myself cash-wealthy? (There are numerous types of wealth, cash is one of the more mundane ones.) There would likely be no museum, or restaurant, and certainly no theater. No. I'd call my siblings and divide the loot between them and a few friends. Then I'd wait in comfort for the last stanza of Kipling's poem.

"And that after this is accomplished, and the brave new world begins
When all men are paid for existing and no man must pay for his sins,
As surely as Water will wet us, as surely as Fire will burn,
The Gods of the Copybook Headings with terror and slaughter return!"

Read other articles by Jack Deatherage, Jr.