There be dragons!

Monday, September 24, 2007

In praise of garbage

I ought to write a book (I ought to write several books) and title it "In Praise of Garbage". Reflecting on the Federalist papers leads me to believe that our national penchant for just mindless junk is actually a very fine thing. Oh, don't get me wrong, I still think that filling the heads of the young with a lot of mindless garbage can be a bad thing if that's all there is. I still have valuable RAM taken up with the words of Oingo Boingo songs, Oscar Meyer weiner ditties, baseball stats of the Chi White Sox in 1980s and trivia about Star Wars. But Hamilton claims in Federalist 10 that one of the ways to remove the deadly threat of factions is to make the populace share similar values. He dismisses this as impossible since people by nature are different and will choose different things. But what if something has occurred that Hamilton could not foresee? In our time, the last 100 years we have seen the development of the automobile and road system allowing people to travel far and spread out in a mass Exodus throughout the nation; we have seen the rise of movies, TV, and radio, and now internet and video games allowing people across the nation to share the same entertainments; we have seen the rise of professional sports allowing people throughout the nation to have similar loves of divergent activity; we have seen the mass market of foodstuffs, toys, clothing, and gear allowing people to collect cheaply a vast array of similar junk; we have seen the rise of the shopping mall, the waterpark, the drivein movie theater and all the other pasttimes that people enjoy in their leisure time; we have seen the evolution of the five day work week, the summer vacation, and the watercooler allowing people to make a good living and gripe about it to boot; we have seen the proliferation of various foodstuffs of all ethnic and bland variety (KFC and Bucca di Beppo in the same block) allowing people to eat good food from various backgrounds.

Much of this might be dismissed as the work of the devil which only serves to corrupt our sensibilities, make us hedonistic bread heads, and lead us into a callous Americanistic boorishness not shared by our more elite neighbors on the other side of the swimming pool. True, true, true.

But think of it... where else on earth do people from so vast a geographical distance get together to share a love of Hummells? where else on earth do thousands of screaming fans go to watch the Twinkies beat the tar out of the White Sox and then go home amicably? where else on earth can people on either East or Left coast talk jovially about the latest episode of Survivor? Garbage brings us together.

I know, there's alot more that brings us together, but no one seems to give credit to this amazing American phenomenon of the production of garbage. No other country does it on so vast a scale. No other country seems to share so various and so similar tastes. And no other country enjoys the relative peace and amity that America enjoys. Even when we hate the opposition we don't actually go out and flay them.

In the Middle East to solve a problem means open carnage in the streets, murder, mayhem, yelling, screaming and riots. But then, the Middle East has never had a professional sports league like the Giants. Is there a connection? I think that indeed there is and if/when I write my book I will give a big hats off to whomever first said, "that'd sell to the American people."


  1. Good argument, but how does one explain the soccer riots in the British Isles? Soccer hooligans are an odd fluke in the otherwise small and, with the exception of a few Irish incidents, peaceful group of neighboring islands (these days, at least). How come Packers and Vikings fans can make indecent comments about the other person's team without resorting to violence, while fans are banned from wearing team colors in pubs in England, for fear that violence may ensue?

    It might have something to do with the expensive beer. Cheapest pint still comes to about four dollars! Great country, don't get me wrong! I just miss cheap beer. PBR, PGB, even Bud...

  2. y'know, oddly, the Brits have been notoriously cantankerous for generations. riots used to break out at Fauxhall gardens or in Cheapside or in Covent on a regular basis. reformers of the 19th century blamed this on alcohol consumption (witness Charles Dickens) which I'm sure had something to do with it, but the English Bulldog may be just more pugnacious than the American Eagle. I like the idea that the Americans are slow to strike but when they do they strike hard. Certainly our riots (like after the Bulls games et alia) are normally due to civil unrest or as a jovial response to good news (like the riots in Watts or the LA riots). Alcohol or temperament the Brits appear to be much more prone to large scale assault than do the Americans; generally speaking of course.

  3. You are absolutely RIGHT ON. In fact, it's not often that anyone hits the bullseye as squarely as you just have.

    People don't often consider that (possibly) the greatest contribution to civilization the Romans ever made was the SEWER SYSTEM, nor the degree to which such a mundane thing makes people love their cities and countries. In the same way, the very mundane invention of a large number of eateries that everyone over a 4500 mile stretch of road can go to and know what will be served there does quite a lot for civil order.

    And where did all the creative energy and imagination to bring society together come from? It came from a few private individuals who did it without the help of the government. I would say that it isn't the government which holds society together. It is the garbage of culture which holds society together, and in turn society keeps governments stable.

    My God, I love this country!

  4. Wait for my blog on mercantilism coming soon to a theater near you.