The point of the dead parrot sketch is simple: a man sold another man a parrot. The parrot turned out to be dead, and nailed to the perch.
The problem cannot be resolved, because the pet shop owner refuses to accept that the parrot is, in fact, dead, and then refuses to admit that it’s even his shop or his town.
The comedy veers off in the direction of the absurd, as we realize just how ridiculous the denial of the shop owner is.
Which mirrors the real world inasmuch as we cannot resolve our problem until we admit that it exists.
And the problem is that our parrot is dead. He’s not merely stunned, sleeping or pining for the fjords.
When you misidentify a problem, the core falls apart. The problem-solving dithers, the enterprise staggers and often fails. Example: in 2003, Saddam Hussein has Weapons of Mass Destruction and aided and abetted 9-11.
Further, the people were being oppressed by Saddam Hussein, and, therefore, when the people were freed, everything would be hunky-dory. The war would pay for itself. The White House Budget Director was fired for suggesting that the war might cost $200 billion.
If you’ve been watching any time over the last decade give or take, I rest my case.
If not, catch up.
Oh, and we paid for the war with a strange hybrid of magic money and “real money” by selling our future financial security to China in the form of U.S. Treasury Notes.
(The ones that were recently knocked down to AA+ from AAA.)
So, our human capital, our real treasure, the skilled men and women of the American Middle Class has taken the hit for the shenanigans of the wealthy and the depredation of the war profiteers.*
[* Remember: if you follow the money, most of the trillion dollars spent on Iraq came back to the U.S. and went to U.S. Contractors who were afforded lassaiz faire immunity from prosecution until they started killing people and it got too embarrassing. Those real dollars, like those of the Space Program, were nearly all spent in the good ol' USA.]
And our own middle class, offered endless lines of credit (at 33%) were swimming in debt in “real” dollars — you know, the ones where you take the stereo now and pay later, and, of course, an automobile industry DEPENDENT on E-Z credit to sell you cars.
Ally Bank (whose representative mistreating and cheating children in commercials you might recall) used to be GMAC, or General Motors Acceptance Corporation, a quaint leftover from the desolation of the late 1970s and 1980s, when the auto industry solved their sales problems and people’s awful credit ratings by financing their OWN car sales. When GMAC started playing the mortgages market and lost their boodle, we bailed them out, they were reorganized, and now they torment children in commercials. Go figure.
The sad irony of the 80s and 90s is that we retooled the engine of our economy and created a dislocation as profound as the dislocation of the first industrial revolution: skilled workers, whole classes of them, were suddenly obsolete. There was no REASON for them.
This has happened to newspaper and magazine journalists, to radio disk jockeys, to skilled mechanical draftsmen, to architectural renderers, and now to legal office personnel. To long-playing record manufacturers and to print shops, book stores, and on and on and on.
When the Guilds were suddenly put out to pasture by the weaving machines, the French peasants used to throw their wooden shoes, called “sabots” into the gears of the machinery, to wreck the machines, and shut down the factories. From that act comes our modern term “sabotage.”
No: our human capital is dislocated and our “free trade” agreements sent entire categories of manufacturing overseas, to China, the Phillippines, to Indonesia, Taiwan, India, and on and on. You can’t get a Pendleton shirt in Pendleton, Oregon at the Pendleton Mills. But you can buy a ‘Pendleton shirt’ from Vietnam. I know. I’ve got one.
Thom Hartmann has noted that when Ronald Reagan took office the US was the largest net exporter of finished goods and importer of raw materials. Today, the US is the largest net IMPORTER of finished goods and EXPORTER of raw materials. A fundamental shift in the direction of our society has taken place, from superpower to third world nation, which is what we were in 1776: American raw materials for British finished goods.
Or, American workers at an American company in St. Louis, Missouri now work for their Belgian owners making Budweiser — “An American Lager,” as the ads say. They didn’t have to rub our noses in it.
And 50% of the population has to share 2.5% of the pie?
You see, this is the crazy part. The top 1% (or, more properly, their spokespersons) have been openly sneering at 50% of the population — for not paying any taxes, which is their unselfconscious spin on it.
It would seem insane in ANY democratic form of government to sneer at 50% or anywhere near 50% of the population. If they vote, you’re sunk. (Which might explain some recent legal maneuvers in legislatures throughout the land). I can’t tell if it’s a poker “tell” or a snide snub that they believe that 50% of the population are in their way.
Here: I’ll give you the entire plot of Ayn Rand’s The Fountainhead in eleven words: I’m Howard Roark and the World better git outta mah way.
This myopia does not help.
We all sink or swim together. We are all in this together, and we have been ever since those Philadelphia fellows set to sea in a skiff made of paper.
The single most pressing need of our human capital is to put our skilled people back to work. This means retraining and redirecting, but skilled people are generally able to adapt a good work ethic to ANY job. We KNOW that the information revolution is going to continue destroying and transforming whole sectors of the economy, and, unlike the homeless (who appeared as a class of economic “untouchables” in 1983), there is no excuse for this mindless waste of the true capital of the nation.
In this case remember, the Invisible Hand of the Market, left to its own devices has in the past graced us with the Irish Potato Famine in which countless starved to death, in a year in which Ireland produced enough grain to feed the nation and more. The greed of ‘capitalists’ in that case engaged in a selfish control of goods and services that enriched them by the quite literal blood of Irish peasants.
When you’re in an industrial revolution, the “invisible hand” can be a cruel thing, indeed.
But it doesn’t need to be that way.
We have to map a way forward, and that can either be through the voice of the people, yeah, government, or by continuing to contribute to the “I need to buy another Island!” funds of the plutocracy — either by shouldering their burden of society’s legitimate expenses, or by bailing out their failed gambling ventures with grandmother’s money for new dentures.
We have to admit that the parrot is dead, and map a way to the next threshold. We built the railroads and the Interstates and they transformed America. Now we need to build a cleaner, greener America, and we need to become once more Just.
I don’t say that lightly. There is a popular superstition among the legal classes that “law” and “justice” don’t mean the same thing, and “if you believe in justice, don’t go into the law.”
I don’t pretend to be some kind of Cornstitushionul Skolar, but when the occupants of the highest offices in the land scoff at the law and flout it at every turn, WHY THE HELL SHOULD ANYONE OBEY THE LAW?
(Kindly pardon mah French.)
America watches as they tour Faux Nooz and the National Geographic Channel. (Seems the Food Channel was busy.)
Turns out that all that “Rule of Law” hot air puffed from highest pulpits of BorkLand during years of impeachment were just that: hot air.
When you have lawless leaders, you have a lawless population. And when you have a lawless population, you have Howard Roark’s Dream … with certain unintended consequences. Right Mogadishu?
We have the human capital and the resources to transform our nation. And we have an entire class of “malefactors of great wealth” — as Teddy Roosevelt called them — that need to be brought to Justice.
You see, the first paragraph of the Constitution reads precisely thus, and is no more or no less important than any other paragraph:
We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.
We have been given much, and have a great debt to repay to our posterity, but we can either decide politically on a common course, or watch another Potato Famine.
But our capital is in our people and what they can do, if you give them a dream and half a chance.
Right now, what we’ve got is a dead parrot.