Wednesday, August 17, 2005

I Got My Mind Right, Boss!

I work out early in the morning, at my local YMCA, where there's a bank of six televisions staring at you when you're using the rows of treadmills, elliptical trainers, bikes, and such. I don't hear the audio from the glass-fronted Satan-boxes, because I have my MP3 player on; but they all have the closed captioning turned on. And this morning, while thrashing away at the elliptical, I was seeing the silent-but-captioned "news" and suddenly thought of an old movie: Cool Hand Luke.

The news story was all about the traumatic Israeli pullout from (a little bit of) the occupied territories in Gaza. I saw lots and lots of housing, in the video, that had been gutted and largely destroyed by the outgoing "settlers." And it got me to thinking. Israel is our largest international welfare client, at the rate of about $3B per year, on the books; how much more there might be that's not included in that figure, I couldn't say. And all that settlement housing ... I wonder how much of it was paid for by us: the American taxpayer or serf. Whether directly or not doesn't matter, really; money is fungible, so any Israeli gummint project is substantially an American gummint project. The same applies to the eventual bulldozing cost, too. So we pay to build, and then we pay to tear down. And if the Palestinian Authority is at all smart, I expect we'll pay to rebuild, too.

Consider Iraq. We've paid, and are paying, tons of money and blood to bust the place up. And, more or less simultaneously, we're paying more tons of money and blood to rebuild. (So far, the busting-up seems to be well out in the lead.) Pay to tear down, pay to build. Ah, the wonders of the glorious State!

So, what's that got to do with Cool Hand Luke? I'm sure you remember the scene in which the Paul Newman character is made to excavate a large hole by one "boss," only to be ordered to fill it in by another. The cycle repeats until he's broken. "Don't hit me no more, Boss ... I got my mind right!"

'Nuff said, I think.


Grace said...

And if the Palestinian Authority is at all smart, I expect we'll pay to rebuild, too.

Mr. Nearing was greatly distressed by the mad cackling that erupted when I read that line (I find it quite charming that he's never gotten used to my mad cackling).

It's been said that, to the US DoD, success is measured by the amount of concrete poured. So blowing it up, letting it be blown up, bulldozing it down, or letting it be bulldozed down matters only in that even more concrete gets to be poured. In concrete terms, success is always guaranteed.

Bartleby said...

Thank you for your kind words. I trust that the fortunate Mr. Nearing recovered his composure quickly and easily. I'm sure your "mad cackling" is actually entirely charming.

"In concrete terms?" That's pretty good.