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Thoughts on a Schizophrenic Society

"Drugs?-I'm Shocked!"

Once again, we idolize a rather troubled, odd icon, and then are surprised that he perishes after an injection of Demerol. I have had about 10 major kidney stone episodes and two operations. On one occasion I was given an injection of Demerol in a Greek hospital and immediately entered into a zombie-like, four hour trance. The notion that any living person could inject Demerol while on antidepressants, muscle-relaxants, anti-anxiety drugs, and another opiate pain-killer is a testament to one's constitution-or luck that he could survive one day of such torture. (Had we given Jackson's cocktail to the Gitmo prisoners, well, fill in the blanks...). So, the mystery is rather how did Mr. Jackson live so long? A quarter of that drug regimen would kill most of us instantly. Again, popular culture idolizes certain postmodern traits and then turns Victorian when their tab comes due.

The Worst of Both Worlds

The point? We live in an age without rules only to reinvent them at a whim. A prudish society does not invest billions in Botox, reconstructive surgery, and sexual enhancement; yet a Gomorrah does not demand public contrition for sexual intercourse outside of marriage.  I am not passing moral judgment as much as confused about the consistency, and puzzled over what are the exact rules, if any any more.

In the old days-sin being ageless and inherent in human nature-FDR simply kept his private life private, and most in the media complied. In a better age, the fact that he died near someone not his spouse was incidental and went unreported. Most in theory might object to the President's adultery, but in fact did not care to know-inasmuch as they did not know the full details of the Roosevelt marriage and did not demand to find out.

We live in a Dr. Jekyl/Mr. Hyde world-stifling prudery without the resulting prim and proper behavior; free love without the accompanying absence of shame and social stricture.

California Baffles Me Too

Here it goes again: The state has unbounded natural wealth. It has the nation's largest population. Its economy is the most diversified. California should be awash in cash, given that both its income and sales taxes are also the highest in the United States. Instead its deficit is also the largest in the nation.

Economists, of course, have explained why the state is broken-and their exegeses are truly multifaceted, a perfect storm of sorts: State government is far too large. Employees enjoy pensions and compensation far above that found in private enterprise. Spending exceeds the rate of growth and inflation. Plentiful oil is not drilled; rich farmland is taken out of production; available timber is not always logged; nuclear power is shunned; key roads are delayed; natural wealth is considered nature's, not man's; yet men are not to live natural lives.