Wednesday, October 6, 2010

A Story

Martin and his friends began to build a house. Years ago, others had poured the foundation, but the town in which they lived refused to allow completion of the home. Martin and his friends decided to build it anyway. Officials from the town arrested Martin more than once and threatened him and his friends. But they kept building, brick by brick, board by board, nail by nail. And the house began to take shape.

The town's opposition to the house became hysterical. People from the town carried out many of their threats, often beating and sometimes murdering builders. But Martin and his friends kept building. If you can have a house, Martin explained, so can we. In fact, the safety of your house depends on us being able to build ours. And you can hit us as hard as you want. We won't stop building, even to hit back. Especially to hit back, for that is what you want us to do. And Martin drove another nail into another board.

That night, people from the town murdered one of Martin's friends.

John from the county stopped by. He had heard about the house but hadn't thought too much about it until Martin's friend was killed. He looked at the house and turned to the town. If you can have a house, they can have a house, John said. It's only fair. The town screamed at John. You're from another part of the county. We do things our own way in this town. Martin's friends were happy to live without a roof over their heads until he came along. John looked back at them. Fair is fair, he said.

Martin and his friends kept building.

A few weeks later, Lyndon from the county stopped by the house. John was gone, he explained, but Lyndon agreed with John that fair was fair. Keep building the house, Lyndon told Martin. I'll take care of the county. And Lyndon was as good as his word: Despite the opposition of the town and a county official name Strom who said he would stop the county from doing anything at all if it helped Martin, building permits flowed and zoning restrictions eased.

Martin and his friends kept building.

As the house neared completion, Lyndon found that he needed help from Everett to get one last permit. Everett grumbled about helping. Were it up to him, there would be no house. But it was almost built and people were watching. They thought that fair was fair, too.

Everett agreed to issue the permit, but only if the house wasn't built quite as high as Martin and Lyndon wanted. To get the permit, Lyndon agreed to Everett's terms. Martin wasn't happy about this, but decided that he could add on to the house another day.

Martin and his friends finished that house, and Martin began work on another one in another town.

Years and years later, the house still stood, even if it needed new paint and a new roof. The descendants of Strom and Everett gazed upon it proudly. They didn't see the rotting timbers or the dilapidated porch or the holes in the roof. This house, they said, is as good as ever. It's as sturdy as the day that Strom and Everett built it. It is a shame, they said, that Strom and Everett do not get credit for building this house.

Martin and his friends should be more grateful to Strom and Everett, said Everett's descendants. What, after all, would they have done had Strom and Everett not given them a place to live?

You're right, said Strom's descendants. The history books give all the credit to Martin and Lyndon when it was really Strom and Everett who built the house. We have an idea.

What's your idea?, asked Everett's children.

Let's change history, said Strom's children. So that people will know who really built the house.

And they did...

Bob Herbert reminds us (and Dean Broder) of the real John Boner...

The great E. J. Dionne writes that Democratic candidates are using the new health care bill as a centerpiece of their campaigns...

Paul Krugman on Fox News, the Republican party, and Citizen Kane...


paula said...

Hmmmm, interesting parable, worthy of consideration by many liberals, Dems and other progressives who are ready to throw out Obama et al because they couldn't deliver every last thing he promised. Which is more indicative of growth -- the step by step construction of a house, or whatever it takes to clear the building lot? If someone will move us in the right direction, we would be wise to take what help we can get, even if it comes in small portions, and even if it comes from those we detest for other reasons. Yes, I guess we all should have thanked those two racist right-wingers for advancing cause the cause of civil rights, ever so slightly. Without them, we may never have gotten as far as we did. Kind of like Mitt Romney giving his blessing to the Massachusetts health care bill, which had been kicking around in the state legislature for 20 years. Yeah, he deserves some credit but not ownership of the program. To change the metaphor, can we get back to supporting Obama's many initiatives without quibbling over how far or little he's carried the ball? In this environment, I see any forward motion as a gigantic achievement, and worthy of a thank you.

K. said...


I've had it with the American left. It's most significant accomplishment since the Vietnam War has been to help get George Bush elected by getting behind Ralph Nader's delusional candidacy. Remember? He was going to get 5% per cent of the vote, thereby assuring the Green Party a seat at the 2004 presidential debates, thus hastening the demise of the two-party system.

The left has maneuvered itself into a position where it can inflict harm but do no good. That's what happens when you convince yourself that a hodgepodge of position papers combined with snarky op-ed pieces constitutes a movement.

I should point out that I'm not referring to the genuine radicals to the left of the left. Them I respect because their voice is consistent and grounded.

Foxessa said...

Rewriting history, we do it gude in this county.

Except, as I gallop through the decades between Independence and the Civil War, with a different Great Man as the focus each time, it's kind of stupifying to see the county doing the same thing over and over and over and over, and each time it doesn't work. But we always go back to what didn't work, the myths that are harmful lies, the determination to get Big Gummit out of everything, particularly infrastructure, except protecting the rich.

Love, c.

K. said...

There's a free market ideologue in my health policy glass -- a "government has no business in health care" type who probably wants to get rid of Medicare.

A high school history book -- from outside of Texas anyway -- contains all the information anyone needs to know that completely market-driven health care is a bad idea. Why? Because we know from our own history that any time a major segment of the economy goes unregulated -- be it railroads, oil, or investment banks -- it consolidates into a few powerful firms that control pricing, set the rules of access and use accordingly, and have disproportionate influence over the legislators who are supposed to be bird-dogging them. That would happen with unregulated health care because there is too much money involved.

So, yes, we never learn from history. I've never seen such a blatant effort to rewrite though, as is happening now. It's genuinely Orwellian.

paula said...

All anyone needs to think about is this: Is it wiser to let health care decisions and delivery be driven by the needs of shareholders (in the private sector) or by trained (public sector) professionals whose only commitment is the assurance of safe, effective and efficient medical treatment? Assuming each sector has the same number of incompetents involved in delivery and oversight, it's still a no-brainer to me.

Roy said...

Ah yes, the Texas Board of Education. Sort of like Andy Schlafly, who wants to rewrite the Bible to make Jesus a free-market conservative on Conservapedia. You really have to wonder how people with brains like that remember to breathe!

injaynesworld said...

Well said, my friend. And thanks for the links. I'd missed the Dionne piece.