When I was very young, I thought for a while I might become an entomologist, that is, someone who studies insects for a living.
Unfortunately, I did not have the math skills for the hard sciences, and so I ended up getting paid to watch politicians instead. There are certain drawbacks to this. Few of them are anywhere near as lovely, say, as a luna moth. Politicians often engage in odder and more unsavory sexual behavior than most insects.
True, the female praying mantis does eat her partner while they are having sex. Most male politicians destroy themselves instead.
But the main difference between bugs and politicians is that most insects engage in more or less rational behavior.
Yes, they may fly into a streetlight by mistake, but generally they look for food and shelter, and try to lay their eggs where the young will have the best chance at survival their parents can give them.
That's something our kind doesn't always do these days, especially the subspecies known as the Republican Party. I've been studying a colony of these creatures found in the Michigan Legislature, and have made some fascinating discoveries:
First of all, they aren't very concerned about our survival as a species. Every study shows that this state's citizens are woefully undereducated. Young adults in Michigan have, on average, less education than those in nearby states.
That's largely the legacy of the days when you didn't need a lot of learning to bend metal on the assembly line. You could be ignorant as a box of rocks and still make good money. But those days are gone, and are never coming back.
The jobs of the future will require more education and higher skill sets. If we are ever to attract them, we need a better-educated work force. If our young people are to have any hope of making it, we have to give them the tools to succeed. So what are our leaders doing?
Cutting what we spend on education! Elementary, high school and university education. They can make do with less, the lawmakers say. Anyway, they can make up the money if they adopt "best practices," which seems to be Governor Snyder-speak for "screwing the teachers and the staff out of their benefits."
That would be bad and irrational enough, but the bizarre behavior of the Republicanus parasiticus lawmakers doesn't stop there. They are determined to make sure that those struggling not only don't learn well enough, they don't get fed well enough.
Last week, they voted a lifetime ban on welfare for anyone who had gotten benefits for a total of four years, a ban that will take effect Oct. 1. The lawmakers' reasoning was that this should be enough time for anyone to find a job.
Conservatives, most of them writing on their blogs, gleefully did handsprings at the thought of the boom being lowered on all these welfare cheats, some of whom were even suspected of being black.
Unfortunately, they are about two decades too late. Yes, there used to be a program called General Assistance, under which able-bodied adults could get welfare money. But that ended long ago.
The people on welfare now are poor families with minor children. Perhaps anyone could find a job in a world where a strong mixed economy included a vibrant public sector complementing and helping the private sector lead us to full employment.
That was the America that existed back in the 1960s. However, there have been precious few jobs available for anyone, even college graduates, over the last four years in Michigan.
So according to the state, 11,162 people will be cut loose without any assistance on Oct. 1. One Sheryl Thompson, the acting deputy director of the Department of Human Services, said she thought virtually all these households could produce "some earned income."
That's probably true; they could sell drugs, their bodies or their children. Maybe the odd pint of blood here and there.
Actually, what the politicians hope is that these people will just go away and leave the state. They won't, of course, not most of them.
Together with the unskilled and unemployable coming out of our underfunded schools, they'll join a large and growing group of desperate citizens with no stake in the present system.
Suddenly, it struck me with the force of revelation.
Our leaders are secret Marxist-Leninists. They have to be! This is just what Marx predicted in Das Kapital! The capitalists will throw more and more workers out of work. More and more wealth will be concentrated into fewer and fewer hands.
Finally, with no stake in the system whatsoever, there will be mass and bloody revolt. The capitalists will fight back, but will be overwhelmed, till the day when, and as the bearded one predicted, "the expropriators are expropriated."
How silly of me not to see this. For years and years, beginning with Franklin D. Roosevelt, rational private businessmen who wanted to stay rich and prosperous realized the way to do so was to see that the workers had a stake in the system.
That's why socialism and communism failed in this country. But now a secret band of terrorists masked as right-wing Republicans are driving our system to destruction and us to revolution.
Either that, or they are a bunch of cold, stupid, callous and unfeeling bastards who couldn't care less about us or our children.
And we couldn't possibly believe that of our elected leaders. ... Could we?
Night of the Living Dead update: Freshman Detroit congressman Hansen Clarke, who has been representing the 13th District since he ousted Caroline Cheeks-Kilpatrick, now says he is going to run for re-election instead in the new 14th District.
That district, one of the most bizarrely gerrymandered in state history, shoves the Grosse Pointes, Pontiac, Farmington Hills, Southfield and Sylvan Lake, among other places, into a snake-shaped district that also includes a big chunk of two poor but very different sections of Detroit: The tough east side and the Hispanic southwest.
That would appear to mean that John Conyers would run in the new 13th, slightly more than half of which is in Detroit, and the rest of which is a bunch of mainly blue-collar Wayne County suburbs.
Since Michigan is losing a congressman, and since the GOP made sure it would be a Democrat, that leaves Gary Peters as the odd man out. He was thrown into a district with Sandy Levin, who literally has been in politics since Peters was in kindergarten.
Beating Sandy in the primary would be hopeless. But if Democrats were capable of thinking about the future, they would have prevailed on Hansen to stay in his old district.
Instead, they should have helped Peters run in the 14th District, and either eased Conyers into retirement or helped Peters beat him.
Why? Among other reasons, most of the Democratic congressional delegation looks like a group photo at a nursing home picnic. John Dingell will be 86. Conyers, 83. Sandy Levin will be 81 next year; his brother, Senator Carl, 78.
Comparatively, Sen. Debbie Stabenow will be a mere slip of a girl at 62. Peters and Clarke are the only "kids" in their mid-50s.
Michigan's Republican congressmen are mostly far younger. Someone needs to tell the Democrats that planning for the future means having some candidates young enough to buy green bananas.
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