I’ve been looking over my tax statement from the county, and reflecting on my personal property taxes this year. Once again, as I trudge to the courthouse to pay them, I’ll be whining – to myself – about how every year I pay my taxes, and yet I never get called for jury duty.

How do you get called for jury duty anyway? And since so many people that I know who have been called did not want to be called in the first place, is there any justice in the fact that someone who is just chomping at the bit to serve on a jury never, ever gets the call?

During the Vietnam war, there were those who withheld a portion of their taxes in opposition to the war. I wonder if I could hold back a certain portion of my property taxes – sort of like a hostage – until I get called for jury duty?

Yeah, right. Then I’d be a “Tax Offender,” and the full weight of the law would be upon me. I’d see a jury box all right, but from the wrong angle . . .


No science please, we’re fundamentalist

Good letter in the NWA Times today from Sam H. Emerson Jr. about evolution and creationism. I think that the basic problem with Creation Science is that a lot of folks would rather that God be a magician, rather than a scientist.

Crimes Against Nature

I once wrote a novel about an alternative earth, in which there exists a United States run by corporate and fundamentalist religious interests. I envisioned a world in which the environmental Protection Agency does not exist, but, rather, an Industrial Protection Agency is the most powerful arm of the government. What I imagined to be fantasy, has now, for the most part, become reality.

That was less naked self-promotion on my part than making the point that Robert F.  Kennedy, Jr. has described a frightening world that seems closer to science fiction than reality. But Kennedy, in his book, “Crimes Against Nature: How George W. Bush and his Corporate Pals are Plundering the Country and Hijacking our Democracy,” writes about a world turned upside down, a world in which common humanity exists merely as stepping stones for the greedy supporters of of a soulless administration.

Save for coverage in the alternative press (alternative as opposed to a Milquetoast press), little of what Kennedy writes about has been covered to any significant degree. And because of the reluctance of the mainstream press – hardly liberal, by any stretch of the imagination – the Bush administration has been successful in ramming through a series of changes which would frighten any rational person, if only they  knew about them.

Kennedy writes, “Amazingly, this administration is instead relying on a cleanup schedule written by polluters that will leave the United States with contaminated air, poisoned water and fish, and sickened children for generations.” He goes on to reveal that the energy industry gave $48 million to the GOP during the 2000 campaign, and and has given yet another $158 million since then.

It doesn’t get any better after that.

The sheer cynicism of those at the top layers of the federal government is cause for more than just head-shaking, or annoyance. These are men and women who have an abject contempt for human life – as long as that human life isn’t on the top layer of society.

If you think that it is only the Iraq war that Comrade Bush and Company have been less than honest about, then “Crimes Against Nature” is going to horrify you. But even if you are already pretty well-informed, I’m sure that Kennedy can pull something out of his hat to make you furious.

Then again, you can get angry at Kennedy, and all those who try to tell the truth about what is really happening in this country. You can call them traitors, and giggle into your Kool-Aid when the not-so-genial buffoons on Fox News snarl insults at them and tell you not to pay attention to them.

You can put your head in the sand, and when those you love get sick, you can refuse to ask why. And on their tombstones, you can have inscribed, “The Price We Pay for Prosperity.”

But then again, it ain’t your prosperity. You don’t count. You just pay the price for someone else’s prosperity.