A pox spawned of rage has descended on all our houses


Expanded from the 10-28-2001 Daily Sparks (Nev.) Tribune

The war came to a Reno side street last Friday. It arrived in the form of contaminated food eaten by a hungry child.

I had to make a quick stop at a local auto dealership. My wife waited in the car. During the five minutes I was gone, a small boy walked past, playing with a small plastic car. On the dirt next to the sidewalk lay a discarded Frito bag with corn chips scattered about. The child reached down and ate one.

It was only then that he looked up to see the gentle face quietly watching him. A look of shame and embarrassment came over him. He ran away.

MEANWHILE, BACK AT THE HOG RANCH. Just about the same time down in Texas, Lockheed-Martin corporate executives were popping champagne corks after having won the richest military contract in the bloodthirsty history of mankind. Design and production of the new X-35 warplane could mean $1 trillion or more in sales over the next decade. That's a very expensive set of killing machines for a very rich country wherein at least one child is eating dirty junk food off the street.

A trillion plus a few hundred billion for mad money is roughly the annual budget of the entire U.S. government. The general fund budget of the state of Nevada is about one and one-half percent of that each year.

PROFITEERING FROM PANIC. When choking in a miasma of fear, the public is at its most willing to confuse profit with patriotism. While children eat dirty Fritos off the sidewalk, car dealers today equate the purchase of costly SUVs with some vague patriotic duty.

While that kid gulped down foul Fritos, the more fortunate were plunking down thousands to buy gas guzzlers to keep American dollars flowing to Arab petroleum potentates who facilitate the mass murder of Americans. The Saudi government paid for a charter jet to spirit Usama bin Laden's relatives out of the U.S. before they could be properly questioned. The Saudis continue to withold information on their 15 citizens who participated in the Sept. 11 mass murders.

This weekend, we celebrate Nevada's 1864 admission to the union as the battle born state. Alas, "Battle Born" is both the state motto and a two-word national history.

Based strictly on the budget of our war department for the past 60 years, we are the most warlike nation on earth. Why, then, should we be so shocked that others want to play the game against number one?

LUKE SKYWALKER, CALL YOUR OFFICE. Ronald Reagan's worthless, Star Wars movie-based missile interceptor folly was fully funded by congress with bodies still warm in New York and DC. Even airlines which didn't need it got a $15 billion welfare program. Displaced workers have been lucky to find Fritos while their betters break into the Social Security lockbox.

JIM GIBBONS, CORPORATE SHILL. Late last week, Rep. Jim Gibbons, R-Nev., voted with every house Republican to pass by two votes a bill to grant tremendous tax breaks to the rich all in the name of anti-Usama patriotism. It not only repeals a small corporate tax signed into law in 1986 by President Reagan, but gives companies their taxes back for the past 15 years! (The tax was enacted to make sure that all corporations pay a little something, even if they have figured out how to avoid income tax altogether. Corporate taxes have shriveled over the past 30 years with the burden increasingly shifted to wage earners.)

CONSTITUTIONAL TOILET PAPER. We've been waving the stars and stripes so much that tattered flags now appear on autos everywhere — just the things to cloak the coffin of the last vestiges of the Bill of Rights. A few years ago, a foundation endowed by a member of the Grateful Dead commissioned a study of the status of the first 10 Amendments to the Constitution of the United States. The Wall Street Journal published the results. Only one small segment remains inviolate — the prohibition against forcing citizens to quarter troops in private homes.

PILL POPPING FOR FUN AND PROFIT. Secretary of Health and Human Services Tommy Thompson wouldn't blow the patent on the antibiotic Cipro as Canada did. Instead, he begged Bayer for price breaks, preserving our capitalistic tradition of profiting from human misery.

FROM RED CROSS TO RED CASH. So much emotion-raised charity money has been collected by more than 200 organizations that it's reached the point of diminishing returns. The keepers of the cash are now fighting over it. Witness the hallowed American Red Cross. To paraphrase Yogi Berra, if Clara Barton were alive, she'd be turning over in her grave.

GOV. GLOOM'S CRYSTAL BALL. Back in the 1980s, a series of short stories on nuclear disarmament were solicited from prominent people. Gov. Richard Lamm, D-Colo., co-authored one. The scenario: a nuclear exchange between India and Pakistan causes such macabre destruction that the world puts down its nukes.

Every time India and Pakistan rattle their glowing sabers, I am reminded that life imitates art. Such a result would prove perfectly consistent with the history of the tribes of mankind. Genetically almost identical, people nonetheless kill and maim each other over superficial, superstition-based tribal differences.

If that hungry nine year-old lives to twice his age, will he face a world with twice the hatred? The cold reality is now sinking in that a few hundred million, perhaps a billion people, actually despise us as worse than cockroaches.


Try 100 years of U.S. imposition of corporate will upon third- and fourth-world nations who now use our technology against us.

Will some god or superior extra-terrestrial send some future Lot to our big blue global Sodom and Gomorrah? Will that emissary again prove unable to find 10 just men? Would that almighty feel justified in raining fire and brimstone down on such a corrupt place?

We've been warned many times.

QUAKER FEELINGS. I felt a twinge of guilt as I enjoyed my morning oatmeal just before finishing this column. Could I dare feel good about eating when people in war zones starving to death? Yeah. If I sent the oats to the Red Cross in Afghanistan, Bush would only bomb it.

HAVE YOU SEEN THESE GUYS? This interoffice memo came in from an alert reader in Carson City: "We've been notified by building security that there have been four suspected terrorists working at our office. Three of the four have been apprehended. Bin Sleepin, Bin Loafin, and Bin Drinkin are now in custody. Security advised us that they could find no one fitting the description of the fourth cell member, Bin Workin. Police are confident that anyone who looks like he's Bin Workin will be very easy to spot."

Stay of good heart.

Be well. Raise hell.

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© Andrew Barbano

Andrew Barbano is a 32-year Nevadan, a member Communications Workers of America Local 9413 and editor of NevadaLabor.com and JoeNeal.org/ Barbwire by Barbano has originated in the Daily Sparks (Nev.)Tribune since 1988 .

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