We The Dead
The wind blows where it chooses, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. - Jesus of Nazareth [John 3:1-16]
Here, we pass along an email that came to us yesterday, in response to our "Dead Men Talking" column of last week. Is it authentic? We cannot say...we can only hope.
Dear Mr. Bonner,
I write on behalf of all of us here in this little corner of Hell - Helferrich is here. Ya...and Havenstein too. He was the guy in charge of printing the money in Germany, 1919-23. And Ben Strong is here, too...forever boring us with his little tale of how he gave the markets "a little coup de whiskey" and brought on the Great Depression...and John Law, always trying to get up a poker game...and, of course, everybody's favorite schemer, Charles Ponzi.
You hit a raw nerve last week. Well, all of our nerves are a little raw...but a constant gripe in these parts is this:
We sacrificed our very souls...and now we roast in eternal torment - and for what? Yes, when we were living, we all did the wrong thing; we freely admit it. And now every one us pays the price. (Nothing comes in life without conditions attached, we discovered.) But what good is it for God to make a moral example out of us if no one pays attention?
Believe it or not, we read the papers and watch CNBC down here. [It is part of our torture!] It seems as though every central banker in the world has taken the devil's bait. The bankers create money, 'out of thin air,' as if they knew what they were doing. As if had been not be tried by every one of us...as if there were anyway to get away with it.
Here, we know what we are talking about; every sorry one of us learned the hard way: you can't get something for nothing.
But let us change the subject. These doom and gloom opinions are boring, your readers tell you. So we dead men will speak of other things. You see, we have learned a thing or two. And if you - whose hearts still beat - would take a minute to listen to us, you might learn something.
That is what really galls us. That each generation seems to think it is the first to stand upright. It is as if its mothers and fathers walked on four legs and howled at the moon!
Even when you feign admiration for same fallen forebear, it is usually without paying a lick of attention to what the poor schmuck actually said...or knew. We leave you our memoirs, our gospels, our histories and constitution - for what is a constitution but a pact with the dead? - and you ignore them, choosing instead to watch the latest brain-fogging episode of Survivor on TV! You seem to believe that all that we suffered, all we went through, all the mistakes we made, had no more interest to you than a comment by a sun-struck contestant in a bikini: "this is...like...weird..."
A dead man, Edmund Randolph of Virginia, attended the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia in 1789. He explained why America needed a constitution:
"The general object was to produce a cure for the evils under which the United States labored; that in tracing these evils to their origins, every man had found it in the turbulence and follies of democracy."
Another dead man, James Madison, made it even clearer: "Democracies," he wrote, "have ever been spectacles of turbulence and contention; have ever been found incompatible with personal security or the rights of property; and have in general been as short in their lives as they have been violent in their death."
So, we leave you "a Republic, if you can keep it," added Ben Franklin.
Well, you couldn't keep it. And now, people who call themselves "neo-conservatives" are pushing democracy on the entire world. These men are supposedly inspired by another corpse, Leo Strauss. But why do they not listen to the man?
"Democracy has not yet found a defense against the creeping conformism and the ever-increasing invasion of privacy which it fosters..." wrote Strauss when he was still above room temperature.
Democracy inevitably leads to a corrosive egalitarianism...there are hundreds, millions of us down here to testify to this...a soul-deadening conformity that Alexis de Tocqueville called "the tyranny of the majority."
The dead men who wrote the Constitution clearly wanted to help you avoid this tyranny...and the evils that come from it. For example (returning to the topic which got so many of us into trouble) they intended for money to be a unit of gold or silver. It was not something that you could 'create out of thin air.' By the way, those guys had experience with printing press money. They had lived through it. They knew what happened to paper money. You've heard the expression 'not worth a continental.' Well, continentals were the paper money printed during the Revolutionary War. We don't remember how much they were worth, but the phrase suggests that there was not much that was worth less!
The Constitution also bound the politicians in matters of war; they couldn't make war without a formal, solemn declaration. And then they had to raise the money and the troops to fight it. That was the dead men's wisdom, intended to spare the nation the near-constant wars of Europe. But these same neo-cons I mentioned above have made not just one, but two wars, in the last 2 years. Neither time did they pay any attention to the Constitution. And now, they have U.S. soldiers getting gunned down and blown up all over the place. While Europe is at peace, America seems ready to go to war with half the world.
What is wrong with these neo-cons? We read a recent description of the state of the union by Congressman Ron Paul. Just look at what these men have made of the nation we dead men left them:
"As our republic crumbles, voices of protest grow louder. The central government becomes more authoritarian with each crisis. As the quality of education plummets, the role of the federal government is expanded. As the quality of medical care collapses, the role of the federal government in medicine is greatly increased. Foreign policy failures precipitate cries for more intervention abroad and an ever-great empire. Cries for security grow louder, and concern for liberty languishes!
"Attacks on our homeland prompt massive increases in the bureaucracy to protect us from all dangers, seen and imagined. The price goal and concern of the Founders, the protection of liberty, is ignored. Those expressing any serious concern for personal liberty are condemned for their self-centeredness and their lack of patriotism."
But the days of the American constitutional republic are long over. The neo-cons claim that they are bringing Wilsonian democracy to the entire world. Somehow, they seem to know that this is what the world wants and needs.
Everybody gets a vote in this new Democratic Valhalla. Every half-wit's ballot is worth as much as George W. Bush's. Every fool and moron gets to have an opinion. Only we, the dead, are left out. Excluded. Ignored. Forgotten.
It is as if only the living had opinions worth hearing...as if only the here and now counted for anything. As if this small, arrogant oligarchy of those who happen to be walking around had all the questions and all the answers. The very idea is absurd. If the present generation could have found the Ultimate Truth and reached the End of History...why couldn't the last one? Or the one before?
The neo-cons must have never even read the constitution. But they listen to poll results as if they were hearing whispers from God Himself. Thus have they broken the sacred pact with their own dead ancestors.
And here, in this especially hot and putrid corner of Hell, we stoke the fires and prepare to scorch their fat derrières!"
The letter is unsigned.
P.S. We found a copy of the speech given by Ron Paul that the dead letter-writer is referring to...so we put it on the DR website: "Sorry, Mr. Franklin, we are all Democrats now!"