“I didn’t have a chance”

Jenkins stood before the judge and pleaded not guilty.   He had robbed a bank at gunpoint and had been caught by police two blocks away counting the money in an alley.

The judge said, “You were caught red-handed and we have several witnesses who have identified you. What do you mean by ‘not guilty’?”

Jenkins responded, “I was forced to rob that bank. I didn’t have a choice. Besides, it’s my first offence, so it doesn’t really count.”

The judge spoke harshly: “Every offence counts.” Then asked, “Who forced you?”

“My ex-boss at the factory where I was working. He fired me last week just because I was goofing off a little, and then I ran out of money. I had to rob that bank if I was going to eat, didn’t I?”

“Look,” said the judge, “if I point a gun at you and say you’ve got to do something or I will shoot you—that is using force to take your choices away from you. Only then do you have to do what I say, or get shot, perhaps killed. If you goof off at a job when you are getting paid to be working and you get fired, you are receiving and experiencing the reality, the consequences, of the choice you have made to goof off. Your boss didn’t force you to take the job in the first place, and he didn’t force you to goof off. And he didn’t force you to not look for another job, or to not have saved up food for a rainy day when you were working. You are guilty and you are going to receive the reality of jail that you alone have chosen for yourself. One year at hard labor. No pay. Time added for goofing off or any other bad behavior. Lock him up!”

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The Virtuous Policy

“Oh no!” said the President, “we can’t cut down on taxes and environmental and business regulations. Why, there would be new companies starting up, millions of new jobs available; people would start finding it easier to pay their bills and buy new things. And there would be less money available to give to other countries. Americans would become richer and happier, especially as the crime rate went down. We can’t have that! Americans are supposed to suffer! they’ve got to stop being happy! They’ve got to stop feeling important! They’ve got to be made to feel little, ugly, weak and worthless! Lower taxes? Hell no! Raise them, raise them, higher and higher! Regulate businesses out of business! Keep people from drilling for oil and digging for coal! Keep people from using water for farming! Keep them from hunting and fishing! Keep them from growing food! Keep them from living!

I’m the President. They voted for me, and for all their senators and representatives, to lead them to an orgy of suffering and sacrifice. They believed in it, they wanted it! Now let them roast in the furnace of their making! Let the flames roar! Let suffering and death triumph! let America be virtuous! Ha, Ha, Ha!

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The Secret Petals

At end of day, in dark’ning hours,
When winds are still and closed are flowers,
I sit outside beside the tree
And hear the song you sing to me.

Yet it is not for me you sing,
But for yourself, just practicing.
You don’t know I am here at all,
Within the dark, behind the wall.

Behind the wall, beside the tree,
Upon a bench I sit for me
And take in true the best of you,
To carry it the whole night through.

For in my sleep your voice I dream;
I seem to float on your pure stream,
And when I wake in bright’ning hours
I’m overjoyed from hearing flowers.

Sing on, song on, perfect your tone;
Make each phrase yours, and yours alone.
I’ll interrupt you not at all,
Beside low tree, behind dark wall.

Behind the wall, within the night,
I’ll guard your spirit’s singing light,
Let no one trespass while I’m here,
Let no one mar the bars I hear.

So right, and so complete, so free,
So beautiful, I all but see
The rosy bud that spreads apart
The secret petals of your art.

Sing on, sing on, one minute more!
This hour goes so fast before!
Yet I am happy, having heard
Such beauty in each soaring word.

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New Day

I step with pride in the dawn of day
Out on my balcony over the street;
I stretch my arms in a golden ray
With a burst of joy from hands to feet.

I sing out “I love you!” to the trucks down low,
And whisper “I’m happy” to the towers high;
I bless the great city where men do show
Their beauty-of-thought from earth to sky.

I know I am free, my world is won,
And new day waits for my opening door—
Sidewalk glad’ning where I’ll walk or run,
Sunlight dancing all its shafts before.

I know there’ll be people as glad as me
Who’ll wave, or smile with twinkling eyes,
As on they’ll trip with great deeds to be
In our trusted towers that touch the skies.

I think, as I turn, all ready to dress,
Of the job I will give to that bright young man
Who wanted to work for his happiness
And was willing to start where I first began.

Great work, great world, great life abounds!
New day begins, new time—all mine!
Now horns are beeping, pile-drivers pound;
My office waiting—oh, it’s fine!

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Dave and Laura

Dave lived with his wife, Laura, in the free republic of Freeman. Individual rights were honored and there were, of course, no taxes. Dave, looking at the news story on TV about a cyclone in Indonesia, which had killed thousands of people and left millions homeless, said, “Oh, that’s terrible. I think our government should start taxing us so it can send relief and aid to Indonesia.”

Laura exclaimed, “What?! Have you gone off your rocker? You want our government to initiate evil against us, against me, your relatives, your friends, against every honest man and woman in Freeman, just because you feel sorry for total strangers? That would be an injustice and you know it. Why would you want such an evil act committed against people you honor, value and love?”

“Well, because strangers are strangers, and strangers are the best people I’ll ever know.”

“What do you know about them?”

“Well, they’re strangers for one thing, and for another, they suffer.”

“If your friends rights were violated with taxation, wouldn’t they suffer?”

“Well, yeah, but they’re not strangers.”

“So, it’s okay if someone you know suffers, but not okay if a stranger suffers? Why?”

“Well, a stranger’s suffering, especially if he’s far away, is harder for me to take.”

“So, if we discovered that there were humans living on Pluto, and they were suffering, it would drive you out of your mind?”

“Oh, what a terrible thought. I couldn’t bear it! And if they lived in another galaxy I’d have to commit suicide, I’d be in such pain!”


“Well, I think it’s because the less I know about someone who is suffering the more I know something should be done about it.”

“So, you’re saying ignorance is knowledge, and that the less you know about people the more you care for them?”

“That’s it! Ignorance is bliss, and when I’m ignorant about someone, especially if he’s suffering, I’m happy as a lark!”

“So if I told you that that news story on TV was just a fake to test people’s responses, and that all those people in Indonesia were healthy and happy, you wouldn’t care about them anymore?”

“No, I wouldn’t. Without suffering in the world, it would all be pointless.”

“What is the point of suffering?”

“To make everyone suffer, so that everyone can be happy.”

Dave, can we stop playing this game now? I think I’m well enough versed in the stupid evil of altruism.”

“You are, my dear. You are.”

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No Sacrifice

It had rained for days and days. The village was flooded. More than half the crops were ruined. The witch doctor told the people that because Jonathan had not paid proper tribute to the goddess she was angry and had unleashed this storm upon them. Then he said that the only way to appease the goddess and end the rain was for Jonathan to sacrifice Ilena, his fifteen year-old daughter. Jonathan refused. Then all the people strode toward his house, shaking fists and shouting, “Sacrifice! Sacrifice! Sacrifice!” Jonathan grabbed Ilena and raced out the back door and up into the high rocky hills. There he loosened huge rocks and sent them rolling down into the village, smashing everyone’s house, smashing the marketplace, smashing everything. Then the terrified people took the witch doctor and hung him from a tree as the rains came to an end.

Thereafter, any man or woman who called for sacrifices was scorned, damned, belittled, or driven out of the village. Ilena grew to be a great beauty who also made great profits in the new marketplace. Jonathan grew to be a very wealthy old man whose advice in many matters was often sought. The name of the village was changed to No Sacrifice and became very prosperous. The goddess, who had been merely a pretended figment of the imagination, was given up to non-pretending and vanished from men’s minds forever.

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Self-Sufficient Lovers of Life?

Obama, Hillary Clinton, and Nancy Pelosi found themselves, after a shipwreck, the lone survivors washed up on the shore of an uninhabited island. They didn’t know what to do. They were hungry and thirsty. Obama looked up and saw some coconuts hanging from a tree and started to give a speech. Hillary told him to shut up and went over and pounded on the tree, yelling, “Fall, damn you, fall!” Pelosi sat on the beach and pretended to herself that she was meditating. Then Obama began screaming at Hillary, “Do something, you idiot!” Then he went on with a speech about the lack of resources on Pacific islands, which had been selfishly neglected by industrialists, but had to stop after two sentences, having lost his notes. The Hillary stopped pounding and began hugging the tree, while mumbling, “I didn’t mean it; I really love you, I love you” while baring her teeth.

A headhunter came to the edge of the jungle, looked at them, shook his head and turned back into the jungle. Nancy Pelosi sat on the beach as the high tide crept up to her shoulders, pretending she was a basketball getting a massage. Oops—dunk time!

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