America 2015 A.D. – ‘A State Of Indolence’
From the age of uniformity, from the age of solitude, from the age of Big Brother, from the age of doublethink — greetings!
—’Winston Smith’, Nineteen Eighty-Four
A Dispatch from The Former United States Of America…
John Goerke, writing in the Intercollegiate Review, bears witness to The Triumph Of The Bureaucrats:
Last Wednesday, I encountered American bureaucracy on the eighth floor of 190 East 5th Street in downtown St. Paul—the offices of the Social Security Administration. I walked into the office to find a confirmation of the limits to what government can accomplish.
The atmosphere of the room was chilling. The benches were covered with hunched or slouching bodies, but not a single employee could be seen. The “receptionist” was a touch screen computer console, which gave each person a number after they had entered every last piece of personal information except for their favorite flavor of ice cream. Television screens and an unseen speaker system informed each number when they were to be serviced, and called them to a service window or booth. The walls were white under the glare of fluorescent lights. All that caught the eye were the brightly colored posters of very happy and healthy people who bore no resemblance to the persons sitting about me.
At first I thought that all the employees were missing. I was wrong, however. Hidden in a corner of the room was a security guard. I’ve heard that smiling takes fewer muscles than frowning, but this gentleman seemed intent on giving his face a thoroughly exhausting workout.
Despite the agony of waiting, we never accomplished the purpose of our visit. We were attempting to change the official address of my Uncle Tom (not his real name) who moved from “independent living” to “assisted living” last January. In the space of an hour, with the help of two SSA employees, we were told that they could not change his address in the Social Security database (but isn’t that database the main object of their work, more-or-less?)….
Well…at least your Uncle hadn’t been declared an Unperson by the Database.
This is what we have come to.
A nation, once admired and envied for it’s Rugged Individualism, it’s Boundless Enthusiasm, it’s Natural Bravery and Ready Courage, has been beaten-down to where we all accept this sterile and insulting treatment of ourselves and fellow Americans by those who are in our employ — some placidly, some angrily, but all with a weary Resignation.
Where is that old Spirit that animated The Founders?
Be ashamed…be very ashamed.
If the liberties of America are ever compleatly ruined, of which in my opinion there is now the utmost danger, it will in all probability be the consequence of a mistaken notion of prudence, which leads men to acquiesce in measures of the most destructive tendency for the sake of present ease. When designs are form’d to rase the very foundation of a free government, those few who are to erect their grandeur and fortunes upon the general ruin, will employ every art to sooth the devoted people into a state of indolence, inattention and security, which is forever the fore-runner of slavery….
—Samuel Adams, writing as ‘CANDIDUS’, 09 December 1771