Southern Rights

Once upon a time, when the continent was sparsely populated (the indigenous peoples having been largely killed off by the introduction of pestilent disease) and natural resources seem so abundant they would never be used up, public bodies (corporations) were organized mainly to distribute the resources to the favored or privileged populace via an assortment of rights:

  • water rights
  • grazing rights
  • hunting rights
  • logging rights
  • mining rights
  • trading rights
  • building rights
  • fishing rights, etc.

Some of these rights promoted the practice of what we call “animal husbandry.”

Babies HatchingThe advent of what we call human, civil and consumer rights into the arena represented a significant change, perhaps facilitated by the fact that the distribution of material assets from the public treasury was depleting those assets, some to the point of disappearance (beaver, salmon, brook trout, come to mind).

In any case, the refocus on people and the rights of the natural person constituted a significant revolution and, apparently, for some people, provided a hint that, like other natural resources, humans were available to be exploited. All that’s necessary is to persuaded them to “consent” and that can be accomplished quite simply by making the resources necessary to sustain their living increasingly scarce. That is, when there is no free lunch, humans can perforce be made to work –i.e. to subordinate themselves to those persons to whom our public assets and resources had been distributed as private property. Thus was born human husbandry, exemplars of which we can see in the “corrections industry,” “medical technology industry,” “home and national security industry,” “elder care,” and “higher education.”

That elementary education is also a target of exploitation is to be expected. If natural resources aren’t available to be consumed, they’re to be milked and children are definitely a natural resource. And fungible, to boot.

Materialism isn’t necessarily about accumulating material resources and wealth. Materialism can also be evidenced by the exploitation of man by his fellow man, as if there were no difference between man and other organic and inorganic matter. Respect for life needn’t enter into consideration.

Exploiting man in the name of religion as Betsy DeVos and her associates in the American Federation for Children propose to do is not new, either. “In the name of the nation, and the dollar and the rule of law” is not very different from the traditional Trinity, if one’s fellow man exists to be ruled, not served. Much depends on one’s preconceived notions.

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Monica Smith

Monica Smith writes Hannah's Blog. Born in Germany, she came to the United States as a child, living first in California, then after an interval in Chile, in New York. Married to a retired professor at the University of Florida, where she lived for 17 years, she moved to St. Simons Island, Georgia, in 1993 and now divides her time between Georgia and New Hampshire. (New Hampshire, she says, is always interesting during a presidential election.) She and her husband have three children and five grandchildren. Ms. Smith says she "learned long ago that I am not a good team player when I got hired at the Library of Congress, fresh out of college with a degree in political science and proficiency in four foreign languages, to 'edit' library cards and informed my supervisor that if she was going to insist I punch the clock exactly on time, my productivity was going to fall from being the highest to being the same as everyone else's. The supervisor opted to assign me to another building where there was no time-clock. After I had the first of our three children, I decided a paycheck wasn't worth the hassle."