Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Suggestions for New Cabinet-Level Agencies by Andrei Codrescu

I'm a big fan of Andrei's essays:
      "A Department of Common Sense: The job of this institution would be to help American workers identify with their socioeconomic status and regain awareness of their true interests, instead of thinking of themselves as "middle class." This might take the extreme form of waking them up from the hypnotic state they were put in by Ronald Reagan who convinced them that they were keepers of morality not swindled suckers. I nominate Thomas Paine for secretary of this department, even if we have to wake him up from the dead. (A most unconvincing state, by the way).

      A Department for the Defense of the English Language from Bankers: Unlike the French Academy, which forbids the use of anglicisms, this institution would safeguard words vulnerable to being turned into means of defrauding. For instance, the word "to derive," which became the adjective "derivative" over the course of centuries, only to be recently transformed into the noun "derivative," which became, very rapidly, the proctological instrument most Americans now call "painful." The Department for the Defense of English could ensure that bankers stick to numbers, while leaving the language to poets and immigrants.

      A Department of Accuracy: This body would measure the true worth of things, such as the dollar. The job of the Accuracy Department would also be to figure out where the missing $99 went, and who and what inflated it. This department would undertake a systematic study of all the things we commonly agree are worth a lot less than they were when we commonly agreed on them.

      I don't have time to list all the new departments, but briefly, we also need a Department of Unused Resources, intended to give children back the imagination stolen from them by the maker of sadomasochistic video games, and a Department of Peace (that's self-explanatory). I suggest also that universities set up Depression Studies programs to teach students how to run a decent Hooverville."

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