March 16, 2006

Jones

from - RSA

Last night I was reading a collection of P. G. Wodehouse stories, published in 1940. On the back flap of the dust jacket, where a biography of the author would ordinarily be found, is the following:

Jones

Jones isn't one man--he's a lot of people. He's you and me. He works in a steel mill and on a big farm. One Jones I know is a shipbuilder. His last job was on one of those sleek new destroyers. There's a chap named Jones who drives a bus and another who operates a drill press. Jones is the Air Raid Warden who patrols your block and he's your doctor who is doing double duty these days. Mrs. Jones is working hard too. She walks or bicycles to the grocery store. She drives an ambulance and is growing a victory garden, and all the time she is hard at work on her biggest job--raising America's future generation.

Whatever our job, we're working harder than ever before--with our hands, our minds, and our dollars. We're not wasting our extra dollars--we're investing them. Every week, out of salaries and incomes, the Joneses are buying United States War Savings Bonds and the Jones children, who always did save stamps, now specialize in United States War Savings Stamps.

We're all chipping in, saving our money, putting it to work so the American Army, Navy, and Marines can have the best food, the finest planes, tanks, and guns in the world; putting it to work to lick the Axis; to win the war; to fight inflation; to protect our homes, our liberty, and our very lives.

I quote this not to make fun of the sentiment expressed; far from it. It's clear that it's written for an audience of a different time (for example, I don't think Mrs. Jones would be happy with the description of her biggest job these days). What struck me is that the single most important theme in this blurb is one of shared sacrifice. "We're in a war; here's what we're doing, all together, to win it."

Here's a 2006 version:

Jones

Jones isn't one man--he's a lot of people. He's you and me. He used to work in a steel mill, until it closed down, and on a big farm, where he goes by the name of Hernandez. One Jones I know works on an automobile assembly line. His last job was on one of those sleek new SUVs; maybe if he works enough overtime he'll be able to afford one. There's another chap named Jones who drives a car with a magnetized "Support Our Troops" ribbon on the bumper. Jones is even the President, who gives speeches before his invited fellow war-boosters, and who any day now may make his first appeal to people to enlist in the armed forces. (Heck of a job, Jonesie!) Mrs. Jones is working hard too. She drives her SUV to pick up her son at school, first stopping on the way to put $75 in the gas tank, and then goes to the grocery store, where she buys organic produce. And she is hard at work part-time on her biggest job--earning money in real estate, to help pay the mortgage.

Whatever our job, either our daytime job or the second job we've taken on to make ends meet or to afford a few luxuries, we're working harder than ever before--with our hands, our minds, and our dollars. We're not wasting our extra dollars--we're spending them. Every week, out of salaries and incomes, the Joneses are buying plasma TVs and computers; the Jones children, who used to save stamps, now specialize in Sony Playstations and cellular telephones.

We're all chipping in, putting our money to work so we can go to war with the Army we have (perhaps one day even the Army we would like to have), donating money to help our soldiers buy the armor they need, winning the war against small sharp objects being brought onto airplanes, and fighting against taxes and a balanced budget (we'd certainly buy savings bonds if we were saving any money at all). In the end, we will be free of the fear of terrorist bombs in the suburbs of small midwestern towns, the fear of being able to hold private telephone conversations with our grandmothers, and the fear of fundamentalist religious views that differ from our own fundamentalist religious views.

Are we in a war? For those of us who have friends and relatives in the armed forces, certainly; for everyone else, not so much.

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Posted by RSA at March 16, 2006 11:09 AM
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