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Tue Feb 26, 2013, 11:05 PM

This is why Kurt Vonnegut is underrated

TUE FEB 26, 2013 AT 07:48 AM PST
This is why Kurt Vonnegut is underrated
bypierre9045Follow

In the shadow of the looming sequester, as elected government representatives, as they're wont to do, argue about whether they should choose between cutting services that help the poor and general populace, or raising taxes on the wealthy, I was reminded of this excerpt from a Kurt Vonnegut book, that I think helps to point out just how long we've been having this exact same conversation:

1965

When the United States of America, which was meant to be a Utopia for all, was less than a century old, Noah Rosewater and a few men like him demonstrated the folly of the Founding Fathers in one respect: those sadly recent ancestors had not made it the law of the Utopia that the wealth of each citizen should be limited.

This oversight was engendered by a weak-kneed sympathy for those who loved expensive things and by the feeling that the continent was so vast and valuable, and the population so thin and enterprising, that no thief, no matter how fast he stole, could more than mildly inconvenience anyone.

Noah and a few like him perceived that the continent was in fact finite, and that venal office-holders, legislators in particular, could be persuaded to toss up great hunks of it for grabs, and to toss them in such a way as to have them land where Noah and his kind were standing.

Thus did a handful of rapacious citizens come to control all that was worth controlling in America. Thus was the savage and stupid and entirely inappropriate and unnecessary and humorless American class system created. Honest, industrious, peaceful citizens were classed as bloodsuckers, if they asked to be paid a living wage. And they saw that praise was reserved henceforth for those who devised means of getting paid enormously for committing crimes against which no laws had been passed. Thus the American dream turned belly up, turned green, bobbed to the scummy surface of cupidity unlimited, filled with gas, went bang in the noonday sun.

E pluribus unum is surely an ironic motto to inscribe on the currency of this Utopia gone bust, for every grotesquely rich American represents property, privileges, and pleasures that have been denied the many. An even more instructive motto, in light of history made by the Noah Rosewaters, might be: Grab much too much, or you'll get nothing at all.


-Kurt Vonnegut, God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater
http://www.dailykos.com/story/2013/02/26/1189927/-This-is-why-Kurt-Vonnegut-is-underrated

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Arrow 22 replies Author Time Post
Reply This is why Kurt Vonnegut is underrated (Original post)
kpete Feb 2013 OP
DeSwiss Feb 2013 #1
villager Feb 2013 #2
AlbertCat Feb 2013 #7
Buzz Clik Feb 2013 #3
AlbertCat Feb 2013 #9
bvar22 Feb 2013 #4
matwilson Feb 2013 #5
WCGreen Feb 2013 #6
JaneyVee Feb 2013 #8
merrily Feb 2013 #10
AverageJoe90 Feb 2013 #11
merrily Feb 2013 #13
el_bryanto Feb 2013 #17
Martin Eden Feb 2013 #18
Lordquinton Feb 2013 #20
moondust Feb 2013 #21
wickerwoman Feb 2013 #22
cer7711 Feb 2013 #12
randr Feb 2013 #14
reflection Feb 2013 #15
bemildred Feb 2013 #16
Johonny Feb 2013 #19

Response to kpete (Original post)

Tue Feb 26, 2013, 11:13 PM

1. Welcome to the Granfalloon of America




- K&R

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Response to kpete (Original post)

Tue Feb 26, 2013, 11:23 PM

2. And so it goes.

Alas.

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Response to villager (Reply #2)

Wed Feb 27, 2013, 12:38 AM

7. Poo-tee-weet

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Response to kpete (Original post)

Tue Feb 26, 2013, 11:25 PM

3. Vonnegut is underrated?

By whom?

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Response to Buzz Clik (Reply #3)

Wed Feb 27, 2013, 12:42 AM

9. By whom?

My mother, who read a lot and even reviewed books for the local paper (I remember a review of "The Tin Drum"!) didn't like Vonnegut at all.

Meanwhile, I was laughing my ass off in High School reading "Breakfast of Champions".

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Response to kpete (Original post)

Tue Feb 26, 2013, 11:26 PM

4. And so it came to pass.

!

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Response to kpete (Original post)

Wed Feb 27, 2013, 12:19 AM

6. He sure helped to shape my world view...

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Response to kpete (Original post)

Wed Feb 27, 2013, 12:40 AM

8. Master writer.

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Response to kpete (Original post)

Wed Feb 27, 2013, 12:42 AM

10. With all due respect to Vonnegut, America was never meant to be a utopia for us all.

What a bizarre statement that is!

I can only assume his tongue was firmly in cheek.

Then again, Vonnegut was a male WASP, son of parents who were not poor. So, maybe he truly believed that monetary inequality was the only flaw of the Founders?

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Response to merrily (Reply #10)

Wed Feb 27, 2013, 01:06 AM

11. Indeed, it was never meant to be a utopia.

But it was also meant to be as inclusive as possible. The Founders, however, realized that the Constitution wasn't entirely perfect, and I do recall that they warned against Constitution worship, as well as had hoped for a "revolution" of sorts in every generation.....and they didn't mean overthrowing the government, either(Hint: It's the key element in the word "Progressive". ).

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Response to AverageJoe90 (Reply #11)

Wed Feb 27, 2013, 01:30 AM

13. Please define what "as inclusive as possible" means to you.

As far as the word Progressive, I'd rather not debate it. It really has nothing to do with the Founders anyway, certainly not as used today.

As far as what the Founders meant, they did not all mean one thing.

ETA: Besides, this thread is about a quote from Vonnegut. So, what things meant to him would be the point.

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Response to merrily (Reply #10)

Wed Feb 27, 2013, 09:00 AM

17. I think it was intended as basically satirical

To highlight that particular issue. I don't think he intended it as an actual analysis/description of the Founding Fathers.

That said, while obviously the Founding Fathers were products of their time, I think they were trying to do something new and better than what had gone before. And largely succeeded.

Bryant

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Response to merrily (Reply #10)

Wed Feb 27, 2013, 11:55 AM

18. That passage from Vonnegut should not be taken literally, but not entirely as satire either.

If you can get past the word "utopia" and what the various Founders had in mind, Vonnegut offerred some very relevant commentary on the rapacious excess of wealth accumulation, our corrupt political process, and the impact of this inequity on average citizens.

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Response to merrily (Reply #10)

Wed Feb 27, 2013, 05:11 PM

20. "I can only assume"

This is a brilliant line that Vonnegut would probably be proud to hear you say, just append it to anything you say.

Seriously though, read some more Vonnegut, learn his history, realize that this quote is from a novel and colored through the eyes of his character and know that he was a champion of us all that should be cherished and taught in all schools.

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Response to merrily (Reply #10)

Wed Feb 27, 2013, 05:34 PM

21. You wouldn't call this utopian?

We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

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Response to merrily (Reply #10)

Wed Feb 27, 2013, 05:50 PM

22. Many of the colonial groups had utopian aspirations

and many of the pioneer groups had the same. There is a very long history of utopian/communal experiments in the US (see the Citadel in Idaho as the most recent example). That's probably what Vonnegut is referring to.

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Response to kpete (Original post)

Wed Feb 27, 2013, 01:28 AM

12. And So It Goes . . .

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Response to kpete (Original post)

Wed Feb 27, 2013, 08:50 AM

14. This was one of my favorite books

Deserves a re-read.

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Response to kpete (Original post)

Wed Feb 27, 2013, 08:56 AM

15. Love me some Vonnegut.

And that is why my sig hasn't changed in a long, long time.

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Response to kpete (Original post)

Wed Feb 27, 2013, 08:58 AM

16. "God Bless you, Mr Rosewater."

And rest in peace.

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Response to kpete (Original post)

Wed Feb 27, 2013, 12:07 PM

19. because his cameo in Rodney Dangerfield's Back to School

is super funny.

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