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The Will Of The People

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I was writing something on the topic of "The Will of the People", when I paused to listen to the President’s Thursday September 13th speech, in which he mentioned:

1. an “enduring relationship” with Iraq’s government,

2. that he was grateful for the contribution of troops from “36 nations,”

3. and that he follows the advice of his generals.

Huh?

1.  An enduring relationship with a non-existing government that recently took a month’s vacation?

2. Troops from 36 nations? Was he counting the hometowns of his troops, from places like Harlem and Minneapolis and Kansas City?

3.  Advice of his generals? Did he mean the list of four stars he fired who didn’t agree with his disastrous agenda?

Or is Bush, unlike Bill Clinton, inhaling something?

Hot News!:

1. Retired Fed Chair Alan Greenspan, in his new book says, “The Iraq war is largely about oil.” Really? When did he discover that?

2. There are as many private and unbelievably expensive contractors in Iraq as there are servicemen and women. And half of them, international mercenaries, are armed to the teeth, as are the bully boys of Blackwater, a far-right organization which has contributed funds to Republican coffers. This is news?

Okay.

Bush/Cheney and their neocon cohorts have simply never appreciated the concept of the will of the people; an example of which was loudly expressed in the November elections, a statement which they continue to ignore.  It was a mandate which the wimpish Democrats, who can‘t get their act together, have failed to exploit to the satisfaction of their antiwar constituents. Unfortunately, the neocons and an incompetent Bush are the only ones with vision; albeit in the neocons case, cynically ideological; and in Bush’s case, messianic and dangerously hallucinatory.

So the will of the people in most matters, as usual, is too often discounted, especially by the far right who have long had a concept that is basically incompatible with the public will.

In our society conservative thinkers tend to frown on the possibility of unregulated voters having too much to say, and have a way of demonizing them by suggesting they may be too uninformed to understand anything nuanced, for instance the need for unregulated capitalism. Too uninformed to understand the conservative fairy tale of how the rising fortunes of corporations will always brim and trickle down to provide the societal paradise of Joe Six-Pack’s American Dream, which it did for awhile in the post-war era of this country.

A time, for instance, in 1952, when General Motors CEO Charles Wilson said: “What is good for General Motors is good for America…“ and added: “What is good for America is good for General Motors.“ The latter statement being important in explaining a fairly positive relationship between worker and corporation. A time when CEOs were paid basically according to merit, and workers might increase their relative wealth according to merit, as well, and move into the middle class. But no more.

Americans have lost most collective bargaining, have lost their collective voice, are working harder for less, are losing pensions and health coverage, and are afraid of losing their jobs. Social intervention in America, something most developed countries take for granted, like universal health care, is a threat to conservative ideologues; and Social Security and Medicare have always been menaced by conservatives who voted against these initiatives from their inception. At the same time there has been plenty of intervention in favor of big business, with secretive energy policies, subsidies and lower taxes, and rescuing corporations from failure when they operate recklessly; as demonstrated by the unregulated subprime mortgage industry which is devaluing the dollar and pulling our economy into the toilet.

Our voices have been drowned out by overpowering corporate influence which has corrupted our political process. There are many special interests: labor, teachers, nurses, fire and police, and so on; but these interests amount to scraps in comparison to the bursting bellies of corporate lobbies, and the lobbies of foreign governments. Democracy is not working for us. Pardon–our Republic, so espoused by conservatives, is not working. To explain:

It has been frequently pointed out by conservatives that nowhere in our Constitution and Bill Of Rights can the word democracy be found, and that its absence was deliberate, not accidental. Republican Ron Paul in his “Texas Straight Talk” reminds us of the Pledge of Allegiance: “I pledge allegiance to the flag, and to the Republic for which it stands.” (Not the Democracy). And we are further reminded by conservatives: The Constitution and The Bill of Rights protects the individual against the will of the mob (us), meaning a man or woman may dissent against an unregulated majority without fear of persecution.

Excellent. But I will remind them, it is also supposed to protect us from an overzealous and dangerously unregulated administration, such as the Bush/Cheney bunch who have resorted to various forms of deceit and intimidation to elbow their way into a disastrous Iraqi war. An administration that has resorted to torture, wire tapping, and a retreat from habeas corpus, and has given a substantial part of our country’s wealth to business friends in the form of no-bid military contracts. These were actions in which we had no voice, a voice lost because of subservient legislative bodies, including the Democrats who signed on to this war, who were supposed to serve and represent our best interests, and did not.

The idea of democracy in its rawest form can be quite messy, I know, considering the interest-group conflicts and the demands of the electorate, that inevitably arise. And for some, starting with Plato, it can seem very risky.

The snooty old Greek philosopher in his Utopia saw his idea of a Republic from an elitist point of view in which he analyzed various forms of government, from monarchy to oligarchy to democracy, all of which he found quite wanting. Right, including democracy, finding it prone to tyranny and demagogy: on the one hand — the rule of the mob, and on the other — political demagogues pandering to the fears and prejudices of the people; resulting, through outright lying or lying by omission, in the manipulation of the passions of the people and gaining political domination. (Well, the latter sounds a lot like our Rove-directed administration; no?) Anyway, to avoid the risk of unleashing the dangerous power of the great unwashed, Plato favored an elitist group choosing other elites. Natch.

Our Founding Fathers, more than a few of them intellectually gifted enough to create our Constitution, were a somewhat elitist group of slave-owning, slave-screwing, landowners who resisted suffrage for women, and who were equally wary of their 18th century Joe Six-Pack and what they considered to be his threatening lack of wisdom. (Meaning: keep the non-rich in their place). Consequently they carefully differentiated between Republic and Democracy and chose the former. They, like the Greeks and Romans, believed that men — both mob and rulers — achieved freedom and security only in a government of laws, not men; that the worst instincts of the people would be realized without the checks and balances of a republic. Therefore, the Legislative, the Executive, the Judicial. (And who can argue with that? Unless you can‘t trust the Judicial). And it follows: never design a system that is solely constructed of one man, one vote. Therefore, the Electoral College.

Alexander Hamilton said: “We are a Republican Government. Real liberty is never found in despotism or in the extremes of Democracy.” (Italics mine.) Notice how Hamilton seems to give equal weight to both italicized words, illustrating his fear of the rabble and perhaps suggesting the latter would inevitably lead to the former.

Well, back then, all of that was just dandy for the minority rich, as well as it is for the same moneyed bunch today. But over time, with an expanded population pressing the democracy envelope, the line between Republic and Democracy becomes, as interpreted, blurred.
Apart from the Pledge, how often do you hear ourselves referred to as a Republic? We talk of our democratic way of life, not our republican way of life, even if it’s inaccurate. (And hey, isn’t Bush trying to sell it the world over?) And no reasonable American would doubt the need for the current checks and balances; we wouldn’t survive with out them.

But to insert a minor alteration in perspective from a man who believed in the Republic, and who set his hand to writing the Declaration Of Independence, I submit several statements by Thomas Jefferson:

“This….is a country where the will of the majority is the law, and ought to be the law.” 1786

“I subscribe to the principal, that the will of the majority honestly expressed should give law.” 1793

“The will of the people….is the only legitimate foundation of any government, and to protect it’s free expression should be our first object.” 1801

“It is the multitude which possess force, and wisdom must yield to that.” 1816

The multitude, that’s us. Scary, huh?

And a bit more fuel to the fire: Texas A&M Political Science professor, George C. Edwards, has said (ironically), that the Electoral College originally assumed that electors would be faithful agents of the people who were men of superior discernment, virtue and information and who acted “according to their own will.” He then quotes U.S. Supreme Court Justice Joseph Bradley in 1877, who said, “Electors were mere instruments of party — party puppets — who are to carry out a function that an automaton without volition or intelligence might well perform.” And further quotes Kansas Senator John J. Ingalls, of the same period, who said, “Electors are like the marionettes in a Punch and Judy show.”

But it’s clever for neocon think-tankers, possibly paranoid and in fear of some wild Constitutional amendment to scrap the Electoral College, to invoke said Republic and promote the idea of danger in the vote of a self-interested emotional and poorly informed, and thereby irrational, people. As if we now existed in an unadulterated democracy in which some demagogic tyrants might at any moment seize control of the unfocused majority.

(Mmmm….again, something like what Bush and Cheney have done, huh?).

When in fact, these days, as uninformed and unincluded as we the people may be, it doesn’t take a rocket science I.Q. to grasp the agendas of Cheney, the conservatives and the greed-driven Corporations. The result of which is the containment of Joe Six-Pack within the corral of his need to survive in the daily two-job-a-day struggle; in which he is in effect told: don’t get in the way, man. You’re on the outside, man.

The agenda, of course, being the good ol’ laissez-faire thing, a free capital market in which unregulated, under-taxed corporations can create for themselves a globalized heaven on Earth, which they’ve succeeded in doing by stuffing the campaign pockets of the people we elect to serve us. At our expense–we the newly disenfranchised people, naturally. This heaven on earth, having initially been helped along by Bill Clinton’s mistake, NAFTA, has been sending our service and manufacturing jobs overseas, reduced the creation of products in the U.S., and allowed illegal immigration from the south to burden our system and compete unfairly with our labor force. Not just working crops and mowing lawns, but in factories and construction, as well. Business loves cheap labor and this administration is always anxious to please, and did so through the recently departed Mr. Gonzales, who cherry-picked laws to enforce and not to enforce — in this case, not.

Too much happens behind closed doors to thwart the will of the people: Cheney and his oil pals setting energy policy for the country, screwing us, the people, while the V.P. continues to refuse to disclose the names of the attendees of that closed door get-together, claiming executive privilege. The lies, the deception formulated in the oval office as part of the policy of the preemptive invasion of Iraq; to grab the oil, to own a part of the Middle East, and to use this as a stepping stone into Iran.

A corporate war in the guise of our national interests, directed away from the will of the people which had morally invested itself in the fight in Afghanistan. A war cynically wrapped in religion and the American flag and supported by both Republicans and weak-willed Democrats. An immoral policy created secretly by intellectual neocon sneaks like Messrs Paul Wolfowitz and Richard Perle. Men who crept away after the miserable failures of their think-tank orgies, afraid to suffer the same public humiliation of a wrong-headed Donald Rumsfeld, the man who brushed off Mid East scholars warning of post invasion chaos, and who referred with contempt to “Old Europe” because European leaders saw through the fantasies of “WMDs,” “Mushroom Clouds,” “The Plan For Victory,” “Mission Accomplished” and “Operation Forward together.” All of which has continued because it was allowed to happen by both political parties.

Right, the Democrats, too, who are only recently learning to stay on message; and like the Republicans, (brilliantly guided by the recently departed Machiavellian Rove) so much of what is said by the Dems, these days, is also merely political rhetoric, a pandering to this or that group. For instance, during this presidential campaign (the longest ever), the mostly secular-minded Dems have suddenly, and laughably, found religion.

Yes, Democrats, along with Republicans, stuff their campaign pockets with money from corporate lobbies (maybe not Obama) and thereby continue to thwart the will of the people they supposedly represent. As of August 2007, K Street lobbies spent a staggering 1.24 billion dollars to get what they want, and the public be damned. I’m guesstimating there are more than 35,000 lobbyists at work within the beltway, and their ranks are routinely replenished by former well-connected governors, congressmen, Capitol Hill aides, plus Admirals and Generals who are especially valuable to defense contractors who need an edge in their dealings with their friends at the Pentagon. Therefore all of these new lobbyists can become millionaires by selling their influence and donating money to both parties, which is simply bribing our representatives and undermining our Democracy. (Sorry, our Republic).

As an example, I quote the Washington Post from June 22, 2005:

"In 2002, Susan B. Hirschmann, chief of staff to House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Tex.), had so many lobbying offers that she enlisted Robert B. Barnett, the attorney for Bill Clinton and Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.), to receive and filter them.”
Nice to be wanted.

So all of this is allowed by our legislators who vote themselves salary raises, decent pensions and excellent health care, while quite a few of the rest of us have to scrape along and hope for the best. Millions of Americans with stagnant wages and without health care, watching their taxes pouring into the bottomless pit of the Iraqi war and into the pockets of no-bid contractors. Compliments of Bush/ Cheney and the Republican party, and the Democrats who signed on to this, ignoring the interests of their constituents.

Us. You and me.

So much for the will of the people.

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About Lefty

  • Lumpy

    The elitism in this piece makes my skin crawl. Don’t talk about ‘joe six pack’. You don’t know him or what he wants. Your greatest mistake is thinking that the mob rule u advocate would lead to the results you want. In reality the elites of the left would be the first ones taken to the wall and shot.

  • Sam

    Yes this is the biggest bunch of garbage i have ever read, and it started off well too….. What you want is communism, which always turns into a depressed dictatorship and mass shootings for “traitors” to your government. Go say hi to Stalin and Hitler for me….

  • http://www.elitebloggers.com Dave Nalle

    The fatal arrogance of the self appointed ‘intelligensia’ is that they assume that because they show so much outward compassion for the workers, the workers will identify with them and join them in their struggle against the elites and the bougeoisie. The painful truth is that the workers just want to BE the bourgeosie and that’s who they really identify with.

    Dave

  • http://www.robot-of-the-week.com Christopher Rose

    That’s almost right Dave, but my perception is that the working class or poor people generally just want not to be so poor, as opposed to wanting to be bourgeois.

    I very much doubt that they would use words like bourgeoisie or intelligentsia either…

  • bliffle

    Nevertheless, Sammys characterizations of the prevailing rulers is accurate.

  • JustOneMan

    “Bush/Cheney and their neocon cohorts” are you serious? This crap is getting so old…

    JOM

  • Carson

    Dream Act???

    Why the special treatment?

    Some of us once had dreams of our own.

    Back in the 60’s the Federal Government came into the public schools and brainwashed us as little children with the message that the children we were about to have were unwanted because the population was rising so fast. They launched a program called, “Zero Population Growth”. They pushed Family Planning and birth control pills. Now they call the same programs, “Safe Sex” but the results are the same. I think you and I both know that you only have to trick people for their few child bearing years and there is no going back.

    Many of us never had a say in the future of our unborn.

    I am the result of two living cells. One from each of my parents. They are the result of two living cells, one from each of their parents. I wasn’t just born. I am a continuation of life. I am a living thing that reaches back into time perhaps 400 million years and the result of billions of joining of pairs of cells. It is possible that if you were to follow my cells back to my parent’s cells and beyond that my family tree touches every living thing here on earth. That is if we limit ourselves to believing life was created here on earth. If it rained down from the immensity of the universe it could reach back into that immensity of time and space, and who knows what relationships and who knows what species.

    My family line succeeded, at least until I came up against the Federal Government and their plan to control the population.

    I have seen the Federal Government do little else to control the population.

    The open border, United States laws only apply to some, is a serious slap in the face. No, not a slap in the face, it reaches well beyond that. Maybe back to the beginning of time and stretch to the bounds of the universe.

  • http://Unclesammysays.com Uncle Sammy Says

    Lumpy–Where did I advocate mob rule? I pointed out that we couldn’t do without the checks and balances which certainly prevent that. My point is, there is elitism in the minds of many people in power who discount the rest of us, otherwise we wouldn’t be where we are today. And I know all about Joe Six-pack–it’s where I come from.

  • http://Unclesammysays.com Uncle Sammy Says

    “Communism, Mass shootings, Intelligensia & Bougeosie.” C’mon! That’s so over the top! So 1950s. I thought the Commies were impractical whackos back then, and still do. I’ve never thought any country could measure up to us, in spite of my distaste for recent events, post 9/11. It’s apparent, everyone has completely missed the point. Bye.

  • moonraven

    The point–the ONLY point worth making–is that THERE IS NO WILL of the people of the US–unless you call belching your way through the aisles at Sam’s Club the will of the people.

    There is also no free lunch.

    And there will be no “One Fine Day”, Chochosan.

  • http://www.elitebloggers.com Dave Nalle

    That’s almost right Dave, but my perception is that the working class or poor people generally just want not to be so poor, as opposed to wanting to be bourgeois.

    The paradigm is that the desperately, truly poor aspire only to survive and improve their lot in tiny ways. It is the poor who have enough to see what they are missing who are liable to rebel and overthrow their masters.

    I very much doubt that they would use words like bourgeoisie or intelligentsia either…

    They do in societies where education is given away instead of earned.

    Dave

  • http://www.robot-of-the-week.com Christopher Rose

    In absolute terms, there are no “desperately truly poor” in the USA, where even the poorest are far better off than the truly poor of this world. Wanting to be bourgeois and rebelling are entirely different issues and you have simply confused them – or yourself.

    The poor do not use those kinds of words, which are inherently bourgeois, like you, regardless of the means of delivery of education. That’s simply more of the wilful nonsense as opposed to meaningful conversation one expects from such a confused mind…

  • bliffle

    Gee, I feel bad because I didn’t earn my education. The state and federal governments sported me to it, I suppose they expected that they’d get the bucks back in taxes that they could use to sport more kids to an education. Seems to work. Sorta like the way the feds sport US corps to $170billion a year in subsidies. By the way, how do those ROIs compare?

    Looks to me like those homeless folks are truly poor.

  • Clavos

    “Looks to me like those homeless folks are truly poor.”

    Yup.

    And not a few of ‘em by choice, too.

  • Doug Hunter

    Most poor people are that way by choice, they had the choice to bear children as an unmarried teen, they had the choice to drop out of school, they have the choice to get out of bed and from in front of the TV and work, they chose what seemed the best and easiest for them. By subsidizing bad behavior and rewarding failures we’ve made the ‘bad’ choices that much easier.

  • troll

    …or one could say that poverty is systemically necessary to control the price of labor

  • Cindy D

    The paradigm is that the desperately, truly poor aspire only to survive and improve their lot in tiny ways. It is the poor who have enough to see what they are missing who are liable to rebel and overthrow their masters. (DN)

    I have to laugh, almost hysterically. What an interesting point of view for someone who believes in freedom and liberty for all.

    Let’s have a system whereby the wealthy can be unleashed to abuse workers even more thoroughly than they are abusing them now.

    Let’s take a system that is already tilted in the direction of wealth being accumulated in the hands of the few and tilt it ever further in that direction. Let’s drop public education, let’s drop social security and welfare too (except for the corporate kind, because our mockery of a system of “free enterprise” couldn’t exist without corporate welfare).

    What is wanted, is not “free enterprise”, but just enough government to protect the freedom and liberty of the wealthy.

    This is not a result of the poor identifying with the bourgeois.

    It is a result of those in the middle class who have found enough comfort to identify with the bourgeois. Along with an entrenchment of the notion that capitalism is good. (Although when these lose their pensions it sometimes shocks them.) Some might even hate the corporation they work for. But, they hate social welfare, even more and have been taught that this is where the drain on their resources comes from.

    “Corporatists” is a better word than capitalists for what we have become. This moves in the direction of Fascism.

    Ah, the poor and their masters…

    Interesting choice of words.

  • troll

    …give that gal the kewpie doll – !

  • http://www.republicofdave.com Dave Nalle

    In absolute terms, there are no “desperately truly poor” in the USA, where even the poorest are far better off than the truly poor of this world. Wanting to be bourgeois and rebelling are entirely different issues and you have simply confused them – or yourself.

    I don’t find myself confused at all. The confusion must lie with you. I’ve made a study of societies in transition and the causes of rebellion and am just trying to share some of that knowledge.

    Everyone wants to advance their condition. Those who are truly downtrodden have smaller ambitions than those who have at least some leisure time and even the tiniest amount of disposable income. This is the logic behind Ricardo’s ‘Iron Laws’. If you want to keep a population controlled and fixed in place, make sure that they have neither excess time nor excess money nor excessive education.

    In a stratified society the alternative to total oppression is to provide some sort of release mechanism for pressure which builds up at the bottom. Traditionally the answers to this problem have been war and emigration. If you offer the military as a way out for the poor, then you can remove the malcontents from normal society and reintroduce those who survive when they are much older and prepared to reenter society in a new and strictly defined role. Emigration, whether forced or voluntary, removes your malcontents from society equally effectively.

    If you aren’t going to have these kinds of controls, then you need to provide genuine opportunities for upward mobility. A significant enough portion of the lowest classes has to be able to move into the middle class for the rest to see it as a real possibility. For this to work they need to be provided with education, there needs to be skilled work available for them, and there needs to be a source of new labor to fill the place of those who move up in society – likely through immigration.

    In a society with upward mobility what you need to avoid is large gaps between the different strata in society. The gap between poor and the tradesman class (skilled workers and managers) needs to be small. The gap between the tradesman class and the capital class (business owners) needs to be small. The gap between the capital class and the wealthy (those with self-sustaining wealth) needs to be small. The size of the gap between rich and poor is largely irrelevant, so long as the middle classes are not hugely separated from those above them.

    Pre-revolutionary Russia is a good example of a society where upward mobility existed but the division between rich and middle class was insurmountable, producing a class of skilled or educated people with leisure time and some resources who saw no possibility of advancement and became discontented.

    In recent years in America we’ve seen a growth in the gap between the rich and the poor, but at the same time we’ve seen the middle class expand and diversify to fill that gap, so we don’t have the conditions which would be likely to support a revolution, at least not the type of revolution one normally expects. Radical ideological change or a revolution based on some criteria other than economic oppression might be possible.

    The poor do not use those kinds of words, which are inherently bourgeois

    They do if they are TAUGHT to use them. This is what happened in Russia prior to the revolution. Well-meaning social progressives began teaching the factory workers and villagers and along with reading and writing they more or less unintentionally taught them discontent with their lot in life.

    , like you,

    Ah yes, I’m the essence of the petit bourgeousie. If you were any more clueless you’d qualify for the clue dole.

    regardless of the means of delivery of education. That’s simply more of the wilful nonsense as opposed to meaningful conversation one expects from such a confused mind…

    Christopher, you know you’re playing out of your league when you have to resort to this sort of insult.

    Dave

  • bliffle

    I feel so bad, now, that I accepted the free education that was thrust upon me starting when I was 5. Had I known enough to be a proper little corporatist I would have stoutly refused such welfare and waited until I was 20 or so and had accumulated enough cash to pay for my own education.

    Welfare cheating starts early. It must haunt every waking moment of the Good Capitalists day that there are millions of little 5 year old welfare cheats running around.

    They should, instead, be impressed into labor. Perhaps in a nice Shirtwaist Factory in New York City.

  • Doug Hunter

    blif,

    There’s a difference between a benefit available equally to all such as public education and a reward system for failure. Education does not reward failure, neither would universal healthcare. Free lunch programs, medicaid, pre-K, welfare, food stamps, section 8 housing, and anything else with an maximum income requirement is a discriminatory incentive for failure.

    Being against failure subsidies is not being against every social program.

  • moonraven

    Except in Doug’s case, of course.

    He is clearly against anyone but him having more than 50 cents in his or her pocket. [Personal attack deleted by Comments Editor]

  • http://www.republicofdave.com Dave Nalle

    Made a study of–as if you were an academic!

    MR, unlike you I can provide proof of my academic credentials and teaching experience, because like most real academics, course schedules in which my name appears on the courses I taught have appeared on the web.

    Sadly no one seems to have put the programs of various conferences as which I’ve given papers online, but I’ve got hard copies of all that stuff too.

    Dave

  • moonraven

    Sure you do, Dave.

    If you had not lied about everything else, maybe I would have believed you.

    But you did.

    So I don’t.

  • http://www.robot-of-the-week.com Christopher Rose

    Dave, you just simply can’t ever admit you were wrong, can you? The fact that you don’t find yourself confused in no way means you aren’t, it simply means you can’t tell or didn’t notice.

    You said the poor want to be the bourgeoisie, then you shifted ground to some specious mention of rebellion. Pleae keep your “knowledge”, I find it too ideologically loaded and mostly pretty dated thinking.

    You don’t really know what the poor think or do. You may know some poor people but that isn’t the same as being one. I would bet everything I own that the instances of poor people using those words since the Russian Revolution are lower than your IQ number – but only just!

    I didn’t say you were a member of the petite bourgeoisie, that was just another of your complete failure to deal with my remarks. I said you were bourgeois, which is simply true. you are sure having a hard time dealing with that for someone who, falsely, claims to deal with facts rather than prejudices.

    As to your cheap shot insult about me being clueless, if you’re what being clued up is like, I’d rather be clueless. Your shifty and unprincipled devotion to your perception of yourself as being right rather than actually being right by displaying a little more intellectual humility and a whole lot less elitist piggery is gross and revolting. Rather like your photo, sweetie!

    Dave, any time you want to step up to my league or even into my century, you’re welcome to try. Good luck getting those leaden datedideologue boots off though; I think they’re made of fine corinthian lead, and we all know what lead does to people…