Liberal Hypocrisies

by | Feb 17, 2006

John Q. Liberal is a professor at a local college. On Monday he gives a speech in which he denounces capitalism and the profit motive, and praises environmentalism as the highest moral ideal. When his speech is over, he confronts the organizer of the talk. “Where’s the check you promised me? You think I speak […]

John Q. Liberal is a professor at a local college. On Monday he gives a speech in which he denounces capitalism and the profit motive, and praises environmentalism as the highest moral ideal. When his speech is over, he confronts the organizer of the talk. “Where’s the check you promised me? You think I speak for free?”

Walking out of the building, John is confronted by a line of student activists all asking him to sign petitions. The first one is a petition against hate speech. John signs gladly, saying, “I hate people who engage in hate speech!” Next is a petition advocating more diversity on campus. “Absolutely!” says John. “I am totally in favor of more diversity!” Next is a petition to establish quotas for Asian students entering the university. “It’s not fair that so many Asians get into college,” says John as he signs. Last is a petition to ban SUV’s from the highways. John signs that one without comment, aware that people are watching. Then he heads for the parking lot, check in hand, and gets in his air-conditioned SUV, thinking, “So what? I’m just one person.”

John pops in a music CD and smiles on his way to the bank, where he uses the drive-thru ATM to deposit his check. While waiting, he thinks about an article he’s writing on the dehumanizing effects of modern technology.

John heads to the local mall. He wants to buy a couple of his favorite cheap shirts. But when he gets to the shop, he is told they are no longer manufactured. A year ago John had signed a petition denouncing labor conditions for Third World workers. The petition resulted in American trade sanctions against certain countries–including the one manufacturing John’s favorite shirts. Investors pulled out, the factory closed, and the workers lost their jobs. So John is without his favorite cheap shirt. “This is why capitalism doesn’t work,” says John.

After leaving the mall, he pulls into a gas station and fills up his SUV with Premium gas. He smiles, remembering with satisfaction an op-ed he published a month ago denouncing oil company profits and complaining about high gasoline prices. A month ago, gas had been $3.05 a gallon. Today, it is $2.35. John Q. Liberal has no real idea why the price went down. It doesn’t occur to him that it may have had something to do with the fact that he–and a lot of other people–had stopped buying so much gasoline. If anybody asks him, he’ll say it was because of his op-ed.

He heads home on the freeway, thinking again about his article on the dehumanizing effects of modern technology. While driving, he suffers a heart attack and crashes into a retaining wall. The airbag in his steering wheel deploys and saves him from being killed. The driver in the car behind him

David Gulbraa is a writer in Orange, California. His latest book is the short story collection The Boy Who Got Hit By Cars.

The views expressed above represent those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the editors and publishers of Capitalism Magazine. Capitalism Magazine sometimes publishes articles we disagree with because we think the article provides information, or a contrasting point of view, that may be of value to our readers.

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