Post# 232    OF ROTTEN APPLES AND BARRELS (A pliny editorial)

Even the occasional follower of plinyblog would be familiar with the high level of distain and repugnance we maintain, and have energetically expressed, regarding aphoristic “wisdom”; as being arrogant and, misleading; an objectionable source of faux enlightenment or, worse, as a lazy determinant of equivocal decision making. However, in the rare instance, it can have some limited utility as an expressive metaphor. Our such aphoristic metaphor du jour is, “one rotten apple spoils the barrel.” In partial mitigation of this choice, we would humbly point out that the statement is purportedly experiential and not instructive. [Its principal defect, however, may reside in its arbitrary application.]

We take the liberty of metaphorically referring to the barrel as our American society and the rotten apple (no surprise) to the Orange Magnificence, and his royal entourage, currently infesting the Oval Office. At this time in our nation’s history, there are a myriad of vital, historic issues urgently requiring continued progress toward their resolution, which, apparently, have been shelved, pending the reign of this incompetent and amoral (former) game show host. We refer to some illustrative examples.

  • Racial equality. Bigotry continues, in many quarters, to rear its loathsome head. The nation’s efforts, statutory, judicial and social, to achieve equality for all Americans, irrespective of racial or ethnic identity, have shown significant progress, but the issue still remains a work in process, especially in the areas of legal justice, residential choice, employment, even voting rights. But we have been talking about it.
  • Gender Equality. Some of the figurative glass ceiling has been shattered, yet significant issues persist, in the arena of equal pay for equal work, a woman’s right to volitional decision regarding childbirth, sexual abuse, social stereotypes and other such inequalities; but we were talking.
  • Government assistance to the needy. The preservation of an empathic approach to governance, “compassionate capitalism”, is not only moral and socially ethical, but is a philosophy that, in fact, insures the successful continuance of the free enterprise system by making it humane. Rather than relegate unfortunate members of society to the cold, dispassionate operation of natural law, a la Adam Smith, there is a recognized appropriate and moral governmental obligation of compassion. Some more fortunate citizens oppose governmental assistance to the justifiably needy, labeling such compassionate responsibility with their perceived and negative epithet of “socialism,” a construct of which, in their profound ignorance, they are completely ignorant. But most of us had been all talking about it.
  • It is profoundly disappointing, that in this acknowledged nation of immigrants and their descendants (E Pluribus Unum), that we have citizens who too soon forget their own family’s past history of immigration to America. Some, strangely, following a generation or so, after settling in, become nativist.  How coldly selfish, and how soon they forget. But we were talking about the issue.
  • Economic disparity. It is empirically inarguable that the nation is divided into economically disparate societies. The top percent in terms of lifestyle, comfort, leisure activities, economic security, and the luxurious amenities attendant upon great wealth, reside in enclaves insulated socially and economically from the great majority of the American population; most especially the middle and lower classes. The subjects of amelioritive tax policy, health benefits, social security and a host of other real- life adjustments have been considered and tried, in the effort to improve the lives of those in the lower economic classes. These considerations were also contested, but we were talking about them.
  • Other salient issues, International trade and relations, robotization, gun control, unemployment, climate change, flood control, housing, the renewal and repair of infrastructure, in general, including, roads and bridges, schools, educational criteria and tuition costs, medical and scientific research, gay rights, military readiness and policy, health and safety regulations ( their promulgation and enforcement), clean drinking water, monetary and banking policy, disability policies, sanctions against foreign miscreants, and so many other cogent issues were universally contested, but we were, in fact, talking about all of them.

Since the ascendency of Donald J. Trump [ together with his Mad Hatter entourage] to the Oval Office, it appears that the entire myriad of vital issues, previously, the subject of needed study and discussion, have taken a back seat to an embarrassing, daily soap opera, starring that former glitzy television game show host, now amazingly attired in the transmogrified robes of the leader of the nation and the entire free world.

The text book aspiration of the neurotic, attention-seeking, adolescent, is to attract attention,  focused, exclusively upon him, even at the cost of anticipated punishment. Our Adolescent-in-Chief would seem to reliably fit this diagnosable, unhealthy criterion. Woe unto the nation.

In this goal (alone) Trump has been a great and unprecedented success. Attention has been concentrated on him, to the exclusion of everyone, and everything else.  There has been an inundation, a veritable tsunami of Trumpery, offering little escape or relief. Vital discussions on poverty, disease, racial inequality, gender neutrality, inequities in the justice system, science and medicine, aging infrastructure, employment, banking, indeed, every subject social, scientific, cultural or sociological, have been submerged many fathoms below the never-ending saga, concerning the life and times of Donald J. Trump. Every media outlet, television, radio, newspapers and magazines, seem to be mono-  focused on this side-show oddity, to the total exclusion of every other subject; amounting to a sociological black plague (or is it orange) of unprecedented proportion. Like bloody road kill, eyes are drawn to it, willingly or not.  A television break from Jane Austen or Henry James, these days, limits us to the Nature and Sci-Fi channels.

One hopes that the dustbin of American history will not long be redolent with the odor of rotten apple.


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Retired from the practice of law'; former Editor in Chief of Law Review; Phi Beta Kappa; Poet. Essayist Literature Student and enthusiast.

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