“They can kill us, but they can’t eat us. It’s against the law.” Those words are attributed to Private Lattie Tipton as spoken to Audie Murphy in the heat of battle during the Second World War.
Audie Murphy was the most decorated soldier to come out of that war. Unfortunately, his buddy Tipton was killed shortly after making that famous statement. For some reason, those words offer a strange consolation during trials and tribulations and when things get bad, you may hear someone say, “Don’t worry…they can kill you, but they can’t eat you.”
Personally I don’t find much consolation in that expression. The fact is that they probably can eat us, but maybe not all at once. And it probably is against the law…at least while food prices stay below home prices. But food prices are moving up rapidly and real estate has plummeted, so we might not have much time.
According to the media, Chicken Little was right – the sky is falling. The negative drone of plummeting real estate values became a self-fulfilling prophecy, but, as we now know, the seeds for the destruction of the real estate market were sown in the Federal Community Reinvestment Act back in 1977. Today many people owe more on their homes than the homes are worth, so banks take them back, the government bails out the banks, and the cost is passed back to the tax payers; a rapidly depleting demographic.
Years after the truce of WWII, there were some Japanese soldiers still hiding in the jungle who didn’t know the war was over. There are Americans today hiding in civilization who think government money is free. I think it was Mark Steyn who said, “If you think health care is expensive now, wait until it’s free.” As a Canadian, he knows firsthand. Some folks forget that government money is our money. As the economist Milton Friedman said, “There is no free lunch.”
Gas prices, food prices, famines, floods, earthquakes, drought, wars, and on and on it goes. Too much bad news. Makes you want to escape to an island where there is no electricity and no news at all. Just bananas, cool ocean breezes and hyperkinetic monkeys.
The ancient Romans used sports and entertainment to distract the public from the real problems as the empire began to crumble. Sound familiar? But the problems in our culture have become our entertainment. We’ve even developed means for keeping score. Unemployment figures, stock market scores, GDP, war casualties, and so forth. But our attention spans are limited. We want a war to end after four quarters without going into overtime. When the action on the news network is less exciting than cage fighting, we switch channels. As Pogo said many years ago, “We have met the enemy and he is us.”
Maybe all that negative news is the reason folks find relief in TV, movies and ballgames. And the “weirdness” of publications displayed at the supermarket check-out line. Next time you’re standing in the line, check the headlines of some of the publications. “Woman gives birth to half human, half alligator. Hungry creature bites arm off obstetrician. Nurses flee in terror!”
The way things are going, the negative news can drive you nuts. But despite all the bad news, humor can be found in strange places, so look for the funny stuff and if you can’t find anything to make you laugh just turn a negative upside down, inside out or distort it in such a way that it becomes a joke. And remember, they can kill you, but they can’t eat you. Except for that weird half-alligator kid.