Public Service Announcement / Kurt Vonnegut

Excerpt from the full article: Cold Turkey


FEATURE for “In These Times” » MAY 10, 2004



[VIsual added by TRC]


My government’s got a war on drugs.  But get this: The two most widely abused and addictive and destructive of all substances are both perfectly legal.
One, of course, is ethyl alcohol.  And President George W. Bush, no less, and by his own admission, was smashed or tiddley-poo or four sheets to the wind a good deal of the time from when he was 16 until he was 41.  When he was 41, he says, Jesus appeared to him and made him knock off the sauce, stop gargling nose paint.
Other drunks have seen pink elephants.
And do you know why I think he is so pissed off at Arabs?  They invented algebra.  Arabs also invented the numbers we use, including a symbol for nothing, which nobody else had ever had before.  You think Arabs are dumb?  Try doing long division with Roman numerals.
We’re spreading democracy, are we?  Same way European explorers brought Christianity to the Indians, what we now call “Native Americans.”
How ungrateful they were!  How ungrateful are the people of Baghdad today.
So let’s give another big tax cut to the super-rich.  That’ll teach bin Laden a lesson he won’t soon forget.  Hail to the Chief.
That chief and his cohorts have as little to do with Democracy as the Europeans had to do with Christianity.  We the people have absolutely no say in whatever they choose to do next. In case you haven’t noticed, they’ve already cleaned out the treasury, passing it out to pals in the war and national security rackets, leaving your generation and the next one with a perfectly enormous debt that you’ll be asked to repay.
Nobody let out a peep when they did that to you, because they have disconnected every burglar alarm in the Constitution: The House, the Senate, the Supreme Court, the FBI, the free press (which, having been embedded, has forsaken the First Amendment) and We the People.
About my own history of foreign substance abuse.  I’ve been a coward about heroin and cocaine and LSD and so on, afraid they might put me over the edge.  I did smoke a joint of marijuana one time with Jerry Garcia and the Grateful Dead, just to be sociable.  It didn’t seem to do anything to me, one way or the other, so I never did it again.  And by the grace of God, or whatever, I am not an alcoholic, largely a matter of genes.  I take a couple of drinks now and then, and will do it again tonight.  But two is my limit.  No problem.
I am of course notoriously hooked on cigarettes.  I keep hoping the things will kill me.  A fire at one end and a fool at the other.
But I’ll tell you one thing: I once had a high that not even crack cocaine could match.  That was when I got my first driver’s license!  Look out, world, here comes Kurt Vonnegut.
And my car back then, a Studebaker, as I recall, was powered, as are almost all means of transportation and other machinery today, and electric power plants and furnaces, by the most abused and addictive and destructive drugs of all: fossil fuels.
When you got here, even when I got here, the industrialized world was already hopelessly hooked on fossil fuels, and very soon now there won’t be any more of those.  Cold turkey.
Can I tell you the truth?  I mean this isn’t like TV news, is it?
Here’s what I think the truth is: We are all addicts of fossil fuels in a state of denial, about to face cold turkey.
And like so many addicts about to face cold turkey, our leaders are now committing violent crimes to get what little is left of what we’re hooked on.
This appeared in Crossing the Rubicon in 2004 but it is originally from a book by Richard Duncan, called The Oil Crash and You in 2001.
Kurt Vonnegut, the legendary author, WWII veteran, humanist, artist and smoker, was an In These Times senior editor until his death in April 2007.  His classic works include Slaughterhouse-Five, Breakfast of Champions and Cat’s Cradle, among many others.
Indiana will forever be proud to call him a native son.  RIP, Kurt.