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Monsters who feel remorse for their behavior is a regular theme in vampire dramas – HBO's "True Blood," the film, "Twilight" – so I thought it might be fun to extend the same feelings to a zombie. He eats people's brains, then feels bad about it. If only Karl Rove were capable of such emotion.
A libertarian reader told me recently that he believed government should stay out of our way because most people are basically good and will do the right thing without government intervention. He called my view that humans cannot be trusted, "cynical."
He's absolutely right, it is cynical. I also happen to think it is realistic and accurate, as witnessed by recent human history. (By "recent," I mean the past 100,000 years.) While most "individuals" might be good, groups of idividuals in power cannot be trusted. Corporations are amoral by definition – their sole purpose for existence is to make money, not serve humanity – and the very small percentage of people who rise to the top of corporations are very often as unethical and unrepentant as a zombie. That's how they get there. Bernie Madoff, Ken Lay, Dick Cheney, everyone on Wall Street, etc.
People who rise to the top of government usually have the same problem, of course; power almost always corrupts. But the difference is that government is not amoral by definition and in a republic such as ours, the politicians eventually, in some way, must answer to the rest of us. That is to say that if things get out of hand we can fire them, as we did to so many Republicans in the last election. (Of course, people have to be smart enough to figure out they are being screwed, which sometimes takes a while, but that's another story.)
It's not perfect, god knows, but it's better than letting markets police themselves and not screw the rest of us (see Wall Street, last eight years), and corporations not to pollute the planet and sell toxic goods to the rest of us (see last 60 years), and people to treat each other fairly and not seek to destroy those with more skin pigment. (See Civil War, civil rights movement, "birthers," current town hall hooliganism over health care, Glenn Beck, Lou Dobbs, Rush, etc.)
Stories about zombies and vampires are popular because they are a metaphor for our actual lives as we struggle to avoid the bloodsuckers and braineaters at the top. What discourages me most is when the monsters find ways to scare their prey into fighting for them, instead of against, as they have done so often in the past decade and most recently with health care reform.
Enough seriousness, now this.