Sunday, April 1, 2012

Shrinks And Cops

These are the jobs listed on my county’s website as of April 1, 2012, April Fool’s Day: mental health clinical nurse, psychiatric technician I/II, psychiatrist, public health nurse, public health officer, registered nurse, reserve deputy sheriff. And that’s it, shrinks, cops, and nurses. Someone to arrest you, someone to give you a physical, and someone to diagnose your mental state as you get dragged through the bowels of the county jail.

There’s not even an opening for kennel attendant, i.e., dog shit shoveller, which is usually an old stand-by, as is mental health driver, but those positions are apparently filled. We are, after all, in a recovery and people are working again.

I check the website periodically, and this list is actually an improvement. They’re usually hiring for more sheriffs, and the addition of public health nurse reminds you that county government has more positive functions than merely coercing and imprisoning people. Still, for the past couple of years, shrinks and cops have been the order of the day.

I think there is a certain symbolic value to that. It provides a perfect snapshot of our seedy condition. As America marches unimpeded towards its neo-liberal future, the only legitimate function of government is locking people up (or drugging them up, if necessary, although that might soon be regarded as too compassionate and get thrown over with other social spending). Grover Norquist’s pathological fever dream of shrinking government down to the size where he can strangle it in the bathtub is becoming a reality, and he won’t have to strangle his own genitals as a substitute anymore. People like Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan, and Lloyd Blankfein and Jeffrey Immelt, and the Bush family and the Walton family, can all stand around comparing each other’s car elevators while the rest of us wait tables and tend bar, and spend our free time lined-up outside liquor stores to buy lottery tickets. Yay!

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