'Matter of Laugh or Death,' a humor column
By Bill Dunn
Interesting observations on this thing we call life
(appearing each week in the Republican-American newspaper, Waterbury, CT)
DUMPSTER DIVERS SET NEW STANDARD FOR WEIRDNESS
Just the other day I said to my wife, “The world can’t get any weirder.” And then I opened up the morning newspaper. I’ve got to stop saying that.
A news article discussed a term I’ve never heard before: Freegan. It’s a combination of the words “free” and “vegan.” As you may know, Vegans are vegetarians with an attitude, people who not only don’t eat meat, but do not eat any product that remotely involves an animal, such as milk, cheese, eggs, Jell-O, and presumably Budweiser beer, since it’s often transported in big wagons pulled by those Clydesdale horses.
Unlike Vegans, Freegans are not exactly picky about what they eat. No, I take that back. They are very picky. In fact, they get their food each day by picking through garbage in Dumpsters. That’s where the “free” part of their name comes from. They get their food for free by scavenging through garbage cans behind restaurants and supermarkets.
When I started reading about Freegans out loud from the newspaper, my wife said, “Oh, that’s terrible. They can’t even afford food?”
“They certainly can,” I explained. “And many of them have high-paying jobs. They get their food from Dumpsters as a protest against a capitalistic system they view as inherently corrupt and unethical.”
My wife paused for a moment, then said, “You’ve got to stop saying the world can’t get any weirder.”
Like many young adults nowadays, Freegans have been indoctrinated by their professors to abhor capitalism. Most of them were just toddlers when the Soviet empire collapsed. So the inefficiencies and evils of Socialism have become faded memories, and now are being replaced by a new “commie chic.” No one seems to remember that Communism fails miserably every single time it’s tried.
The emotional focus once again centers around Karl Marx’s egalitarian, utopian motto: “From each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs.” (I believe this is the blueprint for Hillary’s First 100 Days in Office.) And now a 21st century twist has been added to “Karl & Vladimir’s Unexcellent Adventure.” It is radical environmentalism.
The Freegans hate capitalism, along with the concepts of personal property, trying to earn a profit in the marketplace, and occasionally chopping down a tree or burning some fuel in the process. They’re also disgusted with the mindless consumerism driving our present-day economy. (So am I, by the way.)
It’s not surprising that capitalism has fallen into disfavor, what with Donald Trump, Enron, and oil companies being the poster children of greed and ostentation. But people need to remember: Capitalism is the second worst economic system in history—all the others are tied for last.
Freegans don’t quite grasp the irony that only a capitalistic system can provide enough scrap food to feed their Dumpster diving habits. I bet there are not a lot of Freegans in, say, North Korea, since the only thing you’ll find in Dumpsters over there are the corpses of people who died of malnutrition.
I also don’t think Freegans quite grasp the fact that many other things they enjoy could only have been produced by a capitalistic society. Things such as: the Internet (I went to the Freegan website); hot showers (oh wait, their website says they’re saving the planet by not wasting water on frivolous activities, like bathing); antibiotics (when Dumpster food gives them a dose of salmonella); and hospital emergency rooms (when they fall into a Dumpster and split their heads open).
Oh well, to each his own. In a capitalistic democracy (unlike socialistic tyranny) we all have inalienable rights and freedoms—including the freedom to be weird.
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