The S-Word

Jimmy P. Morgan

I am really grateful for the guys that collect my trash every week and that the sanitation department tells them what to do with all that stuff after they pick it up. Ditto for the water department in regards to whatever happens after I flush.

I am not really afraid of the dark but I do like to read at night. It’s nice that my light switches always work and that the streetlights come on when they are supposed to. And, when there is a problem, it’s probably a good thing that the electrician has a license.

While eating out can get expensive, it’s nice to know that I probably won’t be poisoned when I do. Just imagine no health department keeping an eye on things. For example, before the Food and Drug Administration, sausage makers worried little about the few rodents that got ground up with the rest. And, did you know that buckets of blood can freshen up rotting meat? (See The Jungle by Upton Sinclair and you’ll be putting an FDA bumper sticker on your car.)

We’ve all seen the movies where the Center for Disease Control people don those gnarly germ-proof suits, swoop in on helicopters, and try to save the day. It doesn’t always turn out so great but it’s nice to know they’re on call.

I think it’s a good idea that the government fights wildfires. (I can almost see you nodding your head.) I also think it’s righteous that the government will loan money to people who want to start a small business and ironic that without the Department of Agriculture, much of rural America would go bust.

I enjoy camping on the beach at the state park. It costs $40 a night. Just down the highway in Malibu, similar private accommodations are almost $200 a night; the primary difference being you get to camp next to people who can afford $200 to sleep at the beach.

Speaking of outdoors, there is a really good reason that capitalists are not in charge of making sure that the next breath I draw is fresh. Why on earth would a capitalist ever be concerned about that? There’s just no money in it.

It’s nice, too, that all the vehicles in my neighborhood don’t pollute too much. Don’t get me wrong. Some of my best moments have been made possible by burning fossil fuels. It just seems like a good time to dial back on all that internal combustion and thank goodness the Environmental Protection Agency is heading this up, even if you might have heard otherwise lately.

I think it best that the US military’s bottom line is keeping us safe, although I understand that all the toys they buy make a lot of people rich. I respect the warriors but I always wonder whose pockets get filled when war is called.

You might not know that the Department of Energy hunts down weapons-grade plutonium that can otherwise fall into the hands of bad guys. They also keep an eye on all those nuclear weapons. At least, I think they still do… hope they still do.

No matter what else one might say about the Department of Homeland Security and all those pat-downs at the airport, 17 years have passed without any big buildings falling down.

Local police sometimes struggle treating all citizens with equal respect, but I sure am glad that they patrol the streets; that they protect and serve citizens and not just the consumers who can afford protection and service.

I’ve been on some epic American road trips. I think it’s really cool that we all just came together and paved roads to just about everywhere! Speaking of getting away, would you fly in an airplane without an air-traffic control system?

Did you know that AccuWeather and The Weather Channel make all their money by repackaging taxpayer-funded data from the National Weather Service and selling it back to taxpayers? In one instance AccuWeather sent out a tornado warning to paying customers…. Hmm….

I sleep better knowing that Dr. Drysdale has a license and that the medicine he prescribes for me has been tested for safety and efficacy. He’s from Canada, by the way; as if that might matter.

I think it is a really good idea that we try to educate all of our children and feed them at school whether they can afford it or not because I heard somewhere that well-fed children tend to be healthier, can learn better, and then are less likely to break into my house when they grow up. It bothers me, though, that some members of my community might be hungry or cannot afford to go to the doctor. Am I being selfish here, worrying about living next door to people who failed at capitalism? Of course, if you’re really good at capitalism, you can afford to pretend that none of this stuff happens.

I just love NPR and PBS and feel good that my tax dollars provide some of the support to keep them going. I don’t like pledge week, though.

I think it’s worthwhile for the government to take on risks even if there might not be much profit in it; for example, providing grants through the National Science Foundation to study shrimp on treadmills. As it turns out the people at FOX News disagree. It also turns out that determined that FOX didn’t report this one very well. You can take my word for it or, of course, there’s always Ms. Google.

I think of all this now because I just finished reading The Fifth Risk by Michael Lewis. The main idea is that Americans just don’t understand all the great things government does for us.

Speaking of books, I just love my local library and the price is just right.


Jimmy P. Morgan

Jimmy P. Morgan is a semi-retired History teacher who writes about World Affairs, Social Justice, Politics, and Education. He can be reached at

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