By Morf Morford, Tacoma Daily Index
I was intending to do an April Fool’s Day front page but then I realized that all I needed to do was review the month just past. The past few years have added many new layers of meaning to the once-sports-based term “March Madness”. What else, besides “March Madness”, writ large, could prepare us, even prime us for April Fool’s Day?
April Fool’s Day of course, is not an official holiday. But maybe it should be. Unlike more traditional holidays, April Fool’s Day is not actually celebrated with ornaments or parades, but it does seem to be commemorated by what could be called a “season” of statements and action that defy decency or common sense – or both.
As with every month for the past several years, it has become more and more challenging to sift out the truth from fiction/fantasy/parody.
There was a saying a few years ago that we had adults acting like children and children acting like adults on all aspects of public policy from health to climate change and economics.
As always, we seem to have shifted into the next phase; we have politicians and public figures acting (and speaking) like stand-up comedians and comedians, as often as not, acting (and speaking) like statesmen.
As one highly respected news service put it recently, “the only certainty is uncertainty” and, in every arena of business, crime and social and global stability, the most hopeful among us can only cling to (or imagine) the glass-half-full message that things can only get better.
If you study human history, you quickly realize that societies move in a pendulum fashion – swinging one way and then swinging the other way. From religious to secular, from liberal to conservative, from imperialistic to insular, from violent to pacifist, and back again is how every culture seems to swing.
We Americans have such a short history that we seem to presume that the way things are is not only how they should be, but how they always have been. We tend to believe that we are at the crest, the ultimate, of progress and process and that the way we do things is, at its most basic, the way they SHOULD be done.
This is not even remotely true – or even possible.
No matter what we achieve or set as a policy, there will be, as Isaac Newton put it, an equal and opposite reaction.
Is it news or is it parody?
We see aspiring presidential candidates who are more interested in, or perhaps more threatened by Disneyland than by a Russia-inspired war in Europe.
When catastrophic weather leads to death and destruction across the country, you can count on cable news to fulminate about the dangers of animated M&M commercials.
Meet Florida Man
If you are on social media at all, you have certainly seen the memes or cartoons of “Florida man”.
A “Florida man” is a man, from Florida, who indulges in “irrational, maniacal, or absurd actions” usually in public and often leading to self-injury or arrest. These are acts of obliviousness that defy basic parameters of human behavior.
Here are just a few news headlines that define the cultural touchstone we know as “Florida man”:
Florida man arrested for calling 911 after kitten denied entry into strip club.
Florida man once arrested for fighting drag queen with tiki torch runs for mayor.
Florida man drives stolen truck to Space Force base to warn of battle between aliens, dragons.
You can see a profile of the best “Florida man” candidates of 2022 here.
In 2023 Florida is offering us, not one, but two potential candidates running for president of the USA.
Who needs fools when we have politicians like these?
News broke in late February of more than 3,800 children working at U.S. companies last year in violation of federal law – at over 800 companies, and over 100 children as young as 13 were found to be working hazardous overnight jobs cleaning slaughterhouses, and with more than 600 child labor investigations ongoing. Most of us, from any and every political or philosophical belief were horrified.
Child labor has been a benchmark of a degraded, corrupt and exploitative economy for centuries.
But, given this news, what is a responsible politician to do?
You could do what the recently elected governor of Arkansas did. She just signed into law HB1410, also known as the Youth Hiring Act, which guts child labor protections and removes what the new governor called “arbitrary” and “burdensome and obsolete” regulations that required the state to verify the age of anyone working who is under 16-years old.
Children are taking our jobs
The bill also removed the right of parents to be informed of or even consent to their young minor children getting a job.
I’m sure many 13 year olds in Arkansas have been anxiously awaiting their opportunity to work all night at their local slaughterhouse.
And, once parents find out, at least they will know where their children are in the middle of the night..
Don’t worry though, even in Arkansas, any child won’t be working overnight cleaning slaughterhouses for long – the law prohibits children under 16 from working more than eight hours a day, more than six days a week and more than 48 hours per week.
That seems to be her solution to the labor shortage across the country. Having children work eight hours a day before (After? During? Instead of?) school up to almost 50 hours a week is a workplace solution most of never would have thought of.
After all, 48 hours a week translates to a full-time job (40 hours a week) with a full work day on the weekend. Imagine the 12 or 13 year-old that you know on that schedule.
I’m sure you’ve heard the term, 40 is the new 30. After the toil of this work, in Arkansas at least, 20 could be the next 50.
Oddly enough, in the photograph of the signing of the bill, the governor is beaming alongside her three grim-faced children. They seemed to know that their generation was being sold into a Dickensian child-labor dystopia.