How does it feel to be
One of the beautiful people?
Now that you know who you are
What do you want to be?
— "Baby, You're a Rich Man," The Beatles
In the blink of an eye, the nation flipped from obsessing over the George Zimmerman trial to going buggy over Britain's royal baby bump. Didn't we fight a war more than 200 years ago to assure that we wouldn't have to care about this stuff? From the absolute wall-to-wall coverage the blue-blood-baby-birthin' got in this country, I guess not.
As I write this, there are extremely serious amounts of money being bet on what the li'l prince will be named. I'm sort of leaning toward local sports-talker and writer Gary Parrish's suggestion of Jamal. It has a nice ring to it and would break the predictable, waspy monotony of George, James, Andrew, Charles, Phillip, etc. I mean, it's time to break that chain, yo. I also could live with The Prince Formerly Known As Baby.
We do know that little Royal Baby came into the world at around 8 pounds, which, at today's exchange rate, is about $12.28, but he's worth several million times that. This kid won the lottery just by being born. He will have an army of servants waiting on him hand-and-foot for his entire life. He will never know hunger or want. He will never need to look for work. His health care will be extraordinary.
In truth, there are thousands of babies born with similar advantages every day, here in the U.S. and around the world. The children of "1 percenters" are statistically highly unlikely to ever know economic distress. They are born set for life. And for some reason, whether they are born wealthy or become wealthy, the rich fascinate millions of people who aren't rich. Why else would anyone pay attention to Paris Hilton or the Kardashians or any of the other vapid people staring at us from magazine covers in checkout lines? It's fantasy, a way of vicariously living the life of the rich and famous.
But, as we all know and too often forget, there are millions of babies born poor and unknown, here and around the world, every day. And most of them will spend their lives that way — "set for life" in the wrong direction. In the U.S., income inequality has grown exponentially over the past three decades. Literally, the rich keep getting richer and the poor poorer. The middle class continues to shrink. And there doesn't seem to be anything that can be done about it in the current political climate. It's a royal pain, baby.
In the 14 years I've been the Flyer editor, I've gotten lots of hate mail. It mostly used to come in envelopes filled with pages of scrawled handwriting. I read them and put them in the wastebasket, chalking it up as a natural by-product of writing for a liberal paper in the conservative South. Lately, the angry folks have switched to email, and it comes in waves ...
I'm writing this from the restroom facility at Big Hill Pond State Park in southern McNairy County. On Monday, I commandeered the building, which contains the men's and women's restrooms, some racks of pamphlets, and two vending machines. There's no one here right now, but I plan to stay as long as necessary to protest the fact that the state of Tennessee is run by oppressive know-nothings who wouldn't know small government — or freedom, for that matter — if it bit them on their considerable backsides ...