What is the Point?

A bunch of bold earthlings set off for the stars,
Leaving behind them their mansions and cars.
Past comets and meteors, they traveled through space,
To spread the Good News of the great human race.

Economists, millionaires, social Darwinians,
Press commentators with right-wing opinions,
Missionary Baptists, all totally “Right”,
And ten thousand Marines in case of a fight.

Their object? Imparting to all of creation
The superior values they held as a nation:
Democracy, liberty, freedom and truth
For inhabited galaxies and their uncouth.

They visited moons and heavenly spheres,
But most of these venues had thin atmospheres.
When one day they arrived at a planet with girth,
And air, seas and mountains exactly like Earth.

The water was clean and the air it was pure,
And the scenery looked like a tourist brochure.
No gas stations, concrete, no jerry-built mall,
No black-belching trucks, and no ads and no sprawl.

The beaches were pristine and in every stream
Were non-farmed young salmon and un-poisoned bream.
Our missionary Leader, with broad Texan drawl,
Said “This seems like an opportune visit, you’all.”

But imagine his shock when the spacecraft descended!
His sense of the proper was deeply offended.
The people seemed happy! So what had gone wrong?
They laughed and they joked and they burst into song.

Their children were disciplined, slim and polite,
And the cats didn’t yowl and the dogs didn’t bite.
No President present to lay down the law,
No priests to be found there to justify war.

No lawyers or lobbyists, millionaires
To leave their huge fortunes to vacuous heirs.
No poor forced to live on a minimum wage,
Or elders to grub out an anxious old age.

No, the people had leisure, worked two hours a day,
Unconcerned as they were about bosses and pay.
The community cared for them all from their birth.
(Which couldn’t be said for the people from Earth)
Their diet was adequate, knowledge advanced,
And they laughed and they joked as they sang and they danced.

“This is all very well,” said the economist,
“But I think there is something these people have missed.
Productivity’s low. If they worked for more hours
Their economy could be as splendid as ours.”

The Social Darwinian said, “God has forgot
To decide who’s successful and who’s, alas, not.
In His absence we feel it’s our job to ensure
That some people are rich and that others are poor.”

“None of the people have been born again,”
Said the ministers, “witness their pain.
We’ll have to persuade them the Rapture is nigh,
When half will be saved and the other half die.
We agree it’s divisive, but converts will please us.
It is just what was preached in the Gospels by Jesus.”

The ten thousand soldiers were shocked to the corps.
“How can they survive without slaughter and war?
This pacifist Heaven must now be destroyed.
If it caught on on Earth we would be unemployed.”

So all those who bowed to the tough moneylenders,
With the best of intentions and various agendas,
Those who thought that structural adjustment was fun
And joblessness helpful, (though in the long run),
Plus columnists offering bogus advice,
Set out to destroy this true Paradise.

And then came a strange and a wondrous event!
The natives immediately saw their intent!
“You can pull the wool over the eyes of Latinos
Or dumb Europeans or poor Phillipinos.

You may think that we’re awkward, perhaps even bitching,
But we see your ideas to be auto-enriching.”
(We have studied their meaning, and now it’s agreed
They were accusing these Saints of unfathomable greed)

Their hypothesis seemed to be : What is the point?

What is the point of your fourteen hour days,
With two weeks, if that, as our paid holidays?
What’s the advantage would we people get
From dismantling our socially great safety net?

Why should we earn a declining real wage,
And be dumped just as soon as we reach middle age?
Why should we import you people with wealth
And see a decline in our medical health?

Why employ immigrants at every turn
Who depress for us all the little we earn?
What is the point of the dull workaholic
Who ends up a husk and severe melancholic?

What is the point?

We don’t need your priests and we don’t need your nuns,
We hate violent movies and don’t need your guns.
We don’t need your drugs, your police, Coca Cola,
We do need a pension, but don’t like payola.

We don’t need graffiti or ten thousand jails
Or half off (of what price?) when we go to the sales.
We don’t need your alcohol, baseball or beer.
So what, may we ask, are you all doing here?

What is the point?

Globalization is just a big hoax
To enrich the elites, namely most of you folks.
Privatization is cutting the slack
For those who like stealing and not giving back.
Taxpayers paid for those great corporations
And they’re given to those who made certain, er, donations.

We view with true horror and greatly deplore
The huge growing gap between you and the poor.
Your princes of industry earn, you’ll agree,
Considerably more than our whole GNP.

We’ve no admiration for crude jingoism,
Heroism, egoism, indeed, any ‘ism’.
As for your knowledge of Space savoir faire…..
No, go back to Texas, you’re happier there!

To distinguished Earth visitors this seemed perverse.
Here were the greatest in God’s universe.
Chosen, square-jawed, such utter perfection,
Now told to retire in a homeward direction.

Clearly, they muttered, these dwellers in space
Have heard the wrong stories of Earth’s marketplace.
Capitalism sorts the wheat from the chaff
(If this wasn’t so brutal, it might make you laugh).

It’s the one world-wide system to make wrong things right.
(Provided you’re clever and wealthy and white).
They don’t understand how it makes you feel free
To get juicy cash-backs on your new SUV.

“Ah”, said the columnist, “here’s an idea.
We’ve promising real-estate openings here.
They’ve no military forces or means of protection,
We should start building brigs for their early detention.
Just like the U.S where millions of blacks
Are imprisoned to protect them from racial attacks”.

So the preachers consulted the Bible and found
That, since they were Godless, the idea was sound.
In fact human earthlings had once owned the place
It was simply reverting to God’s Chosen Race.

Then most of these Chosen, for all they were worth,
Grabbed what they could of this duplicate Earth.
The water grew grimy, the air grew impure
And the scenery looked like a housing brochure.

Gas stations sprouted, a fifty mile mall,
With black-belching trucks to disfigure the sprawl.
The beaches grew dirty and in every stream
Were mercuried salmon and half-poisoned bream.

The natives, sequestered in refugee camps,
Looked bitter and joyless like ill-favoured tramps.
And their children fought back with their sticks and their stones,
Deprived of good food they became skin and bones.
And the elders all muttered
What is the point?


I am sad for the natives and weep for their wrongs
I weep for their laughter, their jokes and their songs.
But I’m slightly conflicted, for in the U.S
The country has seen an improvement, no less.

The haters of taxes have colonized space,
Leaving behind a more tolerant place.
Despisers of poor people, sour plutocrats
Have abandoned the country like ravening rats.

And lo! We now have here a liberal regime,
Where once compromise was a foolish young dream.
I have to admit that I once did suspect
We would never again see such mutual respect,
Where government serves both the rich and the poor,
And narrow self-interest did not dictate law.

And I pray this regime does not disappoint
And we never need ask again
What is the point?