Saturday, October 01, 2005

Creative Solutions to Modern Problems

Absurd Men Speak is dedicated to solving modern problems (frankly because there is no money in solving ancient ones). So many times policies and actions are called into question without alternatives. People are so ready to point the finger. Not here. The following are solutions proposed by Absurd Men to solve "Poverty".

1) When dealing with the issue of poverty why must we re-invent the wheel? Our forefathers had an answer and it was called debtors' prison. If one did not have the money to pay bills then it was off to prison until the family could raise the money to release them. This sounds like a simple incentive program to me. Perhaps even those who find themselves in a poverty situation could staff the prisons. Now that is capitalism at its best!

There is yet another benefit to re-instituting debtors' prisons... I foresee a literary renaissance starting. Daniel Defoe spent time in a debtors' prison. Charles Dickens's father was in a debtors' prison thus forcing young Charles to work in a blacking factory at the age of twelve. Would Dickens have the gritty insight for his stories without this life experience? O. Henry spent time in prison (not debtors' prison, but prison nonetheless). There seems to be a connection between incarceration and creativity. So if we want more Defoes, Dickens, and Henrys we had best re-institute debtors' prisons now! --- Erasmus

2) It would be in the best interests of this great nation to put the unused masses to work. Perhaps a massive public works program can provide the necessary training and discipline to get these people back on their feet. We've all heard of the Big Dig in Massachusetts. Our government could start a more literal Big Dig in Nevada to create a second Grand Canyon.

Those who are unemployed or working poor who refuse to work can be made to work on a duplicate of one of our most beloved yet awkwardly named national treasures. Income, education, and tourism can all be bolstered by toiling in the hot sands of Nevada. We can prove that man can work faster than erosion. We can prove that man can solve poverty with mindless, back-breaking work. We can prove that our naming of things is quite lame by calling it the Great Big Hole. --- Dave

3) In a similar vein of Erasmus' debtors prison, I propose bringing back another solution to poverty: indentured servitude.

The gripe that there are no jobs in this globalised economy is hogwash. There are plenty of jobs out there for everybody. The problem is that they're not in the areas where the unemployed live. I'm no economist, but I would venture to say that no matter who you are and what sort of skills you have (or lack for that matter) there is a job somewhere in the world that someone will pay you to do. Unfortunately, not everyone (especially poor, unemployed people) has the money or resources to travel to find work outside their area. If there are no jobs in the city or region where such people live why not offer them work and housing in another area or another country (including travel fees) if they agree to work it a bit of interest for the employer, naturally.

In many ways this is already being done with migrant workers in the apple (Jamaicans) and tobacco (Mexicans) industries. I'm sure there are other rich countries that could use some hardworking American laborers for all sorts of things -from au pairs and childminders, to construction and factory workers. Let's bring them to where they are needed and who knows, maybe they'll settle there, learn the language, alter their names and integrate into the society. They may even learn a new trade or skill, adapting to their environment, kickstarting that stalled American trait...ingenuity. On the other hand if more join them they will form a defensive minority community, protest the gov't and get harrassed by the indeginous ethnic majority. A real immigrant experience. But who cares? The point is they'll be working, not sitting around and complaining for lack of jobs.

Whether you like it or not we live in a globalised economy. Folks, it's time for a globalised workforce.


If you have a Modern Problem that needs solving and would like an absurd proposal feel free to add a comment.


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Saturday, October 01, 2005 7:06:00 PM  
Anonymous Dan said...

Disclaimer: I'm Dave's brother in law and this is an advertisement for my new book.

But first, let me say the Absurd Men totally rock! They are witty, insightful and, if I may be so bold, quite well groomed.

And I'm sure they want all their loyal readers to buy my book, which is titled "The Radical Elements of Radical Success." It's available at, and there's a review at

Absurdness Yes!
- Dan

Saturday, October 08, 2005 1:41:00 PM  
Blogger Gerry Harrington said...

You're ideas suck for poverty.
First of all it is obvious that none of you live in poverty so it is quite easy to speculate on what those other poeple should do. Someone I know well is a single mom with a 5 year old and a three year old. She works full time and lives in a two-bedroom apartment with her mother and brother. She is very unhappy but wants the best for her kids. Currently she is considering filing bankruptcy because of an error Jackson-Hewitt made filing her taxes costed her close to 20,000. How would locking her in debtors prison help anyone? That is the stupidist thing I've heard. Should her 3 and 5 year old work to get her out? Should her family members who have their own financial and life issues work three jobs to get her out?

A public works program might help the victims of hurricane Katrina who have nothing to go back to, or those who have been laid off from some major corporation (I don't believe there is any significant population of people who "refuse to work"--most people without skills just end up in jobs that don't pay well and make it hard to sustain a family). But, since most of the poor in this country are employed in shitty jobs, could you really organize some national effort to displace the already employed? That would cripple industries that rely on paying people crappy wages to survive. I doubt that would happen.

I hate when people are just sitting around complaining about lack of jobs, especially in other countries like Jamaica or Mexico that have been screwed royally by trade relationships set up by wealthy countries. Instead of correcting the problem and allowing countries to become self sustaining (see documentary: "Life and Debt), lets take them away from their families and make them work like dogs for our table scraps. That sounds like a solution Barbara Bush would gladly endorse.

A huge problem of poverty in this country that was not addressed by Absurd Men is that people don't have access or knowledge of resources that can take them out of poverty. It's easy for us to say about someone: well they could go to school on the weekends, or take advantage of this or that. In my wife's high school more that half of the students dropped out. This was the regular there. And the housing projects she lived in and the ones adjacent to her housed upwards of a hundred thousand people. That is more many major cities in this country. When all people know is crap, and no one is showing anything different, even at the schools which are overcrowded with no facillities, lack of security, and bottom-rate teachers who tell students to their face that they don't care about them, how are people supposed to aspire to somehting better, or even know that there is something to aspire to?

To undo poverty these issues need to be addressed. Having three or more housing projects right next to each other is a bad idea. And here in NYC, the mayor always complains that there isn't money. Yet the public schools in Park Slope or the Upper West Side are lovely places to go to school while public schools in Bed-Stuy or Stapleton are just dangerous.

Just swoop in and put these poeple to work? Go ahead.


Monday, October 10, 2005 1:04:00 PM  
Blogger Chiman said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

Saturday, October 15, 2005 11:30:00 PM  
Anonymous Gerry Harrington said...

Hey friends,

So today Dave explained to me what Absurd Men Speak is. While Dave's posts here have been entertaining (sorry I haven't read everything on your blog), for the most part they expressed a genuine opinion about something real. Anyway, obviously I didn't get it when I responded to the poverty post. So, pretend that you were dead serious and you might get my comment. You cought me on a bad day so your blog gave me a place to direct my hostility.

Hope it was fun for you.
Hey at least I wasn't selling cat furniture.


Saturday, October 15, 2005 11:33:00 PM  
Blogger Epictetus said...


I was a bit gutted for you when I read your first comment. I derived no pleasure from reading it. I can see how someone, especially on a bad day, could read us as right-wing lunatics. But then again there's a reason why we call ourselves "Absurd Men."

Anway, I apologise for any misunderstanding and would also like to take this opportunity to invite you to further comments and ideas. You arguements are pursuasive. Why not channel some of that anger onto our blog?

as ever,
in absurdity,

Monday, October 17, 2005 3:33:00 PM  
Blogger Gaius Germanicus said...

I kind of like Gerry's original post, it points out the fact--which is the basis of this excercis--that the existing norms are as absurd as the absurd solutions proposed by us. The best social satire really pisses people off, think of "A Modest Proposal." And in the end even if the point is lost on someone, at least they are thinking, which is something most of us don't do because we arn't trained to do it. For me its a daily effort, its so easy to go with the status quo.

Sunday, February 05, 2006 8:01:00 AM  

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