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Archive for Sunday, September 6, 2009

Prison closure sparks entrepreneurial spirit

September 6, 2009

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The economic downturn has set my mental wheels spinning. I need to get rich, quick. I’m partial to money-making schemes that promise, “Anyone can do it,” and “You don’t have to lift a finger.” Chickens are out; I’d have to sell my birds for $10 a pound to break even. I’ve eliminated chinchillas and ostriches for the same reason.

Gurus of instant riches counsel repetition of the mantra, “I’m going to become rich someday” until you believe it. “Once you believe it, it will become true.” I’ve tried it and it doesn’t work. The problem is, I don’t believe it.

A radio report I heard has given me a glimmer of hope. It concerned the fate of the prisoners the United States is holding at Guantanamo Bay, which President Obama has promised to close down. Like many promises, this one wasn’t thought through. The minute the search began for places to relocate the prisoners, a familiar cry went up: NIMBY! Not in my backyard.

Kansas Gov. Mark Parkinson, interviewed on the program, sounded the “NIMBY” alarm quite passionately. “I can assure you that we have no interest in these 240 prisoners being moved to Kansas,” he said. The prison was functioning quite well without them. Subsequently, U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts spoke out even more emphatically. “It will just make it less safe for Americans,” he said. “Not in my backyard. Not in Kansas. I will shut down the Senate before I let that happen.” U.S. Sen. Sam Brownback chimed in, “We don’t want ’em here.”

Other comments suggested that elite military students attracted to Fort Leavenworth from all over the world would be offended by proximity to ragtag terrorists, who operate out of uniform and in disregard for niceties of the soldier ethic. A possible subtext was that it would be unfair to force the wholesome, homegrown prisoners at Leavenworth to fraternize with an inferior, alien class of criminal.

Lost in the hysteria, was the scent of opportunity. The Mayor of Florence, Colo., home of a “Super Max” prison, was quick to sniff it out. He was the paragon of hospitality. He virtually laid out the welcome mat to the terrorists. Terrorists didn’t frighten him. “Most of us have guns,” he said. The escape-proof prison in his town was tailor-made for terrorists, he added. This seemed like the right attitude to me. We can’t live in constant fear of bogeymen. Moreover, beaucoup bucks were involved. Getting the contract would make Florence rich.

The prospect of mega bucks riches made my own nose quiver. I had a “Eureka!” moment. I’d offer to take one of the terrorists and relocate him on the farm. In return for doing chores — cleaning out the chicken coop, weeding the garden — I’d give him food and shelter. My farm is hardly high-security, but if my terrorist wanted to escape, where would he go? And why would anyone want to escape the charms of Vinland Valley?

I recognize that terrorists don’t necessarily make the most desirable guests. I’ve read that some of the Guantanamo detainees have thrown feces at their guards and tried to bite them. But a hard day’s work on the farm has a way of cooling a hothead down. The bucolic surroundings encourage peaceful musings more than violent deeds.

Like our president, I’m convinced that sitting down and talking with our enemies is a great way to build bridges. I envision nightly conversations with my terrorist, a free exchange of ideas. When he wants to vent, he can wander the property yelling “Death to America” to his heart’s content. The squirrels and the rabbits won’t mind. I also understand the occasional impulse to blow things up. That’s what we have the Fourth of July for. I plan to keep a supply of bottle rockets and Roman candles on hand for those occasions when my terrorist feels the urge, along with a supply of American flags for him to burn.

I look forward to a long friendship with my terrorist. Life’s too short to live in hate and in ignorance of those who have a different point of view. Above all, I’m looking forward to a fat check from our free-spending government, assuming it still has financial resources left when the bill comes due.

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