Californian Utopia turns into Dante’s Inferno

Mar. 10, 2010

Inferno, the first part of the famous 14th century epic poem Divina Commedia (Divine Comedy) by Dante Alighieri, tells of a man’s journey through Hell toward faith. Along the way, Dante sees the uncommitted souls of the people who did nothing in life, the outcasts who took no side in the end-of-time war, as well as those who tried to justify their sins and are unrepentant. In Inferno, corrupt politicians are condemned to immersion in a lake of boiling pitch, which represents the sticky fingers and dark secrets of their crooked deals.

While California drowns in a man-made financial crisis, and we no longer boil our corrupt politicians in pitch, legislators keep coming up with ridiculous, irrelevant, wasteful bills instead of focusing on repairing our devastated economy. The distractions are not an accident; they actually believe they are providing a worthwhile smokescreen so voters won’t notice the little money problem we are having.

In Dante’s world, what California legislators are doing is considered hypocrisy, punishable by being forced to walk listlessly while wearing a gilded lead cloak, which represents the travesty that lies behind their actions and weighs them down, making spiritual progress impossible.

Instead of hard looks at department spending or public employee pension increases, we have bills proposing to track animal abusers like sex offenders, charge fees for parking in every store parking lot throughout the state, or calling upon all citizens to curb the use of salty language.

Plato’s Utopia has been hijacked by California’s liberals. Utopia used to be a place with few laws, where everyone was a pacifist and equality was the order of the day. Poverty and misery did not exist, there were no lawyers and citizens rarely had to fight in wars.

But California’s new Utopia is where most workers are card-carrying union government employees, or supported well and with dignity by government-provided welfare; where all legislators are lawyers and women; and where white middle-aged men are headed for Dante’s Fourth Circle of avarice and greed.

To wit, legislators introduced bills that:

  • Restrict ammo sales and lead shot
  • Regulate marijuana
  • Force single-payer healthcare on everyone in the state
  • Require green jobs, green manufacturing, green garbage, green businesses…and green legislation du jour
  • Restrict bingo, poker and gambling
  • Add to the already onerous and unenforceable sex offender laws
  • Create Harvey Milk Day, World Kidney Day and Postpartum Awareness Day
  • Offer low-income housing tax credits

The absurdity, flattery, hypocrisy, deceit and trickery is endless beneath the dome. If the state actually enforced existing laws, nearly every bill introduced would be rendered irrelevant or just useless.

Government intrusion and infringement bills are rampant as well. They’ve banned trans-fats, forced restaurant to label all calories, taken soda machines out of schools, metered water usage, leashed dogs, planted helmets on bicyclists and motorcyclists, mandated seat belts for automobile drivers and passengers, restricted cell phones while driving, mandated certain types of car seats for infants…

It never ends. It’s obvious that politicians believe that they know how to do everything better than the individual does, or at least they tell themselves that they do.

At a recent Assembly hearing, Assembly Member Bill Berryhill, R-Ceres, opined in apparent frustration that legislators should be required to spend the first year of their terms doing the oversight they were elected to do, and impose limits on the number of bills any one legislator could introduce. Berryhill is onto something, but who in the capitol even cares?

Politicians know what they are doing, and they know they are not doing much to solve anything.  In Dante’s Hell, “Fraudulent advisers” and “evil councillors” are condemned to concealment within individual flames. These are  people who used their position to advise others to engage in fraud.

Even if California’s politicians don’t immediately recognize that their actions are destroying the state, surely the company they keep and the special audiences they let into their inner sanctums is a dead giveaway. Special interest lobbyists, lawyers and union leaders would face unfortunate circumstances and unpleasant fates in Dante Alighieri’s world.

Dante’s “flatterers” are condemned to lie in a river of human feces, because they praise and compliment others for personal gain. “Dante did not live to see the full development of political propaganda, commercial advertisement, and sensational journalism, but he has prepared a place for them,” wrote Dorothy L. Sayers, who translated Dante’s Divina Commedia.

Sayers died in 1957. What would she say about California’s state legislators?

Since the legislature has made it clear that they cannot and will not do what is necessary, it’s up to voters to save the state. If they don’t, California might as well provide tourists the same warning Dante said appeared over the gates of Hell: “Abandon all hope, ye who enter here.”

-Katy Grimes

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