The great joke of industrialism is that we spend all of our time and resources trying to do inherently inefficient things more efficiently.

The great joke of industrialism is that we spend all of our time and resources trying to do inherently inefficient things more efficiently.

Take something so simple as the chicken egg: our society of mass production will go to great lengths trying to figure out the most efficient way to get eggs from the egg factory to the truck, from the truck to the grocer, from the grocer to the consumer, and then finally from the breakfast table to the stomach.

I imagine that there are even men — men with truly great mental capacities — who are paid high salaries just to figure out how to break fewer eggs on the truck, and to get the truck to the store in the quickest fashion. These engineers of efficiency then produce schemes of increasing complexity in order to achieve their goal.

But there is a conspiracy at work, about which these engineers do not know. There exists in our midst a type of man who has found the secret to efficiency and who has solved the great problems of the industrial engineer. He works his art in the background, because his method does not fit in the modern economic framework. Like all conspirators, he operates in the dark, because he often operates at dawn.

His method is easy, his technique is simple: he is the man who has had the audacity to build a chicken coop.

No scheme of industrialism has achieved such efficiency as this man who walks 50 feet each morning fetch his eggs, and then walks 50 feet back to the house to toss them in the frying pan. Unlike the man who owns the factory, the man who owns the chicken has no concerns about efficiency. He needs no gasoline, for his transportation is purely pedestrian. He needs no employees, for such men often have children.

His secret is profound because it is simple: the egg factory is inherently inefficient, while the backyard chicken coop is not. This man has solved the problem of production by avoiding the massive inefficiencies of mass production. He has avoided the need for complex solutions by taking the radical step of avoiding complex problems. He then has the wonderful luxury of exerting his brainpower on something important, something other than cracked eggs and spilled milk, while the CEO of the egg factory may be losing sleep about such trivial matters.

I called this the joke of industrialism, but it is really the joke of our age. It is the notion that you can solve the problems created by the modern way of life, without actually changing that way of life. It is also the joke that fuels the "green movement" and the animal rights mentality.

Rather than build a chicken coop to wholly eliminate the insanity of the egg factory, we buy eggs marketed as cage-free, grain-fed, free-range, etc. Never mind that we don't actually know what "cage-free" even means. It may mean that the chicken spent a few minutes outdoors that day. It may mean that the chicken has a couple extra feet of room in their cage. It may quite literally mean nothing at all. The point is that "cage-free" never means what the customer thinks it means when he places that carton of happy-chicken-eggs into his cart.

Unfortunately he must continue believing this fantasy because he feels guilty for the modern lifestyle, and this common guilt has now become a marketing technique. Guilt is exceedingly gullible. I predict that sooner or later someone will start marketing eggs from "high self-esteem" chickens, which are complimented twice daily on their gorgeous plumage and articulate clucking abilities. This will, I predict, be the best selling egg product yet developed.

Back to the point, our methods are wasteful, destructive and abusive, and we know it.

We even feel guilty for it; guilty enough to take action, but not guilty enough to really change anything.

So we do silly and ineffectual things which change nothing, because they are easy and ease the conscience. Or else we deny the problem altogether.

Republicans and the Democrats represent these two separate but equally absurd reactions to this guilty conscience. The Democrats acknowledge the guilt, but go to extremes with exaggerated, sentimental, and misguided efforts to save the whales and the ozone layer, preaching the end of the human race if we do not repent immediately.

The Republicans react in the second way — complete denial of reality — which has become standard procedure for their party. They then construct myths in order to make that denial comfortable for themselves. Since they believe themselves to be the Christian party, they may even claim that God made nature and told us to subdue it, and therefore we are morally justified in exploiting it to the max.

Of course they quickly drop this logic when it no longer suits their political purposes.

For example, they would never accept this logic regarding sex, which was also created by God and which he also encouraged. They see the obvious absurdity of maximum exploitation here, because sex is one of the few areas they have chosen to remain reasonable.

What makes both of these parties absurd is that they are both extremes that fuel each other's futility. What is really called for is simplicity, moderation in all things, and respect for the world around us. The man with the chicken coop knows this.

The man with the coop wakes early; the Democrat wakes early; the Republican wakes early. The Democrat turns on CNN and weeps about our poisoned air; the Republican turns on Fox News and denies that any air is poisoned.

The man with the chicken coop turns his eggs in his frying pan and eats in the peaceful, guiltless, silence of the sunrise.

The opinions in this column do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the The McPherson Sentinel or GateHouse Media. If you have any related questions or suggestions that you would like to see explored here, simply email me at