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The Truth, Mainly - 05/26/2003

Getting government back on our backs

"That is not it at all," the president said, accidentally quoting T.S. Eliot. "That is not what I meant, at all."

He was talking to himself again—as he had often done in the years following the 2005 abolition of all taxes. It had started the year before with what the president called a "little bitty" tax cut of more than $300 billion on stock dividends. His approval ratings soared, and in the heat of his 2004 campaign, he promised to abolish taxes teetotally—and thereby won a second term.

The president was talking to himself now in 2007 because there was no one else to talk to, all his staff and cabinet having resigned when the government went bankrupt and no one would cash their paychecks.

The president heroically stayed on without salary.

What had happened, of course, was that Corporate America grew surly when the government couldn't continue paying tax rebates, so the CEOs foreclosed on the mortgages they held on federal property.

Thus the president's office was no longer in the White House. The West Wing was now occupied by Halliburton, the East Wing by Enron Resurrected. And losing the Oval Office—now the CEO suite of Bechtel Corp.—was what the president was talking about when he accidentally quoted T.S. Eliot.

Losing his office was not it at all. That was not what he meant, at all.

The president had just wanted to get government off his back.

And now his office and residence were the opposite ends of the main reading room of the Library of Congress, the only federal building that Corporate America allowed the government to keep. And the Library of Congress was driving the president crazy. Nothing there but 18 million books.

It drove him crazy enough that he considered calling out the Marines to get his Oval Office back, but the Marines were now owned by Victoria's Secret.

The Army was now the possession of the National Rifle Association and the Navy and Coast Guard belonged to Evinrude.

There was no longer an Air Force, all the planes (including Air Force One) having been disabled by crash landings brought on when customers pushed the wrong buttons in the rentals from Whee-Fly-Supersonics, Inc.

The president's father had warned him about voodoo economics, but what did his father know? He was one of those economic geezers like:

•Alan Greenspan who told Congress back in 2003 that the tax cut on stock dividends wasn't needed to jumpstart the economy, and that reducing taxes without reducing spending would be economically ruinous.

•Warren Buffett who claimed the tax cut was unfair because only the rich would get the cuts because only the rich get stock dividends.

•The Concord Coalition, a group so out of it that they said the tax cut would mean "an insupportable tax burden for the new generation."

But the president had more immediate worries now: police and fire stations across the nation were empty; Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security were gone; and the Interstate Highway System now belonged to Wal-Mart.

The Truth, Mainly


The I-80 toll from Omaha to the Wyoming line was $450, red-light special.

And worst of all, the public schools had closed.

The president had long talks with Laura about it before they fell asleep on their army cots in the Library of Congress. Laura was ecstatic about waking up each morning surrounded by 18 million books, even though she would have preferred not having to share the rest rooms with library patrons.

And as a public school product herself, Laura was pleased to respond to the member of the Texas legislature who back in 2003 had asked, "Where does this idea come from that everybody deserves free education. . .? It comes from Moscow. From Russia. It comes straight out of the pit of hell."

So Laura looked up the letter Thomas Jefferson had written to John Adams in 1813 about free education. It said that the U.S. should "establish in each ward a free school for reading, writing, and common arithmetic," the graduates of which should then "receive, at the public expense, a higher degree of education," and thereby become "completely prepared by education for defeating the competition of wealth and birth for public trusts."

She showed the president the letter and explained what it meant.

"Government is supposed to help the poor at the expense of the rich?" the president said. "I thought it was the other way around. How do we do it?"

"Taxes," she said. "Putting the government on the back of free enterprise. Enough taxes and we'll get this country running again. As a judge said back in 1904, 'taxes are what we pay for civilized society.'"

"Are you sure that we're not supposed to help the rich at the expense of the poor?" the president asked.

At which point, the collected works of Thomas Jefferson fell from a shelf and bonked the president on the head, breaking the skin enough to draw a little blood.

"That," the president said, accidentally quoting Shakespeare, "is the most unkindest cut of all."


Retired English Professor Leon Satterfield writes to salvage clarity from his confusion. His column appears on alternate Mondays. His e-mail address is: leonsatterfield@earthlink.net.


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