Five Spurts of Composition, Only Tenuously Related By Each Having Vaguely Political Content

1     Here’s a fun experiment: drive around a bad part of your town–you know, where the government-subsidized projects are, as well as the highest crime rates–and count how many of the run-down old houses have satellite dishes on them.  As you try to keep track of the spiralling digits, do be polite enough not to smile at memories of all the blowhards who have ever whined about how the “disenfranchised” poor need to be “given their fair share” with which they would wisely enter the middle class. 

A few weekends ago, my wife and I did this and our estimate of satellite dishes came to about one out of every three, a number which might need to be adjusted since we saw several neglected dumps that had more than one dish on the roof!

    On the subject of grossly bloated government bureaucracy, here’s an argument for it: like an inner city high school, it’s a good holding pen.  After all, if we didn’t have a needlessly huge government, what would we do with all the people who work for it?  Do you really want to see any of these clueless clods in the private sector? 

Frankly, they’re doing less harm at the DMV than they would be managing a business or negotiating the waters of retail.  I suppose most of them would end up on welfare, creating a need for vast government support…and we’d be right back where we started.  : )

3     Reading about the ongoing travesty that is Texas’s assault on parental rights (also known as the polygamist compound raid), I’ve been reminded more than once of the Waco siege.  I recently spent an evening folding laundry and watching the excellent documentary Waco: The Rules of Engagement, which I hadn’t seen in years. 

The parallels were telling.  I felt myself getting agitated again that a government agency could so undeniably rip up the Bill of Rights and get away with it.  There is a lot of great material about Waco out there, but if you haven’t seen this (it was even nominated for an Oscar), you’ll be amazed by what you learn.  Here’s the first few minutes:

4     The new issue of New York’s City Journal is in the process of posting articles on their web site.  I can’t say enough just how much I love reading this.  Their research, their understanding of the causes and relationships between key issues, and (most especially of all) the clear and vivid writing from each and every one of its authors make it by far the most valuable political periodical in the world.  (Even among the dazzling echelon of its gifted wordsmiths, the contributions of Brit doctor Theodore Dalrymple stand out as some of the best prose currently being produced anywhere in Shakespeare’s mother tongue.)

I’ve read it for years and I’m sure browsing its archives for a few hours would produce a better political science education than any university in the country could provide in a few years.

    Two popular Internet jokes are dead-on-target and make their points about political policies and trends far better than any raving diatribe ever could. 

First, the revised and updated fable of the Ant and the Grasshopper:


The ant works hard in the withering heat all summer long, building his house and laying up supplies for the winter. The grasshopper thinks he’s a fool, laughs, and dances and plays the summer away.

Come winter, the ant is warm and well fed. Grasshopper has no food or shelter so he dies out in the cold.


The ant works hard in the withering heat all summer long, building his house and laying up supplies for the winter. The grasshopper thinks he’s a fool, laughs, and dances and plays the summer away.

Come winter, the shivering grasshopper calls a press conference and demands to know why the ant should be allowed to be warm and well fed while others are cold and starving.

CBS, NBC and ABC show up to provide pictures of the shivering grasshopper next to a video of the ant in his comfortable home with a table filled with food.

America is stunned by the sharp contrast. How can this be, that in a country of such wealth, this poor grasshopper is allowed to suffer so?

Kermit the Frog appears on Oprah with the grasshopper, and everybody cries when they sing “It’s Not Easy Being Green.”

Jesse Jackson stages a demonstration in front of the ant’s house where the news stations film the group singing “We Shall Overcome.” Jesse then has the group kneel down to pray to God for the grass- hopper’s sake.

Al Gore exclaims in an interview with Peter Jennings that the ant has gotten rich off the back of the grasshopper, and calls for an immediate tax hike on the ant to make him pay his “fair share”.

Finally, the EOC drafts the “Economic Equity and Anti-Grasshopper Act,” retroactive to the beginning of the summer.

The ant is fined for failing to hire a proportionate number of green bugs and, having nothing left to pay his retroactive taxes, his home is confiscated by the government.

Hillary gets her old law firm to represent the grasshopper in a defamation suit against the ant, and the case is tried before a panel of federal judges that Bill appointed from a list of multi-generation welfare recipients. The ant loses the case.

The story ends as we see the grasshopper finishing the last bits of the ant’s food while the government house he is in, which just happens to be the ant’s old house, crumbles around him because he doesn’t maintain it.

The ant has disappeared in the snow.

The grasshopper is found dead in a drug related incident and the house, now abandoned, is taken over by a gang of spiders who terrorize the once peaceful neighborhood.


Vote Republican

Second, a simple economics lesson, with shades of Ayn Rand at the end:

Suppose that every day, ten men go out for beer and the bill for all ten comes to $100. If they paid their bill the way we pay our taxes, it would go something like this:

The first four men (the poorest) would pay nothing.
The fifth would pay $1.
The sixth would pay $3.
The seventh would pay $7.
The eighth would pay $12.
The ninth would pay $18.
The tenth man (the richest) would pay $59.
So, that’s what they decided to do.

The ten men drank in the bar every day and seemed quite happy with the arrangement, until one day, the owner threw them a curve. “Since you are all such good customers,” he said, “I’m going to reduce the cost of your daily beer by $20.” Drinks for the ten now cost just $80.

The group still wanted to pay their bill the way we pay our taxes so the first four men were unaffected. They would still drink for free. But what about the other six men – the paying customers? How could they divide the $20 windfall so that everyone would get his ‘fair share?’ They realized that $20 divided by six is $3.33. But if they subtracted that from everybody’s share, then the fifth man and the sixth man would each end up being paid to drink his beer. So, the bar owner suggested that it would be fair to reduce each man’s bill by roughly the same amount, and he proceeded to work out the amounts each should pay. And so:

The fifth man, like the first four, now paid nothing (100% savings).
The sixth now paid $2 instead of $3 (33%savings).
The seventh now pay $5 instead of $7 (28%savings).
The eighth now paid $9 instead of $12 (25% savings).
The ninth now paid $14 instead of $18 (22% savings).
The tenth now paid $49 instead of $59 (16% savings).

Each of the six was better off than before. And the first four continued to drink for free. But once outside the restaurant, the men began to compare their savings.

“I only got a dollar out of the $20,” declared the sixth man. He pointed to the tenth man,” but he got $10!”




“That’s true!” shouted the seventh man. “Why should he get $10 back when I got only two? The wealthy get all the breaks!”

“Wait a minute,” yelled the first four men in unison. “We didn’t get anything at all. The system exploits the poor!”

The nine men surrounded the tenth and beat him up.

The next night the tenth man didn’t show up for drinks, so the nine sat down and had beers without him. But when it came time to pay the bill, they discovered something important. They didn’t have enough money between all of them for even half of the bill!

And that, boys and girls, journalists and college professors, is how our tax system works. The people who pay the highest taxes get the most benefit from a tax reduction. Tax them too much, attack them for being wealthy, and they just may not show up anymore. In fact, they might start drinking overseas where the atmosphere is somewhat friendlier.


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