The American Dilemma and How We Can Fix It

Archive for the ‘satire’ Category

SANTA’S WORKSHOP

It was nearly quitting time a few days after Christmas when the door knocker at Santa’s Workshop began sounding.  As he was the nearest of the elves, Godwin walked to the front of the factory, hopped up on a little stool and then on to the stepladder by the door.  When he reached the top rung, he swung open the peep hole and saw the snow blowing fiercely outside.  He was used to that – but what surprised him were all the tanks and other vehicles and the large assembly of men and soldiers who were outside the door.

“May I help you,?” Godwin asked.

A man held up a badge which said, ‘Federal Bureaucracy of Interrogation.  Godwin had never seen one of these before.

“We’re here to see one S. Claus,” the man said.

“Just a minute, sir,” Godwin said.  And he closed the peep hole and quickly scrambled down the ladder.

When he got to the bottom he turned to face the workshop, put his hands around his mouth and yelled, “Santa.  We have visitors.”

Santa was in his office.  He had just finished setting up the “Naughty and Nice” book for the next season.  He grabbed the book and put it on the shelf space which had been reserved for it, next to all the other ones that he had inscribed in years past.  He pulled back from the desk, walked through the workshop and went to the front door.

When he opened the door the agent at the front of the entourage without greeting barged through the door and shoved his badge in Santa’s face.

“Special agent N. Quisitor.  Are you S. Claus?”

Santa, a little startled at the man’s rudeness replied, “I’m Santa Claus.  May I help you?”

“Please, gentlemen.  Come in from the cold.”  And the group waiting outside the door came into the warm workshop, stomping the snow from their boots.

“We’re here because there are some serious problems which have been raised by your operation.  In fact calling them problems is an understatement.  I have a list of violations, an extensive list for which you must answer.”

“Violations of what,?” Santa asked.

“Federal regulations,” Special Agent N. Quisitor replied.

“I can’t imagine anything that we’ve done anything wrong, “ Santa replied.  “What exactly are these violations?”

“Well, to start with, we have no record of your filing any tax returns.  That means that you are not only in violation of the IRC as a non-filer but you have not paid over the FICA tax you are withholding from your employees’ paychecks, nor have you paid your employer’s share of that tax.  And we have no record of your having paid any unemployment insurance for your employees.”

“Well, that’s easy to understand.  You see, sir we don’t pay the elves any salary.  They work for the simple joy of it and receive their room and board in return.  And we don’t make any profit at this business.  We do this simply for the joy of being able to provide presents for the children all around the world.”

A look of shock came over N. Quisitor’s face.  He responded, “Well, in addition to your failure to file the appropriate returns you are also in violation of the Federal Minimum Wage law.  In fact, you’re probably also in violation of the 13th Amendment to the Constitution which abolished slavery.  Your elves are little more than indentured servants.”

“Indeed,” said Santa.  “Nothing could be further from the truth.  Feel free to ask any of the elves if they are held against their will.  They all share my joy at the work we do and if any of them wanted to leave he is free to do so at any time.  But if you speak with them, you’ll find they have all been with me for centuries and are happy to be here.”

“Then there’s the matter of your violating OSHA requirements that you provide ramp accessible access to your facilities for your vertically challenged and otherwise physically handicapped employees.  You will admit that your elf employees have a height issue, wouldn’t you?  I suspect that you haven’t properly retrofitted your lavatories to accommodate them either.”

N. Quisitor went on.  “Then there’s the issue that there are only male elves here in your workshop.  That is a clear violation of the EEOC requirement that employment be offered irrespective of gender.”

“Well, you see,” said Santa, “the lady elves are all at home taking care of their children.  They are busy rearing them, feeding them and they also are the teachers in Elf School.”

“And what is the curriculum in your so-called ‘Elf School’?   Do you use the Common Core which is now mandatory in all grammar schools?”

“No.  We teach the same thing that we have taught for centuries – toy making,  Since that’s what we do here, that’s what the young elves need to learn.”

“Well, that’s a violation of Article XIII of the ‘Universal Mandatory Education Act’.  You will be held accountable for this gross deficiency and violation of the law.”

“Now, on to the allegation that you have been depositing coal in certain of the stockings which people hang.  Is that true?”

“Well, sadly it is true.  You see, I would rather that no one get any coal but unfortunately … ,” which was as much as Santa could say before Special Agent N. Quisitor cut him off.

“Aha.  You realize that you are in violation of EPA regulation  27399 – Section 124 Paragraph 9.  “The use of coal or making trade in coal whether anthracite or bituminous is hereby prohibited as it is responsible for pollution and global warming.  Are you admitting that you are violating this regulation?  Furthermore, I noticed as we came in that there is a herd of reindeer outside your facility.  Are those yours?”

“Well of course they are.  There’s Prancer and Dancer…”  N. Quisitor interrupted the jolly old man and said, “You realize that reindeer in their droppings produce methane gas – a further violation of EPA regulations – and are one of the  contributing factors to the melting of the polar ice caps.  On these EPA charges alone you have a lot of explaining to do.  I hope you have a good lawyer.”

“Last but not least, it’s our understanding that you make your delivery of these toys by hitching the reindeer to your sleigh, flying around the world.  However, the FAA has no record of your ever having filed a flight plan with them.  Do you realize how you are endangering the public safety by conducting unauthorized flights, potentially compromising the well-ordered routes which licensed airlines fly?”

“Well, you know I’ve been doing this for decades – in fact long before there were airplanes.  And in all that time there’s never been an accident – not one.”

“Mr. Claus.  You’ve been very lucky – but you, sir are an accident waiting to happen.  Get your coat and come with us.”

And they took Santa Claus away – in handcuffs.  And in their hearts they knew they had done the right thing – making the world safer for bureaucracy.

THE BANK TELLER

A young woman was looking for an entry level position in the workforce when she saw there was an opening for a teller at her local bank.  The ad said that the bank was looking for a personable, customer service-oriented person with an aptitude for math.  She thought to herself, “That’s me.”  So she called the bank to set up an interview.

The day she was to meet with Human Resources she dressed in her most professional outfit and arrived at the bank thirty minutes early.  The HR receptionist told her that punctuality was very important and that she would be sure to let Mr. Henderson, the head of HR know that she was early for her appointment.

When she met with Ms. Steadman, the Assistant Director of HR, she smiled, gave great eye contact and was extremely polite.  Ms. Steadman decided that she had just the personality that they hoped their tellers exhibited towards the bank’s customers.  She decided that if this young woman passed the math accuracy test, she would definitely offer her the position.

Ms. Steadman reached in her drawer and pulled out a stack of one dollar bills which were wrapped and had $100 stamped on the band.  She gave this to the applicant and asked her to verify the number of bills in the stack and told her that she would time her to see how long this took her to accomplish.

The young lady smiled and said, “I’ll give it my best shot.”

Ms. Steadman pulled out a stop watch and told her to begin.

The applicant began quickly riffling through the pile, as though she had been counting money all her life.  But before she completed the task, she suddenly put down the stack and announced, “I’m done.”

Ms. Steadman looked and her and said, “But you didn’t count all the bills.”

The young woman responded, “Well, I got up to eighty and it was right so far – so I figured that it was right the rest of the way.”

The young woman did not get the teller’s position.

It’s a pity this young woman didn’t have a background in computer programming as she could easily have qualified to help code the www.healthcare.gov website.  After the stunning disaster that rolled out for the American public on October 1st, we were told that the problems with the website would be “fixed” by November 30th.  That has now been changed to “substantially fixed for the majority of all Americans (80%) by that date.  That’s a little like saying that former Public Enemy #1, John Dillinger, was a law abiding citizen since he didn’t spend at least 80% of his time robbing banks.

Yesterday’s Congressional hearing with the developers of the website brought several more stunning revelations.  The first was that the security threshold is extremely low – subjecting anyone who is courageous enough to use it to having her or his identity and financial information compromised.  The second is that even if a person finds a plan that is appropriate and can afford to purchase it, the “back office” end of the program which will allow for payment has yet to be built.  So none of those 106,000 “customers” who enrolled in the first month can actually pay for their insurance.

As you know, I’m less than a booster for this Ponzi scheme.  But as much as I dislike it, I’m beginning to feel a little embarrassed for the administration.  If you had a comedy writer on peyote writing this script, I doubt he could come up with a scenario of such incompetence as we are seeing reveal itself each day.

As I always try to take lemons and turn them into lemonade, I do see a few bright spots on the horizon.  First, I think that Life Lock, which alerts customers to fraudulent financial activity in their accounts will be doing a land office business.  Second, should a hacker get past them, Experian, which has been advertising extensively to consumers to check their credit reports, should also see a surge in new enrollees.

Now if we could only pass a bill that would allow government subsidies for the annual enrollment fees for these two services, life in America would be Utopia.

READER COMMENTS ON THE MINIMUM WAGE POST

Let me take a moment to express my gratitude to all of you who read this blog on a regular basis.  You are the fuel that keeps the fire going.  Furthermore, I personally believe that you are a cut above the herd (several cuts, actually) and I wish all of you served in elected office.  The country would be much further ahead if we had thinkers instead of talkers running the show.

I received several comments via email about the Minimum Wage post which I put up yesterday.  Of course, you realized that this was tongue in cheek humor – but I plead “nolo contendere” as I had just finished watching several Marx Brothers movies and their spirit of light-heartedness overcame me.

Several serious questions were raised in your emails which I want to address in this post.

Q:  If we raised the minimum hourly wage to $50.00 for all American workers, wouldn’t that require us to re-define our base for what constitutes the “poverty level?”

A:  This is an excellent and insightful observation.  If your lowest paid American were now earning $100,000 per year, that would become the new poverty-level baseline.  Instead of paying athletes $10 million a year, we would have to increase their salaries to at least $30 or $40 million a year – just so they could keep up.  That doesn’t seem like a bad thing – especially if we taxed them at, let’s say, 90% of their income just to keep the social programs we have designed running.  And that would certainly ease the consciences of a Bill Gates and Warren Buffett who believe that they and those in their asset class are under-taxed.

Q,  Wouldn’t raising the minimum wage to $50.00 per hour create inflation?

A.  Yes it would – and that, of course, is a good thing.  Just think of the benefit to our farmers for a moment.  If they are able to sell their tomatoes for eight dollars apiece, consider how much value that would add to the GDP.  Now you may say that if they’re selling tomatoes at eight bucks a pop, the consumer would pay at least thirty dollars each – and that is true.  But the fact of the matter is that Americans don’t eat a sufficient quantity of fruits and veggies now – so the impact of this price escalation should be minimal.

Then there is the matter of the National Debt – rapidly approaching $17 Billion.  There is no way that we can ever pay that off.  Furthermore, our debt is clearly the fault of foreigners – primarily the Chinese and Japanese who hold the bulk of it – who through their purchases have encouraged our economic malfeasance.  I mean, come on – we always give these Orientals credit for being smart and shrewd – but look at all this worthless paper they’re holding.  If that one fact alone doesn’t shoot a gaping hole in the theory of the superiority of the Oriental mind, I don’t know what will.

So if we merely inflate our way out of our debt, making it worth, let’s say, only a quarter of what it’s present nominal value is, then we can declare ourselves in default and only say that we wrote off about $4 Trillion and thus we will save about $13 Trillion worth of face.  That’s something our Oriental friends might actually admire.

Why we let our Japanese/American citizens out of our WWII interment camps is beyond my understanding.  And it’s truly a pity that we don’t need to import any more coolies – but all of our railroads have been built.

Q.  Where would we get all the money we need to pay everyone a $50.00 per hour minimum wage?

A.  (I referred this reader to an excellent book on 15th century Germany).  With the greatest invention of all time, the printing press, Guttenberg set central bankers free to do as they will with their currencies.  We simply print more as we need it.

Now being someone who is ecologically concerned, it occurs to me that the quantities of money that we would need would probably exceed the number of trees that exist on planet Earth.  While I would be willing to chain myself to an old growth redwood in our Pacific Northwest, I really don’t have that on my “to do” list.  So, instead of doing things the old-fashioned way, why don’t we have the government just issue credit cards – like the ones that they give to people on public aid and as part of the SNAP program?

It’s been years since we attempted having solar power, via Solyndra, get established as a reliable source of affordable, renewable energy.  We could develop credit card production facilities in Nevada and Arizona using this technology.  That would help us out in Nevada with the highest unemployment rate in the nation – and it might just cut down on the number of illegals selling drugs imported from our southern neighbors by offering them nine to five regular jobs.  Besides, I read where our star is entering the phase of its eleven year cycle in which it spews out the greatest amount of energy.  Think of all that sun power just going to waste.

Q.  If the Federal government implemented your suggestions, wouldn’t there be a great deal more waste than we already know exists?

A.  Well, in the first place, it’s hard to conceive that it is possible to have more waste than already exists.  And in the second, do you think we are Germans and efficient?  This is America and we’re mostly all Americans here.  Waste is good.  It creates jobs which then requires more people to repair the damage that was initially created.  Don’t you understand the concept of unionism?  Capitalist pig.

Well, dear readers, I’ve fielded the questions that were posed in response to my earlier post.  Of course, I welcome any further questions which you might entertain and will do my best to address your concerns.

Faithfully yours in economic conundrum,

juwannadoright

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