As long as I’ve been alive, but certainly since my first political awareness, a loud minority of Americans, through their well-financed and politically influential mouthpieces, have relentlessly hammered home the demented idea that “government” was some malevolent, faceless, money-grabbing bureaucracy that existed only to trample our freedoms. Funny, I thought, I had always learned that our government was, uniquely for the time, one in which we, the people chose what form it would take.
At first, the very idea seemed ludicrous. The “government,” as far as I’d experienced it, was largely comprised of hard working people doing jobs that needed to be done: teaching children, policing the streets, pumping the water, paving the roads, inspecting the buildings we live in and the food we eat. In short, I always found the idea that “government,” at least as it was conducted domestically, enabled freedom; freedom from living like they do in, say, Somalia, or its equivalent at the time.
Unfortunately, the wish turned out to be cousin to the deed in this case; the parts of government that I had previously seen as both benign and necessary, like basic public services and infrastructure, have been whittled away to the point where they are rightly seen as shabby and unreliable by all but the most desperate. Meanwhile, the most dreaded aspects of the then-hypothetical Big Government: secrecy, impunity, lawlessness, and plunder, has reared its ugly head with a vengeance.
If I could have gotten a tricorner hat on over my curlers, I might have become a teabagger already, but I get a little closer each day. Perhaps inspired by my recent experience at the DMV where I found that renewal of my ID, continuously in effect since 1979, required me to obtain a copy of my birth certificate because of, get this, teh terrists. I spent my time in the various waiting areas involved with this undoubtedly patriotic endeavor fantasizing about giving Big Government a piece of my mind, once and for all.
Things stared out well enough; the nice lady at the reception desk said that Big Government was right next door, past the bio-swale water feature and out the doors by the composting diorama (I was still in the State of Oregon Building), and I would only need go through the metal detectors, up to third floor, and take a number. Since it was still early, I might only have to wait an hour or so. Lately the complaint windows have been kind of busy, she warned me, rather unnecessarily.
After a frisking that was a lot more invasive, in a good way, than would have ever happened in real life (this is my fantasy, after all), I took the elevator upstairs and settled in to wait for my number to come up. It came up more quickly than expected; I had only written two novels and a screenplay when I was summoned to the window. Expecting a bored, gum-chewing, mi-nority from the mooching 47%, imagine my surprise when I found myself facing an bored, gum-chewing guy who looked alarmingly like Dick Armey. Boy, oh, boy, if those teabaggers could only see this Jack-Booted Government Thug….
CH: I’m sick and tired of Big Government.
JBGT: (checking EXXON stock on free iPhone) Yeah, me, too, always regulatin’ and taxin’ the Job Creators.
CH: (earnestly) Actually, that’s not what I had in mind. Mitt Romney paid half the tax rate my mother did when she taught first grade.
JBGT: (snapping gum insolently) Oh, I see, you hate America. Could you step back a bit so the DHS security cameras can tell if those curlers are the tubes Condi was always talking about?
CH: I’m not a terrorist, I’m just sick of a government that treats me like one. I just had to prove I was born here, about a mile away, when having read all my emails, you obviously already know this.
JBGT: If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear. (More in sorrow than rebuke) But I do reckon you went too easy on that guy who gave you the crabs. I’d have let one of my bodyguards take a crack at him.
CH: (brightening) Is it too late for a drone?
JBGT: (smirking) Yep. We’re the Government, and you’re not.
CH: Never mind about that then. Let’s get back to money. Why is it that seniors and poor people have to “sacrifice,” when rich people, who are richer than ever, don’t have to sacrifice anything?
JBGT: Because that’s what Jesus wanted.
CH: Really? Did Jesus also want us to destroy his Dad’s creation with greenhouse gases?
JBGT: Now, you know it’s only the Death Tax that takes away what Daddy created. Obviously, your Daddy didn’t take good enough care of you, or you wouldn’t be wearing such a cheap mink. My third favorite mistress has a much nicer one.
CH: Why is this always about me, when we’re supposed to be talking about you, especially at this window?
JBGT: Tell you what, for $400k a year, I’ll go away, just like I did for the last guys.
CH: I can’t afford that.
JBGT: That’s the point, idn’t it?
Photo by Hash Milhan under Creative Commons license