Bubblegum and Suckers
A Children’s Book for Adults
(Illustrations to come?)
Copyright 2010, Anthony Horvath, All Rights Reserved
I originally wrote this almost a full year ago but it seems to remain relevant and even though the ‘Father’ alluded to in the last paragraphs is drawing closer (ie, the last election), it is my view that he has not yet quite arrived.
Bubblegum and suckers, fudge and cookies for all! This among other things was their rallying cry and no one can cry louder than seven and eight year olds deprived of supper and sleep. A sleepy populace heeded their call and thought that a little youthful vigor might be just what the country needed. A fresh wind to blow on stale and intractable issues was needed and every other sort had been tried: but not children. Not, that is, until now.
They skimpered and scampered all about the Hill. They swarmed it in mass, roiling over the capital like a frothy flood. They swung from chandeliers and leapt from desks. The capital police looked on; they were not amused. No parents in sight and no threat of discipline to concern them, the children found their offices and set out to govern as they had been elected to do.
“Bubble gum and suckers for the masses!” some cried.
“No, fudge and cookies for all!” cried others.
“But what about the economy?” asked an exasperated grandpa who had been touring the town when the melee descended upon it.
“We shall fix it!” said Big Brother, coming in right then.
“But how? People are out of work and businesses are not hiring!” said grandpa.
“The Government shall give them jobs!” asserted Big Brother. All the children cheered.
And that is what the children did. The Government hired people left and right to do any number of jobs. Some of the jobs had formerly been done by Big Business but others were invented on the spot. Jobs like, Administrator of the Administrator of the Administrator of the Administrator of the Administrator of the Disburser of Funds to the Administrator of the Administrator to the Manager of the Gum Scrapers. Where some only saw one job the children saw nine and patted themselves on the back for their ingenuity and good intentions fulfilled so easily.
“But how shall these people be paid?” cried grandpa.
“We shall pay them by taxing Big Business.”
“But there isn’t money enough!” insisted grandpa.
“Then we shall also tax the rich!” they retorted.
“And who do you consider rich?” moaned grandpa.
The children had to stop and have a fight about this because as it turned out, none of them had had real jobs before. They had taken the garbage out, or fed the dog, or made their beds, true, but only because their parents had told them too. It turned out though that some had received $10 a week as their allowance for this while others only $5 and this turned into a spitting match of envy between them until Big Brother stepped in with his voice calm and eloquent: “Brothers and sisters, why the animosity? Is it not easy to see? We will simply take the highest amount and call all of them rich who earn more than that. The highest I heard was $15 a week so now let it be declared that we shall tax all those who make more than $20 a week in order to pay for the jobs we are creating.”
All the children cheered. With crayon in hand and marker nearby, they signed this into law without a second thought. The grandpa stood nearby and shook his head with concern. What was to be said?
The next day the old fogy of a grandpa visited again. This time instead of cheering and applause he saw moaning and backbiting. Upon inquiry he learned that the children had discovered that a gallon of milk cost $3 all by itself and, though they had meant good, it turned out their tax had hurt a lot of folk.
“Perhaps,” said grandpa, “It might be a good idea to think about things more and consider the consequences before you leap to a solution.”
“You’re right,” said Big Brother, “I will commission a panel of experts to look into it. In the meantime it is only good and right that we take some of the money we extracted by tax and help people pay for their milk!”
All the children leapt up and cheered, “Oh right you are Big Brother! You are so noble and caring! We shall help them all in this way!”
But Big Brother silenced them and said, “So we have solved employment and it wasn’t so hard. Now what?”
“It is not right that everyone doesn’t have cookies,” said a stern hearted young fellow to his fellows.
“Then we shall make sure that they do,” agreed Big Brother in return.
The children got out their finger paints and crayons and set to work. But the grandpa here discovered a truth: the children had discovered that you could put anything into a bill so while one small group was sketching a solution to the cookie problem the rest were going through past Christmas lists trying to remember what Santa had- or, more importantly, hadn’t- brought them. By the end of the hour, the children produced a 2,000 page bill to vote on. It would have been sooner, but somebody spilled their milk on pages 1,750 to 1,800 and they had to re-write them. But Big Brother did not complain, because he saw that as an opportunity, and so right there created the, “Copier of Legislation that has had Milk spilled on it.”
A masterpiece of a bill and the fruit of the brightest eight year old minds, they had calculated how many cookies America would need…
“I can easily eat a dozen in a sitting,” one had said.
“Oh yea? That’s nothing! I eat two dozen,” another laughed.
“Watch me, I’ll eat five dozen right here and now,” cried a portly one.
And so cookies were brought out and the portly one ate them all to chants of, “Eat! Eat! Eat!” The portly one ate, not five dozen, but six. In a single hour! Big Brother was proud that politics no longer interfered with science and so it was decided that cookies would be made for every American to eat six dozen cookies and hour for the rest of their lives. And you may say that that is a lot of cookies and no one can keep up that pace but you are not a child and a child would certainly try if only his parents let him! Wasn’t it mentioned that there were no parents about? Just a dusty old grandpa watching with tired eyes, that’s all.
So legislation was passed calling for the immediate baking of a trillion or so cookies and Big Brother saw again that this was another way to make jobs and that very afternoon the unemployment rate dropped to 1%. Success!
When the grandpa came back to visit the next day he saw that the children were weeping and Big Brother was trying to console them.
“What has happened?” asked the grandpa.
“All the cookies needed flour, milk, eggs and chocolate and so we had provided in our legislation but our effort needed them all,” one explained, “so when we asked for pancakes this morning there were no ingredients for them and now we are sad and miserable.”
“Don’t worry,” said Big Brother, “We will create a special commission of the smartest children to look into this.”
Just then an adult walked in, looking very unsure of himself. He worked for some agency up there on the Hill and wasn’t sure how to proceed. He found his way to Big Brother and said, “I have some bad news.”
“What is it?”
“Well, we’ve used up all the flour, milk, eggs, and chocolate in the whole country and there still wasn’t enough to make enough cookies for everyone,” said he.
Cries and howls went up then and even a fistfight but then the kids sat down to work.
“It is not good that some Americans will go without cookies,” one said.
“It is not good that some will have while others won’t,” another said.
“Wait! I have an idea!” said Big Brother.
Everyone leaned in to hear the big idea.
“We shall make just twelve cookies and make a copy of them using the photocopier and distribute copies of the cookies to all Americans. We will take all real cookies away so that we don’t have to worry about some having some and others not having some and everyone will be treated fairly and equally, receiving the same copy of their cookies!”
But the grandpa said, “How is anyone going to eat them?”
“For the sake of equality it is right that we suffer lower quality,” said Big Brother.
Just then, trucks began unloading boxes of fresh baked cookies for the children to eat. And eat they did. They stuffed them into their mouths and when their mouths were filled stuffed them into pockets and even socks.
The grandpa protested, “Why do you get to eat real cookies while everyone else gets a photocopy?”
But no one answered the grandpa. They just kept eating. They remembered what their mommies had once said, that if you just ignore someone, they’ll go away or stop doing what they’re doing. This was the only time they’d ever followed through on this particular piece of advice but it was so effective in this case that some thought it might be worth another try at a later time.
Once milk was brought in, the children began falling off to sleep. They dropped off in little heaps wherever they could find space on the floor. A small handful, led by Big Brother, talked a little while playing games with the gavels they found. Eventually, even they snoozed.
When they woke up, they had more milk brought in, and candy, and just to spite their parents, raw sugar which they ate by the spoonful. The gavel was retrieved by someone who shouted, “To business!”
“To business!” they all echoed.
“What shall we do?” asked Big Brother.
“What don’t we like?” someone asked.
“We don’t like killing and crime or terrorism,” someone suggested.
“Very well! Let’s end them all it forever!” declared Big Brother to applause.
Out came the crayons. They each found their respective desks and the scrawling began. There was brawling, too, because the child senators were there, too, but not their desks. Using their sharp pointy elbows they eked out some space so they could write legislation, too. Finally, Big Brother called for everyone to turn in their work. He smiled triumphantly as the pile of papers grew thicker. There were eventually some 3,000 pages of new legislation, but he kept his own page in hand to read aloud:
“We the people of the United States do declare that henceforth it will be against the law to terrorize, steal, murder, rape, and pillage and otherwise commit criminal activity.”
The cheers went up again! Crime had been eliminated with a stroke of magenta! The War on Terror was over!
Just then, the same man who had come in awkwardly before came in again. He still carried himself nervously.
“What is it, good man?” asked Big Brother.
“Well, it’s like this Mr. President,” said the man, “At your direction, almost everyone has a government job making cookies or administering in some fashion their baking and distribution. Well, tax revenues are down…”
“Well, you see, since everyone is working for the government making cookies there isn’t anyone left to tax, and we use the taxes to pay for the government labor. In short, there isn’t any money left.”
“Then we tax the government workers!” cried Big Brother. The children issued forth a great hurrah!
The man tried to regain their attention and when he had it he said, “Well, you see sir we are already taxing the government workers. We’re taxing everyone at 60% of their income if they make more than $20 a week and that includes the government workers who we pay a government salary of some $80,000 year. Yes, we tax them, but we turn around and take those taxes to pay their salaries which in turn we tax and since none of them are actually producing anything- especially not now that they aren’t actually making cookies but eating paper copies of them and sitting around doing nothing from 9 to 5- there is no more revenue. It’s like a Ponzi scheme, which, Sir, is illegal.”
“Convene the experts!” shouted Big Brother.
About a dozen boys and girls gathered around Big Brother in a big huddle. They whispered for a time until suddenly one of them gasped and the rest chortled with glee. Big Brother emerged, “We have a solution!”
He then proceeded to explain, “Freddie here knows how to work a calculator. He figured out that 60% of $80,000 is $48,000 in revenue. Well, Bernadette realized that we could double the tax revenue very simply! We’ll just double the amount of the governmental salary to $160,000 and now our revenue is $96,000.”
The collective gave a loud shout of approval and admiration. The man was hustled out of the chambers before he could protest but he was quickly replaced by the grandpa who had heard about the whole thing. He patiently explained it to them until finally they all understood. The assembly fell quiet as they thought about the problem. Some of them felt very badly, because they had with all the best intentions wanted to make sure that everyone had a job and could eat cookies, even if they weren’t the highest of quality. Now it seemed like the very people they meant to help would get no money and no cookies. Big Brother gathered the experts.
This huddle took longer but eventually Bernadette came through for them again.
“You’re right!” shouted Big Brother.
“Break!” exclaimed a boy named James. The huddle turned into a rugby game with the boys in particular tackling each other and giving people noogies. But Big Brother called them to order.
“Bernadette has reminded me that we control the printing press. We will simply print more money!”
“Hurrah! Hurrah! Hurrah!” the assembly shouted. Soon, aides and orderlies were dumping wheelbarrows filled with freshly printed cash. The biggest applause- followed first by a long “Oooooooooooooooooooh” was given to five specimens of a newly commissioned dollar denomination: the trillion dollar bill. The House was awash in green and ink and giggling. Children scurried about throwing dollars about with abandon. Big Brother, of course, clung tightly to the new trillion dollar bills. Those would come in handy.
The grandpa wrung his hands, “Dear children, don’t you see? The result of this is that no one will use the dollars at all!”
“What would you have us do, then?” Big Brother demanded to know.
“STOP!” the grandpa exclaimed.
Big Brother sulked.
“And another thing…” began the grandpa, but Big Brother interrupted him.
“Oh you old fool. You racist! You bigot! You sexist! You religionist! You are a pathetic waste of skin. We know your type: the party of ‘No!’ No ideas, no solutions, just the status quo. You would have us do nothing! You would stand in the way of progress!” Big Brother accused.
The grandpa, who had tried hard to this point to be polite, rose to his own defense, “That’s right! I would have you do nothing, because everything you do is destructive and harmful and most if not all of the ‘problems’ you try to solve would likely solve themselves if you just STOPPED!”
Big Brother drew back in shock, aghast at what he had heard, “You raised your voice at me and hurt my feelings! Why do you have to be so partisan? I don’t understand why you have to be so insulting.”
Big Brother turned quickly to a four year old aide: “Quick! Draw up a press release and condemn the partisan, obstructionist insults of this crustacean!”
And the four year old drew up that press release and nearly all of the media reported the release verbatim in the nightly news. Hearing this from such credible voices most Americans believed what they heard. Even some who thought they were above such things believed it because when you hear something often enough from voices of supposed authority one tends to believe it by accident unless one deliberately chooses to examine it… and no one has time in the day to examine everything they hear.
This is how children were elected in the first place.
Well, the grandpa was disheartened by all of this and he shook his fist silently at the children painting graffiti on the walls and having water balloon fights and otherwise engaging in mayhem and then he left. And did not come back.
The next day there would be tears when the children were told that American currency no longer had any value and people weren’t using them and even countries like China wouldn’t accept them. Big Brother said that this was because of the actions of the previous administration and children, being children, didn’t remember that only the day before an old man named History had come and told them exactly what was going to happen. Who can blame them? History is boring and can’t be trusted anyway. Names and dates and dusty old events that pale in comparison to the omnipresent Now.
That morning they would discover that for some mysterious reason the children couldn’t fathom, people began to get angry with the children. Even countries like China and others who Big Brother had wooed were upset and this made Big Brother upset because he thought he had made friends with everyone and besides, who can be angry with children? Are they not sincere?
But this night there were no tears. No, instead the children fell asleep in awash in all their dollars. They slept contentedly with nary a care and concern for consequences, unintended or otherwise.
All, that is, except Big Brother, who stayed up later than all the rest, fidgeting. He was worried, not about the next day, but about the next week. At the same time, all his plans were geared towards that week, so he was nervous like a prize fighter is nervous before a match, a match he is certain he will win but knows enough to know that anything can happen.
For this reason then, as the rest of the children fell asleep on cookie crumbs with dollars as blankets, Big Brother remained awake a little longer, listening carefully and with deep concern for the determined footsteps of Father.