Alice in Washington, D.C.: Down the Government Rabbit Hole
By Jim Penn
“Go on with the next verse,” the Gryphon repeated: “it begins ‘I passed by his garden.’”
Alice did not dare to disobey, though she felt sure it would all come wrong, and she went on in a trembling voice:
“I passed by his garden, and marked, with one eye,
How the Owl and the Panther were sharing a pie:
The Panther took pie-crust, and gravy, and meat,
While the Owl had the dish as its share of the treat.
When the pie was all finished, the Owl, as a boon,
Was kindly permitted to pocket the spoon:
While the Panther received knife and fork with
And concluded the banquet by----“
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland
We left Alice in August 2003 when she visited Washington, D.C. for the first time.
Naďve, she tried to pick up a $20 bill on a sidewalk and fell down a roving manhole where she encountered a rabbit wearing a hat with the sign, “Hare-Brained Harry,” and a nameless pig with an immense pork belly.
Now on her second visit, she observed another $20 bill: “I’m not falling for that again,” she muttered and again was approached by a Spouting Sigamore, a governmental creature dressed to the “nines,” three quarters on the take and one quarter on the give. Ignoring him, she then spied an art exhibit sign on a building not marked on her Washington D.C. map.
“This can’t be another manhole. It looks safe enough. I think I’ll go in.”
She entered an immense hall and heard voices. When persons appeared, there again were Hare-Brained Harry and the pig, this time with a pork barrel covering his immense pork belly. They were talking loudly with a man the pig called “Cheney-Baby” and the rabbit called “Dicky-Boy.”
She turned to go but the front door had vanished. Harry and the pig saw her and, dragging Dicky-Boy or Cheney-Baby (whichever you prefer), hurried to obtain her opinion.
In the rush, Dicky-Boy dropped his beloved 28-gauge shotgun. Hitting the floor, it discharged its contents without personal injury, birdshot peppering a painting and adding texture.
“Whoa! Hold it. We need your opinion on a matter vital to America’s security,” Harry shouted.
Alice covered her face as they approached and pleaded, “Please leave me alone. I’m just a visitor. Look, I still have a piece of hay stuck in my hair from helping Papa in Iowa feed the cows. I’m sure you can find someone better for your important question.”
The pig spoke. “You are the very person to speak to. You are a classic American.”
Harry butted in, “Yeah, Cornbelt meets the Beltway.” Harry thought he was very clever.
Cheney-Baby attempted to free himself, but they held him tightly and, in unison, asked, “Do you favor the Robin Hood or the Cheney theory of taxation?”
Alice didn’t understand the question. “Wh-wh-wh-, what do you mean?”
“Let me put it this way,” said Hare-Brained. “Do you want taxation that favors the poor or favors the rich? Dicky-Boy is for tax cuts favoring his rich friends, CEOs and Chairmen of the Boards. However, some say the rich are getting too large a portion of the tax cuts, and the poor and middle class are paying more than they should. What do you think?”
Dicky-Boy kept looking longingly at the marble floor behind him, wondering whether the fall had damaged his precious “shootin’ iron.”
Alice thought and replied, “Shouldn’t taxes be fair? If persons are poor and don’t make a lot of money, shouldn’t they be given breaks to pay their bills and put a little bit aside? Aren’t the executives of corporations already well-paid, getting big benefits that include golden parachutes? Are golden parachutes safe? By the way, what part of government are you in? I’d like to know so I can tell people.” She turned to Cheney-Baby. “Are you Vice President Cheney?”
Dicky-Boy shook his head in denial.
The pig told her she could go, and Harry pointed to the reappeared door. Harry turned to pig. “She didn’t answer the question. It’s either black or white. Don’t you agree?”
Pig responded, “Yes, it ain’t no good to give the poor and middle class breaks because they’ll just spend the money on necessities. The rich ones add important fuel to the economy.”
Harry stroked his furry chin, turned to Dicky-Boy and asked, “What do you think about this, ol’ Cheney buddy?”
Cheney-Baby responded by pointing to his shotgun and asking to rejoin it. They agreed, and all three made their way down the room.
Alice found the door, exited the building, now wary about both roving manholes and buildings not identified on an official map. What new adventures will befall Alice in Washington, D.C.? Stay tuned.
Politicians are the same all over.
They promise to build a bridge
even where there is no river.