"Repression, recession, it's all the same thing."
-- Cheech & Chong, "Santa Claus and His Old Lady"
Yo, Bubba and Sally Sue, y'all sweating and shaking as that 2002 hangover squeezes your brains? Things a little blurry? Hey, it's only Christmas Eve ... no, wait, it's already Christmas. Or was that yesterday? Whatever, you have visions of credit card slips dancing through your holiday-addled brain. On Visa. On MasterCard. On Wal-Mart and Macy's.
I'd like to remind you of a few things that happened in 2002, but I can see you're very busy. Still, if you've got a sec, let's talk about you. After all, the only news worth remembering is news about thou.
I really like that shiny new land barge parked in the driveway. Heck, its price equals more than you make in a year, maybe two, but you got such a deal, you say. Zero percent interest. Wow.
You know something, dammit. You're a patriot. True blue and bled white from shopping.
You trust the media, don't you? Sure you do. And the press has been pounding you with the message that it's your Holy Duty to shop, shop, shop until you've exhausted every one of those 50 new credit cards that have hit your mailbox in recent months. The Really Big News over at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution isn't war and public corruption -- it's that Rich's and Macy's have wider aisles (no kidding), and that Rich's Christmas tree is lighted and that there were six fewer shopping days this holiday season than in some other years (must be plot by People Who Hate America).
So do your part. Stand up for your country -- and SPEND. Run up that debt. You say you only owe $5,000? Don't you know that's exactly what Saddam Hussein wants? You'll cripple America by not spending enough. Start flashing those credit cards. Get that debt up to ten big, twenty grand or more.
You're not quite sure how you're going to squeeze those payments for the new road monster into your budget. And God only knows what to do about the soon-to-arrive Christmas credit card bills. But it's treasonous to worry about such twaddle. Are you a traitor? I should hope not.
What you shouldn't do is pay attention to the news that home foreclosures in Fulton County were up 22 percent this month compared to November . Don't sweat those dunning notices from the mortgage company. Bet your paycheck on the Georgia lottery, and ignore the cynics who chide that the games are just a tax on the stupid.
And, puh-leeze, don't pause in your shopping to wonder why the banks -- the same ones that sent you those credit cards -- lavished their friends in Congress with cash in order to change the bankruptcy laws so that, while gangrenous outfits like WorldCom and Enron can dodge their debts, you'll have to keep paying and paying and paying.
Here are some other things you don't want to ponder if you're a stand-up patriot. Don't you dare fret over the fact that while the median income of all American families increased only a little more than $3,000 over the last two decades, the wealthiest 1 percent saw their earnings soar more than $400,000 -- and as the Bush $1.3 trillion tax break for the rich kicks in, that separation is going to accelerate. Zoom. The rich really will be different -- in ways not imagined since the Middle Ages.
While Christmas will be merry for the neocons, 500,000 Americans will be shivering during the holidays after Bush 43 whacked $300 million from an emergency program to provide heating assistance. Many of those who will be out in the cold -- literally -- will be the 2 million Americans who have lost their jobs since Bush took office.
Until last week, President Scrooge apparently hadn't noticed that 820,000 out-of-work Americans will be stranded after the GOP- controlled House refused to extend unemployment benefits. That "present" will be delivered three days after Christmas. Ho, ho, ho.
Oh, yes, the jobless rate spiked this month at 6 percent -- about as bad as it has been since the last time a Bush was in the White House.
Lost your job (along with about 80,000 metro area neighbors)? Too bad. Your spouse got cancer and your health insurance won't pay? Tough. Your retirement plan evaporated (along with $7.5 trillion in Americans' stock market savings)? Ah, well. Don't wimp out on America -- pack up your troubles in your on-sale Calvin Klein kit bag and go spend. Then spend some more.
Let's face it, Bubba, looking back at 2002, and the big news is that you're screwed. Sorry. Take comfort in the fact that George Bush, Halliburton, the oil companies, the Carlyle Group and all the Enron-clones appreciate your sacrifice.