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Archive for January 12th, 2011

“Winston, come into the dining room, it’s time to eat,”  Julia yelled to her husband.

“In a minute, Honey, it’s a tie score,” he answered, stalling for time.   Actually Winston wasn’t very interested in the traditional holiday football  game between  Detroit  and  Washington .  Ever since the  government passed the Civility in Sports Statute of 2017, outlawing tackle  football for its “unseemly violence” and the “bad example it sets for the rest  of the world,” Winston was far less of a football fan than he used to  be.  Two-hand touch wasn’t nearly as exciting. Also, games got even more boring after the Federal Fairness Department put out a mandate in 2019 that all contests end with tie scores.

His delay was more caused by the unappealing thought of eating another TofuTurkey.  Even though it was  the best type of VeggieMeat available after the government revised the  American Anti-Obesity Act of 2018, adding fowl to the list of  federally-forbidden foods, (which already included potatoes, cranberry sauce  and mince-meat pie), it wasn’t anything like real turkey.  And ever since  the government officially changed the name of “Thanksgiving Day” to “A  National Day of Atonement” in 2020 to officially acknowledge the Pilgrims’  historically brutal treatment of Native Americans, the holiday had lost a lot  of its luster.

Eating in the dining room was also a bit daunting.  The  unearthly gleam of government-mandated fluorescent light bulbs made the  TofuTurkey look even weirder than it actually was, and the room was always  cold.  Ever since Congress passed the Power Conservation Act of 2016,  mandating all thermostats-which were monitored and controlled by the electric  company-be kept at 68 degrees, every room on the north side of the house was  barely tolerable throughout the entire winter.

Still, it was good getting together with family.  Or at  least most of the family.  Winston missed his mother, who passed on in  October, when a Medicare panel ruled that the treatment she needed was “not effective.” .  He had many heated conversations with the Regional Health  Consortium (spawned when the private insurance market was driven into bankruptcy and everyone was forced into the government health care program), especially since former Senator Harry Reid and Barbara Streisand got special waivers to receive the very same treatment. But it was a futile effort.   “The RHC’s resources are limited,” explained the government bureaucrat Winston  spoke with on the phone. “Your mother received all the benefits to which she  was entitled.  I’m sorry for your loss.”

Ed couldn’t make it either.  He had forgotten to plug in his electric car last night, the only kind available after the Anti-Fossil  Fuel Bill of 2021 outlawed the use of the combustion engines-for everyone but  government officials.  The fifty mile round trip was about ten miles too  far, and Ed didn’t want to spend a frosty night on the road somewhere between  here and there.

Thankfully, Winston’s unemployed  brother, John, and his wife were  flying in, thanks to a budget increase in federal flight coupons for the disadvantaged.  Winston couldn’t understand, however, why they wanted to make the trip.  He had stopped flying, both because environmental taxes had tripled ticket prices and because it became too painful after the government-mandated cavity searches at  airports, which severely aggravated his hemorrhoids. Ever since a terrorist  successfully smuggled a cavity bomb onto a jetliner, the TSA told Americans  the added “inconvenience” was an “absolute necessity” in order to stay “one  step ahead of the terrorists.”

Not that his decision to avoid airplanes mattered ever since the government expanded their scope to just about anywhere  a crowd gathered, via the Anti-Profiling Act of 2022.  That law made it a  crime to single out any group or individual for “unequal scrutiny,” even when  probable cause was involved.  Thus, cavity searches at malls, train  stations, bus depots, etc., etc., had become almost routine.  Almost.

The Supreme Court is reviewing the statute, but most  Americans expect a Court led by Chief Justice Elena Kagan to approve the law.  ” Europe has had laws like  this one for years.  We should learn from their example,” she said.

Winston’s thoughts turned to his own children.  He got  along fairly well with his 12-year-old daughter, Brittany, mostly because she  ignored him.  Winston had long ago surrendered to the idea that she could  text anyone at any time, even during Atonement Dinner.  Their only real  confrontation had occurred when he tried to limit her to 50,000 texts a month,  explaining that was all he could afford. But the matter was settled when she successfully filed a grievance with one of the caseworkers at the Child Rights Office.

His 16-year-old son, Jason, was another matter  altogether.  Perhaps it was the constant bombarding he got in public school that global warming , the bird flu , terrorism or any of a number of  other calamities were “just around the corner,” but Jason had developed a kind  of nihilistic attitude that ranged between simmering surliness and outright  hostility.  It didn’t help that Jason had reported his father to the  police for smoking a cigarette in the house, an act made criminal by the  Smoking Control Statute of 2018, which outlawed smoking anywhere within 500  feet of another human being.  Winston paid the $5000 fine, which might  have been considered excessive before the American dollar became virtually  worthless as a result of QE13.  The latest round of quantitative easing  the federal government initiated was, once again, to “spur economic  growth.”  This time they promised to push unemployment below its  years-long rate of 18%, but Winston was not particularly hopeful.

Yet the family had a lot for which to be thankful, Winston  thought, before remembering it was a Day of Atonement .  At least he had  his memories.  He felt a twinge of sadness when he realized his children  would never know what life was like in the Good Old Days, long before  government promises to make life “fair for everyone” realized their full  potential.  Winston, like so many of his fellow Americans, never realized  how much things could change when they didn’t happen all at once, but little  by little, so people could get used to them.

He wondered what might have happened if the public had stood  up while there was still time, maybe back around 2011, when there was still time to change.  “Maybe we wouldn’t be where we are today if we’d just  said ‘enough is enough’ when we had the chance,” he thought.

Maybe so, Winston.  Too bad you let us down…

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I prefer the Fraser Institute’s Economic Freedom of the World over the Heritage/WSJ Index of Economic Freedom, not because I’m an expert on the methodology of the two publications, but for the simple reason that I assume Economic Freedom of the World must be slightly more accurate because, unlike the Heritage Index,  it showed the U.S. score declining during the Bush years.

That being said, the Index of Economic Freedom is my favorite Heritage Foundation publication. It is a first-rate collection of data and analysis on international economic policy trends. Today, however, the latest version of the Index was released and it brings us bad news about the United States.

America’s score dropped by 0.2. Combined with what happened to other nations, that dropped the United States down to 9th place. Lots of fascinating material in the report. The very solid scores for Chile and Estonia (both just outside the top 10) are especially noteworthy. And a special shout out to North Korea for easily beating Cuba and North Korea for the last prize honor.

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