Cashing In On Peace


November 03, 1991|By DAVE BARRY

Gather round, taxpayers! This is the moment you've been waiting for! Time to calculate your peace dividend! Now that our archenemy, the Soviet Union, is disintegrating into throat-lozenge-sized independent republics with names like Huzzarbegonia, whose primary military activity is knocking over statues of Lenin, we don't need a Defense Department any more. This means that you, the taxpayers, may already have won billions of dollars! So don't throw away this column, because we are about to tell you the size of your peace dividend! Get ready! Better lean close to the page so you won't miss it! That's it . . . just a little closer . . . here it comes . . .


Ha ha! We apologize for hitting you in the face with a deceased grouper, but sometimes you taxpayers are such goobers that we can't help ourselves.

Listen: There isn't going to be a peace dividend. Your leaders have thought about this long and hard, and they have decided that they will continue to need all of your money that they can possibly get their hands on. In fact they might need more of your money, because we're probably going to give some to the Russians.

Also we are not getting rid of the Defense Department. Au contraire. We are plunging ahead on a number of crucial multibillion-dollar defense items, including the B-2 "Stealth" bomber, which is being built by the Northrop Corp. for $865 million per plane (excluding sunroof). The B-2, which is designed to be invisible to radar, has had some minor technical glitches, such as that it is not actually invisible to radar, but it nevertheless appears to be superbly capable of carrying out its vital mission of penetrating deep into Soviet airspace and . . .

Hold it! We just remembered that there is no longer any need to penetrate deep into Soviet airspace. But never mind. Even as you read this, top Pentagon strategists are thinking up a new vital mission for the B-2. Maybe it could penetrate deep into Elizabeth Taylor's next wedding.

And we are of course continuing to build "Star Wars," which was one of President Reagan's very best ideas and is currently scheduled to be fully operational by the year 236,000 A.D.

But even if we canceled both defense programs, you taxpayers still couldn't have a peace dividend, because your leaders need the money for pressing domestic priorities, such as purchasing breast pumps for the savings-and-loan-industry bailout.

We are not making this domestic priority up. We have here a Knight-Ridder News Service story by David Hess concerning a congressional audit of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. and the Resolution Trust Corp., two of the federal agencies helping to straighten out this pesky S&L situation. The auditors found that, among other things, the agencies had purchased $177,000 worth of wall hangings, $3,227 worth of stained glass, $7,335 worth of Christmas decorations, 3,000 Asian cookbooks and 27 breast pumps.

A spokesman said the breast pumps were for employees who bring their babies into the agencies' day-care center. This is of course legitimate. We're sure that all you lactating taxpayers out there have employer-supplied breast pumps. The spokesman did not have a ready explanation for the Asian cookbooks, but we're sure there's a perfectly legitimate one.

The bottom line is, if there is a peace dividend, it will be distributed according to the following list of priorities, ranked from highest to lowest:

1. Giant incomprehensible ongoing federal programs.

2. The Russians.

3. Breast pumps.

4. Research grants to study questions like how come fish don't watch television.

5. The Iraqis. (Don't laugh! Just wait!)

6. Making a big pile of money on the U.S. Capitol lawn and setting fire to it.

7. Giving it back to the taxpayers.

But don't be disheartened, taxpayers. This is America! A democracy! If you don't like what your government is doing, you have the power to change it! Yes! I'll tell you how! Lean close to the page so you won't miss it! That's it . . . just a little closer. . .

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