If a tree falls in a shutdown

January 14, 1996|By Arthur J. Magida

"Does anyone miss the federal government?"

-- Phil Gramm, senator and GOP presidential candidate When the federal government shuts down, does Federal Express shut down, too?

If a tree falls in the forest and a National Park ranger is not on duty, does it make any sound?

If no passports are being issued by the State Department, does the rest of the world cease to exist?

If food and drugs are no longer being administered, is it OK to O.D. on caffeine and chocolate biscotti at Starbucks?

If no one at the Department of Education is an essential employee, do we revert to a preliterate society and excel at cave drawings as idle-time arts and crafts?

If the Federal Communications Commission closes its doors, does rap replace Rachmaninoff?

If everyone in the Army Corps of Engineers hangs up his or her shovel, does the firmament return to its original form and do all the rivers and streams again meander and curve as God intended?

With no one beating the bushes at the Environmental Protection Agency, will every endangered species of flora die on the vine and will gas masks be issued to civilians in metropolitan areas for daily air pollution alerts?

If the Peace Corps is disbanded, do war, plague, famine and pestilence break out on every continent?

Does Bill Clinton start charging $7.50 per guest at the White House Cineplex movie screening room, plus $2.50 for every medium-sized buttered popcorn?

Does the Mint start selling its newly printed money, say $1.25 for a $1 bill and $5.25 for a $5 bill, with 10 percent discounts for every $1 billion purchased?

If the National Park Service starts charging $2.50 for every demonstrator on the Mall in Washington, can the Treasury anticipate a windfall of $25 million from the next Million Man March?

If "America's Attic," the Smithsonian, closes permanently, can we all charge admission to our own attics?

If the Postal Service is defunct, is stock re-issued for the Pony Express?

If the Tennessee Valley Authority is disbanded, does kerosene lighting become the latest rage in large parts of the South?

If the Government Printing Office has a remainder sale, does the Constitution go on sale at 60 percent off?

Arthur J. Magida is the author of "Prophet of Rage: A Life of Louis Farrakhan and His Nation," to be published this Spring by Harper/Collins.

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