The deficit, for folks who weren't born yesterday

March 07, 2004|By Dave Barry | Dave Barry,Knight Ridder / Tribune

TODAY'S TOPIC IS: Famous Hollywood Celebrities Having Sex With Squid!

Actually, that is not today's topic. I'm just trying to attract readers to today's actual topic, which is: the federal budget deficit.

Wait! Come back! This is an important topic! Especially if you are a young person, or belong to a future generation yet unborn. Boy, are you in for a surprise in a few decades! Ha ha!

To help you understand what I am talking about, here's an explanation of the federal budget deficit in the Q. and A. format, which enables us to simplify complex issues, while at the same time wasting space:

Q. What is the budget deficit?

A. It is a gigantic number of dollars -- like 300 jillion skillion drillion -- that the federal government is spending, despite not actually having it.

Q. Is that legal?

A. It is if you have nuclear weapons.

Q. Why does the government spend so much money?

A. Because it must pay for important federal programs such as Social Security, the War on Terrorism, and the artificial rain forest in Iowa.

Q. The what?

A. True fact: Just recently, Iowa Sen. Charles "Chuck" Grassley got the government to toss in $50 million for a project to build a tropical rain forest under a giant dome in Coralville, Iowa.

Q. How will they heat it in the winter?

A. We are guessing pig flatulence.

Q. What is the compelling national purpose for building an artificial rain forest in Iowa?

A. It will provide the nation with something that, in these difficult times, is desperately needed.

Q. Votes for Sen. Chuck?

A. Exactly. But also it will teach important educational lessons.

Q. Such as?

A. Such as that Congress is as trustworthy with money as a crack addict experimenting with heroin. It's not just the Iowa rain forest: This year Congress has voted to spend more than $10 billion on pork projects, including (these are all real expenditures) $200,000 for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, $2 million for a youth golf program, and $90,000 to study olive fruit flies in France.

Q. It's about time! If one of those olive flies gets up your nose, you might sneeze, and your martini is gone.

A. That's why Congress is stepping in.

Q. So why is the deficit a problem?

A. Because it's going to get much, much worse when the baby boomers retire and start collecting Social Security. This will place a massive, crushing, horrendous, lifestyle-blighting financial burden on our children and future generations yet unborn.

Q. Serves them right, for Britney Spears.

A. True.

Q. Speaking of pig flatulence, what is our political leadership doing about the budget deficit?

A. Both the Democrats and the Bush White House are setting aside their partisan differences and working together on a courageous, long-term solution to the looming financial crisis, even if this requires them to make unpopular decisions in the short term.

Q. Ha ha! Seriously, what are they doing?

A. They're being total slimeweasels. They're spending more. They're pandering their brains out. The Republicans just added a hugely expensive new drug benefit for seniors, which the Democrats have criticized because it isn't expensive enough.

Q. In other words, our so-called "leaders" are buying senior citizen and baby boomer votes by piling massive debt on future generations?

A. Exactly! It's like going to a fancy restaurant and ordering everything on the menu, secure in the knowledge that, when the bill comes, you'll be dead.

Q. But surely we -- the baby boomers and senior citizens -- are not going to selfishly steal the future from our kids, and generations yet unborn!

A. Of course not! We're going to let the government steal it for us.

Q. Well, OK, then! It sure is a good thing that young people and generations yet unborn do not, as a rule, read the newspaper.

A. I'll say! If they ever found out about this, they'd be putting anthrax in the nation's Metamucil supply!

Q. Ha ha! And speaking of beverages, here's to a bright future for us older people!

A. I'll drink to that! Hold the olive.

Q. OK. You hold the squid.

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