The following is a sort of "message in a bottle" from the time when George H. W. Bush was president and all was (comparatively) well with the world. It is the first chapter of my 1991 book, Parliament of Whores: A Lone Humorist Attempts to Explain the Entire U.S. Government. Twenty-six years ago, I was exasperated, perplexed, and infuriated by the federal government and trying to laugh instead of cry. I didn't know how good I had it. Almost everything has gotten worse since. Aside from a slight condensation and a few updates in brackets, I've left what I wrote intact. Let it stand as a memorial to how intractable the problems of government are.
W hat is this oozing behemoth, this fibrous tumor, this monster of power and expense hatched from the simple human desire for civic order? How did an allegedly free people spawn a vast, rampant cuttlefish of dominion with its tentacles in every orifice of the body politic? The federal government of the United States of America takes away between a fifth and a quarter of all our money every year. That is eight times the Islamic zakat , the almsgiving required of believers by the Quran. It is double the tithe of the medieval church and twice the royal tribute that the prophet Samuel warned the Israelites against when they wanted him to anoint a king. He will take the tenth of your seed, and of your vineyards... He will
[In 2017, combined federal, state, and local government spending exceeds 36% of GDP.] Our government gets more than thugs in a protection racket demand, more even than discarded first wives of famous rich men receive in divorce court. Then this government, swollen and arrogant with pelf, goes butting into our business. It checks the amount of tropical oils in our snack foods, tells us what kind of gasoline we can buy for our cars and how fast we can drive them, bosses us around about retirement, education, and what’s on TV;
We could cure or mitigate the other ills Washington visits upon us if we could only bring ourselves to pay attention to Washington itself. But we cannot.
take the tenth of your sheep... And ye shall cry out in that day because of your king.
American Consequences | 7
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