The skeleton sat back up, burning with a few thoughts to add.
“You remember me telling you how I felt I never had enough money to make sure mom would be taken care of? She’d look at the statements, our monthly expenses, the Social Security and pension checks, and tell me I was crazy, that we had plenty of money. To me it was never enough. I was always trying to somehow get more money for her so she’d never have to worry about anything after I died,” said the skeleton.
“Turned out she didn’t have anything to worry about, except for loneliness and the cancer that was eating her from the inside out. But leaving aside the deeper question of what humans ultimately really have to fear, versus what we spend our time worrying about, is there an amount of money that we can say is enough for our every need? You know, once we have X amount we stop worrying about our physical safety and comfort?
“Poverty is growing in our country, the richest country the world has ever known. The income for a family in poverty is kept artificially low, for statistical and ‘entitlement’ purposes. You don’t want to say 45% of the country lives in poverty, if you can define poverty very precisely and have the number come out much lower.
“If your family tried actually living on that poverty line income they would either be hungry all the time or eating as many empty calories as they could swallow at emporiums of fat, salt and sugar like Mickey D’s, as black customers nattily rebranded the international fast food mega-chain. A diet of junk food and a shortened life of obesity, heart disease, diabetes– or delay gratification and save your fucking tofu marshmallow so the experimenter will give you two as a reward.
“We’re programmed to believe that someone who has a billion dollars is literally worth more than someone who has a few thousand dollars, is worth infinitely more than a person who has no dollars. This programming happens in many ways. You have, for example, the occasional high profile billionaire philanthropist, like the current pick for Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos. She got her billions the old fashioned way, she married the son of the founder of Amway, a guy worth 5.1 billion dollars.
“Her baby brother, by the way, is described in Wikipedia as an American businessman, philanthropist and former Navy SEAL. Erik Prince is the philanthropist’s name. His primary philanthropy appears to be founding the benevolent outfit formerly known as Blackwater, the expensive private mercenary army that protected our troops and diplomats in Iraq and also patrolled the streets of flooded New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina to make sure there was no looting.
“Anyway, his big sister, Betsy DeVos, is a firm believer in the right of people to choose the schools their children attend and an advocate of vouchers, transferring tax money from public schools to the private ventures that compete with the failing public schools. What is her expertise in education? 5.1 billion dollars and unflagging support of her party’s political campaigns and their freedom agenda.
“It’s like Bill Gates and his initiatives in the same direction– the arrogant monopolist never set foot in a public school as a student. But he knows best, look at how much money he made! Could the best principal of a public school ever do anything like that? No, not if their life depended on it, so shut up.”
Jesus, dad, calm down.
“Or, what? I’ll have a heart attack? You know you want me to lay this out here. Somehow you feel it will carry more force, coming from a dead man, than from a live man. If you can call what you’re doing living,” the skeleton approximated a wink.
“Best I can do without an eyelid, Elie,” said the skeleton.
“The question of how much money does even the greediest person need is rnever asked. It’s an American right to have unlimited wealth, it’s the American Dream. Nobody but an angry class-warrior crank would suggest that a billionaire is greedy, or selfish, or in any way not praiseworthy, just for trying to double their fortune, as any rich person would naturally try to do, as anyone has the right to do.
“Your new president, the richest in history, if not also the most selfish and childish, is proposing a cabinet whose total wealth is over $14,000,000,000, that’s fourteen billion, with a ‘b’. The best cabinet money can buy, you might say,” said the skeleton, through gritted teeth.
Really, dad, you have to calm down.
“As he has every right to appoint, as the president who won three key swing states, Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania and their 46 deciding Electoral College votes, by a total of 40,000 votes, or 1/30th of 1% (like him and his cabinet) of the total votes cast in an election he lost by 2,700,000 votes. They keep adjusting these numbers, and it appears the final tally may be closer to 76,000 votes in those three states– or 1/15 of 1%. A victory ‘mandate’ he calls ‘historic’ and a ‘landslide’. America, America, God shed… whatever. He said the election was rigged, and that America is a laughing stock. Right and right. You’re the one who has to live with it, Elie, I’m just sayin’….”
I don’t say you’re wrong, but Jeez.
“Jeez, indeed. How is it you’re not hollering, snarling and howling?” said the skeleton.
I am, it’s just that, like in a horror movie, my mouth is open, but no sound is coming out.