by Walter Brasch
"Got any idea how to make a frozen daiquiri?"
Saturday. 6 a.m. A question no one else would have asked at that hour. I knew it had to be Marshbaum, my faux-friend foil.
"Too early to be drinking," I mumbled, then hung up. The phone rang again.
"It's not for me," said Marshbaum, but since I'm going to own a bar, I should learn how to make drinks."
"Marshbaum," I said, reluctantly awake, "you can't even afford to buy soap to wash your fuzzy navel! How are you going to afford a bar?"
"The government's going to bankroll me," he said matter-of-factly.
"New kind of welfare?"
"Old kind of subsidies," said Marshbaum. "First thing those Santa Clauses in the red ink suits are going to do is to help me find an appropriate location."
"Something available in Afghanistan?" I asked.
"It's called exploration subsidy. Thanks to those patriotic pure-bred Republicans who just blocked the President's proposal to eliminate $2 billion in subsidies a year to oil, gas, and coal companies, all I have to do is say I want to build my bar over a proposed but hidden coal vein. Doesn't even matter if there's coal or not. All I have to do is say I think there may be coal. Later, I get a low-interest small business loan, build the bar, and deduct the mortgage interest from my income taxes."
"That deduction is meant to allow the common person the right of home ownership."
"And what's more common than taking someone else's money? Besides, it isn't the middle-class that gets most of the benefit." He explained that almost 100 percent of everyone with at least a $100,000 mortgage takes the interest deduction, while fewer than 20 percent of Americans below the poverty line get federal rental subsidies.
"You'll still have to pay property taxes," I reminded him. He reminded me that it didn't matter.
"Most local and state governments will be so happy to have me build a business and hire minimum-wage bar girls, they'll probably waive my taxes the first year or two and then give me tax rebates for a couple of more years."
Walter Brasch is an award-winning journalist and professor of journalism emeritus. His current books are Before the First Snow: Stories from the Revolution , America's Unpatriotic Acts: The Federal Government's Violation of (more...)
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