FIRST, A SHAMELESS PLUG
As some of my readers know, my love for writing goes above and beyond my column here. At any given time I’m working on a bunch of writing projects, some big, some small–and I recently completed one of the bigger ones–my second novel. If you are interested in reading the first draft, of “Convention”, you can do so here (PDF).
I have taken more pleasure in writing this book than I have in anything else I’ve written, ever. It’s a satire about everything wrong with our political system–skewering ideology, idiocy, and inflammation on both sides of the aisle. It has several turns into the absurdist that were enjoyable to write, intermingled with some familiar themes of love and family.
The plot centers around the West family–patriarch Jack is the governor of Alabama, matriarch Katharine is slowly losing her mind, elder son Adam is running a multinational military unit into the ground in Iraq with his poor tact and affinity for stereotypes, and younger daughter Samantha is sick of it all and is running away to join a hippie commune called Idea Garden.
Sam’s departure sparks a chain of events that cause the four family members–along with a large cast of interesting characters–to become involved, somehow or another, in plots to blow up the Republican National Convention.
If it’s the sort of thing that interests you, and if you’re thick-skinned with regard to your political views, do take a look, and I hope you enjoy.
And now, on to the column.
There are a lot of things about our generation that older generations understandably find a little weird:
- We express our emotions predominantly using song lyrics and emoticons,
- Our favorite singer photoshops her head onto a motorcycle for her album covers;
And there are a lot of things about our generation that child psychologists (from older generations, of course) find a lot to complain about. They cite our iPods and facebook accounts and say that we’re a culture that’s perpetually plugged in, and that we’re apathetic. This is flawed on two counts. First of all, they’re just jealous because we’re better at ignoring our parents than they were. And second of all, apathy is relative. Sure, we’ve acquired a general disregard for grammar and tucking in our shirts, but there are a variety of issues on which our generation is patently un-apathetic, and, what’s more, they’re issues that we plan to change.
Last week I talked about the character of your future congressmen and women, and now I plan to talk about the concrete changes they’ll enact. All of these bills are ones I’ve either seen or heard discussed on various model congress trips, and I guarantee you that every single one is something you can expect to see introduced, if not passed, by the time our generation is through with Congress.
Our generation has been sick and tired of pennies since the age of four. Since manufacturing prices have made selling ‘penny candy’ impossible (Although I suppose you could sell individual Pop Rocks for one cent and make some sort of profit), pennies have become an annoying contraption that exists simply to clog our wallets and pockets. As word spreads that pennies cost more to produce than they’re actually worth, their importance, in our eyes, sinks even further. Expect, in the next 30 years, to see the nickel become the smallest accepted coin in our currency, and, somewhere, to see a giant copper statue of Abraham Lincoln erected—a much better use of our pennies than those ripoff machines that take your two quarters and stretch your penny.
Step one to legalization: Present weed as a more socially acceptable drug via media. It would appear that we’ve accomplished this resoundingly. Charlie Sheen almost appeared to be a sidekick before we realized what he was on was predominately cocaine.
Step two to legalization: Stir the population up into a frenzy and draft legalization legislation. This, as evidenced by the hype over California’s recent proposed legalization law, has also been done successfully.
Step three to legalization: Show up at polls to vote.
We’re still working on this one. But when we figure it out, you can be assured that marijuana will be legalized, sold, and taxed. Granted, it is a drug, and drugs are [insert phrase parroted to you by Health teacher] , but at the same time, it’ll raise a ton of money, it’ll be a safer drug if it’s regulated, and it’ll save a lot of money on arrests and jail terms. The only possible argument I can think of is that it’ll hurt the flagging newspaper industry and the fledgling blogging industry—after all, stories about drug arrests are about half of what we publish here :)
Show me a teenager against gay marriage and I’ll show you a closed closet door. Gay marriage has long been our generation’s flagship issue, the issue for which our favorite celebrities are crusaders, the issue we can be bothered to tweet about. The idea is gaining traction in some states, and should reach Washington even before we start taking over congress, but if it hasn’t yet, we’ll push it on through—because darn it, love is love, and besides, no one wants to disappoint Lady Gaga.
Aging Driver Restrictions
Otherwise known as “An Act To Get Revenge On Our Parents”, one of the bills I repeatedly saw was one to clear the roads of drivers with failing eyesight and hearing. As long as legislators try to push the minimum driving age older and older, we’ll push back, trying to make the maximum age younger and younger. We won’t set an actual age, of course, just make getting a driver’s license for anyone above 70 like getting Martin Luther King to the polls in the Jim Crow south. Of course our generation isn’t really that concerned about the safety of our roads—we invented texting and driving—but if you’re thinking you can stop us from getting our precious licenses, you’ve got another thing coming.
This is sort of cheating by me, because the tobacco tax is currently being raised and will keep being raised until “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire” becomes “Who Wants To Have A Cigarette.” It has become the fashionable thing to do whenever we need to make a quick buck, and that’s why it won’t stop. Cigarettes have the worst PR of anything—raise taxes on Bank CEOs and someone will complain, raise ‘em on Exxon and someone will complain, but raise them on cigarettes and all you’ll get is a few coughs. And, of course, this tax has the added benefit of incentivizing everyone to be healthier. So there’s the answer to your question “Can anything possibly get higher than gas prices?”
Mandatory Financial-Ed Course
Otherwise known as the “Dammit, Never Again Act”, this bill that I’ve seen repeatedly at model congress conferences is aimed at avoiding another financial crisis like the Legendary Screwup of 2008. It advocates placing mandatory courses in economics and financial education in public high school curriculum, and has the opposition of a UNICEF charity drive. Perhaps the most likely of these prospective bills to pass.
One of the more touchy discussion topics, both at these conferences and in conversations with my political-minded friends, is that of Internet freedom. The “Internet kill switch” and government tampering are big no-nos, but the defensibility of Wikileaks’ actions is iffier. Suffice to say that we will deal with the new issues of Internet security and freedom as quickly and creatively as we possibly can. Bills to allow freedom of access to the Internet and to prevent the government from tampering with it will likely come hard and fast in the coming years.
This seems, today, like an unlikely premise, and I admit that out of all these bills, it certainly has the longest shot. That said, with the way our culture progresses, and the fact that measures like this have already been introduced in certain places around the country, I wouldn’t be surprised if, in 30 years, this got passed. No disrespect to the “Free Love” movement, of course—there’s room for all of us in the big box o’ things the Mormon Church spends money to repress.
Even though it’s slightly immoral, the law itself has some upside—for instance, prostitutes being abused by their pimps can’t seek shelter or help from the law for fear of being arrested; this act would ensure their safety. Plus it would take a lot of strain off of Charlie Sheen’s lawyer.
Tax Credits on Energy-Saving Products
Also known as the “I Don’t Want To Be Living On A Raft In Fifty Years Act”, I’ve seen several proposals along the lines of giving consumers a tax credit when they install energy-efficient products in their homes. Every day each household uses approximately enough energy to kill a small herd of bull elephants, so this is a long overdue proposition. My only regret is that Billy Mays had to die before the government began to make energy-efficient supplies a must-have. I really would have wanted to see him marketing a solar blender.
In God We Don’t Trust
As we begin to take the Lord’s Prayer out of schools and mentions of God out of our curriculum, we’ll start to take it out of our Pledge of Allegiance and our coins as well. I actually propose that we eliminate the slogan from our currency in one of my bills, and it passed resoundingly—our generation is remarkably pro-freedom-of-religion.
You can expect to see this bill be passed in about twenty-five years or so, unless Donald Trump wins in 2012, in which case the debate is over—there is no God.
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