Friday, April 29, 2011

The Greed First Institute: Rich are Ones at Bottom of “Trickle Down” Theory of Economics

By Brian Polk

Cornelius Albert Randus, chief executive of The Greed First Institute, confirmed at a press conference on Tuesday what economists have been saying for generations, sort of. According to Randus, the popular “Trickle Down” theory of economics, a seminal tenet of Reaganomics, benefits those at the foot of society, but that the “Trickle Down Triangle,” or TDT, is inverted, so that the rich are actually the ones at the bottom.

“Basically, the rich are on top of everything,” said Randus. “Society, financial markets, government — you name it, the rich are on top of it. It’s in this one area, the TDT, that the rich are actually at the bottom. You see, now we know how it feels to be down and out for once.”

The TDT, which was revealed for the first time at Tuesday’s press conference at the group’s Filthy Richie Center, demonstrates the success of the controversial economic theory by placing the richest 1% of Americans at the point of the upside-down triangle. Meanwhile, the richest 10% occupy a very small strip near the richest 1%, and after a considerable gap, the rest of Americans are at the base of the triangle, which, according to the model, is the “top.”

“As you can see here,” said Randus, pointing to the chart, “The poor are up at the top, trickling down what little riches they have to the wealthy at the bottom here. So basically, laissez faire capitalism, while terrible for the poor, is actually working wonders for people like me who don’t even need anymore money."

“So don’t let anyone tell you that Reaganomics doesn’t work!” Randus exclaimed to the crowd, prompting a standing ovation.

Throughout the press conference, hardy guffaws often tore through the overweight, tuxedo-clad audience — many of which wiped tears from their eyes with $100 bills — as Randus humorously underscored the irony of ruthlessly denying Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security to the poorest of Americans, while the billionaires in attendance continued to refuse to pay taxes they could easily afford 6,000 times over.

“I mean we could pay taxes,” said Randus over the bedlam, “but that wouldn’t be putting Greed First, would it?”

After the crowd quieted down, Randus steadied himself, and expounded upon the significance of his revelation.

“When Reagan enacted this theory of economics, he led average Americans to believe that they would somehow benefit from our wealth,” he said. “That it would ‘trickle down’ from our overflowing bank accounts into their dusty pockets. Of course we knew all along that the only trickling was from their bare refrigerators onto the massive buffets of our luxury yachts. I can’t believe that no one put it all together until now."

“Oh, and thanks for the bailouts, suckers!”

Meanwhile outside of the convention hall, a dozen or so protestors from the People In Need Charity held signs advertising slogans like, “Greed is wrong,” “We’re all in this together,” and at least one placard quoting Matthew 19:24, “Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.”

“We’re basically here because we believe hoarding wealth is wrong when there are people in this country who lack access to basic medical care and healthy food to eat,” said Ricky Peate, one of the protestors. “At what point do these people say, ‘I’m rich enough. I don’t need anymore money’? I mean, these guys make more in a day than I made in the last three years.”

When asked to comment on the scant turnout on behalf of the protestors, Peate responded, “Well, several hundred of us planned on coming, but everyone else is hard at work, making these assholes even more money.”

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Issue Number 25

A Day at the Peaceful Prairie Sanctuary

By Brian Polk

“Your neighbors must think you’re nuts,” said one of my fellow guests.
“Oh yeah,” said one of the operators of Peaceful Prairie Sanctuary, “but that’s how we know we’re doing the right thing. It’s once we start fitting in that we’d have to worry.”

It’s strange that we live in a culture where doing the right thing is considered eccentric. If you quit your lucrative private sector job to become a social worker, for example, a lot of people will think you’re damn crazy—including some of those very people you’re helping with your social work. (Side note: My brother is a social worker who helps at-risk youth. Certain members of those at-risk youth make fun of him for driving a car that’s far from its prime. His response? “At least I have a car.”) If you make a concerted effort not to watch television, a lot of people resent the hell out of you for even mentioning it. And if you eschew the flesh and milk of animals because you think it’s unnecessary and wrong, a whole lot of people will find your decision detestable, and they won’t hesitate to say so.

But doing the right thing has never been easy. And that’s why people who make personal sacrifices in order to do the right thing never cease to impress the hell out of me. So when I spent an afternoon at a “Veganize It!” cooking class at the Peaceful Prairie Sanctuary, I couldn’t help but admire all the folks who ran the place. They’re kindhearted souls who have devoted their lives to creating a refuge for rescued farm animals, such as goats, llamas, pigs, chickens, turkeys, and other animals not commonly accepted at shelters. And while the cooking class was geared towards those at the beginning of veganism—and not seasoned vegan cooking professionals like myself—the experience was nonetheless soul-rewarding.

Check them out online:

If you have money burning a hole in your pocket, consider donating.
They have a lot of mouths to feed!

Review: Egghead

Would Like a Few Words With You
Rating: Thirteen stars out of fifteen or so

Good-humored pop punk hasn’t exactly been inundating what’s left of the punk scene. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing, because even back in the 90s — when this type of music was ubiquitous — there weren’t a whole lot of pop punk groups that were any good. But occasionally a band like Egghead would come along and remind you why anyone listened to pop punk in the first place: It can be a whole lot of fun when it’s tongue-and-cheek, genuine, and catchy — and Egghead’s songs have all these traits in spades. Let’s start with the album’s best song: “My Daughter Can Fuck up Your Daughter,” a tune about how the singer’s rough-and-tumble toddler can mop the floor with all the other daycare toddlers. (Oh, to be a proud father.) Then there’s the insanely catchy “Stuck Inside a Stuckeys (with Leonard from the Dickies),” a ditty that beckons to be played over and over again — at least if you’re someone like me who appreciates a good pop punk tune. And don’t forget “Holy Okatodden!” which isn’t that great of a song, but I mention it because mentioning three songs makes for a well-rounded review. Egghead’s Would Like a Few Words With You has been in constant rotation in my CD player (mainly because I don’t have very many CDs, but still). It’s pop punk in all its goofy, goodtime glory.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Review: Citizen Fish

Citizen Fish
Alternative Tentacles / Bluurg Records
Rating: How could this possibly not be good?

Wouldn’t it be weird if Citizen Fish came out with an album with songs about their favorite television shows, making lots of money, and trusting government to do the right thing? It would be the Bizzaro World Citizen Fish album and it would only be available for download on Amazon. Of course, with Goods, there are no such songs. In fact, all of the problems the group began singing about all those years ago still exist — and they’re much worse than they were before. That’s why it’s still so relevant to sing about the damaging effects of television (“Human Conditioner” and “Click”), waking up (in the aptly titled tune “Wake Up”) and the perils of fear and hate (“Better”). With each new punk generation discovering the group (I bought my first Citizen Fish album in 1998), the importance of conveying the message of self-reliance, anti-greed, and pro-giving-a-shit cannot be understated in such a self-destructive, vain society. Of course if a band can put these messages to a danceable, catchy soundtrack, then why the fuck not? Citizen Fish helped shape my personal and political outlook as much as Dead Kennedys and Propagandhi. It’s music for the soul.

Give Me Your Time

By Brian Polk

With all the depressing shit that has come out of my mouth over the years, you might be surprised to hear that I am totally and completely in love with life (not in a hippie, “I love life because it’s special and everyone’s beautiful” kind of way, but more in an “I love life because the act of making art and playing games in the park is so fucking satisfying, it’s beyond words” kind of way.) I love doing things like making zines, throwing the Frisbee around, riding my bike, and playing and listening to music. I love waking up on my days off with the promise of endless bliss just waiting for me to find it. It’s like a scavenger hunt where the fun is just as much in the search of hidden gems as it is in actually finding them.

But, of course, with every patch of blue sky, there are always splotches of pollution that just mess everything up. And the splotches of pollution that get in my way are all related to time—that is, there just isn’t enough of it. When I embrace the gigantic smile on my face after making stencils for t-shirts, or laying out my zine, or making noise with my drums for an hour or two, I always have one eye on the clock, because time is the enemy of the lover of life. Since I work forty hours a week, I have all sorts of obligations, so fitting in all the things that make life worth living is an eternal struggle.

So every time I see people wasting their free time watching TV or complaining about being bored, I get utterly offended. Free time is a gift, and if you’re going to waste it in front of the television watching bullshit programs or playing ridiculous video games, then you might as well donate your time to someone who will actually appreciate and use it.

For example, your roommate wasted an hour complaining about how there’s nothing to do, when he could have been walking the dog (who, incidentally, would love to go for a walk; hell, she’s been waiting for someone to take her for a walk all week). But since you’re just going to waste your time complaining, I’ll take that hour off your hands and the dog and I will run around the park like a couple of crazies.
Or, let’s say, you spend two hours flipping through the channels, grumbling about how there’s nothing good on TV while an idea you had for a comic strip goes unrealized. Why don’t you tell me the idea, give me those two hours, and I’ll draw the comic strip even though you’re a much better artist than me. At least two hours and an idea won’t go to waste.

Better yet, if you’re so tired of finding ways to whittle away your leisure hours, you could volunteer to take a couple of my shifts down at the library. Then I could take your dog to the park, draw your comic strips, and concentrate on music and making more issues of this zine. Our little arrangement solves all sorts of problems.

So before you go squandering the precious hours of your life, please consider donating to the time-needy. There are people in your own city who try to fit a lifetime-and-a-half in a single lifetime. Meanwhile you watch yours pass you by from your spot on the couch. Don’t be time-greedy. Give today at your nearest time donation center.