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A recent article in The Onion, the satirical newsweekly, disclosed that President Obama had come up with a surefire plan to balance the federal budget: Rob Fort Knox. “I’ve got the blueprints,” Obama is quoted as saying, “and I think I found a way out through a drainage pie.”
Unfortunately, with today’s political climate dominated by howling winds from the far-right fringe, there’s no longer any room in American culture for satire. Sure enough, some laissez-faire extremists at such Koch-funded corporate fronts as Cato Institute and Heritage Foundation are presently howling for the government to sell all of America’s gold stored in Fort Knox. Noting that gold is going for nearly $1,500 an ounce and they have millions of ounces in the vaults, a fellow from Heritage made this keen observation: “It’s just sort of sitting there.”
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Uh, yeah, professor. Like Mount Rushmore, the Grand Canyon, the Lincoln Memorial, and other national assets – being there is the point.
Yet, these ivory tower ideologues are using the current brouhaha over the budget deficit as an opening to push their loopiest fantasies of selling off all of America’s public properties, facilities, systems, and treasures to create a no-government, plutocratic paradise. Just spread our public goods out on tables, like a flea market from hell, and invite the global rich to buy it all.
For example, the government could raise billions of dollars to retire that pesky deficit simply by selling our interstate highway system, says another Koch-funded fellow. Americans would then have to pay tolls forever to the corporate owners, but hey, he exclaims, remember that tolls “work for the River Styx, why not the Beltway?”
What a perfect metaphor for privatization! According to ancient mythology, dead souls must pay a toll to be ferried across the River Styx and enter the depths of hell.
“U.S. should sell assets like gold to get out of debt, conservative economist say,” www.washingtonpost.com, May 15, 2011.