Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot
Container City: Shipping containers, indispensable tool of the globalized consumer economy, reflect the skyline in Singapore, one of the world’s busiest ports.
I’m here tonight to ask for your vote. I understand how things are. Times are tough. My opponents, they hate you. But I’ll put money in your pocket. I’ll literally come to your house and put money in your pocket. Fives, singles, some folded, maybe a twenty. And those dollar coins nobody uses, I’ll throw in a couple of them just so you’ll hear something jingle. Because that’s what matters in this election: jingles.
Look, I grew up on an ant farm, so I learned the meaning of hard work and discipline, the kind of discipline we’ll need to get this country back on track. My opponents, on the other hand, voted against breakfast. That’s right — bacon, pancakes, some of things that make this the greatest country on earth. They want to end it. I think that’s wrong. And I have a feeling you think it’s wrong, too, especially the folks in America’s heartland. Bottom line: there’s a clear choice in this election, and I think you’ll make the right one, for all Americans.
You want specifics? Let’s talk about immigration. Now, I’m not allowed to show you the letter, but one opponent has written that he wants to hunt down illegal immigrants and cage them for research. That’s not right. When it comes to immigration, I have thirty-seven bottom lines, but I’ll just concentrate on three. Uno: we need to secure our borders, but we also need revenue. Dos: I’ve proposed toll booths stretching from Baja California all the way to Ohio. We charge seventeen-seventy-six for entry. You get your hand stamped: boom, citizenship. No more bureaucracy. Toll operators, those are real American jobs. Revenue, citizenship, job creation. Problem solved.
Education is another topic that’s more important to me than anything else. We need to prepare our children to lead tomorrow, help them learn to fix the problems we’ll create today. My opponents want to end education. They want to put kids in work camps, digging holes and stacking rocks. That’s not the America I know. And that’s why my team of alien scientists are working on capsules you can swallow that will increase neural activity seven hundred times, make synapses fire just like the lightning that struck the kite Ben Franklin was flying on that glorious day he invented the light bulb. They’re pills that will make you smart. We’re calling them Pills That Will Make You Smart. Want to learn Mexican fast? Pop a language-fluency capsule and you’re chatting up the nanny. We’ll have pills that’ll cover math, science, investment banking, kung fu, all the subjects that make America the world’s leader in education. We’ll convert unused schools to nuclear waste facilities, and teachers will finally be able to transition to safer professions. And the money we’ll save from twelve years spent getting a kid to write one grammatically correct sentence will go toward paying off this crushing debt that has stomped the middle class into a smelly, wet, grayish pulp.
Now, when it comes to a budget, you’re not hearing specifics from the others. But I’ll be straight with the American people. We’ll cut thirty-seven billion dollars from pork-barrel projects, haul in seven and a half million from loopholes in social security, sweep up four hundred and sixteen thousand in our Sweep Every Starbucks program, cut forty billion in waste from the immigration program I just proposed, cut another something billion from top-secret government programs, and save three hundred and thirty-seven billion dollars from money we print but won’t actually use to pay for anything. It’ll just sit there; we won’t touch it, won’t spend it, so it won’t come out of your pocket. Right there, that adds up to nine-point-seven hundred trillion thousand dollars in savings that’ll get passed onto you. And we’ll do that on day one.
Let me tell you something: this election is important. You know, back on the farm, we didn’t have much. My dad worked twenty, twenty-six hours a day for eighty-four years as a crash-test dummy with GM, smashing American cars. He’d come home with every bone in his body crushed, bleeding from his ears, and he’d already be late for his next shift. Still, every night, he’d slither his battered body up those hard wooden stairs just so he could tuck me in, flopping his arms over my blanket to make sure it was pulled up tight around my chin. Those are the kind of values I learned as a kid. See, you take it. You get beaten down and stomped every day of the week so the owner of that business can keep chasing that beautiful, shimmering mirage some of us still call the American Dream. Why? Because that’s the kind of commitment that made this country strong. Because that’s how we won two world wars, and that’s how we’ll win the next world war, too. And with me as your next president, we will keep winning world wars, because that’s the kind of country we are.
You see, I still believe in big ideas. And I believe there’s no idea too big that we can’t inflate it like a giant balloon and float it out over the city like they do during parades with Mickey Mouse and those other great Disney characters, American creativity, people coming together, united, the kids, our grandchildren, singing the “Star-Spangled Banner,” lower taxes. And the thing is, my opponents, the ones who hate ideas, they’re just trying to distract you from the truth. And the truth is this: most days, if I really want to, I can control the weather. And if you elect me, I can promise it’ll be seventy-two and sunny every day. No humidity. Why? Because we don’t need it! That’s the American way. That’s the America we once were, and the America we can be once again.
So I want you to vote, and I want you to vote hard. Because this is the most important election in American history. It’s not just a choice between candidates or parties, this is a choice between happiness and misery, life or death. My opponents, they favor mandatory death sentences at thirty-five for all but the richest Americans, like in Logan’s Run. That’s just not right. With me, prosperity. Eternal youth. More like that Star Trek episode, when they sniff the flowers and everything is wonderful, especially for the middle class. Total bliss. United States of America bliss. Because that’s the kind of America we want, and that’s the kind of America we deserve.
Look, the choice is simple: if I’m elected, I’ll make you wealthier, better-looking, and younger. I’ll get you free beer. My opponents, as you know, wants to enslave your children and slaughter the elderly. That’s not the kind of America we need. I think you know that. That’s why I’m asking for your vote.
God bless us all, everyone. And god bless the United States of America.
Brian Arundel's writing has been published in Mid-American Review, Bryant Literary Review, Under the Sun and other journals. His play Sam, Sara, Etc. is forthcoming in 2013.More Brian Arundel.
Man Covering His Mouth: A shepherd by the Yellow River cannot stand the smell, Inner Mongolia, China
Angry Crowd: People jostle for food relief distribution following the 2010 earthquake in Haiti
“Black Friday” Shoppers: Aggressive bargain hunters push through the front doors of the Boise Towne Square mall as they are opened at 1 a.m. Friday, Nov. 24, 2007, Boise, Idaho, USA
Suburban Sprawl: aerial view of landscape outside Miami, Florida, shows 13 golf courses amongst track homes on the edge of the Everglades.
Toxic Landscape: Aerial view of the tar sands region, where mining operations and tailings ponds are so vast they can be seen from outer space; Alberta, Canada
Ice Waterfall: In both the Arctic and Antarctic regions, ice is retreating. Melting water on icecap, North East Land, Svalbard, Norway
Satellite Dishes: The rooftops of Aleppo, Syria, one of the world’s oldest cities, are covered with satellite dishes, linking residents to a globalized consumer culture.
Child Brides: Tahani, 8, is seen with her husband Majed, 27, and her former classmate Ghada, 8, and her husband in Hajjah, Yemen, July 26, 2010.
Megalopolis: Shanghai, China, a sprawling megacity of 24 Million
Big Hole: The Mir Mine in Russia is the world’s largest diamond mine.
Clear-cut: Industrial forestry degrading public lands, Willamette National Forest, Oregon
Computer Dump: Massive quantities of waste from obsolete computers and other electronics are typically shipped to the developing world for sorting and/or disposal. Photo from Accra, Ghana.
Oil Spill Fire: Aerial view of an oil fire following the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil disaster, Gulf of Mexico
Airplane Contrails: Globalized transportation networks, especially commercial aviation, are a major contributor of air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. Photo of contrails in the west London sky over the River Thames, London, England.
Fire: More frequent and more intense wildfires (such as this one in Colorado, USA) are another consequence of a warming planet.