Adam Graham
Intervention: a political satire
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By Adam Graham
July 24, 2011

Editorial Note: It is rare that my interest in politics and my fiction writing interest intersect. However, the current political debate provided inspiration for this satire about a family intervention with a beloved Uncle with a serious problem.

"So, what type of food should we have for an intervention?"

My wife Adrienne blinked at me. "Andrew, I don't think anyone's going to want to eat."

I shrugged. "These things always make me hungry. It's stressful."

"I know it is, but we need to talk to Uncle."

The doorbell chimed. I walked to the dark blue door and opened it. My middle aged cousin and his Asian-American wife stood outside. Both were dressed in their Sunday best: an old gray suit for Fred Merkel and a white silk skirt suit for Akima.

Fred craned his neck. "Is Uncle here yet?"

I shook my head. "No, JT and Maria will be bringing him here on the pretext of discussing another loan."

Fred and Akima came in and sat on one end of our cat-scratched corner couch. Fred's glance darted around the room and settled on the empty end table. "Hey, you got anything to eat?"

Akima elbowed Fred.

I beamed at Adrienne. "I told you so."

She glared at me. "We're not here to eat. We're talking about Uncle's life here. We're talking about our family's future."

Fred sighed. "It's so uncomfortable."

Akima touched her husband's wrist. "He needs it, though. We need to get everything out in the open, and then he can get help."

"Sure, but what good will it do?"

"Come on, guys." Adrienne extended her hands. "It's got work." She whirled to me, a hand on her fleshy, succulent hip. "Andrew, you've got to take a bigger part in this. You know what's going on."

The doorbell rang. I answered it. My younger adopted brother wore his African-American hair in dreds, an earring in his left ear, black jeans, and a black hoodie. JT glanced over his shoulder. "Maria will be in with Uncle in just a second." He plopped on the couch diagonally across from Akima. "Hey, you got any Cheetos?"

My wife rolled her eyes at me. I raised my hands. "I didn't say anything."

Maria entered in a green, red and white traditional Spanish peasant dress. She scooted in next to JT. Her dainty form gave plenty of space between her and Akima.

Uncle sauntered in, ducking to fit his rotund, seven-foot frame through our doorway. Red, white, and blue striped pants, a matching top hat, a blue coat, and a white dress shirt about to burst its buttons spangled the obese, white-haired old man. I pointed to the tweed chair in the center of a room. "Have a seat."

He settled in his chair, facing the couch. Adrienne and I squeezed into the corner space between Akima and Fred and JT and Maria.

Uncle smiled wide. "Children, it's good to see you. I wasn't expecting to see so many."

I swallowed. "Uncle, we all love you. We're thankful for the free land you've given us to live on. We're more than willing to help you pay for security and that sort of thing."

"Glad to hear it."

"However, you have a problem."

Uncle laughed. "Me? I don't have any problems. I'm the world's greatest uncle."

"You've run up a huge debt."

He frowned. "I need more money, or the bank will foreclose on my property, including the homes I've so generously given you. All I ask is that you ungrateful swine pay for my property taxes, mortgages, service fees, utilities, and my other costs of living."

Lord, help me not to be taken in by this leech's lies. "Uncle, it's not that you don't have enough money. It's that you're spending too much."

JT leaned forward. "Yeah, man. You spend all that money bailin' out folks, payin' off cronies, and tryin' to take care of everybody."

Uncle Sam pressed up out of my chair and shook his fist. "Do you heartless people want me to throw the old people out in the streets? To not write Fred's veteran's benefit checks? Quite frankly, I'm surprised at you ingrates. Look at you." He glared at my wife and me. "I helped pay for your education, guaranteed your loans, and supported you when you lost your jobs." He whirled to JT and Maria. "I bought your families' groceries when you were children, and paid for your educations, too." He shot a glance at Fred. "I provide you a monthly income, free medical care, and I paid for college."

Fred growled and tapped his metal leg with his cane. "Pardon me, but I believe I earned some of that, thank you."

Uncle's lips curled into a snarl of a smile as he settled back into his chair, his hands spread out wide in a welcoming gesture. "Of course, I want to give it to you." Uncle glowered at me. "But this ingrate is threatening to force me to take it away."

I shook my head. "You're getting defensive and attacking us rather than dealing with the problem. It's not a matter of whether you've helped us in the past." I glanced sideways at Fred. "Nor is trying to turn us against each other going to stop this."

Akima clenched her teeth "Uncle, you've been playing these manipulative games my whole life. I'm tired of it. You seek to divide our family into the "white side" and the "black side" the "rich side" and the "poor side." You play divide and conquer with us so you can get more money and power. I've been a fool, but we're not fools any longer."

Uncle Sam leaned back. "Perhaps you don't understand all that I do. I run charities that provide for millions of poor people in our own country and around the world. I help people go to college. I pay for your own children's K-12 education."

"You do not!" Maria held her thumb and forefinger about half an inch apart. "You provide that much money towards our children's education and you use that to control it. I'm tired of having to answer to your bureaucrats for how I run my school."

"I'm ensuring they get a proper education."

She growled. "All you're doing is getting in my way."

I nodded. "And your help for college hasn't been much help at all. All the money you've been spending has only been driving up the cost of tuition. Schools charge us more because of your reputation for deep pockets."

Adrienne twirled her turquoise beaded necklace. "I've heard a lot of the money you give to help the poor in foreign countries ends up in the hands of criminals and thugs."

Uncle scowled and shook his fist. "Lies, all lies! You're not looking at the good things I do and mean to do, if you'll give me more money."

Akima snorted. "Your good intentions end up wasting money."

Uncle raised his hands. "Okay, I admit, there's been some waste. I'm working on it. An unbiased committee from my board of trustees is investigating it."

I raised an eyebrow. "Uncle, didn't you have an unbiased committee look into it before? Haven't you had several unbiased committees investigate?"

"What are you saying?"

I cupped my hands together. "It seems to me that appointing an unbiased committee is your way of avoiding an issue rather than trying to solve it. When was the last time you actually listened to what one of these commissions said?"

Uncle stared at me, his lips parted.

Maria extended a hand to him "Uncle, nobody is perfect. We've let you do what you want because you do a lot of good, but we're getting concerned about your spending."

JT furrowed his brow. "Man, you've been running up a trillion and a half dollars on your credit cards every year. That's more than I'd make in 10,000 lifetimes. My kids are being born $100,000 in debt because you can't control your spending."

My wife nodded. "It's not just about you, Uncle. It's hurting others around you."

"What about your retirement funds?" Uncle whirled to Fred. "If those heartless, ungodly people don't start giving me more money, I'll be forced to stop your trust fund payments. You've paid into your trust fund all of your life."

Fred shook his head. "I used to buy your garbage, but I found out the truth. There's a word for what you've done with our trust funds: Embezzlement. You took my money and everybody else's, spent if for other things, and left us a stack of IOUs. If you weren't investigating yourself on such charges, you'd be in prison with Bernie Madoff."

"But I'm Uncle. I needed the money."

"That's every embezzler's excuse. If all I've got in my trust fund is a stack of IOUs, that is your fault, not my cousin's fault. The world's changed since you set up our retirement trust funds. The plan doesn't work anymore. We need a new one."

Uncle stamped his foot. "No, the current plan works fine! I just need these ungrateful swine to give me more money!"

I shook my head. "Your current plan takes the money I put into my trust fund and distributes it to those already receiving payments. Even if you don't misappropriate a single dime, we'll soon have more folk receiving payments from their trust fund than we'll have folk making payments into their trust funds."

Maria frowned. "And you want us to have even fewer children!"

I nodded. "The math has changed, so the plan has to change. People our age have to save for own retirements. We're not going to rely on you to support us."

Uncle gasped and pressed a fist into his corpulent side. "What, I'm not good enough? You're fools to risk your money. Don't you remember the stock market crash?"

JT rolled his eyes and laughed. "Man, you're pathetic. You want folk to owe you so you got a hold on them. You can't stand nobody who you don't got a hold on."

Uncle's face flushed fire engine red. "Don't you dare psychoanalyze me!" He glanced around the room, scowling. "What do you think you're going to do?"

I bit my lip. "We're not taking out any more credit cards for you."

Uncle laughed. "You're joking."

We stared at him, our arms all folded across our chests.

A tremor rattled Uncle's gargantuan body. "You have to be joking."

I shook my head. "No joke."

The color fled from his face. "You can't! Our interest rates will sky rocket. The banks will foreclose on us. People wouldn't get their trust fund checks. Our bond rating will be downgraded."

JT leaned in. "You're playin' chicken little again."

Fred nodded. "Yeah, I got taken in by you with the insolvent banks and the bankrupt car companies you bought. I'm not buying that again."

I drew a deep breath. "Uncle, we're just trying to bring you to your senses. We know it would be very difficult if you had cut by forty percent immediately, and we'd be willing to help, but you'd have to reform. First thing, you've got to start cutting back on the money you're spending now."

My wife added, "And you've got to limit the money you're going to spend in the future."

JT glanced at me and then at Uncle. "Then you have to balance your budget like the rest of us, and I'm not talking a one time deal. Put it in the family bylaws."

Uncle crisscrossed his hands repeatedly. "No way will I be limited by the laws of stupid math to not spend more than I take in. However, I can patiently offer you swine a most generous compromise. If you'll agree to give me more money, say $1 trillion, I'll agree to cut spending by $2 trillion over the next ten years."

I smirked. "Give me a break. You played this game during the Reagan Administration and in the 1990s. It never works. You get more money, which makes your spending deficit temporarily lower, and you make a few tiny cuts in the first couple of years. By the time year five comes around, you've forgotten all about your side of the deal."

JT raised a hand towards Uncle. "Man, I think you missed the point. Your problem isn't that you don't have enough money. It's that you spend too much."

Uncle leaped up, shaking both fists. "I'm fine! You're the ones with the problem! You're all so selfish! You don't want to give your poor uncle a little extra money. Now you're going to let me have anymore new credit cards. That's my only means of support, with the measly $2 trillion you ungrateful, bratty kids give your generous, benevolent uncle to live on. You all are the worst family in the world!"

He stormed out the door. I ran after him and screamed after his backside, "Uncle, you can run, but eventually you're going to go bankrupt! You can't go on like this forever!"

Shaking my head, I walked back in. "Well, that went well."

My wife stood and squeezed my shoulder. "You did the best you can. Sometimes, these interventions are rough."

JT sighed. "I bet he's gone to find some other fools to adopt and get to support his hide."

My wife frowned. "Let's hope not. It'll just enable poor Uncle Sam."

© Adam Graham

 

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Adam Graham

Adam Graham was Montana State Coordinator for the Alan Keyes campaign in 2000, and in 2004 was a candidate for the Republican nomination for the Idaho State House... (more)

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