A wasted trip for Christmas Past
By Rod Haxton, editor
It’s 1:00 a.m. on Christmas morning and Gov. Sam Brownback is reaching for another blanket because he feels a sudden chill in the air of the governor’s mansion.
“Damn budget cuts,” he mumbles. “You’d think we could turn the heat up around here.”
Suddenly he hears the rattle of a couple of tin cans and a voice that declares, “Governor Sam, I’m the one responsible for the chill in the air.”
Brownback bolts upright in his bed.
“Who are you and how did you get in here?” he demands to know.
“I’m the Ghost of Christmas Future,” comes the reply.
“I’ve heard of you,” says Brownback. “But I thought you were usually accompanied by deep fog and rattling chains. What’s going on with the tin cans?”
“Budget cuts,” the Ghost replies. “I’m sure you can relate.”
“And what about the Ghosts of Christmas Past and Christmas Present?”
“We can only afford to send one of us,” said the Ghost. “And besides, the Ghost of Christmas Past will just take you back to your desire to be President of the United States, your failed campaign, your unfulfilled ambition and the fact that you eventually had to return home in a can’t miss effort to be a Republican governor in one of the reddest states in the nation . . . blah, blah, blah, blah. Did you really want to relive all that?”
“Not really,” says Brownback.
“We didn’t think so,” said the Ghost as he and Brownback walked down a dark hallway.
Moments later they emerged into a dimly lit living room of a house with a mother and two children.
“Where are we?” asks Brownback.
“We’re still in Kansas,” said the Ghost. “The mother is in between her two part-time jobs on Christmas Day, so this is their time to open presents and enjoy a meal. As you can see, each child has one gift under the tree and for dinner they’re eating Hot Pockets.”
“I don’t get it,” says Brownback. “What does this have to do with me?”
“Sam, this mother used to get assistance from the state to help with expenses until your Administration made budget cuts and said she was no longer eligible,” said the Ghost.
“She now has two jobs, her family has dinner on the table and she now has the satisfaction of knowing that she’s being a responsible Kansan,” said Brownback. “She should be happy that we’ve done so much for her self-esteem.”
“She might be a little happier if she wasn’t overwhelmed by medical bills because she can’t afford health insurance. Because she is holding down two jobs just to survive, your people say she makes too much money to qualify for medical assistance,” says the Ghost.
“Rules are rules,” says Brownback as he looks impatiently at his watch. “Do you have any idea what time it is?”
The Ghost shakes his head in bewilderment and following a bright flash he and Brownback are standing in the hallway of an empty school.
“Where are we?” asks Brownback.
“Exactly where doesn’t matter,” said the Ghost. “This is one of several schools which have had to be closed in Kansas because your Administration and Republican lawmakers kept cutting school funding and the Supreme Court that’s now packed with your appointees say that the legislature no longer has to live up to school funding as required by the state constitution.”
“Are you sure you’re not Paul Davis in disguise?” asks Brownback.
“No, Sam, I’m not,” answers the Ghost. “Take a look out the window.”
“There’s nothing happening,” says Brownback. “The town looks dead.”
“Are you getting my point?” the Ghost asks.
“I sure am. Because of the failure of public education, more families are home-schooling their kids and that’s closing down some Kansas schools. The loss of some communities along the way is a small price to pay for better education and, best of all, for cutting the cost of education in our state budget. When I see this kind of government success story I’m sorry, but I start to get real emotional.”
“So, this is your idea of a government at its best?” said the Ghost in bewilderment.
“People want less taxes and less government,” said Brownback. “I’m the one who was chosen to make that happen. At the risk of stepping on someone’s toes, I guess you could call me the Messiah of smaller government and Kansas is the Promised Land.”
“But what about the people and the communities that are affected?” the Ghost asks.
“People come and go. They’re resilient,” says Brownback. “Just like the mother with two part-time jobs. She’s flexible. And if she needs a third job in order to afford more Hot Pockets, she’ll find a way to get that job. It’s the free market and individual responsibility at its best. She’s living the American dream and I can’t be more proud in making that possible.”
“And what about the tax cuts to the Koch brothers and big business in Kansas that are making it impossible for the state to provide assistance to those who need it and that helps pay for public education?” asks the Ghost.
“Does everyone get the same present for Christmas?” asks Brownback. “Of course, not. In my Kansas, everyone’s a winner, but some get bigger gifts than others. That’s Christmas. That’s life.”
In a flash, Brownback is back in bed.
“The other ghosts said this would be a wasted Christmas. I told them we changed Scrooge, that you couldn’t be any worse than him,” said a dejected Ghost. “I was wrong.”
“Being governor is a thankless job,” said Brownback. “I can’t let the suffering of others, because of my policies, ruin my Christmas. That’s the number one lesson I’ve learned from the Koch brothers.”
“Is there anything else?” asks the Ghost.
“On your way out turn up the thermostat. I don’t believe these budget cuts were supposed to keep me from sleeping well at night. And have a merry Christmas,” adds Brownback. “I know I will.”
Rod Haxton can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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