America is in a mortal crisis. The country is flat broke; everybody knows it, yet nobody wants to face facts and do something about it.
If we want to salvage what little is left of what we nostalgically call “The American Dream,” we’re going to have to find a lot of money. Nothing else will help.
Street protests are fun; there’s nothing youth enjoys more than a block party, with risk. But in the end, they don’t end up to much.
We can protest Wall Street until they move the markets to the cloud, and they’re halfway there already. They’ve gone from promising us pie in the sky to making pies in the sky and hogging all the slices.
If we’re going to change America, we need to think out of the petty cash box.
We can’t cut our way out of this crisis. Cut everything from the budget but the military and entitlements and we’re still facing a hole the size of Chris Christie’s boiler.
We won’t get there with taxes. The poor and middle class—and the line between them is getting pretty blurry—don’t have the money. They’re barely hanging on already.
The only source of new revenues is the rich, who haven’t been paying their fair share since the Johnson Administration. But there is no way they’ll let us raise their taxes.
We've been going at it all wrong. You don't take from the rich. You sell to the rich. You sell them what they crave more than cash itself: Status.
You know what gets wealthy folks excited and loosens their purses? Makes their little status-conscious hearts go pitter-patter? Exclusivity, that's what. The club we can't get into. The VIP table roped off with red velvet. The visible-to-all-the-masses sign that says, I'm better than you. I'm special.
If we’re going to shake the money out of the rich we need to give them something showy, even gaudy, to buy. We need to offer them Premium Citizenship.
The first level of premium citizenship will cost $50,000 a year. These “Silver level” citizens get two votes, get to use carpool lanes, park in handicapped spots, and be excused from jury duty. Standard Peon citizens are Mr., Mrs., or Ms. Silver level citizens are Sir or Madam.
Gold level citizenship costs $250,000 a year. These worthies are addressed as Most Honored Sir or Madam and enjoy additional benefits and immunities. A Gold citizen gets five votes, may jump the line at all government offices and smoke anywhere.
Diamond level citizenship starts at one million dollars a year, they cast 25 votes, receive a special coat of arms designating their place of residence, and are to be addressed as My Lord and My Lady. All government services will be provided to them, at home, including DMV.
Diamond level citizens shall enjoy one “get out of jail free” card per calendar year, as long as they maintain their status. This exemption will cover all misdemeanors, one per year, and every fifth year one felony, up to and including mayhem, but excluding all capital crimes.
For those who will settle for nothing less than the best, we offer the ultimate: Quantum Level Citizenship. A strictly limited number of these will be available. The cost for Quantum Citizenship shall be a minimum of one billion dollars.
Quantum citizens shall be known by the unisex honorific, Mahatma. Mahatmas enjoy all the privileges and immunities of premium citizenship. In addition, a Mahatma has the power to issue edicts, within premium-constitutional limits, that all lower citizens must abide. When you encounter a Mahatma on the street, you must step aside and bow respectfully. On the freeways you must pull over to let a Mahatma pass. You will know them by their motorcades.
All fees for premium citizenships shall be indexed to the deficit. When the deficit goes up, so does the membership cost. That will not only pay down the national debt, but nothing would be more effective in maintaining fiscal discipline.
This plan may be bitter medicine to those of us who still believe in equality. But equality has been a farce for years.
The rich already run the show, behind the scenes. Let's let them do it in public and get a few bucks out of the deal.
And selling premium citizenships will only be formalizing what we all know to be the truth anyway:
That all citizens are equal, but some citizens are more equal than others.