The noble rich

Early on in the first term of George Bush the Younger, two laws were enacted. These laws lowered the happy hour prices paid by all at the Bar of America and its network of saloons, taverns and pubs well established throughout the land. The young president, motivated by a sincere quest for popularity, slashed prices to 15 cents per beer for many Americans, 20 cents for many others, and up the scale. He made sure not to exclude the richest folks from the fun, dropping their beer prices to a most reasonable 35 cents a pop.

He also knew that the Bar of America, coming off some hugely prosperous years under the guidance of Barkeep Bubba the C, couldn’t sustain a prolonged National Happy Hour without threatening its eventual economic health. So, in his limited yet accurate wisdom, he declared that the N.H.H. would go on for 10 years, and no longer. At the end of that time, prices would revert back to normal, and the country could properly dry out, as it were.

And so the party began. And what a fine party it was. Party party party. Drinks drinks drinks. Houses houses houses. Everybody have a drink. Everybody have a house. Have two! Everybody hopped on The Happy Bubble and said, “Hoorah, hoorah. We’re all gonna be rich! Quick, buy this bag full of derivative credit default insurance swapadoodle hipadang before it walks away! No, I don’t know what the hell it is! Just buy it! You want to be rich, right?” Most everybody did.

Well, anyway, after this decade-long wingding, where everybody did indeed get rich (well, for at least a month or two), sure enough, the ole Bar of America is indeed a little stressed. There’s been a lot of expenses and not enough income to keep things tight. Some rather frightening red ink is beginning to pile up. It’s obviously time for the National Happy Hour to float off into history.

But—not so fast, say the wealthiest patrons of the Bar. We like these 35 cent beers. A lot. In fact, how dare you suggest we go back to the dark old days of mean Bubba, when we had to pay 40 cents a beer. Sorry, plebeians, serfs and minions, but we like it the way it is. You want to raise the prices of our drinks? We’ve got a two-word reply: Piss off.

Well, the plebes were surprised. Jesus, they said, you fat cats have been making a killing for last 10 years, saving all kinds of money because of the N.H.H., and now you make a fuss because we want to raise your prices all of one stinkin’ nickel? You’re gonna bitch about that? Aren’t you worried about the health of the Bar? Aren’t you worried that the Bar’s going broke?

To which the wealthy drinkers responded, “We repeat: Piss off.”

Bill Maher: “I’m astounded that the Republicans can hold themselves out as the patriotic party. Somehow, patriotism has gotten redefined as selfishness …”