By Bob Litton
NOTE TO READER: This satire was initially published in The Monahans News in 1983, and I included it on my 2011 CD titled A West Texas Journalist. I believe it is still timely and, regrettably, probably always will be. I am publishing it on my blog because I want to expand the audience beyond West Texas.
I had a dream the other night. Its setting was some U.S. Senate hearing room, high-ceilinged with marble pillars and paintings of statesmen hanging on the walls between red velvet drapes. There was the long, oaken table up front with its usual equipment of microphones behind which sat cigarette-puffing senators, their sleeves rolled up and sheaves of documents spread out before them. Their task was to come up with some type of legislation to regulate the mugging industry in America.
Facing the senators and seated at an equally long, oaken table and also puffing cigarettes and shuffling papers were the lobbyists for the muggers, chief among whom was a wiry, weasel-faced fellow with red wavy hair and a bushy mustache. He was I.M. Leech, president of the American Muggers Association.
Chairman of the subcommittee Sen. Ramrod Lawson, a stout, balding fellow with dark-rimmed glasses perched on the tip of his nose, was addressing the AMA president. “Mr. Leech,” said he, “our committee has spent long hours going over nearly 25,000 pages of evidence and testimony from witnesses who say the mugging industry in America is an unbridled cartel that has become so widespread and powerful it threatens the entire economy of this nation.
“The activities of your association, in particular, have fostered an inflationary spiral in mugging insurance that is three times the inflation rate of the rest of the economy. Not only that, but your concentration in community parks during the evening hours has practically caused them to become abandoned by the young lovers who used to stroll there. Social scientists and urban planning specialists have told us that this one aspect alone of your depredations is having an immeasurable impact on the stability of marriage and is wasting the treasuries of local governments, who have to keep the parks in repair, regardless of how much they are used.
“How would you respond to these criticisms?”
“Mr. Chairman,” replied Leech, “my colleagues and I recognize the problem you and the other members of the committee face trying to solve this direful dilemma. We know each of you is a stalwart supporter of free enterprise and recognizes the harm that can result from well-intended but wrong-headed regulations, yet you are faced with the necessity of bringing inflation under control. Your party’s platform has consistently been in favor of the profit motive, thereby adhering to the Natural Law of Greed.
“As you are already aware, ours is a long-established profession with its own code of ethics and an internal disciplining arm. We strive to do no more harm to our victims than is essential to get their purses, jewelry, and what have you.
“Over many years our researchers have developed techniques and equipment which have made America par excellence in the world in terms of the speed, sanitary care and broad availability of an effective mugging. I guess we, like the farmers, are victims of our own success.
“Rather than penalize us for obeying the Natural Law of Greed, however, you should look at where the real guilt lies for this inflation bomb that so worries you—the lovers. I submit to you, sir, that it is unnatural and immoral for them to be strolling about in the parks after dark, especially with large sums of money in their pockets. Before we took effective action, they had virtually inundated the parks, simply inviting us to waylay them. It’s all a matter of that old Natural Law of Supply and Demand, sir. They are getting what they ask for.
“What we suggest that you do—instead of loading us down with regulations—is to set a curfew on lovers in the parks… say, like sunset. That way, the Law of Supply and Demand will force us to limit ourselves to little old ladies, who are less likely to put up a fight anyway. Moreover, the federal government has fewer qualms about caring for little old ladies after they’ve been subjected to our cut-pursing.
“As for the insurance inflation problem, our industry thinks mugging insurance is wasteful and contributes to the overall problem. If these lovers in the parks could be made to realize that the increasing mugging rate is due to their own extravagant use of mugging insurance, they would soon limit their strolls, believe you me.
“Above all, Mr. Chairman, don’t expect us to disobey a Law of Nature by exerting self-control. Nor should you try to hamper our activities with all those regulations. All you will accomplish by doing that is force us to take even more loot from the strollers in the park to cover the expense of coping with your regulations. Even as it is now, we are losing millions of dollars in profits because of the constant, excessive bonds we have to put up to be released after an arrest and then there are all those legal expenses during and after trials. Our own insurance rates for botched muggings are skyrocketing. (I might suggest as an aside that you look at that problem, sir. It’s a crime that I think you will find the insurance companies entirely responsible for.)
“Let me conclude, sir, by saying that there are not too many muggings, but there are too many people begging for a mugging.”
NOTICE: Next post on this blog site will be on or about August 6.