Dear ITT Ideologist: Plutocrats and Endangered Leftists

Pete Karman

Dear ITT Ideologist,

The Republicans get away with this scare scam because we have so few leftists in the country that hardly any one has ever seen a real one.

I was disheartened by news that the richest person in the world is no longer an American. Since I anticipate becoming flush myself once my Joe the Plumber Commodes franchise begins to gush profits, I fret that this tragic event will sap my entrepreneurial verve. Do you have any ideas about how we could restore an American to his rightful throne?

H. Alger, Indianapolis, Ind.

Dear Horatio,

You are, of course, referring to the new Forbes survey that lists Carlos Slim, the Mexican mobile media mogul, as amassing more moolah than second-rate software sultan Bill Gates. Lots of us sob beside you in the slough of despond. Where would we Americans be if we weren’t numero uno in avidity and auto sports? It’s just not the same envying those who attained merely silver or bronze.

I propose taking up a collection to boost the nation’s spirits. Forbes notes a modest $500 million difference between Slim’s $53.5 billion in assets and Gates’s $53 billion. That’s less than two bucks a head for America’s 300 million people. Surely, a couple of Saturdays at the mall with the equivalent of Salvation Army kettles could fill the till for Bill. We could clean up some urchin to present a check to Gates that would restore him to the pinnacle of the plutocratic pile. It would be an ideologically timely update of old John D. Rockefeller’s disbursements of shiny new dimes to crippled newsboys and such. These are hard times, Horatio. Americans know they can’t all be Bill Gates. But it will make them feel good knowing that they helped Bill Gates to be Bill Gates again.

Dear ITT Ideologist,

I noticed that the French just had regional elections that, in contrast to ours, appeared to be short and sweet. Do you think there are any lessons we can take from Gaul?

Fran Chise, Champaign, Ill.

Dear Fran,

Mais oui, mon amie. Here in the States, Republican candidates waste lots of money printing placards denouncing everyone but themselves as socialists, communists, ecologists and the like. That doesn’t happen in France because leftists already identify themselves as such. For French right-wing politicians to repeat that would be stupid, like accusing Bugs Bunny of being a rabbit. The Republicans get away with this scare scam because we have so few leftists in the country that hardly any one has ever seen a real one. Thus, if we grew a lot more self-proclaimed leftists, our elections might also be shorter and sweeter.

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Pete Karman began working in journalism in 1957 at the awful New York Daily Mirror, where he wrote the first review of Bob Dylan for a New York paper. He lost that job after illegally traveling to Cuba (the rag failed shortly after he got the boot). Karman has reported and edited for various trade and trade union blats and worked as a copywriter. He was happy being a flack for Air France, but not as happy as being an on-and-off In These Times editor and contributor since 1977.
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