[Program Note: This column came up in the comments to one of the other sequester columns I've been running, and I thought it was a good time to haul it out again. This was originally run right before Thanksgiving, a year and a half ago. I remember the bumpersticker (referenced at the end) from way back, and just took the idea and ran with it. It's not all that dated, except for the bit about the raffle -- it'd have to be someone other than David Petraeus, these days. Anyway, enjoy.]
Originally published November 23, 2011
Excuse me... excuse me ladies and gentleman... [sound of microphone squeaking with feedback, then several thumps, until sound clears]... Hello, can I have everyone's attention for a moment? Thank you.
I'd like to welcome everyone to the first annual Pentagon bake sale. This event was made necessary, of course, because Congress pulled the "trigger" on cutting a half a trillion dollars of the Pentagon's budget over the next ten years. [audible booing from crowd] We all know the Pentagon simply cannot accept this slower rate of the growth of their budget, which in the same period is going to total at least six or seven trillion dollars -- and more, if we have anything to say about it! [loud applause]
Since the politicians quite obviously won't patriotically support the healthy growth of our military-industrial complex any more, we are going to have to make up the difference ourselves. At first, we thought this would be a simple matter of asking for donations. After all, if Warren Buffett doesn't think he's taxed enough, he should just sit down and write a check to the U.S. government, right? We felt certain that there would be a tidal wave of such checks coming in from the hawkish folks on the Right, to preserve the American defense industry's God-given right to make a fortune no matter what else is going on in the world. Unfortunately, to date, we've only received $1,379.42, mostly in coins collected in elementary schools with zip codes near military bases.
This still leaves us about $45 billion in the hole for the first year alone. Or, to be strictly accurate, only $44,999,998,620.58 to go! Which is why we decided to hold the first annual Pentagon bake sale! So welcome to you all! I can see you're eager to get to the goodies, so I'll keep my remarks short.
First, I'd like to thank all the cooks for donating the baked goods. We love you, Mom and apple pie! Let's have a big hand for the cooks.... [lots of applause and cheering] While you stroll around the tables, I'd just like to draw everyone's attention to the booths selling raffle tickets. We're raffling off a dinner with General Petraeus, and the tickets are only one million dollars each. That's right! Only a paltry million bucks buys you a chance to sit down and eat with our favorite military hero, so dig deep, folks, and buy five or ten raffle tickets. We've only got a thousand to sell, so I encourage everyone to pick up a few before they're all gone.
On our first table, we have some lovely homemade candy, which is selling for the low price of $15 million per piece. These are beautifully decorated, and with only 300 to sell, they're bound to go fast. Next to them is the homemade bread area, which you can probably already smell, because there's nothing quite like the smell of bread fresh from the oven. We've got 50 whole loaves for only $30 million each, so be sure to take home a couple!
Once again, don't forget to stop by the raffle booths and buy tickets for your whole family. At only a million bucks a pop, they're already selling fast, I have been informed.
Of course, the heart of any bake sale is the cakes and pies area, in the middle of the walkway. We'll be handing out blue ribbons for best cakes and best pies a little later in the day, so be sure and get over there and sample what our master chefs have come up with. Slices of either cake or pie are going for a reasonable $25 million each, and these are mighty generous slices, I have to say, after having sampled a few myself! We've only got 20 whole pies or cakes for sale, for $100 million each, but we've got 300 slices of pie and 300 slices of cake for the rock-bottom price of $25 million each, so everyone should get a chance to sample their favorites. And that buys you a mighty generous slice, as I said!
I'm told we still have a few hundred raffle tickets left, so please, folks, get to the raffle booths soon or they'll all be gone! Only a million bucks a ticket -- mere pocket change!
Of course, the giant wedding cake in the shape of the Predator drone is our centerpiece. This masterpiece of pastry is absolutely gorgeous, and we invite everyone to walk around it and see how lifelike the details on the frosting truly are. Don't touch, though! Our wedding cake will be going to some lucky bride and groom for only one -- that's right, just one! single! -- billion dollars. An unbelievably low price for such a lovely work of art, and such a delicious way to celebrate your vows! Predators are already well-known for their connection to weddings, so why not have your wedding be the talk of the season with this beautiful cake at your reception?
For those on a budget in these tough times, please check out these tables right down in front here, with cookies and cupcakes for the kids. We've got plenty for all, 500 cupcakes and 1,000 cookies, so there will be enough for everyone to sample. The cupcakes are $20 million each, and... this can't be right, that's too low a price!... No? It's real?... I can't believe it myself, folks, but the cookies are only ten million dollars each! Wow! I think I'll get a couple dozen and take them home!
OK, the ladies in the cake and pie judging competition are eager to take the stage, so I'll wrap this up. If we sell all our baked goods today, we will have completely raised the $45 billion shortfall in the rise of the Pentagon's budget for one year! See how easy this can be? If we just turn out as good neighbors like this every year for the next decade, and spend a few lousy tens of millions of dollars each, we can easily band together to raise the money the Pentagon so desperately needs to avoid seeing its budget grow only very slowly, instead of as robustly as the military-industrial complex has demanded.
I don't think that's too high a price to pay, personally, and I'm sure none of you do, either. So dig deep, everyone, and don't forget to buy a few raffle tickets while shopping for treats!
[Note: The idea for this column, of course, comes from an old bumpersticker that was popular decades ago: "It will be a great day when schools have all the money they need and the Pentagon has to hold a bake sale to buy a bomber."]
-- Chris Weigant
Follow Chris on Twitter: @ChrisWeigant