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A fantasy Senate hearing on gouging

Written by Subject: Domestic Policy

A fantasy Senate hearing on gouging

By Craig J. Cantoni (,

Nov. 10, 2005

[Scene: A Senate hearing room. A committee of taxpayers sits on the dais. Various senators sit at the witness table. Reporters and TV cameras line the walls.]

Committee Chair Craig Cantoni: This question is for Senator Kennedy. Senator, the net present value of the projected deficit for Social Security and Medicare is estimated by the Cato Institute to be a staggering $70 trillion. That comes to $900,000 for each American under the age of 18. How do you justify gouging American kids and consigning them to indentured servitude for much of their working lives?

Senator Kennedy: “Gouging” is your word. I would call it social justice, not gouging.

Committee Member Pete Boyd: Social justice, my ass, Senator Kennedy. If my kid becomes a plumber like me, he’ll have to work 18 years just to pay off his share of the debt.

Senator Edward Kennedy: I’m a friend of the working class. Just ask the maids at Chappaquiddick how friendly I am to them.

Committee Member Mary Petroni: Senator, you inherited your wealth, connections and influence from your daddy, Joe Kennedy, who was a philanderer and bootlegger. I’m sure he didn’t pay taxes on his ill-gotten gains from bootlegging. Maybe in the spirit of social justice you should return the money with interest to the federal treasury.

Senator Edward Kennedy: [Red in the face] You’re crossing a line by bringing my father into this hearing.

Committee Member Mary Petroni: I beg your pardon, Senator, but you’re the one who believes that succeeding generations should pay the debts of preceding generations. On a related note, Senator, you want the estate tax reinstituted. To pay the 50 percent tax upon my death, my son would have to sell the florist shop that I worked 60 hours a week to make a success. That sounds like gouging to me, not social justice. By the way, where was the justice for Mary Jo Kopechne?

Committee Chair Craig Cantoni: Now, now, let’s don’t steer this hearing off that bridge. I have a question for Senator Boxer. Senator, the cost of all levels of government is approximately $28,000 per household, or about half of the average household income. If that isn’t gouging, what is?

Senator Barbara Boxer: As my esteemed colleague Senator Kennedy said, it’s social justice not gouging.

Committee Member Billy Bob Pierce: In mah part of th' country we say thet eff'n it smells like a pig, looks like a pig an' squeals like a pig, it's a pig. Senatuh, yer a pig at the trouf! Oink-oink!

Committee Chair Craig Cantoni: Please, Billy, don’t call the Senator a pig. Since Senator Boxer believes in taking money from some people and giving it to other people, she’s a thief, not a pig. Let’s use the correct words here.

Senator Barbara Boxer: To set the record straight, taking from the rich and giving to the poor is compassion, not thievery. Given his station in life, Mr. Pierce should appreciate that.

Committee Member Billy Bob Pierce: Ah doesn't knows whut passhun has t'do wif this hyar hearin', but mebbe it esplains why you have yer han' in mah pocket.

[Hearing room explodes in laughter}

Committee Chair Craig Cantoni: [Banging gavel] Quiet! I won’t tolerate such comments and outbursts. Let’s switch to a Republican. Senator Specter, per-pupil education spending has doubled in real terms over the last 30 years with no appreciable improvement in academic results. In fact, your state of Pennsylvania ranks third in the nation in per-pupil spending, at a whopping $11,000 per student, or $132,000 for 12 years of schooling. Also, after adjusting for cost of living, Keystone State teachers have the highest salaries in the nation. Yet Pennsylvania ranks in the bottom five of the 50 states in SAT scores. Are you joining with Democrats and teacher unions in gouging the public for K-12 education?

Senator Arlen Specter: I’m proud of the work I’ve done to educate our future leaders and to give teachers the money they deserve for their selfless work on behalf of children, especially minority children.

Committee Member Juanita Gonzalez: If I’m not mistaken, a couple of years ago you voted against giving education vouchers to poor black and Hispanic parents in the Washington, D.C. school district to allow them to take their children out of failing public schools and send them to private schools. Yet your kids attended private schools. Sir, you are a hypocrite in addition to being a gouger.

Senator Arlen Specter: No, I’m a friend of Hispanics. For example, my gardener is from Mexico.

Committee Member Wally Wykowski: Can you tell me, Senator Specter, what the heads of the average household in Pennsylvania will pay in education taxes over their adult lives.

Senator Arlen Specter: Uh…ah…I don’t know that number and don’t see how it’s relevant to this hearing.

Committee Member Wally Wykowski: It’s relevant because if people don’t know what they are paying for something, they have no way of determining if they’re getting good value for their money and thus can be easily gouged. I’ve calculated that the heads of the average household in Pennsylvania will pay about $250,000 in education taxes over their adult lives, even if they don’t have children or if they send their kids to private schools. I believe that because you are in bed with teacher unions, you don’t want this astronomical figure to be known.

Committee Member Billy Bob Pierce: As Gomer Pyle would say, gawlee. Senatuh Specter is in bed wif skool marm unions, Senatuh Boxer has her han' in mah pocket, an' Senatuh Kennedy runs aroun' in his boxers. Did someone put Viagra in th' water in this hyar place?

[Hearing room explodes in laughter]

Committee Chair Craig Cantoni: [Banging gavel] This hearing is adjourned until ten o’clock tomorrow morning.


An author, columnist and founder of Honest Americans Against Legal Theft (, Mr. Cantoni has published a new book, Breaking from the Herd: Political Essays for Independent Thinkers by a Maverick Columnist. You can write him or order the book at either or