Times are Changing


 

 
 

    "Winston, come into the dining room, it's time to eat," Julia yelled
    to her husband.

     

    "In a minute, honey, it's a tie score,' he answered.  Actually
    Winston wasn"t very interested in the traditional holiday football
    game between Detroit and Washington .  Ever since the government
    passed the Civility in Sports Statute of 2017, outlawing tackle
    football for its "unseemly violence" and the "bad example it sets
    for the rest of the world," Winston was far less of a football fan
    than he used to be.  Two-hand touch wasn"t nearly as exciting.

     

    Yet it wasn"t the game that Winston was uninterested in.  It was
    more the thought of eating another TofuTurkey.  Even though it was
    the best type of Veggie Meat available after the government revised
    the American Anti-Obesity Act of 2018, adding fowl to the list of
    federally-forbidden foods, (which already included potatoes,
    cranberry sauce and mince-meat pie), it wasn"t anything like real
    turkey.  And ever since the government officially changed the name
    of "Thanksgiving Day" to "A National Day of Atonement" in 2020, to
    officially acknowledge the Pilgrims" historically brutal treatment
    of Native Americans, the holiday had lost a lot of its luster.

     

    Eating in the dining room was also a bit daunting.  The unearthly
    gleam of government-mandated fluorescent light bulbs made the Tofu
    Turkey look even weirder than it actually was, and the room was
    always cold.  Ever since Congress passed the Power Conservation Act
    of 2016, mandating all thermostats"which were monitored and
    controlled by the electric company " be kept at 68 degrees, every
    room on the north side of the house was barely tolerable throughout
    the entire winter.

     

    Still, it was good getting together with family.  Or at least most
    of the family.  Winston missed his mother, who passed on in October,
    when she had used up her legal allotment of life-saving medical
    treatment.  He had had many heated conversations with the Regional
    Health Consortium, spawned when the private insurance market finally
    went bankrupt, and everyone was forced into the government health
    care program.  And though he demanded she be kept on her treatment,
    it was a futile effort.  "The RHC"s resources are limited,"
    explained the government bureaucrat Winston spoke with on the phone.
    "Your mother received all the benefits to which she was entitled. 
    I"m sorry for your loss."

     

    Ed couldn"t make it either.  He had forgotten to plug in his
    electric car last night, the only kind available after the
    Anti-Fossil Fuel Bill of 2021 outlawed the use of the combustion
    engines " for everyone but government officials.  The fifty mile
    round trip was about ten miles too far, and Ed didn"t want to spend
    a frosty night on the road somewhere between here and there.

     

    Thankfully, Winston"s brother, John, and his wife were flying in. 
    Winston made sure that the dining room chairs had extra cushions for
    the occasion.  No one complained more than John about the pain of
    sitting down so soon after the government - mandated cavity searches
    at airports, which severely aggravated his hemorrhoids.

     

    Ever since a terrorist successfully smuggled a cavity bomb onto a
    jetliner, the TSA told Americans the added "inconvenience" was an
    "absolute necessity" in order to stay "one step ahead of the
    terrorists."  Winston"s own body had grown accustomed to such
    probing ever since the government expanded their scope to just about
    anywhere a crowd gathered, via Anti-Profiling Act of 2022.  That law
    made it a crime to single out any group or individual for "unequal
    scrutiny," even when probable cause was involved.  Thus, cavity
    searches at malls, train stations, bus depots, etc., etc., had
    become almost routine.  Almost.

     

     

    The Supreme Court is reviewing the statute, but most Americans
    expect a Court composed of six progressives and three conservatives
    to leave the law intact.  "A living Constitution is extremely
    flexible," said the Court"s eldest member, Elena Kagan.  " Europe
    has had laws like this one for years.  We should learn from their
    example," she added.

     

    Winston"s thoughts turned to his own children.  He got along fairly
    well with his 12-year-old daughter, Brittany, mostly because she
    ignored him.  Winston had long ago surrendered to the idea that she
    could text anyone at any time, even during Atonement Dinner.  Their
    only real confrontation had occurred when he limited her to 50,000
    texts a month, explaining that was all he could afford.  She whined
    for a week, but got over it.

     

    His 16-year-old son, Jason, was another matter altogether.  Perhaps
    it was the constant bombarding he got in public school that global
    warming, the bird flu, terrorism or any of a number of other
    calamities were "just around the corner," but Jason had developed a
    kind of nihilistic attitude that ranged between simmering surliness
    and outright hostility.  It didn"t help that Jason had reported his
    father to the police for smoking a cigarette in the house, an act
    made criminal by the Smoking Control Statute of 2018, which outlawed
    smoking anywhere within 500 feet of another human being.  Winston
    paid the $5,000 fine, which might have been considered excessive
    before the American dollar became virtually worthless as a result of
    QE13.  The latest round of quantitative easing the federal
    government initiated was, once again, to "spur economic growth." 
    This time they promised to push unemployment below its years-long
    rate of 18%, but Winston was not particularly hopeful.

     

    Yet the family had a lot for which to be thankful, Winston thought,
    before remembering it was a Day of Atonement..   At least he had his
    memories.  He felt a twinge of sadness when he realized his children
    would never know what life was like in the Good Old Days, long
    before government promises to make life "fair for everyone" realized
    their full potential.  Winston, like so many of his fellow
    Americans, never realized how much things could change when they
    didn"t happen all at once, but little by little, so people could get
    used to them.

     

    He wondered what might have happened if the public had stood up
    while there was still time, maybe back around 2009, when all the
    real nonsense began.  "Maybe we wouldn"t be where we are today if
    we"d just said "enough is enough" when we had the chance," he thought.

     

    Maybe so, Winston.  Maybe so.

** 


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