Do you smile and say a cheery “No thanks, not today” as you pass panhandlers on the sidewalk? Did you ever notice that small, private deeds are like fish-hooks? Do you resent having to pay to educate other people’s children? Do you require your nanny/gardener/maid to have a green card? Would you have to pay them more if they did? Do you have at least one bank account in the Caribbean? Have you told your wife? Is it any of her business? Have you shared the American Free Enterprise system with other nations by moving company facilities overseas?
Will you be very upset if the codfish becomes extinct? Do you own an SUV because you like having a height advantage? Do you like elephants better than donkeys? Do you like beef cattle better than rare butterflies in a jungle somewhere that nobody would ever miss? Does your sense of public duty end at your property line? Do you preserve the environment by fertilizing your lawn four times a year, or do you hire it done? Do you miss the old days when moms stayed home and baked bread and cookies and left the real work to others? Do you pay all of your people enough for this to be possible? Does this make you a hypocrite? Do you think prayer is the first line of defense in women’s health? Do you spend at least five minutes a day avoiding paying taxes? Do you expect an expensive meal when you give your valuable time to a charity event? Do you expect the government to reimburse you?
Do you think it would be really neat if Americans got an extra vote for every million dollars in net worth? Do you think voters should have to prove that they finished high school? Do you think most of them would lie about it anyway? Do you think poor people lie more than rich people? Are you privately glad that so many people reach this country illegally because you can hire them for less money? Do you really care who picked the lettuce in your $8 salad? Is it any of your business how much they were paid? Do you wonder if they can afford health insurance? Do you think American workers are coddled? Do you have any “close friends” who are gay? Did you include the waiter from lunch? Do you think a moderate level of unemployment helps keep labor costs from rising? Do you owe anybody a living wage? Does your departure package if you are fired for cause include a lifetime annuity or use of the corporate jet? Does your wife get prettier with every decade? Is your second wife prettier than your first? Are you good at keeping promises?
Are you glad that hazardous wastes are safely disposed of in districts where no Republicans will be harmed? Do you believe you will be dead long before sea levels rise over 20 feet? Are you glad that among the first areas submerged will be Malibu, South Miami Beach and New York City? Do you think prayer is the best cure for homosexuality? Do you think God gave white people dominion over the North American continent? Do you ever feel guilty about things done with your tacit approval? Are some of your “best friends” Jewish? Did you count the surgeon who worked on your jowls and the guy who sold you your suit?
Do you think Jack Welch is worth every penny? What about Jeffrey Skilling? Do you think that Ben and Jerry are traitors to their class? Do you think your employees’ pension funds are really your money? Is it really anyone’s business which country you bank in? Do you think a country can be called “Free” if it allows capitalism to flourish or does it need to be democratic too? Would you vote for Vladimir Putin if he could run for President? What about Clint Eastwood? As Dirty Harry or as Josey Wales? Do you think arming janitors would make our schools safer? How strongly do you oppose background checks for purchasers of automatic weapons? For school janitors? Do you agree with the President that foreign terrorists have the same sacred gun rights as Americans? Do you think poor immigrants are entitled to all constitutional rights or just the ones having to do with guns?
Do you suspect that a lot of people on government assistance are illegally moonlighting to make ends meet? If caught, should they be prevented from ever receiving assistance again? Do you think it would harm our national security to audit large defense contractors on a regular basis, or should we just audit the ones that have defrauded the government in the past? Should we make it harder for poor people to get government assistance so they give up and quit bothering us? Should we make government assistance forms more complicated so people who are poorly educated or borderline retarded can’t figure them out? Is it fair they make it so complicated for your company to apply for a government grant or a disaster loan, or was it actually pretty easy? Does the government know the flooding never reached the suburbs where your facility is located? Is it their business? Is all that paperwork burdensome? Does it cut into profits? Would it be a good idea to defund regulators in government whose sole responsibility is spying on good corporate citizens like yourself?
Would you rather put expensive scrubbers on the smokestacks at the factory or buy yourself and the members of your board, and their wives, each a $50,000 wristwatch? Do you ever plan to go fishing in upstate New York anyway? Wouldn’t it be just as easy to fish in Montana or Costa Rica? Would you rather raise your lowest paid employees’ wages by 15¢ an hour, or buy yourself a new Hummer? Should your congressman return your phone calls because you gave him $5000 last election cycle? Would you think it was a good idea if we made it harder for people to vote? Would it be a good thing if thousands of Democratic voters were taken off voter lists and were made to prove they were really who they said they were before they could vote? Do you feel better if you wear a sidearm when you go to vote? Do you think the government should make it more convenient for you to cast an absentee ballot because Bermuda is always so pretty in early November?
Would you rather have a 357 magnum just like the one Clint used in the movie Dirty Harry, or a larger penis? Is it easier to get an erection in the driver’s seat of the Hummer or at home in bed? Is it burdensome for the government to require that you provide reproductive health coverage for your female employees? Are you glad that Viagra is covered by your health plan at the office? Don’t you think you should at least cover it for your executives and sales staff, too? Did you expense that trip to Sonora for the male-bonding retreat for tax purposes? Did you find yourself attracted to any of your younger male colleagues? Did you try prayer?
Do you trust politicians more if every hair is in place? Have you ever wondered how they do that? Is it because of crosswinds? Is it very hard to imagine that it’s really a small furry pet curled up on their head? Would you be worried for our nation if we elected a woman president and terrorists struck during her period? Do you think post menopausal women are moody and error prone? Do you think the most efficient and best form of government is when government and big business work as a team? Would you be worried if the central government moved swiftly against the rights of some Americans in a time of vague and undefined but imminent threat? Would you be upset if it only affected other people, people not like you? Do you know what fascism is?
Do you sometimes wake up in the middle of the night and find yourself wondering if Nixon was right? Did you know that Nixon was more liberal than Bill Clinton? Do you think Hillary Clinton is as sexy as Richard Nixon, more sexy, or just as sexy but in a different way? Who is funnier: Dick Cheney or John McCain? Who would you rather share a cell with in the Hanoi Hilton? If you had been in the Hanoi Hilton for six years would you be able find Katherine Harris sexually attractive? Would you be angry that George W. Bush spent the Viet Nam war years relaxing in Florida? Do you like George W. Bush when he wears those jeans and that cool jacket out at his hobby farm in Texas? Have you spoken to anyone about it? Do you want to be like him? Do you think you could be President today if you had studied less in High School? Does it make you angry? Do you think your High School Geometry teacher was lying to you deliberately about how important it was to study? If you had a button in front of you that would immediately freeze her salary and de-fund her retirement, would you push it?
Do you get angry at faceless bureaucrats when the government cuts essential services to the elderly and the very young or do you blame the conservative members of Congress who cut the funding? Do you understand the previous question? If a candidate promises lower taxes and better schools do you vote for him out of a) an animal reflex seated deep in the brain stem, b) a profound ignorance of fundamental accounting principals, or c) because the other guy is a socialist and socialism is a failed system everywhere in the world except in Western Europe, New Zealand and Canada? Did you ever go to bed with a gymnast? Do you feel safer knowing the guy you flipped off on the freeway probably has a gun? How would you get a camel to pass through the eye of a needle? (Give examples.) Does it make you comfortable, angry or bored to know that your shoes were probably made by a girl the same age as your middle girl, Judy, and she gets paid as much per day as you pay to pee at the club? Do you know the name of the man who works in the washroom at the club? Could you pick him out of a lineup, or do they all look the same to you?
Are Republicans better Christians automatically, or do they have to work harder at it? Does it bother you that Jesus had long hair? From your reading of the Bible, did Jesus spend most of his time hanging around with rich friends? If you learned that Jesus told jokes about poor people in private would you think less well of him? Should we be surprised that supreme beings tell jokes about the poor? If Jesus were a property owner in your neighborhood, would he be for or against subsidized housing? Do you believe every word in the Bible? Do you think smart-aleck children should be stoned to death? Do you think Jesus looked Jewish? If He did, would he be able to get an important job at your company? Would He hold out for a pay package that included guaranteed stock options? Would you think He was pushy? Have you swallowed your own beliefs whole?
Should our government be run like a business? Should the President be selected by a board appointed by his father and his father’s best friends? Do you admire a foreign leader in direct proportion to the size of the bribe you paid him to do business in his country? Is it a good idea for G.O.P leaders to deny access to people and groups who contributed to the Democratic Party? Should people who don’t contribute to the G.O.P. be audited by the I.R.S. annually or every two years? If Martha Stewart goes to prison would it be all right to let the even guiltier criminal billionaires off? If money equals speech does the boiling temperature of water equal a panama hat? (Show your work.) If it’s wrong to pay someone for no work, should you give back the courtside Knicks tickets when you retire? If you never remember you promised to, except in the closing minutes of a close game, does that constitute fraud? Should you do time at Rikers or at a country club in Connecticut? Would you choose time at Rikers if you knew for sure that Winona Ryder was going to be your bunkmate? Would you be angry if she got out of it by sleeping with a prominent Republican on the Prisons Subcommittee? A prominent Democrat?
Do you think Patrick Leahy and Tom Daschle are wienies because they didn’t die of anthrax, or even get sick? Should the military contractors who screwed that one up get paid anyway? Should they be denied their bonuses? Should they be given another chance or should their failure prevent them from ever getting another government contract? If you were the largest donor to the George W. Bush Presidential Library Fund, and you were given the honor of choosing the site, would you put it: a) in the billiards room at Skull and Bones, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut. b) on Patrick Buchanan Way in West Palm Beach, Florida. Or c) in the new Extreme Right Wing of the Supreme Court Building, Washington, D.C.? Do you think the more recent Star Wars movies are as good as the early ones? Do you think the U.S. could fend off a nuclear attack using special effects? Did it make you feel safer when you learned that they had rigged the tests of our missile defense system?
If Jesus promised a big tax cut and then gave most of it to a few of his rich friends, would he go down in the polls? Do you think God overreacted when he punished Adam and Eve and all of their descendents for all eternity for eating an apple? If God promised a messiah who would liberate Jerusalem by military force and then sent a pacifist instead who ended up getting killed would you choose to become a Muslim, or a Hindu? Was God just teasing Abraham when he instructed him to kill his son Isaac? Was it a very nice thing to do? Was he pissed off at Abraham about something? Is it a nuisance to force factory owners not to chain their fire exits shut? Is it a good thing to systematically remove black people and poor people from juries? Do you think a wife should vote the way her husband tells her to? Would it be a good thing if the government provided all husbands with mind-control devices so they could force their wives to do their bidding? Should you be required to pay a fee for such a device? Should this fee be tax deductible?
Do sleeping dogs have a tendency to lie? Do you believe them anyway? If your neighbor says something threatening to you and you believe he has guns at home, should you go over there in the middle of the night and shoot him first? Have you ever been stung by a dead bee? If a reporter asks an embarrassing question at a White House press conference, should he lose his job? Should he be detained? Should he be sent back to the Soviet Union? Would you scream bloody murder if a Democrat was sworn in as President after a Republican got more votes? Are you glad when you get something you like on a technicality but think it’s terrible when somebody else does? If you really, really needed to keep a precinct from recounting the votes in a close election would you fly in a bunch of burly congressional staffers to intimidate the precinct workers like an angry mob or would you ask someone else to do it secretly? Is it fair to blame Judas when God arranged it all in advance?
If you were President would you make the trains run on time? Do you think the IRS should be run on a for-profit basis? Should the military save money by paying its soldiers with foreign slaves and booty? Would the police department work more efficiently if it were more focused on profit sectors? Are we wasting tax dollars to keep old people alive? Are light bulbs a waste of money in a school for the blind? Do you think poor people should learn how to save money? When you control the supply of something people need to live is it a good idea to cause a shortage and jack up the price? Do you get angry when people don’t do as they’re told? Would you cross the street to feed a hungry man? Would you cross the street if your favorite jeweler was having a going out of business sale? If you ignore problems do they go away? When you look at yourself in the mirror can you remember the names of your children? Is it extravagant for a poor person to get sick?
Which Republican achievement would make Abraham Lincoln the most proud, a) suppressing the black vote by “cleansing” voter lists, b) rewriting farm programs to force more small farmers into bankruptcy, or c) shifting more of the tax burden off of the rich and onto low and middle income people? Which Republican achievement would make Teddy Roosevelt the most proud, a) rolling back sixty years of environmental protections, b) keeping it legal for corporate accountants to fiddle the books, or c) promoting huge corporate consolidation in media and vital industries?
Do you owe anyone a job? Do you think there are some people who nobody will hire? Should we pen them up in secure compounds in remote areas where they won’t make the rest of us feel guilty? Would it be a good idea to make unemployment a crime? Do you get angry with the driver who tries to merge into your lane on the freeway? Do you try to cut him off since you were there first? Do they have any business getting in ahead of you? Would you break the law to keep them out? Wouldn’t it be handy to have a gun in your pocket sometimes? Wouldn’t it be nice if it was legal to have a handgun handy at all times just in case you get really pissed off at someone? If Jesus were a motorist do you think he would let himself be pushed around by other drivers trying to get on the freeway ahead of him? Does this make you think less of him? Is this any way for a supreme being to act? Do you think Mohammed would need more than one round to beat Jesus up in the ring? If Mohammed and Krishna were in a tag team bout with Jesus and Buddha, who would win? Would you like it if a foreign power tried to pressure our government to impose an ideology foreign to our own? Because we’re better than everybody else, is it O.K. for us to do that exact thing to other countries whether they like it or not? Would it be better if we paid off their leaders? Would it be less expensive if we just killed their leaders and so-called holy men? Would it be a good idea of we just dropped money from a plane?
If “Freedom” means “Democracy” and “Capitalism” would it be O.K. to just impose the “Capitalism” part? Could we just redefine Democracy any way we like, depending on our standing in the polls? Would that be easier and better for us? Would it be good at least for the corporations that wanted the war, because they could send American jobs over there and save money? Do the people in sweat shops really sing happy songs all day? Would it be wrong not to reward these smart corporate leaders with lavish bonuses, stock giveaways and ready access to the Oval Office? Is it realistic to expect these lucky corporations to share their windfall with the workers whose jobs were sent overseas? Wouldn’t some people think it was a lot like Communism if they did share their good fortune?
Was Jesus really a Communist? If Jesus had been called before H.U.A.C. would Nixon have made him look like a shifty-eyed Commie in front of all of his believers? Would his Jewishness have made Jesus appear less believable on TV? Would Protestant Churches have been obligated to give all the people’s money back, or just the Catholic Churches? Was Marx misunderstood? Was collective bargaining actually the opiate of the people?
Do you sometimes wonder if life in the Old South was really so bad? Don’t you think the Negroes were pretty lucky not to have to worry about whether they had a job or a roof over their heads? Don’t you just love their music? Don’t you think security is a good thing? Would you trade away freedom of thought to feed your family? Do you feel safer associating with people who are better off than you? Would you rather serve soup to the poor or cocktails at an elegant party on Park Avenue? Which job would you expect to pay more? Do the poor waste too much money on ambiance? Do your motives sometimes twist themselves into knots?
Does it make you feel safer when you laugh at your boss’s joke about the buxom minority woman in Human Resources? Do you just hate “Political Correctness” or do you really think your boss is witty in a worldly debonair sort of way? Do you believe that, according to the Bill Of Rights, freedom of speech extends as far as your funny bone? Do you consider your boss’s needs when you are in the voting booth? Do you think it would help you in your career if you voted to advance the financial interests of the class above you? Will their gratitude buy you a ticket to Easy Street? Do you feel grateful to the good Lord above that you have a job? Is your employer God’s rightful representative on earth? Do you know which side your bread is buttered on? Do you feel happiest when you are in a room full of people who think and look just like you? Do you belong to a club?
Were you unpopular in High School? Did you wish you could be a football star and date a cheerleader? Did it make you feel better about yourself when a popular kid was nice to you? Were you glad when he made fun of someone else instead of you? Did you laugh along? Did you try to sit near the popular kids in the lunchroom? Did it feel good when they let you? Was it better than sitting with the usual losers? Did you tell your friends how nice the popular people were when you really got to know them up close and personal? Who did you vote for for homecoming king? Did you feel like you were a part of something bigger than yourself? In the old war movies, do you like the black S.S. uniforms or the cool Luftwaffe uniforms best? Do you love pep rallies? Does it make you proud to know how many million dollars your C.E.O. made last year? Did you really put your shoulder to the wheel? Did it make you feel like you were a part of something bigger than yourself?
Is your C.E.O. smart and patriotic to bank in the Bahamas? Do all your taxes just go to black people anyway? Does it make you angry that former President Clinton is so friendly with black people? Does it make you suspicious? Are the Clintons part of a big conspiracy to let black people into your suburb? Are you glad when you have a reason other than color to exclude a black person? Is it convenient when they are less affluent? Was your C.E.O. smart to move that company division to Indonesia? Are you glad that it wasn’t yours? Do you feel safe? Do you tell yourself that if you work extra hard everything will be all right? Does the C.E.O. say how sad he is when he has to lay off thousands of American workers? Does it make you feel better that he did everything in his power to keep those jobs right here in America? Is it all the fault of government regulation? Are the unions to blame? Are union workers lazy and selfish? If they worked 24/7 like your C.E.O. wouldn’t it be a good thing? Are you glad that your C.E.O makes more in an hour than you do in a year? Doesn’t your C.E.O. have to work super hard, 24/7 to deserve his salary, perks, bonuses and options? Aren’t you glad that he has lots of assistants to do the actual “stuff” leaving him free to think big? Doesn’t he have to take his work with him on his two months in Bermuda and to lunch at “21” and out on the golf course at Burning Tree? Isn’t it a good thing that the company jet flies him to Bermuda and the company pays for his lunches and massages and his greens fees? Do you think he’s a good tipper? Do you think he would be even if it was his own money?
Wouldn’t you feel safer in the workplace if the government stopped imposing burdensome safety regulations that force companies to move jobs overseas just to compete? Isn’t a company’s patriotic duty to remain competitive? Is workplace safety really your boss’s problem? Isn’t it a good idea to chain the fire exits shut on the outside? Isn’t it mostly careless people who get hurt or sick at work? Isn’t it mostly their own fault when people get laid off? Are you glad when it happens to other people and not to you? Are you a good worker? Are you good at doing what you’re told? Are you loyal to your company? Doesn’t your company have your best interests at heart?
Does your C.E.O. share his own good luck with you? Does he say hello to you in the hall? Does he remember your name? Does this make you feel ten feet tall? Are you proud that he makes as much in a week as you make in your career? Have you ever driven slowly past his house on a weekend and thought you saw him out mowing his lawn but found out it was only his gardener? Do you think he pays his gardener as much as he pays you, or more? Was his gardener really tan or was he a Mexican immigrant? How did this make you feel? Do you think he knows his gardener’s name? Would you like to live in the same neighborhood as your C.E.O. even if you could only have a small house? Does your C.E.O.’s gardener live in a small house behind the garage? Wouldn’t it be neat if you and your boss’s household staff, his tennis instructor, his tailor, his wife’s hairdresser and couturier and jeweler and his gardener and the butcher and the baker could all live in a little village of quaint stone cottages right outside his palace gates? Would you all put your shoulders to the wheel? Do you know what feudalism is?
Is your boss in the driver’s seat? If you and all the people in the company and all the people who depend on your boss’s paycheck to live are the car, are you the carburator, the floor mat or the tailpipe? (explain) Is your boss worth a thousand of you? Did Jesus get paid a thousand times as much as his apostles? Because Jesus didn’t negotiate a better pay package do you respect him less?
Would you put in a “good word” for an important employee to get his children into the daycare at the 92nd St. Y? Would you put in a good word for an unimportant employee? Would it make you feel better if you told yourself that your Puerto Rican maid’s kids wouldn’t feel comfortable there anyway? Do you think getting into an exclusive daycare would really help the children of a Puerto Rican maid get into Harvard and make useful lifelong relationships, so wouldn’t it be a waste of effort? Do you worry other people in your set would say things about you? Would they call you a Communist? Would you be a traitor to your class? Where should unimportant people go to get a “good word” put in for them? Do people who don’t work with anyone important put in “good words” for other unimportant people? Is it all soap bubbles?
Is working for important people a sign of God’s favor? When you work for someone super-important do you get “really super-excellent words” put in for you? Do you get invitations to join their private clubs? Do they sometimes let you eat the scraps from their table? Do you get to use their pool when they are away as long as you clean it afterwards? If your child were injured in their pool do you think they would put in a “good word” with their top doctor? If you didn’t have insurance do you think they would ask you to sign a waiver? Is it your employer’s problem if you can’t afford insurance? How important does the employee have to be before a boss foots his child’s hospital bills? Do you think he pays more for public relations than he does for employee insurance? Do you think your boss’s public relations people make more than you do?
Is it fair for one family to have lots of health problems and make the company insurance plan more expensive for everyone else? Would it be better if they weren’t a burden on others? Was it better in the old days when people who couldn’t afford top doctors and miracle drugs just died? If Jesus invented a miracle drug would he be entitled to price it out of most people’s range? Would he be a fool not to? Wouldn’t it be better if people who can’t afford it would avoid getting sick? If Jesus was asked by the President to put together a better health care system for America would he make sure to protect the profits of the big pharmaceutical companies?
Is it God’s will that the best med school graduates are attracted into the specialties that have the most affluent patients? Is it a good thing that access to a doctor is based on one’s ability to pay? If it was based on how sick you were wouldn’t everybody be encouraged to get sick? Is your doctor a whore for his rich patients? Do you think that high-priced call girls use the income from their wealthy clientele to subsidize more affordable sex for the less fortunate?
Did your company C.E.O. create the company out of a lump of clay or is he just another in an endless series of identical men in identical suits? Does he make decisions in a way that increases his own pay? Does this make him a parasite? Do you feel guilty for even wondering? Does this mean you’re not a team player? Do linebackers get asked to clean the quarterback’s spikes? Why does the highest paid player get free shoes? Does anybody worry that your C.E.O. has bad knees? Do you work more hours because your boss hints about layoffs every five minutes? Would it be kinder if he just used a whip?
Are you grateful for every paycheck? Does your boss make the sun rise in the East? Are you pleased when he lays off somebody else instead of you and then do you lie and say you’re sad to see the other guy go? Is your boss even better than you are at faking sincerity? Did it help get him where he is today? Should you put “good at lying” on your own resume? Would it help you rise in the company? Would you trash a co-worker if his firing let you keep your job for an extra month? Would you fire five people with families to feed in exchange for a corner office? Would this make you a better American?
Is it a good idea to put savings to the company achieved by layoffs into the bonuses of the responsible executives? Do the benefits of streamlining ever make it to the people at the bottom? What did they ever do to deserve it? Would it be more efficient if you had employees fire each other like in a Reality Show on TV? Would it be more fun to watch? Would it generate advertising revenue? Is cannibalism a good business model? Why do poor people hate America?
Does Dick Cheney remind you of Edgar Bergen when he talks out of one side of his mouth like that? Is George W. Bush as witty as Charlie McCarthy? Did you ever wonder why a ventriloquist act was such a hit on radio? When Rush Limbaugh talks can you see God’s lips move? Are liberals too nice to be really funny? If Rush Limbaugh made fun of black people or gays or poor people specifically instead of by implication would he be funnier? Are Jews easier to make fun of than gays? Why is it funnier when women raise their voices than when they sit there and take it? Would the McClaughlin Group be less fun if half of the chairs were occupied by women? Would they pull each others hair? Would that be sexually arousing to viewers at home? Would the men on the show pull each others hair if they had any?
Are conservative women always younger, blonder and sexier or are they just the only ones they let on TV? Where do you find women who look just like that in New York City? Have you ever imagined Jean Kirkpatrick in a short leopard-skin skirt? Was she brandishing a whip? Is she listed in the personals in the New York Review of Books? How was it? Have you tried prayer? Would it be a good idea to make the unemployed wear a badge so we know who they are?
Do teachers have it too easy? Is it possible to spend too much on the military? Would it be a waste of money if we didn’t invade another country once in a while? Would you rather spend a small fortune to send a kid to college or an enormous fortune to send him to prison? Is family planning a waste of money or is it a sin? If your bathtub is overflowing do you bail or do you turn off the tap? Is poverty an aphrodisiac? Do people make their own luck? Did George W. Bush choose his parents? If you were born on third base would you assume you hit a triple? Does thinking too hard make your head hurt? Have you ever choked on a pretzel?
© Pasquino 2003