1928 - Alderson High School - 1968

 

A Political Tale
and
An Adventure in Wonderland

Paul E. Bland

Prologue

I recently learned of an event involving Boozer and Three Eight Ball while they were trying to find Big Foot in Saw Mill Hollow. Usually, I learn of these stories after they are written by A. A. Asbury, but as you know it is thought that A. A. is dead. So, since Boozer has directly informed me of this event, I feel obligated to pass it on in memory of A. A. Recall that Boozer and Three Eight Ball were camping out in ďThe HollowĒ trying to capture Big Foot when they discovered a creature that they thought was Elvis. They surmised that Elvis wasnít really dead and that he was simply hiding out, trying to escape the pressure to perform again placed on him by his adoring fans.

As you know, Boozer and Three Eight Ball had some strange encounters while in Snake Run and Saw Mill Hollow: The Sweet Little Old Lady from Alabama who danced a jig while singing Ramma Jamma, Ramma Jamma, giveím hell Alabama and the family that hung upside down like bats from the limbs of a tree. So it may come as no surprise that another strange event took place in Saw Mill Hollow while they were there, an event that Boozer had kept to himself for some time.

Since Boozer is my only source for the story, I canít actually verify that it is true. However, Boozer swears that he thinks that it did actually happen, that is, if he wasnít dreaming. Moreover, you can rest assured that on my Cub Scoutsí Honor, I wouldnít think of reporting anything in these pages that I didnít feel had a ring of truth to it.

How it Began

It happened one evening in Saw Mill Hollow after Boozer and Three Eight Ball had bundled up in their sleeping bags for the night. They had decided to separate themselves by some distance while sleeping so that if one was attacked by a wild animal or possibly a creature such as a Big Foot, then the other could come screaming to the rescue and help fight or scare off the dastardly beast. Just as Boozer was beginning to doze off, he spotted a rabbit hopping through the woods. As the boys were beginning to run out of food, Boozer thought that if he could catch the rabbit, then he and Three Eight Ball could enjoy a nice rabbit stew for dinner the next day. As Boozer chased the rabbit, he was slowly closing the distance between himself and the rabbit and, strange as it might seem, the rabbit would stop at times as if beckoning Boozer to follow. Finally, just as Boozer was about to catch the rabbit, it hopped into a large hole at the base of a tree. Boozer, thought to himself, well, the hole canít be that deep, so he dove into the hole searching for the rabbit. Boozer went down and down, ever deeper into the hole and then he lost his grip. He free-fell for some time before landing in a large pile of leaves. Looking around he found himself in a forest, a forest with beautiful flowers and other foliage that he had never seen before. Boozer was scared and wondered to himself if he would ever find his way out. As he was beginning to explore the forest and as he was walking down a path, he entered a small clearing where he came upon a very pretty young girl sitting on a log looking at flowers. Boozer spoke to her.

Boozer: Young lady, could you tell me where I am?

Pretty Girl: Yes, Sir, youíre in Wonderland.

Boozer: Wonderland?

Pretty Girl: Yes, itís a magical place where a lot can be learned. Animals and other creatures in Wonderland can actually talk and since they have lived on earth longer than humans have, they can often give insight into many things.

Boozer: Whatís your name?

Pretty Girl: Alice

About that time a Cheshire Cat appeared in the air and floated slowly downward coming to a gentle landing on a large moss covered log.

Cheshire Cat: But thatís not the real Alice.

Alice: I donít know if I am the real Alice or not, but I seem to have been here before, but maybe Iím just dreaming.

Boozer: Alice, whatís your full name?

Alice: Alice Ann Asbury.

Boozer: Were you any kin to A. A. Asbury?

Alice: Yes, he was my twin brother.

Boozer: Do you know how he died?

Alice: Yes, he was killed jousting at wind turbines in Scotland while hunting for Wireís teeth. A. A. thought that the wind turbines were soldiers from the Middle East who were seeking the Treasure of King Solomonís Temple.

Boozer: Yes, I have also heard that story, but no one seems to know if A. A. is actually dead.

Alice: I believe he is dead. If not, he would have been in touch with me. But he was a Knight Templar, you know, and he was wearing his magic underwear when he left, so I guess he could still be alive and searching for Wireís teeth in some far-off land.

Boozer: Alice, do you live here?

Alice: No, I fell down a rabbit hole and ended up here. I have met many wise creatures in Wonderland and I hope to be able to increase my understanding of politics in America while here.

At this point, Boozer glanced over his shoulder and saw Les Miles, The Mad Hatter, twirling a football on his finger while Jabber-Walking through the forest.

Boozer: Alice, do you know The Mad Hatter?

Alice: Yes, Iíve met him, but he canít help me with politics. Seems all he wants to talk about is LSU football and the national championship. I had hoped that he could help me to learn more about the motivations of John Boehner and Mitch McConnell.

At this point in time a short woman and her entourage appeared in the clearing. She was addressed as Queen by two small twin fat boys in her entourage whom she called Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum. The Queen had quite a large head for her body and her hair was bright red.

And then she spoke.

The Red Queen: Did I hear the names John Boehner and Mitch McConnell? Off with their heads! Off with their heads!

Upon hearing this command, Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum ran off in opposite directions to hide, fearing that they might also be the subject of such a command from The Red Queen.

In the ensuing minutes, Boozer, Alice and The Red Queen had quite an interesting conversation.

Alice on Socialism

Alice: My first conversation about politics was with a big fat caterpillar hanging in its cocoon while it was waiting to change into a moth.

Boozer: A caterpillar? Surely, you must be kidding!

Alice: No, remember that animals and other creatures can talk in Wonderland. Fat Caterpillar told me about the commons and socialism.

Boozer: The commons and socialism?

Alice: Yes, the commons are those properties in America that every one owns such as the national parks and socialism is a theory of government where programs for the people are established by government and paid for through the collection of taxes. In fact, in true socialism the government owns all means of production. Socialist programs in America are often promoted by liberal democrats and socialists such as Bernie Sanders.

The Red Queen: Democrats, Socialists, Bernie Sanders? Off with their heads! Off with their heads!

Alice: According to Fat Caterpillar, we all enjoy socialist programs and in fact most of these programs are taken for granted by the people. They are so accepting of these programs that they donít even think of them as being socialist.

Boozer: Really, I donít understand.

Alice: Think of our roads, our water and sewer systems, our police department and fire departments. We have city police, state police and national police such as the F.B.I and the Secret Service. We also have public secondary school systems and public state colleges and universities. Some health services are also provided by the government such as Medicare, Medicaid and the Veterans Health Care System. All of these systems are socialist in nature. Our military is also a socialist program established by the government and paid for through the collection of taxes. Even though the military is provided for in the constitution, it is a socialist program none-the-less.

Boozer: But Iím a committed capitalist, couldnít these programs just be privatized?

Alice: Well, yes, but letís take the case of our road systems. If I owned all the roads in Alderson, then I could charge the citizens of Alderson a hefty sum of money each month for the privilege of traveling on my roads. Moreover, if you owned a business in Alderson, I could demand a percentage of your profits for permitting an entry off my road to your business. And who would set the maintaince standards for my roads? Not the government, since Republicans would not permit that. The Republican refrain these days is to get government off our backs. If other roads such at the interstate highway system were privately owned, then you would probably have to stop every few miles and pay a toll. Also, many years ago the fire departments of New York City were private systems. If your house was on fire and if a fire department arrived at your house, then they would let it burn if their fire department sticker was not on the front of your house. Eventually, the people of New York City got fed up with this and demanded a socialized system of fire protection run by the city and paid for through the collection of taxes. And think about it, would we want our police departments privatized and what about the military? If such were the case, what would happen if America had international crises and the military decided to go on strike for higher wages and benefits? And what would happen if our military was owned by a corporation with international interests and the corporation decided not go to war for America because of its own economic interests?

The Red Queen: Capitalists, Republicans? Off with their heads! Off with their heads!

Boozer: Alice, I guess youíre right. There are many socialist programs in America that we take advantage of and often take for granted. On the surface socialism sounds good to me, couldnít we have more of these programs?

Alice: Yes, but Fat Caterpillar thinks that too much socialism kills the incentive for people to work. His species has lived a long time on earth, observed many political systems and recorded the results in their DNA. Fat Caterpillar told me that this information is passed on from one caterpillar generation to the next through their genes. Fat Caterpillarís observation is that socialist programs have many positive benefits within a society, but any caterpillar will tell you that socialism must not be permitted to go too far. The theory is that a delicate balance between socialism and capitalism is required if society is to function efficiently. Unfortunately, many Americans have been conditioned to the point that they will often begin to salivate like Pavlovís Dog at the mere mention of socialism.

Boozer: O.K., but how does capitalism fit into a good system?

Alice on Capitalism

Alice: Capitalism is an engine for economic growth. It provides jobs for the people in a society and if it is structured correctly with socialism, then this combination provides a ďladder upĒ to the middle class and beyond for those willing to prepare themselves and work hard. Socialized programs such as public schools and public colleges and universities prepare most of the people for jobs that capitalism provides. But we must be careful with capitalism.

Boozer: I donít understand what you mean when you say that we must be careful with capitalism.

Alice: Fat Caterpillar told me to think of capitalism as a pair of draft horses plowing a field. We want the horses to pull strongly ahead, but someone must be at the reins of the horses to make sure that they stay on track and that the plow stays in the right place. Fat Caterpillar says that capitalism operates the most effectively when it is pulling strongly ahead but is controlled in a manner that keeps it on track. Capitalism left on its own will often become predatory and eat its own base.

Boozer: Eat its own base?

Alice: Yes, we see that happening now. For example, look at the ďtricks and trapsĒ that are written into credit card applications, where interest rates can more than double because of a minor infraction by a card holder. Remember also the Glass-Steagall Act of 1933. This law separated commercial banking from investment banking in order to limit speculation by bankers. This act was repealed by the Clinton-Rubin team and this opened the way for much of the trouble that we have with banks today. The repeal was sold to the American people as: if this act is not repealed, then the financial markets will move to London, England. This repeal led to speculation and the subsequent collapse in the housing market when risky loans were made by lending institutions such as Country Wide to people who didnít have the ability to meet their monthly mortgage payment. Banks on Wall Street knew this but went forward anyway since they could buy and package these loans and then sell them to unsuspecting investors. It was simply Plunder, Plunder, Plunder, the crime of our time, and it appears that they got away with it. Capitalism is also eating itself by not paying its workers a decent wage. Business must do this for if not, then people will not have the means to buy what is produced. Right-to-Work Laws may also be part of the problem. These Laws were adopted by many southern states who implicitly said, ďwe know about that slavery thing" and jumped to adopt those laws.

The Red Queen: Clinton, Rubin? Off with their heads! Off with their heads!

Boozer: But wasnít the banking problem the fault of Fannie May and Freddie Mac, the quasi-government institutions that were established to encourage home ownership?

Alice: Not really! The point is that banks and loan institutions were making risky loans in many countries around the world. Fannie May and Freddie Mac werenít backing those loans and the housing market collapsed in many of those countries. Banks in other countries often adopted the speculative methods of the Wall Street banks since there was a great deal of money to be made. Also, Fannie May and Freddie Mac werenít backing commercial real-estate loans in the U.S. and that market has also collapsed. So it was basically a problem induced by speculating banks on Wall Street. Both Democrats and Republican are to blame and donít you remember Wís speech promoting an Ownership Society?

The Red Queen: George Bush? Off with his head! Off with his head!

Boozer: Alice, even though I am a committed capitalist, I really hadnít thought of it like that.

Alice: Capitalism has to be kept in check. Remember the wisdom of Fat Caterpillar; a delicate balance between Socialism and Capitalism must be maintained if society is to function effectively. Socialism and Capitalism provide a ladder up to the middle class and beyond. Public institutions such as colleges and universities prepare people for the jobs that capitalism provides so that people can climb that ladder. These public institutions must be maintained, even if they are socialist in nature!

About that time Boozer felt someone punching him in the ribs. Wake up, Wake up. It was Three Eight Ball punching him in the ribs with a stick.

Three Eight Ball: You going to sleep all day? Itís 6 in the morning and we need to start searching for Big Foot.

Boozer, unzipped himself from his sleeping bag while thinking to himself, how did I get back from Wonderland and into my sleeping bag? Did I really meet Alice in Wonderland or was I just dreaming? Boozer didnít tell Three Eight Ball of this, he just scratched his head, confused and wondering what it was all about.

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