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Eat the rich: A modest proposal for the current crisis 

It's the holidays in the land of the free, and people are tapped out and fed up. Job losses and belt-tightening rule the Yule in 2008, along with foreclosed homes, credit crunches, worries, and corporate crooks using money from taxpayer-funded bailouts to enjoy luxury spa vacations. Yet we keep hearing that it's up to us, the beleaguered American consumer, to spend even more money this Christmas so the economy won't go completely down the tubes. Right.

It may be beyond our power to prop up the economy this holiday season, but I have a modest proposal that would allow everyone to at least enjoy a fine Christmas meal. Drastic times call for drastic measures, so I say to those Americans in need, those who've been fired, laid off, downsized and squeezed to within an inch of their lives, those whose prospects for a holly jolly Christmas dinner are slim and getting slimmer, it's time to eat the rich.

Here we are in the wealthiest country in the world, and more of us than at any time since the Great Depression feel broke. How did this happen? To find an answer, you have to dig deep into the facts and figures, and look behind the big-business PR smokescreen. Drill down, and the numbers, charts and figures lead to one basic, nitty-gritty answer: The rich have spent the better part of the past decade eating the rest of us alive. I say it's time to turn the tables.

Charity organizations say they're unable to keep up with the need this Christmas season. Food banks are emptying out, many families' heat is being cut off, and here in the land of McDonald's, hunger -- hunger, for God's sake -- is on the rise. Yes indeed, 'tis the season to eat the rich.

The hard economic facts have been reported before, albeit in scattered fragments: Income inequality in America is at its worst since the robber baron days of the late 19th century. Middle-class income, adjusted for inflation, has dropped in the past decade, while expenses have soared; many American workers have been "downwardly mobile" for years, working two or more jobs just to survive, and doing without health insurance while praying that their health, and their children's, holds out. Meanwhile, the incomes of the top 10 percent of American households increased by around two-thirds since 1980, even after adjustment for inflation, and the income of the upper 1 percent, the "super-rich," has skyrocketed; U.S. corporate executive pay is an obscenity; and every week now it seems some new corporate incompetent, or future convict, is getting a multibillion dollar bailout check from you and me. On top of all that, two homegrown North Carolina multimillionaires, former Congressional sloths Liddy Dole and Robin Hayes, are set to get five-figure pensions, with cost-of-living adjustments, for life, like they need it. I say it's time for some Liddy-que.

I can hear the objections now. "Don't you know it's the rich who fund and staff the charity organizations?" "Not all rich people are insensitive jerks." "You're a damned communist." Except for that last statement, these objections are largely true, and I offer a big, very sincere "thank you" to those people of means who do the right thing by their fellow human beings. I'll even go one better than that, and exempt these honorable members of the "compassionate wealthy" from my modest proposal. As for the rest of them, serve 'em up.

Yes, of course, we need new long-term government policies, too, but my special "Eat the Rich" program offers relief in the here and now. It's not exactly a new idea, either. Similar sentiment was voiced in France's pre-Revolutionary days. "Eat the Rich" bumpers tickers have been commonplace in California for years (OK, northern California). Hey, even Aerosmith sang a song extolling the idea of consuming the well-heeled. Today, "Eat the Rich" T-shirts, patches, key chains and coffee cups are readily available online. Obviously, it's an idea whose time has come.

I'm not advocating that anyone do anything illegal, but if you or yours are really hungry and broke, hey, who knows what might fall into your lap? In case you decide to get with the new Christmas program, here's a handy recipe that should help make your new, meaty meal more scrumptious.

Marinated Leg of Rich Person

Ingredients:

1 leg, deboned

6 cups dry cider

2 pounds carrots, sliced

8 medium onions, sliced

8 leaves sage, chopped

1/2 cup butter

2 whole nutmegs, grated

Salt and pepper to taste

Combine half each of the cider, nutmeg and sage with 2 of the onions, and salt and pepper to taste. Cut the leg into slices about a quarter-inch thick and pour the marinade over them. Refrigerate, covered, for 36 to 48 hours. Remove the meat from the marinade and dry with toweling. Strain the marinade and to this add the remaining cider. In a large flameproof casserole melt the butter and, over a high flame, brown the meat slices on both sides. Remove the slices, lower the flame and add the remaining onions and the carrots, cooking until the onions are softened. Pour in the marinade and bring to a boil. Add the remaining seasonings, replace the meat, cover, and place in a medium oven for 1 1/2 hours. Serves 6 to 8.

Happy holidays, and hang in there!

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