Why Arrest My Kid?


New Orleans.-- Tristan, my guru, spent all week trying to learn capitalism. He set up up a little business that sold rather weird but indispensable items like Invisibility Talisman, and Spell of Gold Fog, all priced inexpensively at between 25 cents and $400.

His classmates went in for more conservative products: shoes, pizza, electronics. The class bought each other's stuff with money issued by the teacher and Tristan did pretty well. When you're 12 you need the Talisman of Invisibility. You can get shoes in the real world.

When he achieved a respectable amount of capital Tristan went on a buying spree and got himself a ton of shoes, pizza and electronics. He stayed up all night doing a crumpled tax form: "I forgot about taxes," he said. "I'm broke. And I wrote two bum checks. I should be in jail." That's what he said: "I should be in jail." He owed $2,000 he couldn't see how he was going to pay. And he was out of the Spell of Gold Fog.

I felt for him. I read my paper as I watched him pack his sad lunch to face a day that would land him in prison. In the paper it said that the Bush administration is finally admitting the awful truth. Instead of a $63.1 billion dollar deficit, the 1991 deficit may reach $318.1 billion, adding up altogether to a $3.2 TRILLION dollar national debt at the rate of nearly 1 billion dollars a day.

Now hold it there just a minute. How many bum checks do you have to write to get to a number like that that could take a person a lifetime just to write down with all the zeros? You need the Spell of Lightspeed Squared to even imagine it. The bum check you'd be writing that number on would have to be so big the whole world and the moon could be wrapped in the paper it's written on.

Here is a deal: Wipe out the two bum checks Tristan wrote and he'll sell you a Spell of Time-Travel that will set the deficit back to 1950s levels. He won't have to go to jail, and the Bush administration can go back to sleep.

*Andrei Codrescu is a regular commentator on National Public Radio. His book about the Romanian revolution, "The Hole In the Flag," will be published by William Morrow in June.

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