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Thursday, Oct. 27, 2011 08:46 pm

What scares me at Halloween

A recent Chris Britt editorial cartoon in the State Journal-Register showed two kids anxiously peering through the window at a stranger standing outside their home. “Dad, who’s that on the front walk?” It’s not a vampire, it’s a dark-cloaked man labeled “Poverty.” All too many children have picked up their parents’ justified fear of sliding from the middle class.

Since this is October, let me tell you about imagined trick-or-treaters on my porch. Yours may well be different but these would scare the bejeebers out of me. First were the banksters in pinstripe suits and the hedge fund traders who brought our economy to the brink of global disaster. All of that “too big to fail” talk covered up the fact that they had failed in their fiduciary responsibility. Bernie Madoff is doing time but many of the guilty are still on the loose. The banksters refused any candy but ran off with $20,000 of my home’s equity.

Next, some politicians rang the doorbell. “Aren’t you here a little early? It’s only 2011,” I pointed out. “No!” they chorused and began ranting about the national debt and global warming hoaxes. “Wanna buy a ticket for a raffle?” asked a Republican from Tucson. “It’s to win a Glock revolver like the one that shot Gabby Giffords.” I took the broom to ’em and unplugged my phone to escape their robocalls.

Gov. Quinn climbed the steps. He had a big genial smile and chatted nicely as he took the chocolate bars I offered. Imagine my surprise when I discovered he TP’d the house anyway! What good is an understanding if it’s not honored? As a union member I’d been part of treating him to an agreement on delaying raises in exchange for no layoffs and now he says, “That mean old legislature didn’t appropriate the money, so tough luck.” They did, however, manage to come up with the funds to recycle the union contract into toilet paper, which he strung up on the trees.

I admit, I was frightened to look out the door and see men in black hoods carrying big axes, nooses and syringes. They were the executioners of Texas, the ones that crowds at recent debates clapped for so enthusiastically. I didn’t spot her at first, but there was a small woman in a gray suit among them with a clipboard. She said she was an insurance executive and that anyone who doesn’t have a health care policy should be left to die. “Poverty is a capital crime,” she told me, “and 45,000 Americans each year pay the ultimate price for being poor.” No insurance? “Let him die, yeah!!!” the guys yelled. I slammed the door shut and locked it.

While waiting for the next group, I picked up a magazine and read that because of government funding woes it’s hard to pay for the burial or cremation of the ever-increasing number of unclaimed bodies of the homeless. On the next page it said one in six Americans has now fallen into poverty. I wondered how the good people of Springfield are doing as we climb slowly out of the blast hole of The Great Recession.

Well, I didn’t promise you a pleasant column, I told you I’d share what scares me; maybe Michael Moore and President Obama would be on your porch. The thing is, we’re watching America shrink and hunker down, cutting services even as need grows. And we’ve got the money, trillions of dollars, being hoarded when it could be working and creating jobs. That’s uglier than any latex mask ever made.

Lola Lucas writes essays and poetry, reviews books, and is the author of At Home in the Park: Loving a Neighborhood Back to Life, about Springfield in general and Enos Park in particular. 
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