Since the nation's taxpayers can no longer avoid new taxes by reading George Bush's lips, the Chronicler -- in her usual effort to influence history, ease the burdens of society and be sure everyone has a good time -- has a few suggestions of how to raise money.
In the case of spectacular trials of government officials, such as Mayor Marion Barry, Adm. John Poindexter and Col. Oliver North, the enormous cost to the taxpayer -- including all that money the FBI has already spent to sting Barry -- would be paid for by capitalizing on the prurient interest of the public and selling tickets to seats in the courtroom for the performances.
Tickets could be for one day only, for the duration of the run (that is, through to the verdict) or even -- for the big spenders -- through to the first appeal. Unbecoming to the dignity of the court, you say. Well, there is a sort of precedent with churches, since in some, members buy pews. Or Ticketron could handle the sales, if the court didn't want to get its hands dirty.
Consider what other money is to be made off spectators and the camera crews staked out in the burning sun. Everybody must be getting hungry with these all-day sessions. And nobody wants to stray too far off lest someone cop his place.
Popcorn pops up immediately in the mind. Iced drinks. Ice cream. Perhaps periodic pizza runs. Or say -- what about a daily barbecue? The court could perhaps get a recommendation from George Bush, since he held two barbecues last week, one for the diplomatic corps and one for Congress. (The Chronicler, however, can offer no recommendation for the barbecue since the Bushes banned the press from sampling either the food or the conversation at the two events.)
The camera crews and the sidewalk spectators could also be a good market for fans. The people who are there only in the line of duty, perhaps with fat expense accounts, could be sold battery-operated fans. The ones who just stopped by on their way to the Garfinckel's sale might be content with paper fans like the ones the funeral parlors once provided free to churches. The paper fans could be quite an attraction anyway, with photographs of the principals: Barry, Rasheeda Moore, Kenneth Mundy and Judith Retchin. Gallup could take a fan poll of the audience by looking to see which side had the most fans.
Obviously, the fan sales would be infinitesimal in comparison with the T-shirt take. Look how much money is already being made off the Marion Barry T-shirts! Why should everybody but the government make money?
Hot diggity dog! I've got it now. Forget T-shirts. Well, don't forget them, because they should bring in a tidy sum. But the big money is to be made, the Chronicler sees, in Rasheeda Moore and Ken Mundy hats! Think of it! Every newspaper you pick up shows Rasheeda in one of those hot-shot, wide-brim versions. And with every evening news television program we see another Mundy hat. Maybe the money the government makes off the hats could go to cleaning up the air pollution. You see, the Chronicler has already taken care of the funding for most of the high-expense items of our time.
The court could raise a good bit of money, the Chronicler suspects, by arranging with a video documentary company -- one that's a whole lot better than the Peeping Toms who did the Barry sting tape -- to tape the whole trial, for those who unfortunately have to work during the proceedings. Maybe Time-Life would be interested in selling the tapes by direct mail. Surely Erol's would rent them out. Think of the private tape-watching parties. Think of the straw votes from them! The proceeds from sale or rental of the tapes should be earmarked to buy the FBI not only better equipment but also better camera and sound crews. Perhaps some would be left over to equip rooms at the Vista Hotel and the Ramada Inn as studios with built-in cameras disguised as potted plants, two-way mirrors, paintings with peepholes etc. Perhaps, in this era of glasnost we could get the Soviets who bugged the U.S. embassy in Moscow to be the consultants on the design. If the FBI got into this matter seriously, perhaps it could just build a hotel for sting purposes, complete with facilities to sell ill-gotten gains.
The only problem with all this, as far as The Chronicler can see, is that the accused might demand a cut in the proceeds. The law says that a criminal can't profit from his crime. So if Barry is convicted, he wouldn't be entitled to a cut. As for Rasheeda Moore, the government could specify that her royalties go to pay for her witness relocation expenses.
See, just as I told you, The Chronicler has made the whole Barry Budget Deficit into Pay as You Go. Next week, read my words -- the Chronicler proposes new taxes you'd love to see them pay.