A Parable of Brexit
The Simple Explanation of Why a Nation Is Engaging in Self-Harm
Once upon a time, there was a baby-faced man named Doofus Dumdum. He was the darling of his wealthy parents' eyes, and they sent him to a great school, EatOne. The school was named thus because it cannibalized academia, luring all the brightest teachers and paying them well to ensure that all the Dumdum boys and their friends got their degrees, even if they knew not one blessed thing when they graduated.
Eventually, it was time for Doofus to find a wife. Alas, all the young, pretty and smart ones had already married. But there was a solution; he chose an older wife, one whose life had had a lot less wealth in it than his... and the woman, Maisie Crayzee... desperately wanted wealth.
For a while, all was well. They moved into an enormous house and began having children. In all, they ended up with a hundred kids. One hundred kids.
When the youngest had become voting age, Doofus decided he was tired of being a father and husband and taking on all the responsibility for the kids and the wife, who had become even haggier than before, and even meaner. No big surprise; she was tired after changing all those diapers and seeing that at least half of her children managed to get an education.
Well, actually, half of them wanted an education and managed that on their own, as Mrs. Crayzee Dumdum was no help at all. She was never any help at all with anything. She was a waste of space as they say in the US, but she was all that was left when Doofus' friends had chosen their wives.
Eventually, one of Maisie's uncles showed up and began hanging around the house. He was an evil man, her Uncle Booty. He had grown up in another country, one that had been ruled by a succession of other evil, greedy men, and so he knew nothing else.
"How many kids have you got, then?" he asked Maisie one day.
"One hundred," she said. "Let me tell you about them. Fifty are no problem to me. They clean their rooms, they did their school work, they go out to work and give me a good deal of money to help run the house. It's a struggle since Doofus left and took all the money with him.
"But the other fifty... well, I don't know what to do with them. Some of them work, but they never kick in for the household expenses. Some of them never finished school because they took what little money Doofus had left us and went out partying. When they get a job, they can't keep it very long. I don't know why. Someone told me it was because I didn't insist they finish school.
"A few of them have some physical problems. I can't be bothered, so I sent them to live at a care home. At least I don't have to feed them anymore. The care home is free, but the taxes my first fifty pay support it. The thing is, I'm getting complaints from those kids now because the care home isn't feeding them as well. They say there isn't enough money. Well, I haven't got any. I spend everything I get from the fifty who are working on those care homes and of course I need to put a little away for my own old age. I fancy living in a nice tropical spot, maybe the Caymans, so I'm sending every penny I can over there."
Maisie's eyes glowed. "I don't even have to pay taxes on it."
"One of the first fifty said that's going to be illegal soon. Is it?"
Uncle Booty began to drool. He rubbed his hands together. "Not if we are smart about it, my dear. We can hide the money.... No, wait. I have a better idea.
"Let's build a wall around the house and only let your first fifty out to do their jobs. When they come home, we will take all their money and give them a little so they won't get upset. As for the ones in care, who cares? We don't want to be shipping our money off to support them, do we?"
Maisie shook her head no. "But how will we keep people from knowing we have the money? How will we send it to the Caymans?"
"Very easy, my dear. We will lock the gate, put razor wire on the top of the hedgerow, and won't let anyone in or out through the gate. Then no one will know."
Maisie smiled. It seemed so simple. "But how do we get my first fifty to agree to this? They seem happy to work and go out and contribute to the house and to pay taxes to support the ones in care...."
"We will make life so miserable for them that they won't even have time to miss what they've lost. But first, we have to make sure your second fifty go along with the plan. Can't see why they wouldn't."
And so Uncle Booty and Maisie Crayzee Dumdum set about explaining their plan to all one hundred children. All but one of the first fifty thought they were nuts. "We don't want to give up our lives. We like our jobs. We don't mind taking care of household bills for the others; we still have some extra for ourselves. But we won't if we do as you say. Why should we?"
Uncle Booty's eyes became tiny slits in his unfinished-looking face. "If you don't, a great many of them are going to be very upset, because they don't want to work. They like it the way it is. They might hurt you if you don't agree."
The forty-nine knew that; after all, the other fifty, plus their brother who was apparently having a mental health event and had joined them, had nothing to do all day but hatch plans to become famous. The forty-nine knew they couldn't get rich; they had no skills. But famous would do. Like Tommy Robinson. He had started by kicking a cop who was trying to stop him pummeling his girlfriend in the head. Then there were other incidents too numerous to count. And finally Robinson was invited to the United States—weren't the streets there paved with gold?—and feted by its wealthy con man president. Yes indeed, that's the life, they thought.
Uncle Booty counted heads. "Forty-nine of your children don't want to do this, but some of those were away when we discussed it and voted, so they don't count. Another forty-nine don't want to do it, so it's even. But wait, I think I can convince the ones in care to agree by telling them they will have much better care, much better food, if we do this."
So Uncle Booty went on his way and told those in care that not only would their care be better, he and Maisie would spend so much money on medicine that they'd soon be cured. A couple of them didn't believe him. But a couple did.
Then he told the forty-nine who were working and didn't agree with him that they had to consider the feelings of the others who were not working. "Wait a minute," a few of them said, "We do consider their feelings. We tried to get them to finish their education so they could get good jobs, but they said they'd rather hang out at the pub and the betting office. And anyway, we've been supporting them by giving Mumsie a lot of our money."
A couple of the forty-nine were standing over them, holding cudgels. A couple of the the working children cowered, and began making little noises including the words, "Okay, Uncle Booty...."
Finally, after a few weeks of arguing, Uncle Booty told Maisie it was time to shut the gates, take away the keys of those going out to work, collect virtually all of the money they earned, and spend as little as possible on the household for food and upkeep, and none at all on those in care--that is to say, they were not going to pay any taxes at all but rather send their money to the Caymans. "Let someone else do it," Uncle Booty said, and Maisie Crayzee Dumdum shook her head in agreement.
Before too long, there was no money coming into the house. One by one, as they lost their jobs because a lot of rich people were doing as Uncle Booty said, the working children could no longer contribute. The situation for the Crayzee family was dire.
Something had to give. Either Maisie Crayzee Dumdum would see the light, kick evil Uncle Booty out of the house, open the gates, and beg neighbors to help them out...
Or Uncle Booty would simply decide what work he wanted each of the Crayzee Dumdum kids to do, including the ones in care who had actually become more ill as the money to care for them dwindled, and whip them into doing it. Then he'd give them enough food to stay alive, and ship the rest to the Caymans for himself. He hadn't decided yet whether to keep Maisie with him or not. She had been useful, but still... he really wanted all the money.
Which is it going to be? Do the Crayzee Dumdumbs become slaves to an evil Uncle from a land where it's always winter but never Christmas,* or does Maisie Crayzee Dumdum find her guts, kick out Uncle Booty, and return her family to life in a green and pleasant land where people help each other and don't hoard what they have.
*Borrowed from CS Lewis' The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.
Copyright 2019 Laura Harrison McBride