Wednesday, June 16, 1999

I dreamed I saw Joe Hill ...

Throughout America, a populist revolution has begun.

INT, IWW MEETING HALL -- 1999.

Alive as you and me, JOE HILL addresses a riled-up audience of WORKERS. They're all named Joe.

JOE HILL: Workers of America! The time has come to eliminate minimum wage!

JOE SHMOE: You tell 'em, Joe.

JOE HILL: The time has come to tell our bosses -- "You can do anything you want." They wanna ship our factories to China? I say let 'em!

Applause.

JOE HILL: It's their dang factories. Am I right?

Applause.

JOE SHMOE: You're right, Joe!

JOE DOKES: You tell it like it is Joe!

JOE HILL: You and me and him -- we've worked hard all our lives! Now we got nothing. So what? The bosses cheated us fair and square!

JOE BLOW: And how, Joe! And how!

JOE SIXPACK: They looted my pension fund! I shoulda been payin' more attention!

JOE HILL: Yeah, you shoulda, Joe. We all shoulda. Look at me! I'm 54 years old. (flexes his arm) I got lotsa strength left in me -- and I can't get a job. It's my own damn fault! I shoulda taken night school! I shoulda had rich parents!

Applause.

JOE HILL: I ain't had none of that. You know what I had? A job! Least I thought I had it. Guess that makes me a shithead.

JOE DOKES: Guess it does, Joe.

Laughter.

JOE HILL: I worked my heart out for 30 years! You know what that got me? My boss fired my ass and gave me a gold watch! Not just me, understand. He laid off 50,000 people -- right off the line -- working folks like you and me. His stock valuation shot up 150%. What do you call that?

WORKERS: A cover story in Forbes!

JOE HILL: That's it, brother. Ain't my picture on the cover. Forbes don't print pictures of losers like me. I ain't no cover boy. Is that my boss' fault?

WORKERS: Hell no!

JOE HILL: Did my boss hold a gun to my head? Did he say, "You ain't taking no math and accounting courses, Joe. You ain't starting a second career as a stockbroker."

WORKERS: No!

JOE HILL: Who screwed up? Me or my boss?

WORKERS: You did, Joe!

JOE HILL: You goddang right I did! My boss -- my former boss -- owns a mega mansion up on the hill. He's got another mansion in Florida -- and yet another in Cali-forny! His 24-year-old trophy wife is dripping with diamonds. He's got 100 vintage cars in his garage. He drives an SUV that's bigger than the shack I live in. Does that make him better than me?

WORKERS: Yes!

JOE HILL: You dang right it does!

Applause.

JOE HILL: There's a ruling class in this here country, don't let anyone tell you different. I'm sure as hell proud of that ruling class! It's the best dang ruling class in the world!

Applause.

JOE HILL: Don't let them NPR eggheads fool you with their dang doubletalk. They try to make it complicated. It ain't complicated! There's good choices and bad choices, it's just that simple. Being rich is a goddamn decision. You make the right choices, you make money. You do what I did and you did and we all did, you get the shit end of the stick!

Applause.

JOE HILL: The choice what's staring us in the face today ain't complicated. It's as simple as a shotgun barrel. What do you want? It's just that simple. What do you want?

WORKERS: You tell us, Joe!

JOE HILL: Government health care. Let's start with that. Is that what you want?

WORKERS: No!

JOE HILL: No. You slobs can do as you see fit. Me? I don't want the almighty state telling me I ain't got the right to die in the gutter! I worked my ass off all my life. One of these days, this ticker's gonna give out. Pretty soon, I'm gonna get old! Who's gonna take care of me? The government?

WORKERS: No!

JOE HILL: Hell, no! I don't want the government's money! I shoulda been saving my own money! I'd rather die than take the government's money. That's my health care plan!

Applause.

JOE HILL: Do we want socialism?

WORKERS: No!

JOE HILL: Do we want Social Security?

WORKERS: No!

JOE HILL: Do we want Medicare?

WORKERS: No!

JOE HILL: What do we want?

WORKERS: A balanced budget!

JOE HILL: What do we want?

WORKERS: No more Mexicans!

JOE HILL: What do we want?

WORKERS: Lower taxes for rich people!

JOE HILL: What do we want?

WORKERS: A President who keeps his pecker in his pants!

JOE HILL: What do we want?

WORKERS: A laissez-faire economy based on a syncretistic interpretation of the principles of Milton Friedman and Ayn Rand!

JOE HILL: That's right, people! I don't know about you, but from where I'm sitting, looks like it's time to start jawing and time to take this message to the streets. Are you with me?

They roar with approval.

JOE HILL: Let's go!

The crowd of WORKERS boils into the streets, destroying the Nanny State forever.

REPUBLICHRIST

INT, MEGACHURCH - DAY
Smug, fat RICH GUY sitting in pew with his cornfed, beefy family.

ANNOUNCER: (OS) You’re rich. You love the Bible. You just can’t stand what it says.

INT, LUXURY HOTEL ROOM
RICH GUY flips through Gideon’s Bible. Reacts with disgust

RICH GUY: Blessed are the poor? Eye of the needle … held all their goods in common? (throws Bible) Who wrote the damn Bible, Karl Marx?

ANNOUNCER: Good question. As far as we can tell, some first century commies filled the Bible with pinko propaganda.

INT, CATACOMBS - NIGHT
A huddle of dirty FIRST-CENTURY COMMIES writing on scrolls.
COMMIE #1: If you own two coats, give one away.
COMMIE #2: Love it, comrade!
They chortle with Marxist delight.

ANNOUNCER: Well, we’ve taken the propaganda out! The New Republican Bible corrects all those errors. Here’s a dramatization of the Sermon on the Mount featuring the new, improved Republichrist!

HILL ON JERUSALEM – 1st century AD
A limo pulls up. REPUBLICHRIST steps out, wearing a three-piece suit that costs more than most people’s homes. Crowd reacts with astonishment at this shiny anachronism.

REPUBLICHRIST: (striding to shaded platform at top of hill) How you doing, how you doing. Good to see you people. OK. Let’s get through these bullet points. (looks at teleprompter) Could somebody …

REPUBLICHRIST snaps fingers. A FLUNKY turns on the teleprompter.

REPUBLICHRST: Great. OK ... Blessed are ...

Coughs. Snaps fingers. FLUNKY hands him chilled bottle of Perrier. REPUBLICHRIST drinks. Gives winning smile to crowd. Continues.

REPUBLICHRIST: Blessed are the rich in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of stuff.
Blessed are those with a positive attitude for they shall get more stuff.
Blessed are the strong, for they shall kick the crap out of the meek.
And take their stuff.
Blessed are those who are filled with their own self-righteousness.
For they shall always be right.
Blessed are the well-armed, for they shall defend their homes.
Blessed are the war-makers, for they shall make others see God.
Blessed are those who are persecute
‘Cause God loves a winner.
Blessed are those who don’t take any crap and get their reward now.
For this is heaven on earth for those …

Stops. Pager vibrating. Checks it out. Looks irritated.

REPUBLICHRIST: (muttering) Herod again. Needy bastard. (to crowd) Hey, I gotta run, people. It’s been real. (to FLUNKY) Move those t-shirts, OK?

LEPER rushes REPUBLICHRIST.

LEPER: Heal me!

A FLUNKY beats the crap out of the LEPER with a nightstick. Throws nightstick away with disgust.

REPUBLICHRIST: (low voice to FLUNKY) Thanks. Give him a t-shirt, OK?  Maybe the tape series.

Waves goodbye to crowd. They cheer.