Ask the Relativist

Ask the Relativist

Dear Dr. Madlaw,
   As a newly elected member of Congress, I am appalled at the high cost of living in Washington. What’s a hard-working public servant to do?


Dear Dr. Madlaw,
   As a newly elected member of Congress, I am appalled at the high cost of living in Washington. What’s a hard-working public servant to do?
   Mr. Smith

Dear Mr. Smith,
   There are entitlement programs designed to assist those in precisely your fix. Start by applying for a spousal subsidy plan–Mrs. Smith may be eligible for a variety of corporate lobbying jobs designed to help with those hefty household expenses. Some even offer free lunches for the whole family. In addition, many public-spirited pharmaceutical companies offer free insurance benefits guaranteeing comprehensive health and happiness to any subscribing member of Congress.
   You can also look into the many government job-training programs where your children can earn loyalty badges, soft-money accounting skills and frequent flier miles. Indeed, the Administration of Federalized Family Relations was first instituted by the Quincy Adamses, then carried forward on a small scale by the Rockefellers, the Roosevelts and the Kennedys. Today, our great government has blossomed into one tight-knit, family-centric apprenticeship program. Vice President Dick Cheney’s daughter Elizabeth, for example, has a custom-made office in the State Department, which is headed by Colin Powell, whose own son, Michael, heads the Federal Communications Commission. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia’s son Eugene, now a Labor Department solicitor, used to work for the same law firm that represented President George Bush the Second, not to be confused with President George Bush the First, during the election-year lawsuit that ended the aspirations of Senator Albert Gore the Younger, whose own father, Senator Albert Gore the Elder, was a contemporary of the late Senator Birch Bayh, father of current Senator Evan Bayh; just as Connecticut Senator Thomas Dodd was the father of Connecticut Senator Christopher Dodd, and Representative John Dingell the father of Representative John Dingell, whose party, by the way, is now headed by Senator Nancy Pelosi, whose father, Thomas D’Alesandro Jr., was Mayor of Baltimore, and whose brother, Thomas D’Alesandro III, was also Mayor of Baltimore. Pelosi’s daughter has filmed a documentary of George W. Bush.
   All this is terribly confusing to the enemies of America. But red, white and true-blue-blooded patriots know that this intricate interconnection of public relations forms a delicate system of checks and balances. Missus Senator Dole is a nice balance to her husband, Mister Senator Dole. Los Angeles civil-rights activist Constance Rice serves as a vital check upon her cousin, National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice.

Dear Dr. Madlaw,
   I would like a job in public service, but my children are wild. They steal all my photo ops as well as the sherry. The tabloids have chronicled them shooting at the neighbors’ cats, hacking into the school computer to change their grades and generally raising hell. Inasmuch as I have just been nominated for a high-level government appointment, I wonder whether I may legally lock up the kids till after my confirmation.

Dear A.,
   The maximum time on record for locking up dysfunctional political-family members is ten days in jail. That was in the unforgiving state of Florida, hence the unusually stiff penalty, but it covers a wide range of hijinks, such as impersonating a doctor, writing one’s own prescriptions, underage drinking, driving under the influence and resisting arrest.
   If you need the children out of the way for a longer time, it would help to know if your kids go to a public school. If, under the new Homeland Security Act, they have hacked into the information system of a public entity, the penalty is life imprisonment. Your problems are solved.
   If, on the other hand, they have only been snooping through the private files of a private school, you can try hiring them out to Adm. John Poindexter, once a naughty boy himself, and now head of the government’s computerized Total Information Awareness data-collection system. His mission is to surveille the lifestyles of every last person on the planet, which should keep the little monsters out of your hair for at least a while.

Dear Dr. Madlaw,
   As a concerned parent on a Washington lobbyist’s budget, I’m trying to get my child into nursery school. I read that Jack Grubman arranged to upgrade the rating of AT&T’s stock in exchange for Citigroup CEO Sandy Weill’s help in getting his twins into the 92nd Street Y, which does offer a very nice program, but isn’t this deal unfair to the rest of us normal folk? I remember when a simple Learjet got you into any school. What’s the going rate these days?
   [email protected]

Dear Mr. B.,
   Mr. Grubman’s and Mr. Weill’s generosity was indeed a new and noble high but not likely to significantly raise the overall bar, particularly if there’s jail time that could cause them to miss out on the Parent-Night-at-the-Opera Social. In general, a simple gift of stock should be sufficient for preschool. For kindergarten, the Learjets are still considered tasteful. If you must involve the New York Stock Exchange, high school is the better time to do it, although a new wing for the library is the more usual gesture. Or a playing field–a nice level one is always appreciated. After that, you’re home free. Having received the finest education that money can buy, your child will have solid grounds to sue for reverse discrimination if not admitted to whatever college she chooses.

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