By Dr. Charles Ormsby – March, 2014
A little over ten years ago, Tom Duggan, his girlfriend, Ralph Wilbur and I started a newspaper called the Valley Government Gazette. We applied for and (using some inside contacts) received a $500 million federal grant to start this much needed publication.
Having received the mulla (that’s mulla as in money … not Mullah as in Mullah Omar), we decided to hold a meeting on how to spend it. A villa on the French Riviera seemed like the appropriate spot (now we’re down to $499 million).
When we could pull ourselves away from the caviar and champagne, we finally settled down to select our business priorities. Of course our chief priority was to keep the gravy train rolling. That meant greasing the palms of our benefactors. Those responsible for giving us the grant had large families to support so we knew we couldn’t just kick back … aahhhh … I mean, that is exactly what we needed to do: kick back some of the mulla.
First, we needed to help out Joe’s (not his real name … we must be discrete) nephew who always wanted a printing business. We didn’t have time to request bids for building our own printing facility. And why bother? We knew Joe’s nephew was the winner. So we told Joe to expect $100 million for building and operating our printing facility. OK, with that done, we were down to $399 million.
Next we decided we needed a Web site. So we checked in with Nancy P. (you know the one!) who had greased the skids on our grant and found out she had a college buddy who knew how to spell HTNL … well, 3 out of 4 isn’t bad (Hey, 75% is a “C”!). So we told her to tell her friend that $100 million was on its way for the GovGazette.com Website. Down to $299 million.
Shortly thereafter, we got a text message from Nancy that said her friend needed help from another friend who lived in Balarus who could spell Web stuff even better than Nancy’s friend. There was also something about a “back door” in the message which didn’t smell right to me, but when it comes to that kind of stuff, it is better to not ask and not tell. In any case, she said she needed another $100 million for the Belarus web programmers. Ouch … down to $199 million.
Next we needed to address the issue of our corporate headquarters. Of course, we needed a building at least as nice as the Eagle Tribune palace in North Andover. We thought about shoveling out several million to the many outstretched hands in Lawrence, but Tommy insisted that we have a snazzy corporate headquarters in plush North Andover so the Eagle Tribune wouldn’t be able to look down their noses at us.
We started inquiring about a building site in North Andover and soon found out we needed a bunch of zoning approvals, permits, traffic studies, etc. To do this we needed experts in climate change, weird frogs and snails, traffic patterns, town history (you know the old “historic district” ploy), ADA-compliance, earthquake dynamics, and fire suppression technology. After shelling out $100 million for all this (now down to $99 million), we were all set to start construction on our $10 million building when we were told we needed to pay the prevailing wage.
Silly me. I said, “If I pay $15/hour and someone agrees to work for $15/hour, wouldn’t that be the prevailing wage?” Ooppss … I guess not.
After coughing up $50/hour and paying for 3 “workers” to watch anyone who actually touched a hammer, we finally got the building built for $80 million.
Down to $19 million. Things were looking good at this point.
We were all ready to start laying out the first edition when the IRS called and asked if we were following all the regulations on wage rates, vacation time, family leave, health insurance, etc. After a thorough audit and $5 million later (down to $14 million), we had a clean bill of health and WE WERE READY TO ROCK AND ROLL!!
Well, almost. Next the EPA called and said government inspectors needed to check for mold and air quality in our building. It is true that we were heating with coal because our heating contractor was a relative of a well-known Democrat from a coal producing state (Don’t blame us, we needed to keep everybody happy!). Well, emitting even one micro-gram of particulates per week with our carbon sequestration system just wouldn’t satisfy the Feds. We were directed to put a windmill on the roof and lots of solar panels. These changes cost us an additional $13 million.
Now things were getting tight. We’re down to our last $1 million. We would have made it but, after four years, we found out the idiot in charge of our $100 million printing plant had spent all the money on morale-building meetings and filming silly skits, and he had forgotten to purchase any printers!
OK, so we went to Plan B and decided to have Graphic Litho (a highly respected printing company in Lawrence) print our Government Gazette paper.
That would have worked, except that we found out it was almost impossible to log onto our $200 million GovGazette.com Web site.
Tommy tried and tried and tried and finally he was able to log in and order a newspaper with our corporate credit card.
Hope springs eternal! Maybe things would improve as millions of subscribers flood the site.
Finally we made it!
What is that, Tommy? You say the Web site has been hacked and somebody charged $1 million to our corporate credit card? WQT*&DR%&*E#!!!
OK. Yes, at this point we were down to $0, but we didn’t lose hope.
I searched my pockets and come up with $6.19.
We were NOT out of it yet. Tommy was accustomed to working for practically nothing, so we asked, and Tommy agreed, to produce the first edition in one hour for just $6.19.
Then a major problem arose. We had forgotten. Massachusetts has an $8.00 per hour minimum wage.
But all was not lost. We conferred with our government partners and they gave us a great suggestion.
We took their suggestion, declared bankruptcy and sued everyone in sight! And, with all the money we made from suing, we started The Valley Patriot.
Now we are celebrating our ten-year anniversary with nothing but profits every month. What a country!
So you see what wonderful things come from government programs. What would we do without them?
EDITORS NOTE: This is a parody.