'Matter of Laugh or Death,' the award-winning humor column
By Bill Dunn
Interesting observations on this thing we call life
(appearing each week in the Republican-American newspaper, Waterbury, CT)
LEARNING ABOUT AMERICAN CAPITALISM
To: Vladimir Putin, President, Russian Federation, Moscow
From: Ivan Goofinov, Economic Advisor, New York City
Dear Mr. President:
As you are aware, my research assignment is scheduled to end soon. Observing American capitalism firsthand has been quite informative, but it has also been very confusing. The success of the American system is much more difficult to explain than we first thought. I am requesting a two-week extension in order to verify a number of theories which may hold the key. I hope you will approve my request. In the meantime, I will give you a preliminary report of my observations.
American food markets are indeed as glorious as had been rumored. A single store contains more food products than the entire city of Moscow. They are called “supermarkets” here. (Roughly translated, this means: “To purchase more than planned.”) There are even different selections of the same product. For example, breakfast in Russia is the same for everyone, “Cream of Splutzk.” In America, there are 250 varieties of breakfast cereal. This one part of the store occupies a great deal of space. Many American adults find this area so terrifying, they ask their young children to make the selections.
Most American supermarkets also contain entire sections filled with products that are inedible. But unlike Russian meat markets, these products are inedible on purpose. The shelves are filled with items such as soaps, paper towels, and disposable diapers. (These are similar to our own “Poopnflingz.”)
Surprisingly, supermarkets are only a small part of the economy. The heart of American capitalism seems to be located in something called a “mall.” (Roughly translated, this means: “I forgot where we parked.”) Malls are buildings approximately the size of Lenin Stadium and also have no public restrooms. We have underestimated the genius of American businessmen, Mr. President. They have combined their economy with religious fanaticism at these malls. I have overheard many people declare, “This place is heaven!”
The faithful pilgrims flock to these centers of worship/purchasing on a daily basis. As can be expected, participation increases during the religious holiday season. Since religion is now legal in our country, I recommend we consider this approach.
There is one thing about these malls that confuses me. Most Americans do not use currency when they shop; they use religious icons called “credit cards.” (Roughly translated, this means: “My savior.”) I asked a shopper how this system works. She told me, “I can charge up to two thousand dollars worth of merchandise and then make the minimum payment of twelve dollars per month!” I hope our esteemed university mathematicians can explain how this is possible—I cannot.
The real key to capitalism seems to be the connection between the marketplace and American television. All consumer products appear on “commercials.” (Roughly translated, this means: “We’re lying.”) These commercials are the main feature of television broadcasting. They are occasionally interrupted with small portions of drama or sporting events.
The function of commercials is to explain which products are absolutely necessary for basic survival. Whether the item is beer, deodorant, blue jeans, or Elvis Presley commemorative corn-on-the-cob holders, every television commercial has a similar approach. They all feature scantily-clad women known as “models.” (Roughly translated, this means: “Wayward girls with surgically enlarged chests.”) Apparently, these women have committed some sort of crime against society. As part of their punishment, they are imprisoned in a place called “Los Angeles.” (Roughly translated, this means: “Sodom and Gomorrah.”) They are then forced to wear tight, painful garments and degrade themselves before the television viewers.
As you can see, Mr. President, I am on the verge of fully understanding American capitalism. With the state of the economy back home, I know you desperately need my report. I humbly ask for your patience. I also ask that you reply to my request for an extension as soon as possible, since I have made arrangements to travel to Los Angeles to personally interview the television models.
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