In the protest I joined, over at the Federal Building in Oakland, I got to play the part of a suit-and-tied IRS agent, coming to the lectern to bring balance to the otherwise anti-government proceedings. I told the crowd: “You seem like politically-savvy people. But do you realize that you wouldn’t have anything to protest here today if it weren’t for the things the government funds with your money. Your taxes make protests like this possible! You should thank us!
“That wooden protest sign you’re holding? Your tax dollars paid for the road into the lumber yards, uh, the timber fields, uh, those places where lumber grows… forests! Yeah, that’s it — we wouldn’t call them ‘national’ forests if the companies who harvest there had to buy their own roads.
“And all of that great stuff you see on the news — well, let me tell you: maybe lumber grows on trees, but cluster bombs don’t grow on trees, barbed wire doesn’t grow on trees! It takes your money to make all this possible. We can’t do it without you! We can’t do it without you! We can’t do it without you!”
It was mostly-improvised professional-wrestler-style evil villain stuff (even the what-are-those-tree-places-called riff was just a brain-fart on my part that happened to be delightfully in character). I played it off legit, it seemed to go well, and I enjoyed myself. I like these sort of reverse-psychology techniques much more than the those of the chants-and-complaints school of protest, which is why I’m keeping an eye on the group “Billionaires for Bush” which held across the country this year:
“Corporatize the U.N.,” one man in black tie and top hat called out. “Let’s make some money out of this thing.” Another fellow cried, “We bought this president, and we want to extend his term four years.”
Other men in tuxes carried signs saying, “Taxes are not for everyone” and “Thank you for paying our fair share.”
No matter how many times they take to the streets — and they have become a noticeable presence in recent months — Billionaires for Bush can still stop you cold for the split second it takes the brain’s synapses to recharge. Are they for real?