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Jewish World ReviewMarch 24, 2000/ 17 Adar II, 5760

Larry Elder

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Consumer Reports



A USELESS law -- TODAY, CONGRESS APPROVED the $300 billion Universal Support Enablement Law for Evaders of Suitable Skills, known as the USELESS bill.

USELESS supporters call the measure's passage a statement to people with no work skills, bad attitudes, poor personal hygiene, that they, too, are Americans. The program is open to "any individual who can -- but won't -- work, whether due to laziness, self-pity, or bad attitude."

The USELESS passage delighted Vice President Al Gore, who, during the New Hampshire primary, called the measure a centerpiece of his presidential campaign. "I know a lot of people who don't like getting up on Mondays," said Gore. "People who stay up too late, who drink too much, and sleep too little. We should honor those who refuse to submit to the Internet era."

USELESS seeks to close the gap between the rich and the poor, the skilled and the unskilled, the motivated and the unmotivated. "Many people," said Gore, "lead lives of intellectual stupor. They watch Jerry Springer and smoke Winstons without filters. They think Picasso is something you order from Pizza Hut. They drink out of glasses that originally came with grape jelly. They eat at Sizzlers, go bowling on Tuesdays, and say things like 'boo-yah' or 'what's u-u-u-u-p-p-p?' Somebody needs to be there for them."

A quarter of a million USELESS volunteers will be paid $25 an hour, plus benefits, to search for and identify the indifferent, the lackluster, and the lazy. Volunteers are instructed to approach those not working and say, "Stand up. You count, too. That's why G-d invented microwave popcorn, the remote control, and the living room sofa."

USELESS participants will receive vouchers enabling them to purchase goods, products, and services they are simply not interested in acquiring by working. Program sponsors say fraud will be kept to a minimum because the lazy and indifferent lack the energy and creativity to cheat the system.

"It's the best of both worlds," said First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton. "The critics say that giving money to the lazy, dumb, and stupid provides a disincentive to learn, grow, or educate. But everyday, contributions are made by those who are confused, disorganized, and dysfunctional. Except they call it Congress."

Even Republican George W. Bush yielded to the measure's popularity. "Life can be cruel to somebody who doesn't like working. We had a cousin, Irving, who didn't like to work. Gee, I remember in those long ago, less sensitive days, we just hollered at him and told him to get a job. Oh, he did, but he held it against us for a really long time."

USELESS tax incentives will be awarded employers who hire those with slovenly work habits, low self-esteem, and poor personal hygiene. Obsessive attention to profits and to corporate image, say USELESS sponsors, denies rights to those without taste, fashion sense, or social skills. "I was out of work a long time," said Ed Trucker, a former St. Louis airport baggage handler. "People complained that I smelled funny. I admit I never bathed or showered, but I don't trust the fluoride they put in the water. Makes me itch. But now, with this new law, there's a light at the end of the tunnel.

USELESS, which goes into effect on April 1, prevents landlords from requiring security deposits, mortgage lenders from seeking collateral, and employers from requiring employees to show up and perform as a condition of compensation. "We shouldn't create two classes of citizens -- those who are punctual and those who are not," said Gore. "Just because you come to work late, or don't show up at all, doesn't mean you can't contribute. What would have happened to the play 'Waiting for Godot' if Godot had showed up on time?"

The measure also outlaws intrusive personal questions during job interviews, such as "Did you bring a resume?" "Have you worked before?" or "Why aren't you wearing pants?"

The measure excited Wally Dipstick of New Brunswick, Maine, who calls himself "an auto mechanic who's never actually worked on a car." Dipstick cheered after becoming USELESS-eligible, "Finally, there's something for somebody like me. I graduated in the bottom half of my class. It's guys like me who make the top half possible. If you get rid of unmotivated persons like me, how would you separate the winners from the losers?"

Said President Clinton, "With this USELESS law, we can finally bridge the horrible gap between people with initiative and those who couldn't care less. Just because you're willing to get up early, stay late, and work harder does not entitle you to special privileges. For those of you out-hustled, outsmarted, and out-performed by money-motivated colleagues -- USELESS says that, no, you are not useless.

Editor's note: The above was satire --- or is it?

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© 2000, Creators Syndicate