The Mirror Rearview: Special Report # 17 |
An on-going series from Stephen P. Bye, a Correspondent for the Mirror Rearview, a fictional newspaper in Laicos County, an imaginary USA municipality. Please refer to the previous sixteen reports.
Sales tax collections from businesses in Laicos County have quickly evaporated, as well as taxes on lodging, car rental, local wages, and the deferral on payments for homeowner properties. Trey Easurer, the Laicos County Auditor, confirmed the County is hemorrhaging its operating reserves as staffing increased in the County, coupled with the significant plummet in tax revenue. Even with the financial stress Alice N. Wonderland, Laicos County Executive, has refused to impose layoffs or furloughs of County employees for non-essential departments, citing their long-term contributions to serve the community.
Alice N. Wonderland, has issued an executive order to increase the revenue tax on internet, cable, and cell phone use, knowing quarantined residents have dramatically increased reliance on television and home electronic transmissions. Ms. Wonderland is countering the anticipated backlash by lowering the County gasoline tax to $2/gallon from $4/gallon.
For weeks, Wonderland has lobbied the elected Washington DC politicians about the critical need for CARES Act funds for Laicos County, which were received earlier today. She stressed her daily discussions with U.S. Congressman, Spencer Thrift, as well as U.S. Senators Meg A. Lomaniac and Win D. Bag resulted in $500 million in rescue proceeds. The Laicos County Commissioners are meeting this week to decide how the funds will be deployed.
Last week, Ms. Wonderland issued an executive order that all apartment tenants are relieved from paying rent for the next four months, as well as prohibiting landlords from issuing any evictions for the same period. In a stunning move, she also dictated that landlords pay every tenant 25% of their contract rent in cash. In a short press release, Ms. Wonderland labeled apartment landlords as “greedy bloodsuckers who have preyed upon tenants for far too long”.
Ms. Wonderland has also initiated a “Whistle Blower Reward” for violators of her “Stay-at-Home” mandate. Informants are paid ten dollars for every arrest. The County has added fifty phone lines and hired two hundred employees to handle the call volume. A special bounty of five hundred dollars has been earmarked for the person who records the most alerts leading to arrests each week.
I contacted several cable and internet providers about viewing trends and discovered there has been a steady increase of streaming views of the 1976 movie, Network, from County residents. In the daily marches around the Laicos County Administration Building, protestors to the lockdowns have worn cardboard facemasks of Howard Beale, the evening news anchor played by Peter Finch in the famous movie. The mobs are chanting “I’m mad as hell and I’m not taking this anymore.” Many carried signs printed with the words “ENOUGH”, “MAD AS HELL” and “DITCH The SNITCH”. In response to Wonderland’s Whistle Blower Reward, many protestors are continually blowing shrill whistles. As many residents have observed, there has been a massive increase in the number of fires at Laicos County shopping centers. The latest count stands at twenty-five in the last month alone. The County Fire Chief, Bernie Blaze, confirmed that most fires were arson related. Ms. Wonderland has denied the fires are related to the punitive tax she imposed on vacant storefronts, although the Covid-19 shutdown has resulted in a dramatic increase in retail store closures. Ironically, fire insurance proceeds have been a boost to the bank accounts of the local shopping center owners.
Dr. Pat Hologist, former head of Pathology at Laicos County Hospital, has been replaced by a Dr. Brian Wash, who has held daily press conferences, where he summarizes the number of Covid-19 cases, patient recoveries, and the daily death count. Dr. Hologist has created a daily blog, reporting from his former autopsy staff members who have told him that every patient admitted to the hospital for any reason have been labeled a Covid-19 case. Further, all deaths, including those attributable to automobile accidents, gunshot wounds, heart attacks, strokes, and kidney failures, have been coded as Coronavirus fatalities.
Following her orders for broadcasting negative information on the Covid-19 virus, Alice N. Wonderland has pulled the plug on two local radio stations for thirty days. WHY(?) 550 AM aired several interviews with three well-known world epidemiologists who are advocates of the Swedish model for handing the Coronavirus outbreak and condemned the Federal Government’s actions to control the pandemic. KRAP 103.9 FM, the all-talk station, was reprimanded after creating an intense fever over their resident surveys that lambasted Alice N. Wonderland’s punitive actions dealing with the crisis, as well as the panic created by the Wonderland’s medical consultants, headed Dr. I. M. Gloomy and retired military psychologist, Major Fear. Both station owners filed a lawsuit with the State Supreme Court against Laicos County and Ms. Wonderland, individually, for violations of free speech.
Looking Forward Through The Rear View Mirror
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