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The Mirror Rearview; Report # 22 by Stephen Bye

The Mirror Rearview; Report # 22 by
Article Posted: 05/27/2023
Article Views: 420
Articles Written: 37
Word Count: 1106
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The Mirror Rearview; Report # 22

Humor,Government,Current Affairs
The Mirror Rearview: Special Report # 22 (May 27, 2023) An on-going series from Stephen P. Bye, an independent journalist for the Mirror Rearview, a fictional newspaper in Utopia County, an imaginary USA municipality.

Utopia County Executive, Alice N. Wonderland, hosted the annual “State of the County” presentation, announcing recent executive actions and legislative policies implemented by the County commissioners. The sixty-minute speech resulted in over twenty standing ovations from the press and select leaders of the municipality.

Ms. Wonderland, who wore a mask with the letters DIE imprinted across it, confirmed that the municipality has taken ownership of several businesses acquired from local citizens of Russian backgrounds as the result of Russia’s military attack on Ukraine. She defended the confiscation of assets was consistent with sanctions levied against Russia by many foreign governments. The Russian business owners, confined to the Menticide Village barracks facility in Dystopia, have filed lawsuits against the county and District Attorney, D. A. Law, for illegal confiscation of assets under the U.S. Constitution.

Next, Wonderland announced that all county employees would convert to a three-day work week, effective July 1st. Mandated work hours will be from 9AM to 4 PM, plus a 90-minute lunch period and two 30-minute breaktimes in the morning and afternoon. She defended her actions based upon the stress county employees have suffered during the COVID-19 shutdown. In addition, new employees now receive a 4-week vacation…existing workers receive an additional 1 day for each year of service. She also noted the vacation was in addition to one discretionary personal wellness day per month. The county executive announced three car manufactures and their local dealerships were sued for aiding and abetting thieves to steal automobiles, stating the manufactures should have engineered more sophisticated devices to prevent thefts. Due to a surge in shoplifting, Ms. Wonderland proclaimed that the county also filed lawsuits against two drug store chains and two convenience store operators for locking up merchandise. Wonderland accused the four chains of depriving customers the opportunity to compare products, as well as restricting convenient shopping for disabled customers. In a separate action, the county commissioners passed legislation to stop department stores, large grocery and discount stores, and banks from shuttering their operations in lower income areas of the municipality. Although these major retailers claim significant losses related to thefts and robberies, the commissioners unanimously agreed that store and bank closures would harm the impacted community. Alice N. Wonderland noted that county sales taxes and other specialty use fees sunk significantly over the past few years. Recent measures were implemented to boost revenue, such as real estate tax assessments, which were doubled on homes valued over $1,000,000 as well as on most commercial buildings. In addition, all retailers are now required to pay sales taxes on stolen merchandise, using monthly accounting reports for inventory shrinkage. The county fuel tax was also increased to $5.00 per gallon of gas. Wonderland proclaimed that she is dumfounded as why Utopia County’s population decreased by 50,000 people over the past three years.

The commissioners also overwhelming agreed to fine businesses and franchise operators who receive low scores on the Corporate Equality Index (CEI) conducted by the Human Rights Campaign (HRC). This follows a similar law passed months ago which punished operations who scored lower for Environmental, Social, and Corporate Governance, also known as ESG. Wonderland declined to state the level of the penalties, although admitted that the three largest Nirvana County employers moved their corporate headquarters to Texas and Florida, resulting in the loss of 20,000 high paying jobs.

To reinforce the county’s commitment to eliminate carbon, gas powered lawn equipment, stoves, fireplaces, bar-b-ques, and other gear have been outlawed. In addition, the ownership of all gas-powered cars and trucks will be illegal after 2024. The public utility has been ordered to shut all in-coming natural gas lines by the end of 2024, when every type of building will rely on alternative energy sources, primarily solar and wind power. Electric power will be allowed in cases of emergency. Ms. Wonderland ignored my question about the cost and energy sources to mine lithium, nickel, cobalt, copper, rare earths metals and other dangerous chemicals to feed her obsession with EV batteries.

Ms. Wonderland verified that construction of every home and apartment must include prescribed solar panel capacity and EV hookups, while building materials must consist of preapproved environmental products and suppliers. In addition, lawn areas for every single-family residence are now limited to twenty square feet to conserve water. As a result of the “green” mandates, the cost of a single-family dwelling has increased over 200% from 3 years ago, creating a massive affordability crisis in the county. Wonderland refused to answer my question about the logic of the county’s environmental policies impacting the cost of housing. The next topic on the agenda was the discussion of homeless people and migrants descending on Utopia County which was declared a “sanctuary” municipality years ago. The central business district of Nirvana is lined with homeless camps, predominantly drug users. She outlined the county’s actions to provide rehabilitation support and mental illness funding for the disadvantaged as well as a new program to pay the homeless $25/hour to clean up the sidewalks and parks strewn with garbage, drug paraphernalia, and human waste. So far, there was little response from the homeless population to clean up their own mess. Most migrants have been housed in county hotels and motels, where owners are paid $20/night, a token amount compared to traditional room rates ranging from $200 to $400. Lodging owners are required to pay the historical nightly room tax, resulting in significant losses after the municipal charge. As more migrants pour into Utopia County, Wonderland plans to condemn select luxury apartment projects, stating disadvantage families deserve to experience the best living experience. When I questioned why the migrants weren’t transported to Menticide Village, Ms. Wonderland replied that the barracks are fully occupied by unvaccinated COVID-19 people. When I followed up stating that the U.S. Government had declared the pandemic risk had officially ended, she reiterated that Utopia County was following the directives of Dr. I. M. Gloomy and Dr. Max Panic, County Department of Health officials…both doctors believe the COVID-19 risk remains at a high level.

As Wonderland left the podium, I shouted a question. “Why are you wearing a mask with the letters D…I…E”? She lowered her mask, responding angrily: “You idiot…haven’t you heard of the concept of Diversity, Inclusion, and Equality?” I laughed and quickly retorted: “I assumed DIE was a message of your death wish to Utopia County based upon your brilliant economic policies.”

"The Developer"

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