The Voluntary Nation

Further asserting his opposition to the Kyoto Treaty, which would drastically reduce global air pollution, President Bush recently announced his administration's alternative to the popular accord. Although the White House does not officially acknowledge the greenhouse effect and his country's role in it, the administration does feel obliged to cloak their apathy in action's clothing. Thus, a plan was hatched to "urge" corporate polluters to reduce emissions voluntarily. (This comes on the heels of the creation of USA Freedom Corps, a White House effort to encourage citizens to devote 4000 hours -- about two years -- of their time to volunteering.)

To Bush's supporters, this is another component of the president's call to individual and corporate responsibility. But others say it is merely a symptom of what is increasingly coming to be known as the "voluntary presidency."

The administration has made clear that volunteerism will continue to be a theme throughout Bush's tenure. Numerous other plans are in various stages of development, a few of which are outlined below.

- Demands on corporations and their auditors will be lessened, making accuracy in financial statements strictly voluntary.

- President Bush is prepared to urge Osama bin Laden to surrender voluntarily and help revive lower Manhattan's sagging economy by volunteering at "M'Lady's Big & Tall Shoppe."

- President Bush contends that if people get to keep more of their own money, their wealth will increase, which will prompt them to spend more, which will, in turn, activate an inert economy, which will then create more wealth and push people into the upper tax brackets, allowing the government to increase defense spending while adroitly avoiding a return to deficit spending. To help augment this perfect process wherein the snake eats its own tail, tax payment will become voluntary.

- Vice President Cheney has said that he will release, on a voluntary basis only, the names of the executives and their respective corporations that help define the administration's policies.

- Immigrants (legal and illegal), foreign nationals, naturalized citizens and persons born in the US may volunteer to have their fingerprints, retina patterns, DNA makeup, hobbies, proclivities, addictions, fears, turn-ons and turn-offs stored (free of charge) in a government database. Those who fail to volunteer will be deported to Florida.

- In an effort to foil the campaign finance reform bill recently passed in the House, the White House is about to release its own plan to clean up the election process. The administration is expected to advocate a proposal that would allow candidates running for federal office to voluntarily forego all soft money donations. Under the White House bill, those same candidates would be encouraged to lose to better-funded opponents or simply not run at for office at all.

David Turnley (davidturnley@hotmail.com) writes satire for AlterNet.org.

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