When I heard that Cactus Jack’s Rainbow Computer Emporium was a major stop for the Tea Party Express I had to see it for myself. Nome said that if Cactus was involved in it there had to be some kind of angle but she agreed to go if I would treat here to the buffet at Pala Casino afterward.
We pulled into Jack’s dusty parking lot right behind two Tea Party Express buses. As we parked,, an enthusiastic crowd filled the plastic chairs lined up in front of the porch that ran the length of Jack’s computer store, an old converted wooden ranch-hand bunkhouse.
Nome grabbed my arm. “We can see and hear what’s going on just fine from here,” she said. “I don’t want that old reprobate to know we’re even here.” Just then Jack stepped onto the porch and strode briskly to the podium. We couldn’t believe our eyes.
His sweat stained cowboy hat was gone, replaced by a wide brimmed white Stetson. His long scraggly yellowish hair and tobacco-stained mustache were neatly brushed and snow white. His stained “wife beater”, tattered vest, filthy levis and dusty scuffed boots exchanged for an immaculate white suit complete with vest, tie and a gold watch chain. Nome snickered “he looks like the bastard son of Col. Sanders.”
Jack held up his hands for quiet. “Ya’ll are here cause you don’t like what’s goin on in California, right?” The crowd roared assent. “How many of you folks are on welfare or git your paycheck from the Govmint?” A lady in the back put her hand up. “What do you do Maam” asked Jack. “I’m a school teacher” she replied. “Might I ask what the hell you’re doin at a Tea Party Rally?” asked Jack. She looked angrily at the man next to her and hit him on the arm with her purse. “My husband told me this was a wine tasting tour”. The crowd roared.
Jack continued, “the problem is that Califonia Govmint has got so big it’s squeezing the life out of us folks”. Several in the the crowd yelled amen. “You’re madder’n hell at all them greedy teachers, firemen, cops, lawyers, politicians and other simple serpents with their outlandish salaries and pensions aintcha.” Another roar. Jack paused and looked out over the crowd. “Well you ain’t no better than them.” There was a stunned silence.
Jack continued. “Folks work to put beans on the table and to save up for when they can’t work no more. If someone come up and offered you all that without havin to work for it, you’d probably take em up on it in a heartbeat. As it is, most of us gotta provide some kind of service or product that’s worth enough for folks to pay us for it. It’s called "free enterprise" and that’s why we gotta bust our butts to make a livin."
“It ain’t the same with folks working for govmints. They don’t have to worry about competition or doin a good job. They just worry about making more and more money for less and less work. No matter how bad they are they can't be fired. They got unions to pertect em. Them unions slide piles of money to the politicians who use it to keep their jobs. In return the politicians keep the unions happy by raisin pay and benefits and makin more union jobs. Then they raise your taxes to pay for it all.”
“They’ve chased thousands of companies and millions of jobs outta California. They keep raisin your taxes and fees. Campground fees, red light cameras, building permits, business licenses, sales tax, automobile registration, workman’s comp and on and on, but it still ain’t enough. They still can’t pay their bills so they keep commin after you for more every year.”
Jack pulled out a white hanky and wiped his brow. “Don’t you blame them teachers, firemen and cops. You woulda done the same as them if you’d been offered the same deal as them. Don’t expect the elections to change anything either. Republican or Democrat, it don’t matter. All them laws, regulations and union contracts are protected by the biggest strongest union there is, the lawyers. They run two thirds of the Govmint and control everything else. Your vote means nothing. One liberal judge can cancel the will of the people with a single swing of her gavel. You are powerless.”
Jack leaned forward and stared hard at the now silent crowd. “It’s too late to save California, years too late. You had your chance and you blew it. Now you have two choices. You can stay in California and watch California follow Greece down the toilet or you can get the hell out of Dodge and go where the sweet smell of freedom still hangs on every breeze.”
From the back of the crowd a voice shouted “where’s that Jack”
Jack stood up tall “I’m glad you asked m’ boy. It just so happens that I do know such a place. A place where you can ride your cycle without a helmet, you don’t need a permit to put in a water heater, the police chief moonlights to make ends meet, the only lawyer in town is on food stamps, there’s no teacher’s union, the fire department is volunteer, they lynched their last pedophile in 1956, the mayor owns the local honky-tonk and the only two homosexuals in town are the best hairdresser in the county and the gal that coaches the state champs girls high school basketball team.”
“What town is that?” yelled the voice from the back.
“That town is Red Rock City in Bowie County, Texas,” said Jack proudly as he removed his hat and held it over his heart. And now my associate Mr. Rowdy will now pass among you with a map and a contract showin how you too can become the proud owner of a one acre home site in the fastest growing rural community in the Southwest. Sign up today and git 10% off.”
I started the car and as we drove out I felt Nome looking at me. “You never learn do you” was all she said.