The fabled kitchen table is always getting into conversations about the government. Killing this metaphor is about as easy as eradicating cockroaches from existence. The kitchen tables plagues us again, in this the time of America’s budget troubles.
So let’s take the metaphor to its absurd extreme. After all, the American family is a perfect metaphor for the American government, right? Balancing the books is the same for a family as for the government, right?
Imagine that Afghanistan is the opium den on the corner of your happy suburban lane, and mom and dad are staging a war against them. Mom’s in charge of flying model airplanes around the Afghan family’s house, and dad goes and kicks the door in once a while. Sure its costly, but that’s what the kitchen table is for. It is for mom and dad to cradle their careworn, wrinkled brows in their cupped hands and stare forlornly at a pile of bills. Mom and dad have been at war with many of the neighbors for a while now, and they aren’t making enough money to pay their bills.
Little Billy has a congenital heart problem, which is costing a ton in doctor visits and medicine. Worst of all, Courtney, the sixteen year old is pregnant, so the family is going have to make room for baby. With a baby on the way, they can’t afford to pay Billy’s bills, so they have to let him die to keep up their war with those Afghans on the corner and have a new baby in the house. Billy isn’t a fetus, so he doesn’t matter anymore and maybe the new baby won’t have Billy’s problems. Its a family and a family has to balance its bills every month, at the kitchen table. Grandma might be next, especially if she reminds the family about FDR one more time.
Anyway, the family has trouble paying the heating and gas bills, so they do a lot of trading with the Saudi’s in a nearby cul-de-sac. Dad has to go over there and hold hands with the dad of the Saudi family. Its a little embarrasing, but Mom and Dad will lose their jobs if they can’t get gas to go to work. Mom makes model airplanes to give to the Saudi family, and Uncle Ben, who lives in the basement, prints money that they give to the Saudis. No one has ever seen the women who live at the Saudi house, but who cares? It is very hard to pay the fuel bills, so Dad’s thinking about renting one of the basement rooms. Too bad that basement room belongs to one of the kids. Oh well, time for the kids to double up. You see, there are bills that have to be paid every month, at the kitchen table.
At least the kids have a nice backyard to play in. Unfortunately, with all of the bills, mom and dad are thinking they are going to have to let private interests strip mine the backyard. It may leave the backyard in ruins, but it could pay a month or two of bills.
So, the Kitchen table metaphor is clearly mistaken. It is actually an altar of sacrifice. The next time a politician or a pundit talks about a kitchen table, ask yourself who’s about to lose their life to the “sacrifice.”