Your Neighbor, Billy Bencher

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Gary Spina, Writer, Outdoorsman, Adventurer

(Copyright 2011 by Gary Spina)

Your Neighbor, Billy Bencher
by Gary Spina
(Copyright 2011 by Gary Spina)

        One sweetly delicious form of demagoguery is when you hear the politicians in Washington scream about the rich not paying their fair share of taxes.  It seems the mass appeal of that rant is irresistible, and it works because it plays to man’s petty jealousies and resentments.  It’s no different than a young man playing minor league baseball.


Let’s call the young man Tommy.  Tommy Tubats plays for the Podunk Panthers, and Tommy used to sit on the bench a lot until he got tired of warming the wood.  So, Tommy Tubats went and got extra help from the fielding coach and the batting coach, and Tommy Tubats found out what he needed to do to improve his game.  Fielding or batting, Tommy worked hard at being the best he could be no matter where in the field his manager, Nobbie Nobull, put him, no matter whether he faced a right-handed pitcher or a southpaw, a fastball pitcher or a knuckleballer.


These days Tommy Tubats is the team’s star shortstop.  He’s batting .443 and leads the league in RBIs and On-Base-Percentage.  He’s stolen only 73 bases, but he’s working on that.  Tommy’s enthusiasm, his drive, his fearlessness, his raw talent are exciting to watch, and at each home game the fans come out to cheer him on.  They fill the bleachers – all four rows.  And Tommy’s star performance never disappoints the crowd.

        Nobbie Nobull has already told Tommy he’s earned his way up to the majors next season.  Tommy knows he’s going to have to work even harder, even smarter because the competition is that much tougher in the majors.  Tommy will be ready for the big leagues.


Poor Billy Bencher is Tommy’s teammate.  Billy Bencher wants to be a star, too, but things aren’t working out well for Billy.  When Billy’s not sitting on the bench, Nobbie Nobull has Billy playing right field where he gets very little action.  Billy’s batting average is down to .125 because he doesn’t get the chance to see a lot of the good stuff the various pitchers in the league are hurling.  At this rate, Billy Bencher is never going to make it to the big leagues.  Billy’s dad, Old Benny Bencher, who always wanted to be a pro ballplayer himself, is really disappointed.


Old Benny Bencher tells his friends at the post office where he works and at the Moose Lodge where he drinks his beer, that Tommy Tubats, the shortstop, is the star player only because the manager, Nobbie Nobull, and Tommy both hail from Bayonne, New Jersey, and because of that alone, Nobull favors Tommy and gives him more playing time.


“Maybe if Billy tried a little harder,” a friend tells Benny Bencher.


“What’s the use,” says Old Benny, “Nobull won’t play him, and the scouts won’t get to see him, and he’s just getting rusty sitting on the bench.”


Of course, Billy Bencher hears his father’s excuses, and Billy gets to believing them, and so Billy Bencher remains a bitter young man with a bad attitude who will end up working for the Department of Housing and Urban Development after he washes out of minor league baseball at the end of this season.  After a few years at HUD, Billy Bencher, like his dad before him, will retire on a fat government pension, and till the day he dies he’ll be telling anyone who’ll listen what a great ballplayer he could have been.


And it’s all sad because Billy Bencher could have been great.  Billy was always stronger and quicker and more agile than Tommy Tubats – maybe even smarter — and if the truth be told, he had a better eye for the changeup and the knuckleball.  But it was Tommy Tubats who lived his dream, and Tommy who mastered his weaknesses, and Tommy who never gave up no matter what obstacles he had to hurdle.  Tommy wanted it more than Billy wanted it, and Tommy was more willing to work hard to achieve it.  It’s sad, too, because with Billy’s knowledge of baseball, he could have made a great team captain, or a shrewd manager, or a gutsy general manager.  But it was easier for Billy to just give it all up and take a secure government job at HUD.


Tommy Tubats will sign a multi-year contract for $25 million a season and go on to a very lucrative career in the majors.  Year after year, season after season, he will fill the seats in the big league stadiums – fifty thousand or more seats, every game — and even the venders will love him, and he will endorse various commercial products that will top the market and guarantee profits and jobs to several million people.  He will buy a yacht and pay unstintingly to hire the best captain and a seaworthy crew and pay thousands of dollars to maintain the boat – and maybe invest in a car dealership which will employ several hundred people.  Oh, and he’s looking at a horse farm in Caroline County, Virginia, with a breeding stock of sixty horses and at least seven champion thoroughbreds.


You see, Tommy makes so much money he has to keep investing it because the banks cannot insure it all.  Each investment makes him richer, and Tommy just keeps spending his profits and reinvesting and circulating that money back into the economy – ever buying and leasing and paying salaries and utilizing services.  He will spend hundreds of thousands of dollars at fine restaurants in all the major cities, thousands more at the resorts and golf courses and private clubs, and he’ll own a mountain villa in Colorado and a sprawling vineyard in Napa Valley and a beachfront paradise along the Jersey shore.


Now if you take that money out of Tommy’s hands and you give most of it to the government in taxes — why the corrupt politicians would just squander it to buy votes to keep themselves in office.  Maybe they’d fund new regulatory agencies with bloated staffs of unproductive bureaucrats whose mean-spirited whims would thwart American business with impossible restrictions on profits and prosperity.


“Let’s show them business owners who’s really in charge here!” the politicians would laugh openly.  


And it was sad to see so many of the needy voters cheer.  Of course, the stranglehold of the regulatory agencies would cause many businesses to fail, and then the politicians would have to use some of Tommy’s tax dollars to help the newly unemployed — that ever expanding, precious, indispensible voting block they’ve always counted on for votes.  Consider how few office-seekers would ever want to actually see the needy prosper.


But you can see how, if you keep Tommy Tubats’s money in his own hands – away from the insatiable avarice of the elected elite — it will keep several million people working and living quite comfortably.  And along the way, Tommy Tubats will inspire many young people to work hard and prosper as they live their own version of the American Dream.  At the end of his career, Tommy Tubats will be inducted into the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame and hopefully he will die peacefully in bed at a happy old age.


God bless Tommy Tubats — and may his profit-seeking capitalist soul rest in eternal peace, oh Lord – for Tommy Tubats’s money has given so many others true freedom from want and given the poor freedom from the government’s tyrannical oppression of endless welfare and food stamps and the government’s cruel, Godless evisceration of the intact family.  It is Tommy Tubats’s money in his own hands that keeps America prosperous and free and proud.


But poorer in generosity and poorer in spirit is Billy Bencher who still says, “Ain’t nobody worth twenty-five million dollars a year for playing baseball!”  And both Billy and his dad continue to vote for their slimy congressman and their corrupt senators who promise to tax the hell out of all the Tommy Tubats in America and make them pay their “fair share.”


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