It's almost impossible for adults to engage in an intelligent conversation about the debt crisis, mostly owing to the fact that nobody ever really seems to know what's behind the debt crisis. "Argh, bloated government spending!" "Argh, stupid tax breaks for the wealthy!" How, then, might an adult go about explaining the debt crisis to a child? By reducing it to a story about a greedy, penny-hungry dragon, of course!
This last bit is just the latest debt crisis allegory put forward in the new children's book, Mr. Penny and the Dragon of Domeville, which tells kids, in so many words, that the federal government is Smaug and U.S. taxpayers are disenfranchised dwarves. Or, in this case, pennies, because like any good piece of American storytelling, Mr. Penny realizes that Americans are only as important as the number in their checking accounts.
Despite the fact that the book's hero, Mr. Penny (from the town of Melville), looks exactly like all the other pennies, he's described as "quite an individual and not a follower." See, kids, a follower penny would just let the Domeville dragon devour its hard-earned dollar bills. Mr. Penny doesn't just roll over like some obsequious taxpayer, though — he's a renegade, a Han Solo-like badass, and he gives the dragon a stern lecture on levying taxes:
I don't think you know what effect you're having on the whole Land of Us by eating the money that we send to Domeville. … Our schools are closing; our youngsters can't go to college; our oldsters can't get medical help; our businesses are failing because there is no money for loans; our roads and bridges are falling down; our towns and cities are not safe; our citizens do not have jobs; and we are running out of money.
Ah, the evils of wasteful spending are many, children — beware of just handing money over to the dragon, who, by the way, is the one apparently responsible in this little universe for funding public works projects and making sure that fire departments exist to put out conflagrations caused by its flamethrower hiccups.
The book, intended for kids far too young to be worrying about debt crises, was written by Lucile McConnell, who describes herself on the official Mr. Penny site as, "tax/commercial transactions attorney" in Washington D.C. If you buy it, you can be guaranteed of two things: 1) your child will resent you forever and grow to despise the kinds of self-described libertarians who go to public universities and drive on the interstate, and 2) your money will go to help paying down the national debt. Maybe. Maybe the members Congress will just use your money to light the the cigars they've rolled out of money.