Niall Carter, John Steppenwolf, and Hugo Payton Payne and sitting at the counter, while the Barista cleans the espresso machine.
They're discussing politics. Niall is saying, "I thought Greta Van Shusterson was the only one I could stand on Fox News, even though she was trying to sidetrack John Bolton the other night."
John Steppenwolf says, "I caught that. He was focusing on America's drug addiction and she was trying to bring him back to admitting we need more troops on the border."
Niall, "But the next night, she was 'interviewing' (and I use that word loosely!) the Dem Senator from Louisiana, and just grilling her! I mean, this is supposed to be a reporter, and instead of asking questions, she is saying, 'What I think is . . . blah blah blah . . . the American people are mad at all of you blah blah blah' - it was disgusting! That's - not - reporting."
Payne says, "That's because there is no reporting any more. There is no free press. A free press is as dead as bellbottoms. Fox News turned the press into a carnival. The public goes to see the carnival they want to watch. They want to watch acrobats, they turn on acrobats. They want to see elephants, they turn to elephants."
Steppenwolf, "They want to see Roman gladiators killing Christians, they turn on Fox News."
"Well," Niall says, "Personally it just makes me sick. I just want hard news. Facts. Let me decide for myself. Give me the facts, the objective truth, and I'll determine. I don't want the press telling me that this or that is bad."
"It's treating you like a child," Payne says, "The conservatives who have bought the press have you addicted to candy, like a child is addicted to candy, and they will keep spoon-feeding it to you to keep you addicted."
"Until when? Until all my teeth fall out?"
"Metaphorically speaking," Payne replies. "The goal is to create an oligarchy while maintain the illusion of limited government. Limited government means nothing more than business has no restrictions, and business has only one goal in mind, and one goal only:"
"To make money," Steppenwolf says.
"Right. And when they have your money, they will loan it back to you again and again and again until you are doing nothing but paying the interest on the money that you used to have. That's why this is important to remember, whenever you hear any politicians talking about the middle class, they are either blind or corrupt. There is no middle class any more. When they say 'middle class' they are trying to pander to everybody, because everybody believes that they are middle class. Only the very rich and the very poor know exactly where they are. Everybody else is just fooling themselves."
"So if there is no middle class," says Niall Carter, "where are we?"
"We are here, in the Zen and Tao Cafe, having coffee and wondering why we're not saving enough for retirement."
"I think I see where you're going with this," says Steppenwolf, "and if we have to ask ourselves that question . . ."
". . . then we're not among the rich," concludes Niall.
"Precisely," says Payne. "Precisely."
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