Once upon a time in Crook County

Once upon a time in Crook County

In a world where know-it-all holier than thou corrupt tyrants ruled, a rebellion was brewing.

Rebellion the right way, the American way, the capitalist way.

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The rebel's ancestors resisted in a past dystopian world. They rebelled against prohibition, gambling, prostitution, and other supposed sins the tyrants repressed.

For decades rebels profited from vices people demanded. Booze, sex, or the chance to make a few extra bucks on a horse, card game, dice game or sporting event. The rebels owned Chicago for a long while.

Then, the tyrants took over. They did it slowly, convincing the populace they were reformers. They were good government. They would save the populace from the despotism of the past and bring Crook County to a glorious new future.

When they gained power, their tyranny began. Slowly. In small bits and pieces. It grew to the point of repression and oppression.

A new dystopian world was beginning. The holier-than-thou tyrants never learned from history. The modern tyrants were shrewd. They could not ban things, as their predecessors. They did something worse. They over taxed them. The leaders claimed it was for public health or the children.

Taxation was the cudgel the tyrants used over the populace. Once again, the populace was beaten into the ground, existing off scraps while the tyrants live like royalty.

The tyrants used mercenary experts with no expertise to push for these taxes. It was a page right out of the propaganda playbook. People will believe experts, even mercenaries with no expertise.

It was the Big Lie. The same Big Lie tyrants have used for eons.

Dear Leader was supposed reformer, Toni Theftwinkle. She was no reformer. She was a throwback to the old days.

Theftwinkle was cold, cunning, and building her own political machine. She talked a good game, especially to the gullible North Side liberals and progressives.

Theftwinkle was just another tyrant.

Theftwinkle was colder, shrewder, and more malevolent than her predecessors. She had payrolls to pad with the ne'er do well relatives and friends of her political allies. As the payrolls and pensions swelled, Crook County's budgets had massive holes that needed to be filled.

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Theftwinkle taxed. Property taxes rose. Sales taxes rose. The people begged. They got angry. In the end, the people knew it was futile. They paid and suffered.

Toni Theftwinkle rammed through a soft drink tax to fund the latest round of political malpractice and malfeasance. It was regressive, oppressive, and the last straw.

The people of Crook County were furious.

The rebellion was brewing.

In an upper room overlooking a dingy green lit alley, rebels were meeting.

"We're going to be rich lads. We're gonna own this town and the politicians. Hell, everyone loves soda. They not only drink it, they put their booze in it. You think people are gonna pay more for mixers for dere high balls or rum an Cokes?"

The men were seated at a table scattered with the remains of a large dinner. The rebel leader was a well dressed swarthy guy. Cigar and cigarette smoke wafted in the air.

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The speaker went on. "Look, we got truckin outfits. We got warehouses. We got food distributorships. We go outside the county or even the state to buy truck loads of soda, other soft drinks, and syrup for fountain drinks. We store it and have the boys sell it just over wholesale, tax-free, in da neighborhoods and small stores and restaurants. They sell it out the back door, on the sneak. I tell ya, this will be better than booze during Prohibition. Our grandpas would be proud a us."

Louie the Lip, a younger guy who ran internet gambling, piped in. "Boss, what about smokes an cigars, an udder stuff dey tax so high. We could make a real killin."

"Yeah, Louie, we been tinkin about dat. Them bozos want to tax everthing that supposedly is bad for ya. It is a scam, just like we're gonna pull. Tobacco, pop, booze, all kinds a tings. But, we gotta start with da pop. See how far we can go before dey catch on."

Poppa Starvos, the elder statesman of the group took the floor. "Look, the cops won't bodder us. They drink pop too and dey got kids who drink pop. Hell, they'd pay us for pop instead of us payin dem to lay off. Even the politicians would be our customers. Judges, doctors, lawyers, you name it."

Starvos took a long draw on his large oily black cigar. "The feds, allow certain things, certain things. Dey don't care about county or state taxes. We could get away wid tobacco. Booze is trickier. Plus, we would have to fight the local booze distributors. Some of dem guys is friends of ours."

Kane, the Irishman stood up. "Fellas, let's not get greedy or ahead of ourselves. We have a good thing here with the pop. We get greedy, we get sloppy. No one cares about pop. Hell, this will be better than the booze racket. Then, we wait until they tax, say, those chips and snacks, popsicles, bacon, or sugared cereal. Boom, another racket is born people won't be bothered about."

The boss nodded his head. "Yeah, we give people what they want cheap and tax-free. We'll be da caterers of Crook County again. Hell, it ain't even really a crime. Whaddaya gonna do if dey catch on, make us pay the pop tax? Dey gotta know how much we sold and dat ain't gonna happen."

Benny the Biz, the accountant, added to the plot. "Look, people want soft drinks. All dem runners and bicyclists want them, whaddya call it, Somethinade stuff. People want their sweet iced tea an dat fancy flavored or Vitamin water. We're sittin on a gold mine."

The rebel leader threw another idea in. "Pop is easy to make. Easier than beer. We could make our own. Outside the county. It's gotta be good stuff though. We bring it in, sell it along wid da real stuff."

The rebels executed their plan. Tax-free soft drinks flooded the city. No one bothered them. Some of their best customers were the politicians and revenue officials who were supposed to put the rebels out of business.

Retailers were hurting, soft drink sales were down. There were calls for the distributors and makers of soft drinks to crack down on the rebels by refusing to sell to them. They kept selling. They knew a good thing too.

The rebel's illicit manufacturing, bottling, and canning facilities were discovered in the outer counties by Crook County Sheriff investigators. Nothing could be done. They were properly licensed across the board.

The sheriff made a few stops of illicit trucks coming into Crook County. The rebels were right, even cop's and their families drink pop.

The soda tax fell way short of projected revenues. Toni Theftwinkle was creating new products to tax. The populace was getting angrier.

The rebels stayed one step ahead of her. Business flourished. The rebels had the people on their side. Unlike prohibition, not one shot was fired. Everyone made a buck except Crook County.

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Signs, moving billboards, neon lights, and large highway billboards sprung up all over Crook County.

In letters large, #ByeToni was seen by any and all, no matter where they went.

The rebels knew one thing the tyrants, fake health experts, tax advocates, and moralizers could never comprehend.

Crook County is not a government. Crook County is a business.

The rebels were businessmen.

There is always a way to make a buck in the land of tyrants and thieves. You just need the people on your side.

In Crook County, everyone loves a tax cheat. Everyone hates a tyrant.

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