Evening Soup with Basement Joe, Vol II: Episode 60: Jobs Reports, Business Taxes, and Czech Garlic Soup

Political Satire:  Having trouble surviving these times?  You’re not alone.  Join us in columnist John F. Di Leo’s exploration of an alternate universe, where we imagine the impossible:

Joe Buckstop, an aging, corrupt old fool, somehow becomes president in his basement, and every night, an aide has to bring him his soup and discuss the events of the day as he prepares to receive his nightly meds…

Note: We continue from Volume Two, as Joe Buckstop’s soup aide, young Rhett Snapper, discusses how hard it is for the private sector to hire employees when the government keeps taking away employers’ funds.

Jobs Reports, Business Taxes, and Czech Garlic Soup

Dateline, May 7. Begin Transcript:

“Good evening, boss! How’s your Friday treating you, sir?”

“Oh, why do you have to talk?”

“Because if I used sign language, I’d spill your soup, sir.”

“Come on, man. Well… what is it tonight?”

“Cesnecka, sir. I have no idea if I’m pronouncing it right, sir, but I did my best. Cesnecka.”

“What the heck is that?”

“Czech Garlic Soup, sir.”

“I don’t need to check a garlic soup, Rhett. I just want to know what THIS is.”

“I told you, sir. Czech Garlic Soup. It’s a garlic soup from the Czech Republic, sir.”

“Never heard of it.”

“Um, you remember Czechoslovakia, sir?”

“Sure. It’s in Europe somewhere.”

“Yes sir. Well, when they decided to split in half, the eastern half became Slovakia, and the western half became the Czech Republic, sir.”

“Come on, man! I know a lot has happened since I took office in January, but I would’ve thought I’d have noticed a thing like that…”

“It didn’t happen that recently, sir.”

“Oh, did they split up during the lockdowns last year while I was campaigning? That’d be sneaky of them…”

“It was before I was born, sir.”


“Happened about 30 years ago, sir.”


“I think you were on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee at the time, sir.”


“So anyway, sir, this is a Czech Garlic Soup, and it seems pretty simple, sir… onions, potatoes, and garlic in a beef or chicken broth, with lots of croutons and spices, sir.”

“Okay. Let’s see… Hmmm… good stuff.”

“So, I hear things were pretty agitated today, sir, huh?”


“I mean, here, sir. Something about a jobs report, sir?”

“Oh. Yeah, I remember something about a jobs report. Look, I’m eating my soup, here…”

“The jobs for April came in only a quarter of expectations, huh? That must be a killer, sir.”

“Oh, it’s not a big deal.”

“How can that be, sir?”

“Well, the jobs’ll come. They just need to be patient.”

“I beg your pardon, sir, but if people are unemployed, it’s hard to be patient, sir.”

“All they have to do is support my infrastructure plan. Once my bills pass, there’ll be plenty of jobs.”

“But sir, I beg your pardon, sir, but…. those are government jobs. Either federal projects, or state and local projects with federal funding, right, sir?”

“Well, sure.”

“But then those really aren’t ‘created’ jobs, are they, sir? I mean, not jobs the private sector created…. they’re just government make-work jobs. If any, sir.”

“Whaddaya mean, if any? Come on, man!”

“Well, sir, from what I hear, a lot of the funding in those spending bills doesn’t have anything to do with new projects and new employees, it’s largely just another ten million here and twenty million there to throw at the states and cities to help them pay the employees they already employ. It’s not newly created jobs anyway. Right, sir?”

“Well, yeah… I guess…”

“And I remember you said that all your plans are going to be subject to Davis Bacon, and on top of that, you’re mandating a $15/hour wage floor in case even Davis Bacon doesn’t put them that high, sir.”

“So? What’s wrong with that?”

“Well, sir, setting an unnecessarily high wage means that we can’t hire as many people as we have funding for, right? We’re choosing to pay a hundred people more than needed, when we could be paying 130 people a wage they’d accept, right?”

“Oh, I don’t know….”

“And sir, everybody knows – I mean, I’m not even in politics, and even I know – that Davis Bacon not only makes it more costly to do a project, but it also makes it take a lot longer to get going, because you have to prove prevailing wage and all that stuff. It takes forever, and it’s one of the reasons so-called federal stimulus spending really never stimulates anything, sir.”

“How the hell do you know so much about Davis Bacon, kid?”

“The name is Rhett, sir.”

“Whatever. How the hell do you know so much about Davis Bacon, anyway? That’s policy wonk stuff!”

“I’ve had two intro econ classes in college, sir.”

“Oh, they barely touch on this stuff in Econ. You haven’t heard the whole story, son….”

“Sir, one of my classes practically made Davis Bacon the key issue of the entire class, sir. The professor said it’s the singularly worst idea and best example of the failure of government ever, sir.”

“Come on, man!”

“Sir, I know it’s not like you invented it. I’m not blaming you. It’s from the 30s, when most of the rotten ideas started. Hmm…. Man, I sure miss econ class. it’s interesting stuff, sir.”

“Look, if you want people to go back to work, government has to do it. Government has to hire people. The public sector is the only one who has the money to do it.”

“Well, sir, the public sector is the only one who can TAKE the money to do it, maybe….”

“Hey, come on, man!”

“Sir, I’m just trying to figure out why we don’t just leave the private sector alone? They can create a million jobs in a month, easily, if we just let them.”

“Whaddaya mean, let them? We let them! We aren’t stopping people from hiring!”

“Well, depends on how you define ‘stop’, I guess, sir! If you raise their tax rates, or increase regulations on them, then you’re stopping them from hiring, because those things create costs that eat into a company’s ability to fund salaries, sir. It’s say, yeah, the government is stopping companies from hiring, sir.”

“You lying dog faced pony soldier!”

“Not at all, sir. Let’s say a company has $100,000 to hire somebody. Maybe four at $25K each (including burden)… maybe three at $33K each…. maybe two at $50 K each… maybe even one guy at $100 K. If you tax that money away from the company, then they can’t hire the people they wanted to hire, sir. It takes money, and if you take that money away, it just can’t happen, sir.”

“Look, the stock market did just fine when these job numbers came in. Obviously there’s nothing wrong with them, or the stock market wouldn’t be so happy.”

“Sir, the stock market doesn’t exactly have the average person’s condition in mind, sir. The stock market measures other things, not the best interests of the individual worker, sir.”

“So what should I do instead, smarty-pants?”

“Well, sir, I don’t know… I’m just a college student… heck, technically, a college student on hiatus, in fact, until they reopen. So you could get better advisors than I, sir.”

“You bet i could.”

“So that’s why I’m so surprised that you haven’t.”


“Oh well, that’s life. I’m glad I’m not the one trying to explain away all these problems in press conferences.”

“There’s one thing we have in common, kid. I’m glad I don’t have to hold these press conferences.”

“Really, sir, I do wonder how Jen can stand it. You never see her get embarrassed.”

“Well, she does have a superpower.”

“Oh? What’s that, sir?”

“She’s a freckled redhead. If she turns red with embarrassment, it doesn’t show up at all; she just looks calm and stable.”

“Oh my.”

“Yup, dunno what I’d do without her.”

“Probably provide a lot of entertainment for the American public, sir.”

“What’s that?”

“Umm… probably prescribe a lot of education to the American public, sir…. uh, to help them understand, sir.”

“Oh. Uhh…. yeah. Right.”

“I think I’d better have some more soup. Go get me some more, Rhett. I’m awfully hungry.”

“Oh, no, sir, it’s Czech, not Hungarian. A Czech soup. Hearty and delicious, isn’t it, sir?”

“Yeah. Guess so. I’m really in the soup now.”

Copyright 2021-2024 John F Di Leo

Excerpted with permission from Evening Soup with Basement Joe, Volume Two, from Free State West Publishing, available in paperback or eBook exclusively on Amazon.

John F. Di Leo is a Chicagoland-based international transportation and trade compliance professional and consultant.  A onetime Milwaukee County Republican Party chairman, he has been writing a regular column for Illinois Review since 2009.  His book on vote fraud (The Tales of Little Pavel) and his political satires on the current administration (Evening Soup with Basement Joe, Volumes III, and III), are available in either eBook or paperback, only on Amazon.

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