Readers of a certain vintage might be familiar with comedy albums, commercials of Stan Freberg. His spoofs of Lawrence Welk, Dragnet and Harry Belafonte’s “Banana Boat” are still funny more than half a century after they came to light. At 86, Freberg is still active in the entertainment industry.
Freberg is also well known for his satire as demonstrated in his 1961 album The United States of America: Volume 1: The Early Years. Much of it is an indictment of the McCarthy Era as can be heard when Thomas Jefferson tries to convince Benjamin Franklin to sign The Declaration of Independence. Freberg would later become a vocal opponent of the Vietnam War as illustrated by this appearance on The Dick Cavett Show.
But in 1980, late in the Carter years, Freberg set his sights on the federal budget. The result was a PBS special called Stan Freberg’s Federal Budget Revue which you can see here, here and here. The program features appearances by the recently departed Ray Bradbury (who describes the federal budget as “the greatest science fiction I’ve ever read.”) and David Ogden Stiers (who is best remembered for playing Major Winchester on M*A*S*H). It’s mostly a musical. There’s one song called “The Great Bureaucracy” which opens with this verse:
Make way for the great bureaucracy
Stand by for a War on Poverty
And though it’s possible you’re not poor, it’s true
You may be eligible before we’re through
Well, now that we’re a country that puts more people on Social Security Disability Insurance than into jobs, Freberg’s words have come to pass.
Back then the federal budget was $600 billion. Today, that doesn’t even represent all the money President Obama has cut from Medicare.
I wonder if Paul Ryan saw this on TV when he was 10-years old.
Anyway, it’s well worth your time. If it doesn’t make you cry, it’ll make you laugh.