My tight voice betrayed my confidence, as two guards exited the customs building laughing in our general direction; sharing a joke at our expense without realizing how expensive it was…We couldn’t possibly pay for it. Not even with their help. Not even with the help of everyone in Detroit. Not even with the help of everyone in Michigan. Not even with the help of everyone in the Midwest. In fact, a joke that expensive needed the help of everyone in the nation. Period. Everyone in the nation needed to give this expensive joke permission to put its velvet gloved hand inside their pockets. Right now you might be saying to yourself that it’s impossible to get permission from so many people. But it’s not, because under the velvet glove, on the back of the expensive joke’s hand, there are two words describing the oldest trick in the book. If I were to sermonize this trick, it would go something like this: Jack and Jill go up the hill, but Jack doesn’t know Jill paid a guy x amount of dollars to hit him on the head with a baseball bat while he’s fetching his pail of water. So, Jack gets hit and falls down, and then Jill falls down too, just to make it look good. While she’s lying there beside him, she tells him that she can protect him for an annual fee of x2 amount of dollars. Jack’s crown is broken, and he’s more scared than he’s ever been, therefore he agrees to pay Jill’s annual fee. Now, let’s say Jill is the personification of our expensive joke. What are the two words written on the back of her velvet gloved hand? PROTECTION RACKET (written just like that in capitalized letters). But that’s not all…Not even close…Imagine, if you will, that Jill manages to scare the hell out of everyone in the nation by paying every major media news outlet to cycle the terrible story of Jack and the Baseball Bat, after which she offers protection to everyone for an annual fee of x2 amount of dollars. Perhaps this fee takes the form of a national tax, like, say, an income tax, and every year hundreds of millions of people pay Jill (whose Twitter handle is Democrazy) to usher them safely down an aisle that looks a lot like a garden path, toward the ever-compelling smash hit stage production called #Freedom.