Newspaper logo  
 
 
   The Magic Onion

A MODEST PROPOSAL:

The Magic Onion

by David Jenneson

With the world anguishing over how to establish democracy in post-Saddam Iraq, with billions of oil dollars whirling into a black unknowable vortex of back room deals and hand picked leaders, I have a short sweet way of how to start.

Some time ago I designed and wrote a brochure for a new political party. They were just starting out and didn’t have much money. As a freelancer, neither did I. Nevertheless I believed in the cause so was happy apply my minimum hourly rate.

The party itself was no big deal: somewhat to the right of center, advocating direct democracy, recall of elected representatives, but I approached it with a passion.

I took the brochure to the home of the Party’s President. He was in the kitchen cooking when I arrived. When he saw and read the brochure he was delighted.

“This is exactly what the Party needs to say,” he exclaimed. “I can’t thank you enough, but we can’t pay you at all now. We’re a new party and we’ve run out of money.”

I told him his thanks were enough, but he still wanted to express his gratitude.

He grabbed an onion the size of a cantaloupe. It was a splendid thing. “Do you know that these Yakima Onions are the mildest, sweetest onions in the world?” he asked. “Look. You can eat them raw.” He bit off a piece and offered me one a bite. He was right. You could eat it raw. It was sweet.

“These are very hard to get. Here, go ahead, take one home,” he urged.

Again I assured him his thanks were enough, but he insisted. Thus I left with the payment of one onion.

When I got home my wife was hardly impressed. I felt like Jack in the Beanstalk, bringing home a lowly onion instead of cold hard cash. I wondered about depositing the onion at the bank. Maybe I should go back and get him to sign it. Then I could go to the bank and tell them this was payment for a worthy political cause. I could deposit the worth of one onion into my account and withdraw a few small potatoes—once the onion had cleared, of course.

My point is that it is not going to take billions of dollars for democracy to grow in Iraq. If the U.S. lets everyone have a go at it, at some point some poor dumb Iraqi freelancer is going to write a political brochure with real passion, and will pass it on to the party president and—if that person’s lucky —get paid an onion. It only requires that everyone get a fair shot at it; not just some hand-picked successor backed by guns and money.

You’d be surprised what can grow from one onion. In Iraq’s case it may well be a populist, democratic party committed to fairly representing every Iraqi man, woman and child. Although this may seem like wide-eyed idealism, there is every reason to hope for such a thing.

By the way, although I am not still involved with it, the party which could only afford to pay me an onion is now the official opposition party in the Canadian national parliament.


David Jenneson writes from North Vancouver, B.C., Canada.


Copyright © 2003 The Baltimore Chronicle and The Sentinel. All rights reserved. We invite your comments, criticisms and suggestions.

Republication or redistribution of Baltimore Chronicle and Sentinel content is expressly prohibited without their prior written consent.

This story was published on May 13, 2003.
  
MAY 2003
LOCAL NEWS
5.10NEWS BRIEFS
5.7CALENDAR
5.13Maryland’s Economy Could Profit From Renewable Energy
5.13Brooklyn and Curtis Bay Residents Collaborate with City Government to Plan for the Future of Small Towns in the City
5.13Pro-Mass Transit Activists Plan Protests of MTA Rate Increases
5.13Fordham University Study of Baltimore Schools Shows Worst-Qualified Teachers More Likely in Poor and Minority Schools
5.13Volunteers Conduct City’s First Comprehensive Baltimore Homeless Census
5.7A Call for "Affirmative Access" in Library Service
5.7Ask the Plant and Pest Professor
5.8Preakness ’03; Plus, the NFL Drafts a New Round of Millionaires
4.19The City's Neighborhoods Have Become the Poor Stepchildren
4.5The State of Giving in Maryland 2002
4.4 City to Celebrate 175th Anniversary of Railroading
LETTERS
5.13 Letters
ART & ENTERTAINMENT
5.13Quotes: Quotes from Women
5.13Book: Joe DiMaggio Gets Lawyered-Up
5.13Book: Leo Bretholz’s Memoir Tells of Being Liberated Twice
NEWS MEDIA CRITIQUE
5.13SARS: More Panic than Peril?
4.14Who's Paying for those Embedded Journalists?
4.4Fla. Court Rules It’s Legal for Press to Lie
SPEAKING OUT
5.19EDITORIAL: Beware the Governor's Executive Order
5.19EDITORIAL: Governor Does the Right Thing
5.20Mothers' Day Proclamation
5.13What's Wrong with Looting? It's the American Way!
5.13The Magic Onion
5.13CEO's at Defense Contractors Earn 45% More
5.13Licensed to Kill
5.13Leave Bill Bennett Alone
5.13“Candid Camera on Crack,” and Other Social Ills
5.13Vampires Who Suck Liberty: How Banks Keep Americans Indentured to Debt
5.13Whose Oil? Our Oil!
5.13Let’s Explore the Roots of Our Violent Culture
5.7Kelly the Hawk Meets the Old Iraqi Warrior
5.7The Shocking Mess in Iraq
5.8The Night After: An Israeli’s Thoughts about the War
5.8Freud on War: Civilization’s Obscene Ghost
4.10On Getting Inspired (and Snubbed) by Ralph Nader
4.9Q & A with Greg Palast
4.5The War President Is Waging a Multi-Faceted Battle on the Domestic Front
NATION & WORLD
5.13CARDIN WARNS THAT BUSH TAX CUT WILL HURT
5.13Though Nation’s Unemployment Rate Is Increasing, Benefits Are Set To Expire May 31
5.13The Great Progressive Rate Scam
5.10Noted Journalist James Fallows Previews “The War after the War”
5.7Israeli Major Brings Message of Peace to Baltimore
5.7The Right Way To Rebuild Iraq
4.4Survey Declares Two-Thirds of US Pension Plans ‘Underfunded’
4.4After Iraq, What? Can the US Occupy and Police the Whole World?
FROM OTHER SITES
  SCREED brings you news that major media ‘tries to hide’
  Websites We Like!
  Analysis & Perspective

Public Service Ads: