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Weekend humor from Celia Rivenbark: A modest proposal for the world’s rapacious billionaires

I have a modest proposal for how to deal with the tax cheats named  in the “Pandora Papers” — that jaw-dropping global investigation into the bank accounts of some of the world’s richest people.

Journalists in 117 countries spent years examining more than 12 million documents and discovered what we have long suspected: Journalists almost never shower. Kidding! No, what I meant to say was they discovered many of the world’s richest and most influential people hide their enormous wealth in a shameful smorgasbord of tax havens, offshore accounts, and legal-but-loathsome loopholes. All y’all say, “Duuuhhhh.”

So, what’s my proposal? Four words: Squid Game for Billionaires.

Radical? Mayhaps.

Now I’m not suggesting billionaires be treated like the desperate souls in Netflix’s monster hit about 456 deep-in-debt South Koreans who compete in a series of children’s games (“red light, green light”; “tug o’ war”, etc.) to win a $38 million grand prize.

Don’t those games sound like FUN??!! What could go wrong? Also, as an aside, how on earth did responsible adults let us play “Red Rover, Red Rover” back in the day? That’s the one where you locked arms and taunted the other team to send over someone to break through those arms, snapping them like dry spaghetti. I’m sure you remember it.

I was small for my age, and this meant I was always selected first as the weak link in the chain, and everyone easily busted through. After a couple of times, I learned to wrench my arm away from my “teammate” saying, “What’s the big deal? Let ‘em through if it means so much…” Yeah, that made me super popular at recess.

Without spoiling too much for the half dozen of y’all who haven’t watched “Squid Game,” let me just say the show contains a huge amount of technicolor violence and, fair warning, you’ll probably lose your appetite for sugary treats after the “dalgona” contest episode in which contestants must use a needle to quickly carve a shape out of a slab of brittle. Doesn’t that sound fun, billionaires? It’s just like the wacky games on “The Price is Right”…if Drew Carey was standing beside you at the Plinko board, faceless, wearing a hot pink jumpsuit and toting an AK 47, that is.

The Pandora Papers proves what we suspected all along: Billionaires are not like you and me. And not just because they feast on the roasted carcasses of endangered elephants every full moon and when asked, what’s your favorite pizza topping, they reliably answer “kitten.” That’s just PART of it, sillies.

So how would Squid Game for Billionaires work? Easy! We’d round up the worst offenders, your Jeff Bezoses, your Elon Musk Oxen, your King Abdullahs of Jordan, your Czech Prime Minister Adrej Babises…and you’d…make them work a minimum wage job until all their back taxes were paid.

The Pandora Papers estimates the billionaires, celebrities, politicians (Tony Blair!) and business leaders have hidden an estimated $5.6 trillion to $32 trillion offshore. And that’s just the cash!

Where is Katie Porter’s whiteboard when we need it? I’d love to see the California congresswoman explain to the 11-year-old son of the Azerbaijani president the kid has to give up his $40 million London apartment and go to work as the fry guy at Jack in the Box for the next (sound of calculator computing…) eleventybillion years.

This kinder, gentler, more hilarious and ultimately satisfying Squid Game for Billionaires would make us all feel better about things.

Instead of firing up the old middle-aged-crisis rocket for a space romp with your gross friends, get to know your new play toy: Industrial mop bucket with wringer. You’ll need it working night shift at the Waffle House Sunday morning. Trust me.

Celia Rivenbark is a NYT-bestselling author and columnist. Write her at [email protected].

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