Once an immense green fungus, Campaignaria greenbackae, spread across the land. The destructive effects of this advancing freak of nature were visible from space but had somehow escaped detection by those on the ground with responsibility for safeguarding the welfare of the public against this threat creeping out in all directions from the fetid, foggy-bottom marshes of its origin. In its relentless advance, the green fungus overpowered anything that might stand in its way by fastening upon it, roots and all, sucking out every bit of life and then infusing one vein and branch after another with a sticky, green toxin before moving on. Yet even this clear evidence of the lethal strength and extent of the threat was apparently not considered much cause for worry until the dire consequences of such complacent inattention could no longer be ignored. For by the time alarms finally began to sound, the fungus had morphed into an infinitely adaptable and opportunistic threat. It had quite literally evolved the ability to attack everything, even (and this surpassed belief, were the grim evidence not staring everybody in the face) the very foundations of the nation’s oldest and most sacred institutions, insinuating itself into their smallest fissures, weakening them little by little over time, and even cracking some wide open to what came to be known among an increasingly disgusted, demoralized citizenry simply as “that damned curse of the green stuff.” No inch of the public domain was safe from assault. Historical heritage sites began to sag as the fungus ate away at their underpinnings. Emergency measures had to be taken to shore up one crumbling civic façade after another in front of which broad-smiling, upbeat spokespersons were sent out with assurances that rumors of widespread collapse were premature. There was no need for panic, they all trippingly declared, since a nationwide campaign to raise donations from the private sector to help prop up everything at risk of collapse was already under discussion in highly respected circles. An appeal to free-market know-how quickly had corporate sponsors lining up to take the lead with offers to go to any lengths necessary to get the job done. Taking official action against the creeping menace of Campaignaria greenbackae, however, and stemming its ability to undermine the hallowed monuments of the nation would probably have to await the appointment of a blue-ribbon bipartisan commission of retired bureaucrats, politicians, business tycoons and oft-interviewed academics tasked with taking “the long view.” Until then, it was announced, contributions in any denomination could be placed directly into boxcar-sized bins conveniently set up at leading financial centers and outside government buildings everywhere. And what happened after that would just have to be left to those who knew best what to do.
Copyright © 2013 by Geoffrey Grosshans