The sum of $16-trillion is not a pretty number - not unless it's your annual salary. But this is the sum of the United States national debt and that makes things pretty ugly.
Sequestration is not a pretty word either. Not for people serving on a jury, and certainly not for Americans affected by "the sequester," automatic spending cuts designed to trim the ugliness of the $16-trillion debt.
This could all be made to go away overnight, however, if we'd just look to an abundant source of revenue that's just under - or rather, above - our noses: The squirrels. Natives of our nation, from the mid-Atlantic's eastern greys to California's rock squirrels, they enjoy many of the benefits of citizenry with none of the burdens of responsibility: white ones are given police protection in Olney, Illinois; gray ones are North Carolina's official state mammal, and black ones are celebrated in and around Kent, Ohio. They live in the subsidized housing of public parks - those fine oaks and maples cultivated at municipal expense.
And everywhere, they receive handouts. Perhaps even from you.
Meanwhile, when was the last time you saw a squirrel visit the Internal Revenue Service? How many CPAs have told you, at tax time, they are suffering from having a backlog of squirrels wanting help in filing their state and federal returns? Even citizen wildlife rehabbers - volunteers all - have been taking in their orphans as our own dependents to raise in foster care. We also cover their medical expenses and, yes, many of us have incurred motor vehicle expenses after hitting the brakes (or a guide rail or a tree) to spare the lives of those foolish enough to not know the rules of the road-crossing.
The squirrels, bless their hearts, sit in the trees and chitter at us. Or is that hysterical laughter?
So let's tax the squirrels. All of them. Let's put arboreal squirrels in the higher brackets - given their high position in the trees. And the burrow-dwellers be responsible for levies at a more down-to-earth percentage.
True, we run the risk of rodent revolution: Imagine a nation of squirrels dumping their nuts in Boston Harbor.
But it's time. With squirrel taxation we can end sequestration and get our country back on all fours again.
We deserve to be out of the red - and into the black or, at the very least, the gray.