WASHINGTON, DC—With national stupid-shit consumption at an all-time high and federal shit projections indicating sharply rising levels of stupidity over the next decade and a half, a small but vocal group of lobbyists has revived an old debate on Capitol Hill, calling for strict, federally mandated limits on incredibly stupid shit.
Though every previous congressional effort to curb incredibly stupid shit has met with failure, the sheer size of the current U.S. shit industry, combined with the unmitigated stupidity of most of the shit it produces, has once again raised the question: Should the U.S. impose limits on incredibly stupid shit?
"The manufacture, marketing and distribution of stupid, worthless shit is an unfortunate but unavoidable reality of any modern industrialized nation. Nonetheless, the problem has gotten way out of hand here in America," said C. Brian Mattson, a member of the Commerce Department's Advisory Board On Stupid, Really Stupid & Incredibly Stupid Shit, testifying before Congress Monday. "The time has come to face facts: Without some sort of cap on America's unchecked stupid-shit production, we face a crisis of diminished intelligence within the national discourse that threatens to bury our society under a tidal wave of crap the likes of which the world has never seen."
Evidence of the rise in U.S. shit-industry output—musical sun visors, Austin 3:16 foam can coolers, PepsiMan II videogames for the Sony PlayStation, and new toilet-training-postponement diapers for toddlers previously thought to be well over the age at which one should be allowed to continue defecating in one's pants—is everywhere. Yet the prospect of federally legislated shit-stupidity limits remains controversial, raising many questions: In a free society, do citizens have a constitutional right to be as stupid as they wish? How stupid is too stupid? What about the enormous profits generated by incredibly stupid shit? And are limits even realistic given the ever-growing consumer demand for stupider and stupider shit?
Many say regulatory efforts would prove ineffective. "Sure, everybody would like to see smarter shit on the market," U.S. Sen. Sam Brownback (R-KS) told reporters, "but it doesn't sell. We're talking about knee-jerk, 'feel-good' legislation that is unenforceable in practice."
Pausing to suck briefly on the tongue of a Jar Jar-shaped candy item impulse-purchased at a D.C.-area Walgreens, Brownback continued: "If people didn't want to waste their money on all this stupid crap, they wouldn't. In a free-market economy, manufacturers who wish to remain competitive must keep stupider and stupider shit in constant supply."
Standing in opposition to Brownback and others is the San Francisco-based group Citizens For Federal Shit Limits, which is calling for stricter federal regulation of incredibly stupid shit. Formed in May 1998 after the so-called "shocked and amazed lady" from "that one psychic-phone-line commercial" also started appearing in late-night ads touting an exciting new way to save big money on your phone bill—a "crisis moment" that served as "a major wake-up call" to anti-stupid-shit activist groups throughout the nation—Citizens for Federal Shit Limits estimates that U.S. shit is 65 percent stupider than in 1980.
Wishing to remain realistic in its goals, CFSL is not calling for limits on any of the nation's "stupid" or "really stupid" shit, asking the government only to cap the most dangerous, "incredibly stupid" forms of shit currently on the market.
Citing such as examples as garbage-shaped food, pet horoscopes, pseudo-mystical "Win The Lotto" scented aerosol sprays, and "Taco Bell Chihuahua" T-shirts, CFSL director Kurt Bergeron said steps must be taken to curb stupidity now.
"Look at this ridiculous piece of unadulterated plastic junk," said Bergeron, randomly picking up an object from the shelves of a Bay Area Spencer Gifts, where the group staged a press conference and protest. "Just look at it! A magnetized Monica Lewinsky face that says, 'Interns Suck'? What kind of a human being would buy this? And why does it need to glow in the dark? I ask you, does that make sense? Where does it all end? Has the entire planet gone insane?"
Despite the outcry from the CFSL and other groups, many experts contend that any effort to pass shit-limiting legislation is doomed to fail. The U.S., they say, has become so dependent on incredibly stupid shit that sustained, long-term economic growth cannot be ensured without the steady influx of still-stupider shit. Some business owners, such as Bradley Swearingen, a New Jersey-based manufacturer of Backstreet Boys fanny packs, insist they would be driven out of business if incredibly-stupid-shit limits were enacted.
"What am I opposed to tell my customers?" Swearingen said. "'Sorry, Washington says no more fanny packs for you; time to spend your money on great works of literature'? It doesn't work that way."
Invisible-dog-leash manufacturer Ken Gerosa agreed. "If the American people want to spend the largest per capita discretionary income in the history of mankind walking around pretending they've got an invisible dog," Gerosa said, "who am I to tell them no?"