in a recent full-page editorial in the Vancouver Sun, a writer from the Fraser Institute soberly proposes "to end welfare," and "reinstitute poorhouses and homes for unwed mothers."

At first I thought someone had monkeywrenched the Sun’s editorial department with a faxed prank. Yet it turns out that the contributor, "policy analyst" Fred McMahon, is indeed with the Fraser Institute. I was puzzled. Had the right-wing think-tank listed so far starboard it was now endorsing Ebenezer Scrooge's legendary rejection of social welfare, using his very own words? Then, in a flash, it came to me: The Fraser Institute is having is on! It’s a satire of organization’s own far-right viewpoint, it’s gotta be. I mean, how else could such an august body sign on to a howler like McMahon’s "social programs perpetuate poverty"?

So here’s my theory: in an effort to win over a disaffected post-boomer audience, the Brazen Institute is being hip and ironic -- and they are doing it with sly allusions to perennial childhood favourites like Dicken's A Christmas Carol. This can mean only one thing: jobs for humourists. If that's the case, then by God, I want a piece of the action, scribbling out belly-laugh bumpf for everyone’s fave neo-con nuthouse.

So here's my adaptations of the endings of other childrens’ favourites, revised to reflect the world-view of the Fraser Institute....

Little Red Riding hood. The wolf — a Tom Vu fan who acquired Granny’s cottage as "distressed property" — sits propped up in bed disguised as Granny, as Little Red Riding Hood enters the room.

"Goodness, what big eyes you have," she says in surprise.

"All the better to see you with," says the wolf.

"What a big mouth you have," the little girl murmurs in a weak voice.

"The better to eat you with!" growls the wolf, and jumping out of bed, swallows Little Red Riding Hood in one gulp — thus saving the taxpayer approximately $475,000.00 in future education and medical expenses.

Princess and the Pea. At last, the royal court knew that she was a real princess because she had felt the pea right through the twenty mattresses and the twenty eider-down beds.

Nobody but a real princess could be as sensitive as that.

So the prince took her for his wife, but discovered sensitivity can have a downside. Free to spend her days reading in bed, the princess devoured the works of three evil witches (Maude Barlowe, Linda McQuaig, and Naomi Klein), who inflamed her mind with all manner of touchy-feely, bleeding-heart nonsense. "I think the monarchy is a relic from the Feudal era," she babbled at the prince, while he sat at his desk working on product placement deals for the royal parade route. "On top of that, branding public events with corporate sponsorship is a thinly-veiled attempt to colonize young minds with the consumer mindset." The prince sighed. "Why don't you just shut the hell up and get dinner?" he replied. Exquisitely sensitive, the princess burst into tears — and chastened by her foolishness, never uttered another nanny-state nostrum ever again.

Goldilocks and the Three Bears. Horrified by what they considered to be a home invasion, Mama and Papa Bear set out to charge Goldilocks with breaking and entering, and sue her for psychological distress. Too late! The porridge-noshing blonde had already informed the authorities of an illegal squat in the woods, occupied by grizzlies. Snipers from Animal Control subsequently took out Mama, Papa, and Baby Bear with high-powered rifles.

Within a month, Goldilocks had dashed off a manuscript detailing her spiritual journey in the forest, and soon found herself in the middle of a bidding war between Random House and Doubleday, with Miramax films optioning her tale for a cool 100 K. The invisible hand of the market had won out again.

Cinderella. Newspaper prince Conrad Black slowly slid the Gucci slipper onto princess Barbara Amiel's foot, and lo and behold, it fit. "I hate the underclass," she said dreamily, awakened from her long sleep in Maclean’s magazine. "I too," he replied, "and if I cannot profitably mold public opinion in this kingdom to my satisfaction, it behooves me to seek out a title in England's House of Lords. Even at the price of my citizenship here." Barbara swooned as she looked into his cold, steel-gray eyes. "We really are the elite, aren't we?" she said, running a hand through his Grecian Formulaic hair.

And everyone earning over 350K lived happily ever after. The End.

Geoff Olson