Natalia Brzeska wrote:
"Natalia Brzeska, economics department. Prime Minister Shroom, if I may. I have a question: what is your position on government spending, especially in light of Shroomania's runaway defence and space exploration budget?", asked a young blonde.
The Prime Minister smiled at the pretty lady. Goddamn meddling kids!
"I believe that government spending should be based on the situations and challenges faced by the government in question," Shroom answered. It was a vague and hazy and very general answer - his favorite kind. "Anyway, the 'runaway defense budget' is a bit of a misnomer first coined by the Paleopacifistic members of my Parliament.
"I am sure we all remember watching the Shroomanian Sentinel's coverage of the Parliamentary sessions, live on ShroomSatTV - how my esteemed colleagues so enthusiastically represented the people by trying to bludgeon one another with paperweights."
There were some laughs from the Political Science students. Shroom had no doubt the going ons of the Shroomanian Parliament made for an interesting discussion for these fellows.
"The 'runaway defense budget' isn't. The Mushroom Military has, in fact, cut down its manpower by 3/4ths from its original 400,000 men down to 100,000. Some other governments did the same to their militaries, but not all. Nonetheless, the downsizing really helped in loosening up the military's budgets for other things.
"But like I said, spending should be based on situations and challenges currently faced by the government. The New World is a very unstable place - even when all of us aren't threatened by world war, which almost seems to nearly happen on a yearly basis, there is still the problem of civil wars like the ones that plagued New Gottland in the past, and the nearby Shadow Empire just recently. And, of course, there's the threat of terrorism - and in the last months, all our worst fears in that regard seem to be coming to fruition. These are very challenging times, to say the least."
"Thus, as one of the larger members of the FUN, the Sovereignty of Shroomania has the responsibility to provide protection to its friends and allies in the whole alliance. Many of the Mushroom Military's recent military acquisitions will actually be handed to the combined FUN Force to make sure everyone is safe.
"Similarly, space exploration is of great importance to Shroomania and that is why our budget reflects this. I am sure we've all heard of the theories scientists have postulated regarding the New World's origins, how everything came to be - from Intelligent Design to Evolutionism. Knowledge is an important thing, and we believe that the answers are out there."
"Also, space exploration pushes the general development of technology forward. From things like the ShroomSatTV, to advancements in computers and robotics like the ACVs we're building, to structural analysis technology for our airplanes, to other applications - space exploration does have tangible benefits for things that are more down to earth.
"Lastly, let me say that the Shroomanian government does dedicate a fair amount of its budget to no-less important facets like education and healthcare. The Mushroom Organization of Medicine, the MOM, is a wonderful example of this. From what I've seen, PeZookia is also doing well in this regard.
"I'd like to think that we're better off than other less fortunate places that have been greatly damaged by war and yet whose powerful governments just continue to build guns without even fixing their schools or hospitals."
On that note, Shroom decided to end his lengthy reply - which seemed so bloody long that it satisfied those meddling kids. He was just about to take a seat when -
- he grabbed the beeping cellular telecommunications device attached to his belt buckle, right above his groin. He looked like Michael Jackson doing his thing
and that made the young crowds of PeZookians erupt in laughter and cheers.
"Baylor?" Shroom whispered to his groin-o-phone as he sat himself down. "Oh?"
SOFIA's Director just told him news of Miss Jia and King Arik.
"Oh, mang," his voice was hushed, but the microphone clipped on him made him audible to everyone. "King Arik parachuted with his special forces into Zablania and they got Miss Jia out safe? Awesome. That guy is totally cool!"
The conversation was short and as Shroom placed his phone back where it belonged, he looked around and noticed that everyone
was looking at him curiously and amusedly.
"Oh, sorry. Just a phone call," he apologized sheepishly. "Um, next question?"
The next question came from a surly make-uped goth loser in the back rows.
"For King Paul," he said and Paul nodded at him. "Why do so many people want you dead?"