Thursday, May 27, 2010

Nero Rosins Up His Fiddle

In times like these one should never underestimate the need to unwind... to rosin up the fiddle, load the kids up in Air Force Fun and head over to Chicago for Memorial Day Weekend. Really, it is a perfect time to send your second-- his Native American name is "He -Who-Often-Needs-To-Remove-Foot-From-Mouth"-- to take care of such tiresome ceremonies like laying a wreath on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and playing breakfast host to grieving families whose loved ones paid the ultimate price for protecting the freedom of a wide range of American Ingrates, most of whom have no idea why they don't have to go to work on Monday. Far be it to let such things as the greatest ecologic disaster of the modern era; impending war in Korea; economic chaos in Europe; or the sucking chest wound otherwise known as our southern border to crimp your style.
Now is the time to shoot hoops with a cross dressing, sometimes biting sports journalist and to squeeze in a Paul McCartney concert before you start addressing nagging questions like: "What is your plan to address the never ending oil spill?" or "Does it make sense to send in a boy to do a man's job on the border?" or "Who is lying... you or the guy who beat the Dead-Man-Walking (otherwise known as the Crypt Keeper on Friday Fright Night)?". You see that is exactly what "holidays" are made for... to decompress from such pesky ordeals, to rosin up the fiddle, maybe catch a flick, or better yet, just pretend for a few days that everything is going to be alright. Maybe, if this was a "holiday", it would not be a big deal. But last I checked, there is no caroling on Memorial Day, this is a solemn day of remembrance, a time to reflect, a time to grieve, a time, just maybe... to pay Respect.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Mexican Standoff

In a panicked effort to put out a five-alarm fire on our border, our confused friend from Mexico mistakenly applied gasoline today. Normally this results in a quick flare up that serves more to startle and perhaps to singe eye brows than anything else. Such an act typically flames out quickly and does not alter the course of the burning. Unfortunately in this case, with the House of Cards in attendance, a few equally disturbed but well meaning idiots joined in the fray, fanning the flames with applause, cheering the Disgrace, fomenting the Discord.

The problem of course, is that the Gift Horse was spooked in the process-- having been looked in the mouth one too many times over the past decade. This docile creature is responsible for planting and harvesting the fields of the American economy. Typically, The Gift Horse would rather peacefully chew on its cud, paying no heed to her Government Master's perpetual encroachment on the Harvest. Normally she would head back to the field more determined than ever to do a better job with less. But this time She looks to be more than a little spooked. Perhaps The Gift Horse, (otherwise known as the American Tax Payer) may actually bite back this time! You see, the weight of plow has tripled during the course of the past 2 years, leaving her stuck in a quagmire of debt and unfunded mandates, while the field of Opportunity has been left Fallow.
Yet all the while, her Government Master wildly and desperately spurs her on-- madly cracking its whip while adding to the weight of her plow, picking up slackers from Mexico and Greece along the way. "Why aren't we getting ANYWHERE?" he cries out, shaking a fist at the sky. For a moment there is a pause. The Gift Horse's frantic struggle to pull the plow comes to a sudden halt. The Gift Horse, for the first time in 150 years, actually stops working and looks its Master in the Eye.

The Master, startled and frightened by this development, sends out a well placed lash on the Gift Horse's back. She doesn't flinch, her hide having been toughened and calloused by the abuse. She no longer felt the sting of the whip.
"Racist!" screamed the panicking Master, redoubling his efforts.

Still nothing from the Horse.

"Hate monger!" he cried. Now it was the master who found himself foaming at the mouth. But still nothing from the Horse who was looking back with an almost quizzical expression. The Gallery that had been assembled on the plow began to echo their Master's cries. And what a motley crew indeed! It was comprised of politicians of all ilk-- people that believe themselves to be Journalists; Union Bosses and an alphabet soup of failed Insurance companies, Bankers, Automakers; and two morbidly obese mortgage loan sharks innocuously named Jack and Jill. They were alternately pleading with and insulting the Gift Horse but again to no avail.

Finally, in a rare moment of leadership, the Master gathered himself, wiped his sweaty brow and motioned for the Gallery to be silent and then turned back to address the horse. "Can't we work something out? For the benefit of the Children? For the Poor and Oppressed? What about the innocent Victims of Capitalism? For the Listless, the Uninspired, and the Incompetent? Now is not the time to neglect your Patriotic Duty! Come now... what say you?"

The Gift Horse noticed that his Master had relaxed his grip on the reigns during the excitement and took the opportunity to spit the bit from her mouth. Liberated from her bit, She took a moment to enjoy her Freedom and carefully assessed her Master and the Motley Crew that she had been dragging along.

"This," she said, "is not what I signed up for."

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Why Freedom Sucks but Enabling Bad Behavior Sucks even more.

Here we are, some 200 plus years after our founding, running madly away from our divine birthrights of liberty and freedom. Like lemmings on the tundra, we are running ourselves off a cliff, headlong into the arms of a nanny state. The problem is, for anyone who knows anything about lemmings, the outcome of such behavior is suicide. One only has to look at Charles Schultz's Peanuts to see that the nanny state is like Lucy and we, the tax paying citizens of America, are like Charlie Brown, being lead on to believe we can kick the ball only to have it pulled back at the last second. Some of the questions that beg to be asked are "Why are we doing this?" and "How have we devolved into a species of spooked lemmings scrambling about the tundra?" If freedom and liberty are so great than why does she find herself surrounded on all sides by enemies? Why do we suddenly find ourselves defending free enterprise and capitalism in general?
The problem with freedom and liberty in general, is the A-word. Accountability is great when we succeed but avoided at all costs when we (you will have to excuse me for using the f-word) fail. Because we are a decent people who truly don't want our fellow Americans to fail we are deeply offended by poverty in the Land of Opportunity. We have justifiably taken steps over the years to ameliorate these issues with government programs-- social security, medicaid and medicare to name a few. The intent of all such programs is to help those who are unable to help themselves. The problem is that these programs have expanded to include helping those who are able yet unwilling to help themselves.
The problem with protecting people from failure is that doing so only serves to enable behavior that is clearly not working. Why stop failing if the check keeps coming in the mail? The easy answer is to vote for politicians who protect and subsidize our bad behavior, who bring home the pork and demonize productive people along the way. That is so much easier than confronting our own behavior and choices that have lead to our demise. If opportunity is the carrot which guides our behavior to greatness than failure is the stick by which we are influenced to change course until we get it right. But doing that sounds like hard work and hard work, for lack of a better word to describe it, sucks.
But there is good news for those of us not making the cut, who are content to wallow in suckdom-- a new plantation is being built on the ashes of the old home of the brave. The new elite on this plantation are Those Who Can't and Those Who Won't do anything to better themselves. They are joined by strange bed fellows-- Big Labor, Government and Teacher Unions which, if you really think about it, have produced contrarian results in their sectors. Modern Labor and Teachers Union bosses have been committed to ensuring that workers get paid more for producing a lower quality product over time. They have made slow but steady progress on this front over the years. Not sure about this? The first $2,000 or so that you pay for a new GM car actually pays for entitlements of workers who no longer make cars. Not to be outdone, as the rest of world is running past America in education despite record amounts of tax dollars being flushed into the black hole otherwise known as the Department of Education-- we are successfully teaching 6th graders how to put condoms on bananas.
Ah, your tax dollar at work! How is this possible you wonder? What entity is responsible for enabling such stupidity? There is an elite class of citizens who specialize in managing (some might use the word manipulating) Those Who Can't and Those Who Won't. They are the new Masters of the Plantation, the Grand Enablers who are ushering us into a new era of social justice and equality. Who are these men and women who are leading us into a Golden Age where money grows on trees, Einstein's theory of relativity is suddenly reversed-- a place where it is actually possible to get something from nothing?! These magicians (also known in some circles as the Grand Enablers) are primarily composed of politicians, academics and policy wonks. They have been hard at work over the years to overturn the "broken" system in America, which, ironically, has also been the envy of the world. Not bad for a "broken" system, eh? Their intentions are as pure as the driven snow. They speak in such glowing platitudes-- "Hope and Change" and pass legislation that sounds great like "No Child Left Behind" and "Health Care Reform". These people, most of whom have never run so much as a lemonade stand, are now preparing to draft legislation to tell businesses and investment firms how to do business.
Yet none of this is possible without the last and most necessary element of their new plantation --The Slaves. Who are the slaves of the new government plantation? They are those mindless drones who mono-maniacly get up and go to work each day, who stick around to raise their children (having slipped their minds to exercise their right to abort those pesky little rug rats when they had the chance) and most importantly, who pay their taxes. In their pathetic drive to make a better life for themselves, their family and their community they tend to increase their earnings over time, doubtlessly exploiting poor people as they go along. Often they exploit these poor people by hiring them to do work that is beneath their dignity. They are too busy working, cutting their grass and running their children to soccer practices to notice that they spend 5 months a year subsidizing Those Who Can't, Those Who Won't and The Grand Enablers. For a few breathless moments each evening they may read a headline or see something on the news ticker like "Health Care Reform" passed or "Immigration Reform" proposed. "That sounds nice," they say to themselves before drifting off to sleep.