Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The Political Rite.

Rite (rīt), n. Any customary observance or practice. (Webster's Encyclopedic Unabridged Dictionary.)
Rite, n. A religious or semi-religious ceremony fixed by law, precept or custom, with the essential oil of sincerity carefully squeezed out of it. (Ambrose Bierce – The Devil's dictionary.)

The local newspaper recently announced that our district representative to Congress is scheduling a series of “town hall” meetings with his constituents in order to discuss his plans for creating jobs, and to listen to the participants' ideas on the subject. He holds these meetings several times throughout the year, so I feel justified in considering them “rites” under the first definition above, and it has been my experience that they also satisfy the second definition.
His ideas for creating jobs are not really ideas - they are ideology: (1) cut taxes, particularly on higher income taxpayers, and (2) cut government spending. These are the same trite recommendations which he makes in good times and bad, prosperity and depression, war and peace . . . ad infinitum. They are the prescription for any economic condition.
His mantra is, “Government cannot create jobs – only private industry can do that.” This begs the question, “What do you call the positions held by those 19 million people on the Federal, State and Local government payrolls?” (http://www.census.gov/govs/www/apes.html). And if the Federal government decides to order the next generation of fighter plane from Boeing, what do the workers on the project have, if not jobs? How about those involved in building highways or high-speed rail lines?
If his ideas for creating jobs do not constitute squeezing out the oil of sincerity, I don't know what does.
How about his plans for listening to the participants' ideas? The only way this guy listens to the ideas of participants is if they come with large campaign contributions. If you belong to the middle or lower income classes, you might as well talk to a box of rocks.
But he is not unique; on the contrary, he is typical of politicians of both parties. I realize that sounds cynical, but look at the record. The following is a list of President Bush's programs that were supported by big money and opposed by a majority of the electorate. What did President Obama do about them?

  1. Bush wanted tax cuts for all households; Obama and the electorate wanted cuts for 95% of them. Obama continued cuts for all.
  2. Bush supported large deficits. Obama continued them.
  3. Bush bailed out banks and auto companies. So did Obama.
  4. Bush and Obama supported immigration reform. Obama did nothing.
  5. Bush favored nuclear power and deep sea oil drilling. So does Obama.
  6. Bush's advisers came from Goldman Sachs and Citigroup. So have Obama's.

It is not surprising that both parties court big money; the first rule of politics is get elected, which is getting extremely expensive. But when they pretend to be listening to the electorate, whether at town hall meetings or otherwise, that is a rite which falls under definition two.
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My books, “There Are Only Seven Jokes” and “The Spirit Runs Through It” are available in paperback, or at the Kindle Store.

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