Topic: Political trends
The most obnoxious ad on TV nowadays has to be the Nextel ad where firefighters run Congress. The script goes like this:
Head Firefighter: “How ‘bout the budget?”
Group: “Balance it.”
HF: “And taxes.”
G: “Let’s pay less.”
HF: “Anyone want better roads?”
G: “We do.”
HF: “All in favor.”
HF: “You need clean water guys?”
HF: “This is the easiest job I’ve ever had. We’re out of here.”
I know that it’s supposed to be satire, but this ad is still obnoxious. One of the most pernicious points of view in politics nowadays is the idea that all of our problems would be solved if the politicians would only try. This ad reflects that point of view.
You really have to be a hardcore moron to think that problems are that easy to solve. But from what I’ve observed, it seems that some people really are that stupid. Just look at this ad: obviously, there are some people watching this ad and thinking “Yeah, why can’t we just pay lower taxes and still fix the roads? Why don’t they do that?” It reminds me of this Onion article.
Some people in this country don’t seem to realize: in order to make progress, you have to make tradeoffs. You want lower taxes? Fine – tell me which programs you’d like to cut (and don’t say “close tax loopholes” or “reduce earmarks” – that’s a spit in the ocean). You want a strong military and universal health care? Fine – tell me whom you think should be taxed to pay for those things. And low-energy lightbulbs are great, but doing something serious about global warming will take significant sacrifices in the short and long term, starting will allowing the price of gas to stay high.
Politicians don’t want to talk about tradeoffs and sacrifices. It’s bad politics. It’s much easier to tell everyone that they can have it all. That’s why each of the three candidates for president are touting economic plans that – if passed – would take us further into debt. Of course, each claims that his or her plan is revenue neutral. Bullshit.
Some people obviously want to believe that easy solutions are out there. They want to believe that, if only we could get rid of the lobbyists, or the corporations, or the bureaucrats, or the fat cats in Washington, then we could solve all these problems in a hurry. If only we had people in Washington who care about ordinary people. Then everything would be better.
Anyone who thinks that has got it exactly backwards. There are a lot of members of Congress who care about their constituents way too much. Senators from farm states care about their constituents so much that they make it impossible to pass anything except ludicrously out-of-date, inefficient, and counter-productive farm bills. Members of Congress from auto states care about the car industry so much that they kill or weaken the automobile emissions standards that would reduce our dependence on oil. Members of Congress from rustbelt states are so beholden to the myth of the American manufacturing sector that they endlessly rail against NAFTA, which is about the closest thing to a win-win policy that we’ll ever see in this country.
Bashing Congress is easy. And often extremely fair. But it should be acknowledged that stalemates are usually the result of legitimate disagreements, and not simply negligence.
Let me end with a joke – not one of mine…a good one. This is from the Simpsons episode 1F15, Bart Gets and Elephant, and I the part about Congress pretty much captures the mentality of this Nextel ad:
At the KBBL studios, Bill and Marty's boss gives them a dressing-down.
Boss: Look, our ratings are down, and the station is being swamped
with angry calls and letter-bombs.
[A few letter-bombs explode in a pile]
And it's all your fault!
Bill: Yes it is, ma'am.
Boss: This is the DJ 3000. It plays CDs automatically, and it has
three distinct varieties of inane chatter.
[presses a button]
DJ 3000: [stilted] Hey, hey. How about that weather out there?
Woah! _That_ was the caller from hell.
Well, hot dog! We have a weiner.
Bill: Man, that thing's great!
Marty: _Don't_ praise the machine!
Boss: If you don't get that kid an elephant by tomorrow, the DJ 3000
gets your job.
[Marty punches it]
DJ 3000: Those clowns in congress did it again. What a bunch of clowns.
Bill: [laughs] How does it keep up with the news like that?