Monday, October 10, 2011

Pointing the Finger at Politicians

Like most people, I look at the state of the US economy with a lot of frustration. We spend too much money. Modest cuts to Social Security—such as delaying the retirement age or paying less to wealthy retirees—would go a long way to reducing our debt. Reducing the debt burden would give people reason to be a little more optimistic about the future. Foreign markets would respond probably respond well.

The challenges we face as a country are extremely solvable. We need to bring in a little more money and cut future spending on entitlement programs and the military. It’s tempting to look at Washington and blame the politicians for not addressing the issues that need to be addressed. Here’s the real problem: Any politician who proposes a legitimate solution to the current problems will not get reelected. It would be nice if politicians were self-sacrificing to the point that they would willingly give up their jobs to get important legislation done. They shouldn’t have to.

Politicians who propose real solutions to real problems will be punished by voters. The real problem is not the politicians, it’s the voters.

The current crop of presidential candidates is saying almost NOTHING about how they would deal with the debt problems (except for Cain and Paul). Why should they? If one of them proposes to cut social security, Obama will hammer him for it. If Obama proposed something similar, they would pound him for it. Ideally, candidates wouldn’t exploit good-faith efforts of their opponents to improve the country. But the real problem is that voters fall for it.

Politicians spend more than we have because that is exactly what the voters want. We want to take care of our seniors, we want to provide people with healthcare, and we want to kill bad guys in turbans—but we don’t want to pay for it. Politicians who propose that we raise taxes to meet our spending commitments won’t get reelected, and politicians who propose that we reduce the scope of government won’t get reelected either. The problem isn’t the politicians.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

my fancy blog

Allow me to introduce you to an extremely useful phrase: “That sounds fancy.” Here are a few situations where it comes in handy:

• A student is telling you about her future plans to A) be a forensic psychologist for the FBI, B) start a charity to rescue animals, and C) be a TV newscaster. “That sounds fancy” is the perfect response.

• Your mind wanders while someone is talking to you. Suddenly you realize it’s time for you to say something. “That sounds fancy” never fails.

• Somebody is opening up about an abusive relationship with a parental figure, and you are searching for the right words to comfort and bewilder them. “That sounds fancy” to the rescue.

phone rant 2

Telemarketers are annoying. This is not breaking news. I understand people not wanting to talk to telemarketers. What I don’t understand is the small group of people who pay for a product that informs every person who calls: “You have reached a number that does not accept solicitations. If you are a solicitor...”

Here’s their logic: “I don’t like to be annoyed by irrelevant phone calls. Therefore, I’ll make EVERY PERSON WHO CALLS ME LISTEN TO AN IRRELEVANT MESSAGE, rather than put my number on the free do-not-call list.”

Someone should call these people and sell them a how-to book about not sucking.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Glenn Beck is Warning of Disaster!?!?!?

I really enjoyed Glenn Beck for about 4 days in 2008. He was all whipped up about a perfect storm that was threatening America: the coming together of Muslims, the media, and liberal academics. (Or was it Van Jones, labor unions, and monetary policy?) I actually looked forward to my morning commute, because I wanted to get an update on the situation.

Every single day since then, Glenn Beck has been on the brink of collapse about something. Nobody can authentically offer the gravest of warnings about 1000 different things. Impending doom is his shtick. Even if absolutely nothing is happening in the world, Glenn Beck will find a way to make it sound disastrous.

But he is not without redeeming value. He really gets under the skin of a certain kind of sanctimonious liberal. The kind who is as eager to be outraged as Glenn is.

Perhaps my biggest complaint with him is that he’s not very funny. Even if he is occasionally funny, he is not nearly as funny as he thinks he is.

He’s still better radio than NPR’s interview with a pioneering young Jazz musician.

Friday, February 4, 2011

I’m really enjoying this conversation/prison sentence

I like to think of myself as having generally good interpersonal skills. I don’t talk too loud or too close. I maintain an appropriate degree of eye contact.I feign interest in what other people are saying in a believable way.

Yet there is one thing I CANNOT seem to get right, and that is ending a conversation. Once I am ready for a conversation to be over, I don’t know how to get out of it. I end up nodding my head and saying stuff like “I hear ya” and “I can’t say I disagree.”

Inside, I’m thinking “This is what it must be like to be taken hostage.”

Sometimes I think the conversation is over and I start to walk away—only to realize that the other person thinks we are in the middle of the conversation. I wonder if I have some kind of clinical disorder that blinds me to the social conventions around disengaging from conversations.

Don't get me wrong. I like talking to people. I just like short conversations.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

You aren’t as important as your phone thinks you are.

I have a badly outdated flip-phone that is held together with duct tape and prayers.

It’s all I need.

Phones are like weightlifting gloves: 98% of the people who use them have no use for them other than appearance. Guys put on weightlifting gloves so they can look hardcore while they move puny weights around.

It’s the same thing with fancy phones.

Fancy phones allow people to display how very important they are. And that they can pay $80 a month to update their facebook status from a public restroom.

So I'm protesting fancy phones, at least until I can afford one.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Football season is coming to an end. And so is my reason to continue living.

Football is like soccer, except things happen.

Football is a man’s game, whereas soccer players act like delicate 9-year-old girls. If a football player is pushed, he pushes back. If a soccer player gets pushed, he whips up some tears—to the delight of fans. Soccer teams actually recruit new players on the basis of their ability to cry on cue. Or so I’ve heard.

And baseball? The most impressive feat in baseball is a no-hitter. That’s right: nothing happens and people can’t shut up about it.

Stuff does happen in basketball. Guys score constantly. How excited can you be when a guy adds two points to 50? To 100? Not very. The only reason to watch basketball is Blake Griffin, and it’s obvious that guy is really a football player.