The Oddgodfreys enjoy beautiful Seychelles hiking and cruising while we watch other fellow sailors make their way South through the Mozambique Channel to be denied visas upon arrival in South Africa. Back problems start to arise, and we start to think our five year journey may be delayed, yet again
Some people are no doubt surprised that I would congratulate a Republican Senator for staying one. The thing is, I have voted for quite a few Republicans over the years, and in fact I’ve never been much of a party member of any sort. I don’t think that either major party has a lock on morality, political savvy, or plans to run the country. I do think that two jokes are germane:
“I’m not a member of any organized political party: I’m a Democrat.” — Will Rogers
“The Republicans are the party that says that government doesn’t work. Then they get elected and prove it.” — PJ O’Rourke.
Be that as it may (and it may, I’m sure) the actual problem with politics in America just now is not that the positions of one side or the other are in conflict. Heck, if you ever read the history of this country you’d know that this is an old and honorable fight, going back into the 1760s if not before. The problem is that the people on either side of the debate who are getting all the attention are, well, I guess the squeaky wheels. (As in “the squeaky wheel gets the grease.”) But the ones making the noise are not really representative of most people. I do know what most people want; not just Americans, but pretty much anybody. And, unlike the case of how the Internet works, I can tell you with no trouble.
People want to eat well, to have a good shelter, to see their children grow and thrive, to feel secure that their future will at least be livable, and to pretty much be left alone to live their lives as they see fit. That’s really it. Sorry it can’t be more exciting. There are plenty of reasonable things you can do to try to bring about those results. For instance, as a Chinese philosopher once said, if you want to live in a peaceful world, live peaceably. But, most people never really think much about Chinese philosophy, and fear is one heck of a motivator. Which brings us to the squeaky wheels on both sides of the aisle.
I’m going to start with the Health Care Reform issue. The big changes that bill makes are not even close to being a government take over of health care. What it does do is outlaw refusing to insure somebody for pre-existing conditions, eliminate lifetime coverage caps, and also makes it illegal to drop somebody if they become critically ill. That’s simple enough. The insurance companies, of course, hate those provisions, so the bill throws them a big old sop in the form of requiring everyone to buy health insurance, fining those who don’t, and using the money from the fines to buy insurance for people who can’t afford it. That’s it, in a nutshell. I think it could be better, but it isn’t by any stretch a government takeover of health care. It might be the “Health Insurer Relief Act of 2010,” but that’s another story. The right, though, has managed to engender enough fear to make you think that we are about to become a Stalinist state ruled with an iron fist because of the evil socialist act of “Obamacare.” That fear works well for those who use it, getting some people to support candidates that, viewed reasonably, are probably insane or at least criminally stupid.
But wait! That’s not all!
From the left wing, I turn to the late campaign for the Senate in Nevada. The Reid team did get a huge assist from the opposition on this one, but that doesn’t mean they didn’t take full advantage. Do you know that Sharron Angle supported massages for prisoners in a program sponsored by (gasp!) the Church of Scientology? She did? My gawd, that’s terrible! Maybe it would be, if it were true. In fact, Ms. Angle did investigate the program, but she decided against advocating using it. And as for the Scientology thing, what’s up with that? Are they worse than a church who’s priests molest young boys? Or a leader of a “moral majority” who is caught in a relationship with his boyfriend? I mean, really, it’s all pretty ridiculous when you think about it, but nobody does much thinking about it, so it worked like a charm. I used that example because, of all the “Angle is too extreme” rhetoric we got to hear, I think that that one example was the most effective. It was also the least possible to prove, which is good when you’re using fear as a motivator.
Did you know that scientists believe that there is a chance that the sun will explode and destroy the solar system within the next ten years? It’s true! Such a cataclysm would end all life as we know it and be extremely terrifying and painful as it occurred! Are you ready for the end of the world? Well, scientists say that it’s possible, and soon!
That entire paragraph is true. “A chance” means that the probability of that happening is more than zero. That is to say, we can’t say for certain that it won’t happen. (That’s another good phrase to bring out when you use fear, by the way.) But the odds are incredibly against it happening, so really we haven’t got a thing to worry about from our sun, at least as regards it exploding any time soon. There’s a hint for would-be fearmongers: anything can happen. Just pick something that sounds too awful to contemplate and suggest that it’s true. Don’t claim it flat-out, because then somebody like me can dispute you. Just imply it, mention it, say how awful it would be if it were true. Have you heard any talk like that lately? Then you’ve been alive.
And that is the problem with the current political climate: no substance, lots of fear. Unfortunately, the truth is pretty dull. That is that the economy rises and falls, recovery takes time, some regulation of commerce is necessary because not everybody knows how to behave, and really, so long as you’re eating regularly and have a place to live, you’re doing okay. That’s not so much fun as the fear, but it’s the truth. To recap:
The health care reform act isn’t socialism, and it is unlikely to be repealed because overall the insurance industry likes it.
Secret contributions to political campaigns have been around since the Roman republic and they have never caused the downfall of anything, much less our Republic.
The recession is past bottom. We will in a few years forget how things were back in 2010 while we make the very mistakes that will, eventually, lead to the next downturn.
And, finally, you will be okay, take it all around. Things never work out the way we plan. Keep your eyes open and you never know what opportunity will appear. The Republic has survived worse times than the ones we’re in, and by a long shot. Take a deep breath and for everyone’s sake, turn off the news. You’ll be glad you did.