Just need to get this out there and share. From the Economic Policy Institute. September 15, 2010.
Really. I called my best friend — a conservative friend – a petty nitwit last night, and not in the usual quiet indirect way.
A myth exists out there that tells a story of how success is punished in the United States. This myth grows stronger as success becomes more unbalanced. The myth depends on the belief that the successful are demonized and everyone is successful when the opposite is more true.
The United States celebrates success — we know that – but it is simple-minded parochialism to think that we alone are best and special at success in America. Ironically, the party that claims a natural affinity with successful principles is the party that is fostering this mythical attack on success here. It is yet another example of the power of rhetoric and how it can turn facts upside down.
Supposedly wealth in this country is earned through individual talent and effort. People have more because they deserve more. And until you reach the level of leisurely wealth, you have to pay your dues, literally. Pay more taxes, especially as a percentage of your income, for the right to work for Wal-Mart.
The wealthy, I am reminded, pay huge tax bills. A billionaire pays more than a school teacher. That might be true in most cases, depending on the billionaire’s ethic, I suppose; but that is not the point. Until you can show me someone who came from no economic means whatsoever who has made a fortune big enough to support his leisure, I’m not buying it.
Show me a kid from the deserts of Sudan who now lives like a king managing the money of working class Americans, for example. (And still lives like a king when he loses it.) Then I’ll start to believe.
As wealth trickles upward — actually flows upward, forget the trickle — opportunities for the mythical self-made success go with it. Even the child of the most fortunate means owes his fortune to the common efforts of a well-functioning and well-funded social sphere. Education, health, security…that’s just the start, the basics for a good labor force and a dynamic domestic economy. This along with the growing household demands of consumers after World War II made fortunes for American business.
Today wealth is being consolidated and outsourced. The numbers are staggering. Even the traditional rich are not rich anymore in comparison. So why tax oligarchies who enjoy the benefits of the new economic order? Because they benefit from that order. Their profits and wealth depend on a docile and obedient working and professional class. They need sheep willing to pay more for less. But pointing this out is supposedly an attack on success. Really?
I might sound a bit flippant and it is hard to make my case when many people can afford the world’s most affluent lifestyle, but look around the corner at what is to come. People like John Boehner literally cry about the future. Michele Bachmann claims we are losing our freedom and headed toward tyranny. (She’s more or less correct, by the way, but not for the reasons she gives. Bachmann – and people like her – is the problem, not the solution.)
If you’re worried about the future, worried about your grandchildren — a favorite conservative trope — then be worried about what is being done to the economy in this country, be worried about what is being done to social services and public goods. Conservatives have become freeloaders — free riders in economic terms — they want the functioning social order and infrastructure, but don’t want to pay for it. They expect public employees to give up their rights, for example. They want all workers to give up their rights, in fact. Why? Because we are heading more and more toward an era when corporations matter more in government than people.
When I was a kid we were scandalized by the supposed $100 hammer and $200 toilet seat that was said to be on the Pentagon’s books. Now we have privatized much of our military and we think little of $45 for a six-pack of Coke charged by Dick Cheney’s company Halliburton. (And that Coke adds up…What’s $1.4 billion among old friends?) The difference? One is “free” enterprise, the other is government waste.
This twisted thinking is ruining this country. But now that corporations have been afforded the rights of people in speech and politics, don’t expect things to change, especially if we keep electing people who are nothing more than pawns for those enjoying the greatest transfer in wealth and opportunity in our history.
- This Is Why Americans Vote Against Economic Self-Interest (themoderatevoice.com)
- Bachmann turns to overdrive (politico.com)
- Economic Volatility, Hyper Consumption, and the “Wealth of Nations” (oup.com)
- Michele Bachmann blasts first lady over breast-feeding (salon.com)
- Gretchen Rubin: 6 Questions to Help You Keep Your Cool Instead of Losing Your Temper (huffingtonpost.com)
- How to Handle an Over-the-Top Temper? (psychologytoday.com)
- Michele Bachmann can’t bring herself to say President Obama is American (dailykos.com)
Email devours a lot of precious time. You can find loads of statistics supporting this, if you have any doubt. And as companies attempt to reduce costs while increasing efficiencies, you can bet that email usage isn’t decreasing any time soon. But when is email effective and when is it a waste of time?
As a management tool email is especially problematic. Effective managers build strong communication and rapport up and down working hierarchies. They also need something like “street cred“, the sense that they are in the trenches and can relate to what happens there. If a manager’s primary contact with the people he or she supervises is happens through media like email, earning and maintaining these credentials with a team will be difficult.
There simply are times when email won’t cut it. And if a manager overuses email, he or she becomes less of a manager and more of an anonymous blogger. Signing an email with a postage stamp mug shot smiling back to readers isn’t going to recreate a face-to-face experience, especially if the readers never scroll to the end of long, lifeless email to read all that has been written anyway.
The risks of using email seem obvious to me. Email can be a rambling excesses of grammatical misfortune and showy hyperbole. Who hasn’t received a particularly important email highlighted in bold fuchsia and finished with half a dozen exclamation points? If that comes from a supervisor, well…is that a good idea? Getting too wordy and too “fancy” can doom an email. It potentially undercuts its purpose which compromises the point of the message.
Too often email becomes too long — and sloppy — because it is so easy to add just one more good idea, one more link, or one more colored bold font. Focus on simple, clear, and necessary messages. Use creative highlighting features sparingly.
Overused email can numb an audience. They all start to look the same and become hollow and anonymous over time. If email is going to be effective, it should be concise, relevant, and meaningful…and, I dare say, rare.
Of course the message should be appropriate for email, too. Some topics, especially uncomfortable ones that might be tempting to deal with via email, are handled best face-to-face. And a manager wants that street cred. Of course calling a meeting or making a phone call takes more time, but you can communicate more complex and important ideas much more effectively in person.
If dialogue is important, skip the email.
Also skip email for major announcements that might require enthusiasm and buy-in. Don’t presume that your audience is enthralled with your leadership style and will hang on your every typed word. Sometimes there is no way to replace being there and being a real and physical part of the message.
Remember the great and powerful Wizard of Oz! Not until he came out from behind his curtain and revealed himself to Dorothy and the gang did he offer any real help. He might not have been “great and powerful” in an imposing fire-throwing sort of way, but he was an able leader nonetheless. If I remember the story correctly, Dorothy does get home and that was the point of it all, wasn’t it? Yes, it was…get out from behind that damn curtain and lead!
As the GOP and their exploited poorer cousins in the Tea Party seem to be in a race to outdo each other in bad ideas, the country suffers. There doesn’t seem to be any stopping their pointless symbolic posturing – big issues, real issues can wait – so we might as well find a way to benefit from their fumbling about.
Why not impose cap and trade-style limits on GOP stupidity? (That’s emission control we can all learn to live with!)
Give them as much rope as they need to hang themselves while preventing wholesale destruction of the country. Quantifying stupidity of the conservative sort would require a great deal of super computing power, so let’s keep things simple and keep the policy limited to elected officials.
Limit legislators to one stupid bill per session, one stupid amendment, and maybe five stupid comments made to the media (we do need our comic relief). Of course Democrats get the same allocation. They can sell their stupidity quota to particularly prolific bad idea generators like Michele Bachmann or Scott Walker and help those poor little wannabe fascists. Voila! Redistributing stupidity can be a bridge-building activity!
I haven’t worked out all the details. Key is getting the Republicans to go along with the idea, but that shouldn’t be so difficult. Someone could start by going to Wikipedia and entering a paragraph in Ronald Reagan’s entry saying he actually came up with the idea. Then have someone like Rachel Maddow call it a bad Reaganite plan. In no time there will be a lot of conservative support for the idea. Let’s get that done quickly, however, so we can fast track laws creating the Stupidity Cap and Trade Act. I even like the sound of it.
(By the way, we’ll all have a good laugh and feel good if someone could sneak a phony amendment into the Cato Institute‘s online version of the United States Constitution. We can then look forward to hearing people like Glenn Beck and Rand Paul support the idea on the grounds of Founding Fathers’ authority. Get those originalists all worked up! Speaking of originalists, maybe someone could add a little to the Bible, too: “And the Angel of the Lord said unto them, cap it and trade it, for your stupidity dost offend the Lord.” That is a nice touch for Bachmann et al.)
But what will we trade? Details. I haven’t worked out all of the details. Perhaps we could trade in something that could be paid in character and style, two things the GOP desperately lacks. I don’t know. Somebody help me out there. However let’s not delay. We have a country to save!
- Understanding Cap & Trade: The Infographic (treehugger.com)
If you need an example of how out of touch some people are when it comes to jobs, the economy, and unions…well, look no further. Penelope Trunk has a marvelously simple-minded and misguided example for all to enjoy.
In response to protests in Wisconsin’s legislative attempt to remove collective bargaining power from public employees, Ms Trunk’s answer seems to be change jobs if you don’t like it. Unions are passe anyway. Hell, we haven’t had child labor problems since the 1880s, at least according to Penelope. So why the bother with unions? We’ve solved all of the world’s labor problems! People don’t stay in one job for more than a few years anyway, so take advantage of the fluid labor market and go get yourself a better job. That’s it! Simple.
You can read her post for yourself. Other than a nod to a brother who is a University of Chicago economist (don’t get me started) she easily ambles through feel good self-help as blithely as a school girl hammering out a civics term paper.
Some people clearly will benefit from a change in strategy and a new career path. Penelope Trunk’s ideas will mean something to those people, but I expect that most of those people will find that path without Governor Walker’s anti-worker efforts.
Very simply, the argument in Ms Trunk’s blog don’t stand up to fact and reason. First of all…has she noticed the nation’s unemployment rate? How about Wisconsin’s? Perhaps the Wisconsin public workers could go to Guangzhou, China, where American corporations are creating more jobs than they are here in the United States.
I am going back to yesterday’s post her on A Little Tour in Yellow. What the hell is our problem with public workers in the United States? Good lord. When people elected to run our government cannot even find their way to be grateful for the work public employees do, I think we have some problems. Government employees are seen as inefficient, lazy, and ungrateful. These are the people who keep what’s left of our government services functioning. The people who are ungrateful increasingly are the public they serve. That is very discouraging and sad. We are better than this and if we’re going to be great again we need ideas more thoughtful than those like Penelope Trunk’s casual advice.
- Advice to Wisconsin protesters (and everyone else): Instead of protesting change, adjust your own career (penelopetrunk.com)
For my friend U No Hu, a very brief post commenting on current political thought as the middle class seems set upon eating its own.
The GOP of yesterday — say pre-Reagan — doesn’t look all that bad anymore. The bad guys were clearly identified and most Republicans were rather civil and even somewhat liberal by today’s standards. And they seemed to share at least one goal in common with their Democratic counterparts: A better United States, even if you had to reluctantly engage government resources to get it done.
I’m not sure you can say that a better country is the goal of today’s populist politics, particularly from the point of view of the right. It is more cut, cut, cut and we have reached a point where government workers — scofflaws like university professors and snow plow drivers — are “stealing” from the people. I would venture to guess that many government employees work at least as hard as the people attacking them unless, of course, they are someone like Gov. Scott Walker who has a cushy office job and has someone else clean his official toilet.
The problem here is ignorance. I actually think the problem is stupidity, but if people are too stupid to understand facts and reasoning, then we will forever be subjected to the will of the minority, as we are now. I don’t like believing that…so I’ll ignore it.
People on the right fail to see how they support interests that pull our wealth up to the lucky few while at the same time dismantling decades of social and economic progress.
Maybe it is time to start asking the knuckle-dragging mouth-breathers on the right to explain how…say…cutting government spending without raising taxes is going to erase a debt that exceeds total government spending. In a state where an annual budget needs to be balanced, something doesn’t add up.
Or perhaps ask a more simple question. What is rich? And who fooled the average Tea Partier into thinking he is rich? The truly rich have fed this idea into the heads of their followers. A full third of Americans believe they are in the top 10% of income earners. Again, a problem with basic math exists there.
Ask a more complicated question, one that evaluates real versus nominal incomes and wealth, for example, and you can understand why the right stubbornly sticks to simple complaints that can fit on a 18″ X 24″ sheet of poster board.
But we’re better than this, aren’t we?
- Class inversion (nowpublic.com)
- GOP set sights on Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (dailykos.com)
Close your eyes and imagine for a moment Minnesota‘s future — or any state’s future, for that matter – if the people who threaten to leave when taxes go up do in fact leave….
…enjoy that thought for a moment…
Wow…wasn’t that nice? But hardly going to happen. These people aren’t going to leave a great state until they ruin everything that’s keeping them here. So back to reality.
The tax whiners are at it again making outrageous claims about the evils of taxes and it seems that these misleading claims constantly need to be answered.
Let’s begin by being clear and fair. Of course it is important that taxes are levied and invested responsibly. Not wanting to waste money is admirable. However supporting thoughtful and adequate taxes is not one and the same with supporting waste. Responsible people understand this. But the tax whiners don’t understand this; they don’t understand the wisdom of smart tax policy and condemn taxes across the board…almost.
Even Republicans — perhaps especially Republicans (Gotcha!) – support spending on pet projects and interests. Selfish? Well, you judge.
How do you defend United States House Speaker John Boehner, Republican from Ohio, pressing his support for a multi-billion dollar investment in a military jet engine that the military does not want? Billions for that, but cuts to programs for health care? Someone should be crying “Hell no you can’t” now, but don’t count on it.
Hypocrisy is one thing, but failing to understand is another. Perhaps therefore GOP leaders can be forgiven because they simply don’t get it. (Humor me.) Voters, however, shouldn’t be let off the hook. The collective intelligence of the people should outweigh the charismatic and ideological stupidity of its leadership. (Remember…In a democracy elections have consequences and, boy, do we have consequences.)
Sadly, it is hard to say which is more tragic, the dismal leadership conservatives offer or the pathetic butt kissing of the people who elect them.
At its most fundamental level, conservatives don’t understand the costs of their tax proposals. When they cut taxes more than they cut spending, for example, they increase deficits and debts; there’s a real debt-raising cost to doing that. (That is essentially GOP Paul Ryan’s approach to balancing our federal budget, by the way. Odd, huh?)
Granted, thinking through these grown up issues requires application of facts and reasoning –together, at the same time – which is something that seems beyond the average conservative intellect, nevertheless you would think that individual self-interest would lead people to support better solutions. Again, the answer here is a depressing one. The public appears increasingly disengaged from both facts and their own best interest…and we all suffer for it. (The “Invisible Hand” of economics might be better used giving today’s ignorant right a swift and firm spank.)
Look at Minnesota, where whining is reaching an unbearable screech. It is irrational, it is ideological. Most notably and frustrating, it is the source of our problems, not the solution.
Minnesota’s conservative turn has cut away many of the benefits and advantages given to us by generations of progressive, hard-working Minnesotans. We have gone from a state that wasn’t afraid to lead to one that cowers behind conservative pessimism. We were given more, we should at least have the decency to protect what was given to us.
Rather than defend our legacy, we are being drawn down into a rat hole. Increasingly, and almost exclusively, Republicans are at the head of the line leading us in decline. In Minnesota, many of the GOP leaders are not old school conservatives, but people like our former Governor, Tim Pawlenty, who owe a great deal to Minnesota’s progressive tradition. Becoming a conservative in Minnesota is a very pathetic way of saying thanks.
Conservatives failed to destroy us by creating hysteria over social issues. Unfortunately they are having much better luck misleading the public through fiscal and economic issues. And while in power they will take a few whacks at those social issues for good measure, all in the distorted name of the Holy Founding Fathers.
First, let me say that anyone wanting to move to South Dakota from Minnesota in order save a few hundred dollars a year isn’t a big loss, in my opinion. In fact, I think we would be much better off if they did leave. We keep hearing all of this brave talk about moving to take advantage of lower taxes, but unfortunately we don’t see many of these chickens following through. A big disappointment, especially now.
Here in Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton rolled out is budget proposal for Minnesota and the right wing is calling it a “job killer.” (Michele Bachmann — who is a United States Congresswoman, but doesn’t always seem to know that — hasn’t weighed in yet, but she’ll surely claim that “our founders” would not stand for tyranny, loss of freedom, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah…What a fool.) What the fanatical right does not understand is how the practice of underfunding our state’s government over the years has left us with no option but to start paying for neglect. There is not enough government to cut to balance the budget! This is what “starve the beast” anti-government thinking gets you.
Let’s say you could cut taxes and government services more, would that make cutting governemtn and taxes the preferred route? What would be the value of what we would give up? If state revenues increased because of higher incomes, would we reinstate programs that are cut now in order for us to “live within our means?”? (Forget that last rhetorical question…I almost used my first LMAO.)
Let’s talk about tax increases killing jobs. This is a primary GOP scare tactic and it recklessly applies basic Econ 101 lessons that reflect simple academic economic models more than it does the reality of today’s markets and economic situation.
First, many of the businesses that would be affected by Dayton’s budget proposal have no employees. They are individuals who have formed LLCs, for example, and are paid personal income from their business revenues.
But let’s say a business has employees. Would a business choose not to hire if hiring would increase profits because they would get taxed more on those increased profits? If the decision to hire an employee is profitable, a business will hire. It is difficult to see how a marginal tax rate increase that might add a couple hundred or even a few thousand dollars to a tax bill would outweigh what would otherwise be a profitable decision to add a unit of labor. For most small businesses that Republicans talk about, the tax is on income paid to the owners of the business from profits…and possibly regardless of profits.
If a new employee generates profits high enough to push your income into the higher tax bracket, is that a bad thing? Moreover, if you’re content with your current pay, wouldn’t higher earnings give you incentive to reinvest back into your business opportunities rather than increase your pay? Most people raising issues with a higher marginal tax rate simply are not being honest about the math or they don’t understand taxes. Maybe both.
Second, sensible taxes do not automatically deter talent; people with money don’t go running for the border when tax rates rise. Some of the highest taxed places in the United States attract the country’s most talented people. Why? Smart people look for more than a few extra dollars in their bank account when making quality of life decisions. They appreciate strong public amenities, including good schools and public services that help maintain a stable community. They recognize that public goods make economic sense, too. Taxes reinvested in the community build these assets that smart, talented people find attractive. Smart, talented people earn money, create jobs, and help sustain a strong economy. When was the last time a Republican politician could claim ANY of that?
Finally, the idea that people will move a business to another city or state needs to be addressed. This is true and it happens. Businesses do move. But conservatives fail to see that the real issue here is a global one, not a national, regional, or state issue. On the more local level it does make sense to invest in public goods, in fact, in order to attract talent as mentioned above. But conservatives act as if we are back in the 1950s with an economy sustain by the competitive advantages we enjoyed then. That is not the case.
We need two things: Investment in new economies where our resources enjoy a competitive advantage and a focus on the health of local economies.
The first issue will be addressed in part by investment in solid public goods: Education, health care, research…things in which the private sector will not invest because of difficulties monetizing and collecting profits. We need something like a space race again. We also need reinvestment in the social programs and infrastructure that gave America a productive edge.
On the local level things are a bit more like the old days. If you own a home repair business and you choose to move because you don’t like the tax environment, someone else will fill the void. A real supply/demand curve exists in local economies and they adjust to factors like taxes, which are much maligned by the right. If demand exists for locally supplied — and needed — goods and services, someone will find a way to make it work. It is hard to imagine an economy in which all the local dog groomers move to Sioux Falls to enjoy a tax break.
So if you do want to pull up stakes and head across the border for a better tax deal, please, by all means go, especially if you have been voting Republican in recent elections. We need to regain the forward-thinking edge that Minnesota once had. Minnesota prospered and we can do it again, but that won’t happen until Minnesotans once again value the advantages that strong social programs and sound infrastructure bring to a state’s economy and culture. If more naysayers choose to leave, all the better. We will thrive again with positive and optimistic enthusiasm for the future.
Besides…negative thinking is such a drag.
- Boehner thinks ‘we’re broke,’ but can afford wasteful spending in Ohio (washingtonmonthly.com)
- NYT: House GOP battles turmoil in its ranks (msnbc.msn.com)
George Lakoff has written about the connection between morality and politics and there certainly seems to be something to his Strict Father versus Nurturing Parent models of morality and how those correlate to conservative versus liberal political views.
But I think it is increasingly difficult to ignore the intellectual divide in politics today. In an argument, calling the other side stupid is name calling; “serious” critics and politicians avoid this offence at all cost. However, if it is the case that you have a bird that looks like a duck and sounds like a duck it just might be a duck. When it comes to intelligence and politics, I think we can identify a few ducks.
Perhaps what I am really after is sophistication in politics and political positions. It might not be fair to say that politicians mindlessly repeating ideological dogma regardless of the facts are stupid — although it is hard to look into Michele Bachmann’s glassy stare and not wonder how things could be otherwise — when maybe some politicians just don’t have the right information.
But there’s the rub. How far apart is a lack of facts from a lack of intellectual inquisitiveness? Wouldn’t you hope that someone standing up for a cause and ideals would have facts to support his or her claims? Not in the Republican Party. In fact, the less you know, the better. And, I’m sorry, it is hard to respect the political right, both its leaders and the following horde, as sophisticated thinkers because of it.
Clearly we are not as smart as we should be as a nation. Too many of us don’t have facts, we don’t understand our nation’s social and economic history, for example, and yet we expect intelligent political decsions from American voters. We laugh at bits like Jay Leno’s “Jay Walking” in which he asks average Americans simple questions about history and current events and gets blank stares instead of easy answers. That might be funny, but it points to a bigger problem here: People don’t care.
Paul Krugman once again offers a smart essay today about America’s short-term thinking. Mr. Krugman annoys the right — and sometimes the left — because he makes sense; he makes intelligent arguments based in facts. You don’t hear that from the right. (Glenn Beck? CPAC? Your local GOP representative?)
What you hear are inane folksy pleas for simple-minded solutions that exist completely out of any meaningful context with the facts.
How often have you heard the tired complaint that government must learn to “live within its means”? Great. Who would disagree with that? However conservatives have used a policy of planned underfunding to cut government to a point where there is no meaningful application of this argument today without turning us into a third-world oligarchy. You can’t say to someone, for example, go fill my car’s gas tank and give them $20 and expect to get it done. If they ask for the needed $50, they are not living frivolously, they are asking for what is needed to get the job accomplished.
For decades the right has demonized government, made it the scapegoat of all problems, big and small. In the process the right supported irresponsible underfunding and debt-building policies that have left budgets from the federal level on down through local levels strapped with burdens that will be impossible to correct without funding changes. Yet the solution to these problems is to cut more and more. Even as we see our wealth and social progress collapse all around us, the right presses on. Can this be a sign of intelligent behavior?
And don’t even get started on the racist, jingoistic fear and paranoia from the right. Ignorance breeds fear and violence. The cry babies on the right have all sorts of villains to blame for our economic and social decline. The self-righteousness of it can be frightening and has already caused us much loss in war.
I think a lot about fear and ignorance in our country, and the reactionary bitterness it breeds, while I am reading The Coming of the Third Reich (2004) by Richard J. Evans. I think we can do much better, but heed the warning of George Santayana: Those who cannot remember the past are doomed to repeat it.
I should take a break from fantasy and stop pretending I might escape to pre-World War II Yorkshire and become a successful veterinarian.
We do, however, have a group of politicians — too many from my once-strong and prosperous Minnesota — who want to take us back to something that looks like 1930s, or maybe 1920s, America. And that is no fantasy.
The speeches Tim Pawlenty and Michele Bachmann gave at this week’s Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) were frustratingly predictable and empty. The same right-wing whining about how hard life is because government is so dastardly big and evil…over and over and over again.
Is anyone else growing tired of this incessant whining? The GOP hasn’t given us new ideas in years, but conservatives are not about new ideas. Conservavite political success today rises and falls on the ability to complain and create chaos, not ideas. So don’t expect the petulant whining to end.
Consider business, for example; often regarded as a core constituency of the GOP, the right laments how poorly things are for business under Obama even as profits rise, bonuses flow with reckless abandon, and fortunes grow. Oh! Right…that’s corporate American business (mostly) and not the “little guy” that the GOP pretends to represent. It is true that the local mechanic is not a Wall Street robber baron, but don’t let that little fact trouble you. Reality has no place in the GOP.
Nevertheless, there has been good news for the GOPs true constituency – e.g., big business — and still all they can do is whimper, whine, and in some cases literally cry. You see the best interests of most Americans does not steer the course for the GOP because the best interests of most Americans has not place in today’s conservative ideology. However if the GOP could only count on the votes from the 1-2% of people who do indeed benefit most from their policies…well, they wouldn’t win many elections, would they?
This is where Tea-Paw and Bachmann come in. They stand merely as ideological pawns in this political deception. They are not the best and the brightest. They simply get noticed and that is all that matters. If they can keep the tiresome repetition of half-truths and flat out lies alive, so be it. Let them speak. But when was the last time you heard anything resembling an original idea come from these people? Anti-government tax-cutting rhetoric is not original and the policy has served us poorly. But that’s all they have.
The right is practicing Goebbels’ Big Lie approach to leadership. If you’re going to tell a lie, tell a big one — like WMDs in Iraq, for example — make the lie big and tell it often. Keep repeating it. Eventually some of the lie will be discovered and forgotten, but the rest will be remembered and believed. There is nothing noble about this, certainly nothing patriotic.
So while speeches by political leaders are bad enough, what really should raise a red flag and be the cause of concern is the fact that so many Americans rally behind the hollow rhetoric delivered in these speeches. THAT is the real issue here. There have always been fringe groups with stupid ideas. Unfortunately the GOP and their noisy sidekicks are bringing some of these to the mainstream.
I am still caught up in All Creatures Great and Small so I am afraid I don’t really have anything meaningful to say about politics or sales. No comments about the weather, either, although it has been quite boring around here recently. (Cold, sunny, dry…dull winter weather.) But who cares? There’s All Creatures Great and Small!
A lot has happened in ten episodes (50 more to go, plus some specials!). James and Helen have fallen in love and are now married. I don’t know why this has to be part of the story line, but I suppose it is part of James Herriot‘s story. Too much time spent on the sappy romance stuff for my liking although it was a treat to be part of the village dances when James was chasing Helen. Can’t learn much from that sort of content though.
What I am learning, however, is great stuff. First of all, back in 1937, they drank and smoked a lot in the English countryside. Hardly an event goes without a drink of some sort. Beer two. In fact every major (male) character in this show has gotten soused at least once, including Siegfried Farnon, James Herriot’s boss and my favorite character played by Robert Hardy. In fact Farnon lost a chance at a prestigious position with a local horse race track because he opted to have a few too many with an old friend. Lesson here: Friendship matters.
And they smoke a lot. Really has me wondering about my pipe. A guy really should have more than one pipe if he is going to smoke a pipe, but I have only one. And it is lost…or misplaced. But I think I should have my pipe and smoke a lot. It adds a kind of rustic style to things. Plus people tend to give you cigars if you smoke pipes. Seems odd, I know, but if it is in the show, it must be so.
And waistcoats…I have only one and I feel disadvantaged because I don’t have more. Older characters in 1937 wore waistcoats, the younger guys fair isle lambswool vests. I like both. Ties are de rigueur, even farmers wear ties.
The most important thing of all to learn from All Creatures Great and Small is about energy and positive outlook. Keep looking ahead and do so with panache and style! It helps if you can be witty and I have to believe the scotch, whiskey, and brandy helps with that at times. (Stout and ale seems to make people sing folksy songs badly, but there is a place for that, too.)
So yes…another reminder that I am living roughly 100 years too late for my time, but then I wouldn’t be able to share all these fantastic things with you via the internet if I had lived in my proper time, now would I? So perhaps in the end it is all ok.
Just another fifty episodes to go and I’ll be able to get back to work.
- My idea of a perfect Sunday (bookmouse.wordpress.com)