Saturday, November 15, 2008
WE WANT ICE CREAM!
So how do voters (as a group - apologies to you sane individuals out there) get themselves into these messes?
Of course, many people are stupid. Some are misled. Others vote without much care for the outcome.
But this little ditty, sent to me by a friend, does illustrate something important. It illustrates of the 'bread and circuses' phenomenon that is at least as old as the later Roman Empire:
The most eye-opening civics lesson I ever had was while teaching third grade in 2008. The presidential election was heating up and some of the children showed an interest. I decided we would have an election for a class president. We would choose our nominees. They would make a campaign speech and the class would vote. To simplify the process, candidates were nominated by other class members. We discussed what kinds of characteristics these students should have. We got many nominations and from those, Jamie and Olivia were picked to run for the top spot.
The class had done a great job in their selections. Both candidates were good kids. I thought Jamie might have an advantage because he got lots of parental support. I had never seen Olivia's mother. The day arrived when they were to make their speeches Jamie went first. He had specific ideas about how to make our class a better place. He ended by promising to do his very best. Every one applauded. He sat down and Olivia came to the podium. Her speech was short and concise.
She said, "If you will vote for me, I will give you ice cream." She sat down.
The class went wild. "Yes! Yes! We want ice cream."
She surely would say more. She did not have to. A discussion followed. How did she plan to pay for the ice cream? She wasn't sure. Would her parents buy it or would the class pay for it. She didn't know. The class really didn't care. All they were thinking about was ice cream. Jamie was forgotten. Olivia won by a landslide.
Every time Barack Obama opened his mouth he offered ice cream, and fifty percent of America reacted like nine-year-olds. They want ice cream.
The other fifty percent know they're going to have to feed the cow.
The problem is even worse than this because the cow-feeders are even less evenly distributed than that. Check this page at the National Taxpayers Union and you will find that, in regard to national income taxes, the burden of 'feeding the cow' is much more top-loaded than that.
I recently overheard a young school teacher musing about the election. He had heard, he said, that Obama would increase the salaries of school teachers. It was as thought he thought that, somehow, magically, Obama could produce a higher salary for school teachers - or anyone else for that matter. (Well, he is the 'Messiah' after all!)
We want ice cream. We want someone else to provide it. We don't care what the result, just so we get our ice cream. WE WANT ICE CREAM!