[Updated after the September 30th shut-down.]
Last night’s vain countdown to midnight with no expectations for our leaders to avoid a government shutdown seems to be creating a sense of normalcy with these panics–making the bank-scare of George Bailey’s savings and loan look like over-reaction. We’re pretty used to these games of chicken, unfortunately.
There’s the old joke asking where a gorilla sleeps. The punchline of “Anywhere it wants” always made me chuckle. It creates a visual of a Warner Brothers gorilla bending his cage bars and thumping Sylvester on the head as he chases the innocent Tweety.
But even in those cartoons, the bully gets his due–even if it’s from another bully.
All week, there has been plenty of roaring and chest-thumping and it’s going to continue. Some gorillas are going to celebrate today as a victory.
Beaten Into Submission
My son’s medication arrived via the drive-through window recently and I surrendered the co-pay and tossed the envelope with its 15 stapled receipts of warnings and instructions onto the seat beside me. It must have been an extra long red-light that made me look over at the top receipt.
I pulled quickly into a gas station last week, even though my car still had a half-tank It was only $3.61 for crying out loud. Why wouldn’t I take advantage of this bargain?
After $15 billion was given the airlines just 17 days after 9-11 (source) we now have to pay for every extra bag and even the peanuts are gone.
“It was a massive boondoggle,” says Republican Illinois Senator Peter Fitzgerald. “Congress just got out the ladle and shoveled it all over the place.”
For example: $20 million was shoveled to three bankrupt airlines like Vanguard, Midway, and Reliant. Nearly $165 million went to package-delivery companies. Another $5 million went to helicopter companies that, among other things, ferry workers to oil rigs and run tours to the Grand Canyon. Even three companies that arrange travel from the U.S. to Cuba cashed in. Source
It’s a good bet that a pretty nice pair of railroad tracks could have been built all over the country for $15 billion. And we probably wouldn’t be standing in line, shoes-in-hand, just to get from Detroit to Chicago.
“Politicians, ugly buildings and whores all get respectable if they last long enough.” – Noah Cross in Chinatown
In the brilliant film Chinatown Jack Nicholson’s Jake Gittes slowly unravels the plan of wealthy Noah Cross who murders his former partner to move the city lines of Los Angeles so that he can profit from his sole control of the city’s water.
In the clip below, Gittes asks Cross the key question, “How much better can you eat? What can you buy that you can’t already afford?”
“Is it too much to make them work and pay and live and die in a couple of decent rooms and a bath?” George Bailey, It’s a Wonderful Life
George Bailey is about to finally get out of Bedford Falls, glad to leave behind the embarrassment of his father’s “broken down savings and loan” when he hears Mr. Potter finally reveal to him his late father’s greatness.
While Avoiding Wal-Mart, Do You Pull in For a $1 Coke?
In November last year, following the lead of a Wal-Mart walk-off, New Yorkers supported a similar day of protest of the billion-dollar corporations continuing to employ their workers at minimum wage. The movement continues to grow in more days of protest and boycotts.
Perhaps Mr. Cross and Mr. Potter might provide the answers for BP, the airlines and the pharmaceutical companies. Perhaps it’s the same answer for any of the following questions…
- Why did you ship your company abroad to pay the new workers pennies on the dollar?
- Why are CEOs of non-profit insurance companies paid $13 million?
- How can a college with $11 billion in endowments, charge $58,000 per year?
- Why is minimum wage allowed to exist so low that it cannot provide a minimum income at 40 hours per week to pay rent anywhere, let alone food and clothing?
- Why cut your teachers’ pay, bus their unions and outsource your school’s custodial service to an out-of-state company–while paying your superintendent $230,000?
The answer is, of course, “Because they can.”
But, do we really want to applaud the gorilla for sleeping wherever it wants–even in front of the doors of our capitol?