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Wit and Wisdom


Save the Job Creators

Posted on August 3, 2011 at 4:38 PM Comments comments (20)
We’ve got to be very quiet now—we’re coming close to the nesting area of that prized rarity: the Great American Job Creator. This was an animal long thought extinct; now, the Republican Party is fighting hard to expand the kind of business-friendly environment this very delicate creature apparently needs to survive.

We’ll just push aside these last tax shelters and...there it is!  Just by that Capitol Hill watering hole—did you see? Unfortunately, he saw us too and immediately broke off his lobbying—he’s probably half way back to the narrow canyons of Wall Street by now. Gosh, what a majestic creature!  Did you see how he flashed his gold cards as he ran?

Earlier we spoke to some local workers who have lived among the Job Creators for generations. Our economic guide will translate.

WORKER 1: Even though it was still profitable, they shut down the factory and shipped the machinery to China because the people there work cheaper.
TRANSLATION: The Job Creators made a prudent business decision to increase net profit through lower unit labor costs.  
WORKER 2: Unfair trade deals are killing jobs, endangering our health and undermining our democracy.
TRANSLATION: Hooray for free trade!
WORKER 3: Why can’t billionaires pony up a few extra bucks so we aren’t holding classrooms in broom closets and my grandmother doesn’t freeze to death next winter?
TRANSLATION:  How can we create an even more business-friendly environment for our Job Creators?

As the Republican Party continually reminds us, the Great American Job Creator is in trouble. But you can help this shy and easily-discouraged animal.  

If you ever see anyone proposing regulations to combat fraud, protect our health or clean up our environment, remind them of the devastating effect such regulatory constraints would have on the fragile Job Creators in their annual migration through the business cycle. If you encounter people criticizing free trade, ask them if they really want to prevent the Job Creators and their brood of cash from being able to run free and wild across national borders, helpfully trampling nettlesome sovereignty underfoot. But most important of all:  if you ever hear politicians even considering a tax increase on the wealthiest Americans, tell them they are in reality contemplating a death sentence for the gentle, blameless Job Creators.

FUN FACT: Did you know that, despite its name, the Great American Job Creator does not actually create any jobs?  Linguists speculate the name derives from political jobs maintained through use of the term.

Advocacy & Accommodation

Posted on January 25, 2011 at 5:23 PM Comments comments (37)
Seeking consensus on public issues rather than victory does not debase your point of view, but rather makes it more valuable.  There is no contradiction between being a forceful advocate and a good-faith searcher for middle ground.  In fact, only by filling the first role can you perform the second. 

All this of course presupposes rational humility:  acceptance that, with all the world’s unknowns and the limited ability of humans to learn and understand, we can all be wrong about the large questions and probably are most of the time.  All we can do--but this is a lot--is bring to the table our experiences and ideas and the beliefs that flow from them.

So whether you fail to effectively express your views through unwarranted timidity or quash a different perspective through excessive aggression, your diminishing the collective conversation.  We need everyone’s contribution to approach the truth.

Smart Tech, Dumb Talk

Posted on January 11, 2011 at 11:14 AM Comments comments (9)
For all our supposed media sophistication, it’s remarkable how schmaltzy our mass communications have become here in the early 21st Century.  It’s almost as if advances in technology have had an equal and opposite effect on content.

An obvious example is reality television.  The exagerrated acting style and unlikely story lines of Victorian melodrama and silent films have nothing on these curious modern playlets, where the dramatic payoff seems always to be a wide-eyed expression of outrage.

In the political arena, no pander to saccharine sensibilities is considered too great:  a labrador retriever in the candidate family portrait is good; a lab puppy is better.  More dangerous than puppy love, though, are appeals to angry emotions, such as may have inadvertently supplied a framework for the Tucson shooter’s psychosis. Even if tragedy doesn’t ensue, reliance on words and images that touch off repetitive emotional responses, instead of stimulate fresh thinking, impoverishes our political debate. 

I just saw on TV a scene from the Katherine Hepburn-Spencer Tracy movie “State of the Union”.  Presidential candidate Tracy skims through a proposed speech, reading aloud about “the palsied hand of government” resting on useful productive capacity, and how businesses must not be “treated like felons.”  Tracy looks up angrily, protesting: “This is double talk!”  The movie's from 1948; those phrases or ones like them can be found in any conservative political speech today. Similarly simple-minded and tired ideas  clutter up liberal expression as well.

Let's not just tone down our rhetoric post-Tucson, let’s smarten it up.