Monday, February 8, 2010

Weapons of Mass Distraction

OK, so this post comes a little early (cutting and pasting the entries I had was all of a ten-minute job).  I just can’t get this out of my head, so I figured I would blog about it.

We just finished our chapter on Political Elections in my class.  I wrapped it up by showing clips from a great movie: Man of the Year.  In this movie, Robin Williams plays a comedian who does a politically-based comedy “news” show on cable (like John Stewart or Stephen Colbert) who decides to run for President.

During the campaign, he speaks about something he calls “weapons of mass distraction.”  These are political “hot button” issues that politicians use to distract the public from other things that would, quite frankly, piss them off.  So, to save themselves the grief of a pissed-off electorate, politicians use these issues as a kind of smoke screen to keep the public away from the issues that are bad for the politician (I hope you understood that explanation).

Anyways, two of the issues he calls “weapons of mass distraction” are flag desecration amendments and same-sex marriage amendments.  However, you can see this far more clearly in the current administration.  Granted, when President Obama entered office on Jan 20, 2009, he inherited an economy that was in a shambles.  However, when it comes to the economy, Presidents often get blamed for things that are not their fault, and they often take credit for things they did not do.  What happened in ‘08 has been referred to as the “perfect financial storm”.  It had all of the ingredients for a major meltdown, but no one was able to connect the dots, and people who did and tried to warn us, well, we called them doomsayers and ignored them.

So, President Obama wins election based, in part, on his ability to link the poor economy to the previous administration.  Once he became President, it became HIS problem though.  Enter the Stimulus Bill.  It spent money we didn’t have on things that would have happened anyways, albeit perhaps more slowly.  He promised us that if the Stimulus Bill passed, unemployment would not go above 8%.  Now we sit at 9.7% (an artificially low number because of how the government counts unemployment, I will probably post about that topic in a later post), and we were as high as 10% before about half a million unemployed persons simply gave up looking for work.

So, what does the President focus his energies on?  Fixing the economy?  No, he focuses instead on healthcare.  Get the people riled up about healthcare, and they won’t notice the continuing degradation of the economy.  And it has worked.  How many people have realized that in the past three weeks, the Dow has lost pretty much all of the gains it has made in the past six months?  Not many.  Why?  We are worried about our insurance plans, whether or not we will lose our family doctors and whether or not we will be able to care for ourselves in the future with the insurance we will have.  All while polls show that the majority of Americans are happy with their health insurance.

Now THAT, is a weapon of mass distraction.

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