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Friday, Apr. 29, 2016

Boldly Going Nowhere

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Orb of Fools

According to an excerpt from Bob Woodward's latest book, State of Denial, President Bush and Karl Rove "shared an array of flatulence jokes." Apparently, the leader of the free world likes to cut one loose on occasion.

This may be funny in junior high or at a Yale frat house, but it's a sad commentary on the state of our nation.

In our infinite national wisdom, we sure do a lot of dumb things. For example, it costs 1.3 cents to produce a penny. While not exactly a big deal, it's typical of the stupidity forced upon us by those who make the rules.

We change our time clocks twice a year for daylight savings time, except in Arizona, Hawaii and portions of Indiana, for no logical reason other than Benjamin Franklin thought it might be a good idea in 1773.

California has a population of 37 million and Wyoming has a population of a half a million. Alaska has 663,267 square miles and Rhode Island has 1,045 square miles. They each have two U.S. Senators representing them. Our political system, including the Electoral College, may have made sense in 1776, but not in 2006.

Some $50 billion is spent annually on a "War on Drugs" to prevent people from enjoying a substance that makes them feel good. Booze and tobacco, which kill millions of people, are legal, while less harmful substances (lacking lobbyists) are outlawed. In the process, we lose our most precious freedom, our individual state of mind.

In spite of encouraging free markets, the federal government doles out $17 billion in farm subsidies annually, primarily to wealthy agribusinesses, including millions to farmers for not growing crops. Guaranteeing payments for commodities encourages overproduction, driving down market prices, forcing even higher federal subsidies.

The Social Security system is a pending disaster. More people are entering the system, and people are living longer. By 2014, the system will be paying out more than it takes in. Plus, it's all smoke and mirrors. Social Security withholdings aren't set aside for future benefits, but rather go directly into the general tax fund.

Members of the U.S. Congress, who vote for increases in their own salary, earn $165,200 per year and have enough perks to choke a horse. They have no concept of how the average American struggles or the importance of controlling costs because their objective is getting reelected by mandating pork projects to their constituents.

We contribute about half of our earnings toward taxes, yet our national debt exceeds $8 trillion and continues to grow daily. Presently, there's $640 billion of U.S. currency in circulation. If we collected and applied every dollar in existence toward the national debt, we'd have to repeat the process 13 times just to get to zero.

Bigger isn't always better, and spending oodles of money we don't have is financial suicide for this country.

In our closed two-party political system, the only two options, each requires excessive government, thereby suppressing freedom and undermining personal responsibility. Two costly alternatives isn't much of a choice.

We endured eight years of Clinton, with his tawdry behavior and slick excuses, followed by eight years of Bush, with his in-your-face diplomacy and behind-the-scenes sophomoric antics. Enough is enough already.

Being President of the USA is a difficult task, not always appreciated, but the world is a very dangerous place requiring mature leadership. One of these days, we should consider electing an actual grown-up for the job.

There are a zillion other problems in this country, such as an inequitable tax system, prescription drugs, bad foreign relations, Indian affairs, military effectiveness, corporate welfare, inferior educational system and so on.

Nevertheless, we're one of the more advanced societies on the planet. Elsewhere, people are dominated by dictatorial tyrants or prisoners of collectivism. Disease, starvation and genocide are rampant in the third world. In many places, women are subjugated and innocent people are murdered in the name of religion.

We're all stuck on a spinning orb, hurtling through a vast void, destination unknown. The human race has great potential but we are fools. We lust for power and possessions, and demand conformity to our individuality.

On this orb of fools, where elected leaders enjoy fart jokes, the joke is on us. And it stinks to high heaven.

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Bret Burquest is an award-winning columnist and author of four novels, which are available at Amazon.com. He can be contacted at bret@centurytel.net.