In a lot of those old western movies, the town newspaperman is portrayed as a drunk. Now I know why.
I had always figured it was the terror spread by the bad hombres in town. Not knowing when Liberty Valance would come a-knocking would drive anyone into a bottle. But that wasn’t it.
It was because they had to cover politics.
At long last, we get to replace the most recent guy to disgrace the office, and we have a choice between Prince Albert in a can and Curious George. No matter who wins, the Big Chair is going to be occupied next January by someone who has not shown us why they shouldn’t be in a high chair.
I’ve been watching the tube and reading everything I can find to unearth a reason to vote for one of these guys. Still nothing. Writers aren’t supposed to use the word "stupid," but Roget himself couldn’t come up with a more apt adjective for some of the proposals being issued by the candidates.
Gore is pushing a $10,000 tax deduction for college tuition. Great. So someone who sends his kid off to the University of Vermont to study poetry and smoke dope will pay less to the IRS than the parents of a high school grad who decides to serve his country in the Marines or the Peace Corps.
For that matter, isn’t about time we look at why two families making the same amount of money can, through all sorts of deductions including how big a mortgage they choose to have, pay such different amounts to Uncle Sam?
Bush wants to lower the tax rate for everyone (though he doesn’t talk about the disparities caused by the myriad types of deductions), but most of the money not being paid to the government will stay in the pockets of the wealthiest one percent. True, they do pay most of the taxes, but they’re not hurting so bad that they need the cabbage. Who came up with this idea, the Rolex lobby?
Someone who buys a $2 million house with a $1.5 million mortgage gets a subsidy from the government upwards of $100,000. Talk about welfare programs. It’s hard to believe we have two candidates who could make one reminisce about the good old days when Steve Forbes (he of the flat tax) was still in the race (kind of).
People are concerned about education. Gore is giving us the same old rhetoric that was around when Mr. Chips was still in a classroom. Basically, his whole plan for better schools comes down to, um, better schools.
Bush supports the idea of giving poor families a $1500 voucher so their kids can attend private schools. The tab for private day schools like Kingswood-Oxford or Hopkins Grammar is just south of twenty grand. Catholic schools are about six or seven. Sorry George, but you might have to go back and re-work the numbers if you want us to buy into that one.
Bush also thinks privatizing a part of Social Security is a good idea. A system where people (and their employers) put their money into an IRA-type account might work, but Bush’s plan would take a trillion dollars and make it fair game for the insurance salesmen and "investment counselors" of the world. If Bush could spell "debacle," he’d realize he was proposing one.
There are also the third-party candidates. Pat Buchanan? Every time I see him I think of the Three Stooges episode where Moe plays Hitler. I would vote for Moe, though.
Ralph Nader is fruitier than an orchard. If I was voting based on integrity, he’d be my guy. He stands for something. Unfortunately, I don’t agree with most of it.
What allows me to sleep at night even with the disheartening state of politics is I have faith in the United States and its citizens. The country is stronger than its President. No matter who wins, this will still be the place where everyone else in the world wants to live.
Still, if you’re lucky, you get to vote for a President 14 or 15 times in your life. We should never forget what a privilege it is to do so. So I’m going to think of this year’s elections as a process not unlike the creation of a great novel. Lots of pages end up in the wastebasket. In building the masterpiece that is America, we have to expect there will be a few throwaways.
October 24, 2000