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Fiscal Cliff Looming as New Year's Eve Beckons

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French moralist and political envoy Joseph de Maistre has been quoted for nearly two centuries for writing “The people get the government they deserve.” We must have been on Santa's naughty list to get the sorry representation we suffer through today.

Of course, de Maistre was also an apologist for the Spanish Inquisition, and a firm believer in the absolute necessity of public executions, so maybe not an ideal moralist for our time. The less than inspiring way our Senators and Congressmen dealt with our budgetary crisis makes me think that we deserve, and would be better served by, monkeys in little tuxedos and bears on bicycles. They would get at least as much work done. More, if you believe the notion that 1000 monkeys with 1000 typewriters would write Hamlet.  They would also save a fortune by working for bananas and fish, and living in cages.
   
We would have to flip a coin to decide if one beast would be Senators, the other Congressmen; or if they would share both Houses as members of opposition parties.  If the task of deciding fell to today's legislators they would have to form a committee to do nothing, and by 2017 they might return with a finding that asteroids were a communist plot.  Monkeys and bears would at least have some entertainment value, whereas now we get nothing at all for the millions of dollars wasted on politicians  salaries and palatial offices. A news conference with a bear on a bicycle growling and a monkey in a tuxedo screeching to the Washington press corps would be far less frustrating than watching Mitch McConnell and Harry Reid spouting the same old horse manure.Photo: theatlanticwire.com
   
Wouldn't it be nice if the men and women given the honor of ruling the greatest nation mankind has yet formed would act, if not like statesmen, at least like grown-ups?  “Wouldn't It Be Nice” is a beautiful old song written by Brian Wilson of The Beach Boys.  At the time he wrote the it, the fledgling band was still under the control of his father who was, let’s say not great, at producing their music.  

According to music industry legend, Brian came up with the idea of giving dad a dummy control board, with many pretty dials and switches which did nothing at all.  
If we are not ready to cede our government to the animals, maybe we could let congress give speeches and take votes that don't actually affect us, perhaps as a reality show on TLC between Honey Boo Boo and the Gator people. The actual lawmaking authority could be handled by political science majors at Penn, or tour groups at Independence Hall, or the first 10 people at Chickie & Pete's who can remember the Bill of Rights.  

The Congressional office palace could be made into a museum and a homeless shelter,  and the useless politicians could live in cages at the zoo, fed bananas and fish, and growl and screech for our amusement.
   
I've been told I am disenfranchised politically. If I sound like I'm fed up, I am, and you should be too.  We work, pay taxes, vote (usually for the lesser of 2 evils), occasionally write a congressman or join a citizen's group, and get nothing in return.  If I sound like I'm kidding, I'm not. Dumb animals or random citizens could not possibly be less effective at managing our government and filling our collective needs.  

I am not much of a drinker, but I would bet my life against half his salary that I could stay continuously drunk for a year and do a better job as US Senator than Pat Toomey. Bob Casey seems well meaning, but he could also step it up a little to earn the public trust and his position of power, so far wasted. In my youth I had planned a political career.  I was in pre-law at Temple when Nixon was in the White House and I decided that an honest man had no place in our political system. It was a mistake and a failure in my civic duty, though I'm sure many of my generation felt the same way. That may have something to do with the leadership vacuum we have now. It is also water under the bridge, so what do we do now?
   
Minutes before he was murdered in 1968, presidential candidate Robert Kennedy told a crowd at his California primary victory party at the Ambassador hotel in Los Angeles, “We can rise above the divisions, the violence and the disenchantment......We can work together......We are a great, selfless and compassionate country.”  His ideas are immortal, speaking directly to our current predicament.  Jefferson called the nation he helped to create, “the last, best hope of mankind.”  If we are not going to waste the magnificent start given us by the founding fathers, we'd better rise from our slumber soon.
   
Our human representatives have less than a day to decide whether to do little or nothing about the budget crisis. I am secure in the knowledge they will prove themselves less worthy of the task than monkeys and bears.
   
To my fellow citizens: Keep hope alive.
   
To the US Congress: Prove me wrong.

Contact Darryl Mars at darrylmars@comcast.net

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Photo: theatlanticwire.com