Andy Stone: There’s no ‘gimme’ in ‘Thanksgiving’
Well, this is Thanksgiving Weekend, but these days it’s more “gimme” than “giving” – and nobody bothers to say “thanks.”
When did we get to be such a bunch of babies?
We all want to nurse endlessly at the free-flowing breast of American prosperity and we’re refusing to notice that the breast is running dry – and our sharp, greedy little teeth are tearing the tender flesh of … well, OK, this metaphor has run completely out of control.
But, really, we have become greedy little monsters. We want what we want – which isn’t unreasonable, but we’re just flat unwilling to pay for it.
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is the sign of a baby: It’s all gimme, gimme, gimme – and babies never pick up the tab.
We just elected a bunch of men and women to Congress who claim to be fiercely fixated on solving the budget crisis, ending the deficit, paying off the debt.
That sounds good, but we all know better. After all, many of them represent a constituency that demands, first and foremost, that no one dare touch Medicare, which is probably the biggest hole in our national pocketbook. Or Social Security. Another big hole.
And coupled with those demands that no one mess with their benefits, these great advocates of “fiscal responsibility” are also insisting, with a ferocity bordering on bloodlust, that no one can even consider raising taxes.
Remember, the self-anointed Tea Party often claims that “Tea” stands for “Taxed Enough Already.”
So … we want it all and we refuse to pay for any of it.
That is, indeed, the creed of the infant at mommy’s breast. (See out-of-control metaphor above.)
And, speaking of infants, a lot of these people are declaring, loud and clear – or loud anyway – that they’re outraged at the thought of “passing this crippling debt down to our grandchildren.”
Now, I don’t have any children, so I’m damn sure not going to have any grandchildren, but I can still point out that these supposedly concerned grandparents are lying through their dentures. If they don’t want to pass on the “crippling debt,” then they have to be willing to pay it off.
But they’re not willing to pay. They’re only willing to scream. Again, the hallmark of a baby: screaming.
Meanwhile, the latest blast of high-volume halitosis comes from Republicans, who have puffed out their fiscally responsible chests and declared an end to those piggy pork-barrel “earmarks.” In case you haven’t been paying attention (and I can’t really say I blame you), earmarking is a procedure in which congressmen (and women) grab budget money for specific projects in their hometowns.
Now, you can argue that this practice is despicable – and there are actually strong arguments on both sides of the issue – but the fact is that earmarked money is money that has already been appropriated. It’s in the budget. Earmarking only involves how that money is going to be spent.
So ending earmarks does pretty much absolutely nothing to balance the budget.
It just sounds good.
Sounds good; does nothing.
Pretty much the definition of a politician, isn’t it?
And, talking about infantile behavior and political bloviating, there’s been a hornet’s nest of nastiness recently over the issue of “American exceptionalism.”
“Exceptionalism” is the idea that America is truly special, a special nation, a chosen nation. We’re a beacon of freedom to all mankind and so (here’s where it gets a little tricky) we don’t have to play by the same rules as everyone else. We’re the good guys and that’s that.
Now, as I’ve said before, when I was young, I used to wonder how I got so lucky. I was an American! And we were the coolest, best-est country ever.
That is pretty much the core belief of American exceptionalism – and, in fact, it’s still pretty much the way I feel.
But, in the recent debate (which, of course, was framed as a discussion of why Barack Obama is a terrible person and totally unfit to be president of this great, exceptional nation), one of the bloviators declared that America’s exceptional nature was “granted by God.”
That really gives it away, doesn’t it?
After all, if we are exceptional because God loves us best, then we don’t have do anything. We don’t have to earn our exceptional position. We don’t have to maintain our exceptional position. We don’t have to worry about losing our exceptional position. It’s a gift from God.
We don’t have to fix anything, or educate anyone, or pass up even one bite of our double hot-fudge strawberry cheesecake.
Because God takes care of it for us.
Sadly, these alleged patriots, burning with the fervor of the Founding Fathers – burning at a safe distance of several centuries from the actual fires, dangers and plain hard work of revolution – are ignoring the fact that it was the hard work and sacrifice of generations past that created this exceptional nation of ours.
Look, I don’t want to get into a theological debate. If you want to say that God made America exceptional, that’s fine with me.
But if that’s the case, I think you need to recognize that perhaps God made America exceptional because we pleased Him with our hard work and sacrifice. In other words, it isn’t that God made us exceptional because he loves us best. It’s that God loves us best because we are exceptional.
The point is, we had to work for it and we still have to work for it.
Babies don’t work. The rest of us really need to.
Or, for the godly among us, let me quote from the Good Book:
When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child. But when I became a man, I put away childish things.
We need to grow up.
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.
And please pass me another helping of that hot-fudge cheesecake.
Andy Stone is former editor of The Aspen Times. His e-mail address is email@example.com.
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