Saturday, October 12, 2013

Pick Your Column

Forecasting is a fool's errand. That being said, it is often necessary, especially in the world of publishing. After all, deadlines require that pieces be written and submitted before outcomes are known, whether the topic is sports, elections or Nobel prizes. True, it all depends on the medium in question. If you were writing for the old Farmers' Almanac, you had to predict the weather a year or more out. Contrast that with electronic media today, where you can have a prognostication hit the screen moments before something actually happens, and immediately thereafter. It's gotten so that many watch TV with the clicker in one hand and their iPad in the other, instantly commenting, updating and flaming what's going on. Just watch a Jets game and follow the Twitter commentary: it's Mystery Science Theatre in real time.

And so writing something about the current goings-on in Washington in this space is fraud with peril. By the time I get this down and whipped into shape, all will be back to what passes for normal, or we will be in the midst of THE GREATEST ECONOMIC COLLAPSE IN HISTORY. So to obviate the problem, following are two different musings: pick the one most appropriate to the situation as it stands.  

IF ALL IS RESOLVED AMICABLY. See, that wasn't so hard, was it? Now that this current crisis is behind us, we see that we're not really all that different. Sure, some want more government programs, some less. Some want a greater social safety net, some trust the free market to rise and lift all boats. But all of us want the same thing, which is peace and prosperity. And as anyone who has a significant other knows, compromise is the name of the game. Nobody gets everything they want. And the key to making any relationship work is to give a little and get a little.

Most important, now that we're done yelling at each other, we have to dial it down a little. I heard someone says that the key to making a marriage work is not what you say every day, but the five things you don't. Knee jerk reactions just makes us jerks: just because we disagree doesn't mean we're wrong. The trick is to listen and think about where is the common ground. We all like National Parks. We all think veterans deserve special treatment. We all like Frank Sinatra. So let's start there. And see what we can do so this doesn't happen again.  

IF THINGS DON'T WORK OUT. What are you people, idiots??!! A pox on both your houses! While polls show the Republicans are being handed the lion's share of the blame, don't you Democrats think you're innocent! We out here in the real world, we have finite incomes and regular bills and budgets that we can't stretch by printing money!. And so every day we make tough choices to prioritize what we can afford. And dammit, so should you!

Sure, I like new highways and moon missions and national defense as much as anyone. But I don't want to pay any more taxes that I have to. And so maybe I can't have it all. Yeah, it's a tough call. And there will need to be hard explanations as to why Social Security can't go up or a new weapons system can't be built. But push has finally come to shove. We were just starting to get back on our feet after the last financial mess. And while you can blame greedy corporations or bad loan officers or lax government oversight for that one, this one is all on you!

You tried a "Super Committee" which wasn't so super. You tried a mandatory haircut, the so-called sequestration, which just made stupid cuts. You tried shutting down the government. Each was supposed to force the other side to say "uncle," to make it so unpalatable so as to drive you to compromise. But you didn't get the hint. Hint? It was a 2X4 upside the head! Is it any wonder that your disapproval rating is 89%! More people trust Miley Cyrus than you. So enough! Make a deal and get back to work!

So there you have it: the yin and yang of columns. And by the way, if things change while you're reading, feel free to skip to the other version. It could well happen.


Marc Wollin of Bedford, like most people, has had enough. His column appears regularly in The Record-Review, The Scarsdale Inquirer and online at, as well as via Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.

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