Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Fractured Fairy Tales - The Emperor's New Clothes

Yes boys and girls, it's time once again for another of these unique fables of our times (well, kind of anyway). This tale, like most of the others, should really need no introduction. So let's not waste any time and get right to it ...

Once upon a time, there was a ruler known simply "The Gov". Now The Gov liked to hold a parade that he nicknamed "the election" every couple of years (with bigger parades every 4 years) where he would smile a lot of smiles, shake a lot of hands, and kiss a lot of babies. As part of this bi-annual event, The Gov used to let the people of the kingdom send him the clothes that he would wear while walking the parade route. The people took this form of parade financing very seriously and rather enjoyed participating in so personal a way in the process. Neighborhoods, trade guilds, and even the local businesses would compete with each other by carefully selecting what they were going to send in the hopes of getting some special notice from the Gov.

One day, two tailors by the name of McCain and Feingold came to town. They listened to the story of the semi-annual parade and the clothing competition and were appalled. Such a system had to be rife with graft and chicanery, and as such must be ended immediately. So they went to The Gov to see if they could impose a more fair system of clothing financing (at least in their minds) and set things right. Knowing that changing tradition is often difficult, they realized that they would probably have to approach this change gradually. (Can you say incremental ism?)

"The shirt," they said, "is the most important thing that you wear. As such, it's simply not fair to let the people spend their 'hard' earned money and not achieve the desired access to you. Besides, the businesses can afford more than other people and that gives them an unfair advantage. So what we propose is to limit the amount of money that can be spent and let everyone send us the money. We will make your shirt."

"That seems fair," said the Gov, and that's how he decreed it.
Having gotten this far in their plans, McCain and Feingold soon approached The Gov again.

"The pants, when you think about it," they said "are just as important, and must match the shirt besides. Now a lot of people are trying to get around the shirt rules imposed by contributing to the pants. This is just as unfair, though the approach here is more of a 'soft' one than that used for the shirt. We think that there should be limits on this too in the true spirits of fairness. So we should limit the contributions on the pants and have them send the money in to us. We will make the pants as well."

"When you're right, you're right," The Gov replied. "See that it's done." ... and it was.

Now having all but achieved their goal, the two approached the ruler a final time.

"Gov," they said (they were long since on a first name basis). "No outfit is complete without a proper jacket. And with the fairness imposed by the previous restrictions for the shirt and pants, shouldn't we do something about the last loophole in the system? Shouldn't we do something about how the 'issue' of this jacket money is handled?"

"Goodness," The Gov replied. "How could I have missed this? Of course we will change this 'issue' of money for the jacket and fairness will thereby be assured."

Time passed, the day of the parade finally arrived. The Gov. was dressed by his two "Tailors of Fairness"; and to his amazement, The Gov discovered that all three garments; shirts, pants and jacket were all see-through. Now this seemed a bit strange, so he questioned his tailors about the nature of his attire. How could there be all of these new rules, how could all of this money be coming in, and nothing of substance emerge?

"That's the beauty of the system," they replied. "The Gov should have no secrets. The new fairness that has been brought to the process of clothing selection assures that all parts of The Gov will be visible. This of course, is as it should be. The fact that all of this money is now being regulated and dispensed by us is simply a bureaucratic necessity, and you shouldn't worry your head about it."

Embarrassed over his apparent lack of understanding of so simple a concept, The Gov finished dressing and entered the streets to begin the parade. He soon discovered that he wasn't the only one embarrassed however. You see, The Gov was never very attractive to look at and it was only the participation that the people had in influencing his raiment that made the process (and The Gov's appearance) bearable. It was likewise this freedom of expression in influencing the very nature of The Gov that made the parade worth having. The more The Gov walked on the route, the more the parade became a disaster; with fewer smiles on the faces of the people or The Gov (Would you be smiling if everyone could see through your clothes?), many shunning the offered handshakes, and no self-respecting mother holding her baby forth for kissing by what they could see walking down the street.

Attendance is going down at the parade these days, though the two tailors seem to be happy enough. While the clothing choice method may or may not be more fair than it was, people find that when they aren't going to get to fully participate in the process, why show up for the party at all.


Our newly arrayed election process is happily parading itself in the streets of the country these days under the McCain-Feingold legislation, and the results are anything but satisfying (0r pretty). These new clothes are anything but fair, and the very politicians who sought their implementation are now seeking new ways around them. The story above hints at the madness of the past and the next round of "fairness" lying ahead, with legislators feeling that only the government can properly dispense the money if elections are to be truly fair.

These new clothes provide less protection and less Freedom of Expression that they were supposed to, and less than is guaranteed us in the Constitution; but we are asked to ignore that in the name of "fairness". And as for the amount of money being spent, it's even greater than it was before these so-called protections were put in place. The ugly truth of the matter (which is fairly easy to see through to) is that this kind of "fairness" is anything but.

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