Saturday, March 12, 2011

Irish Directions

It seems that too much of life is becoming increasingly difficult to navigate. While there are GPS systems in cars and even cell phones to get us from point A to B (with the shortest distance between the two points being anything but a straight line), there is no technology yet developed to help guide us through the more complicated geography of the daily issues of life. In fact, as I contemplate this concept in the shadow of St Patrick's Day, it seems that more often than not we are instead handed "Irish directions". 

Now for those of you who have never been blessed with a visit to the Emerald Isle, the only way to explain this concept is through example: 

Tourist: "Can you tell me how to get to town?" 

Local Answer: "Well do you see that road over there? Pay it no mind, it will do you no good. Now that other road there. Ah ... and many's the day I've walked it ..." 

Tourist: "To the town?" 

Local: "Not at all. No, it was off to fishin' I was, when the salmon were in season..." 

And so it goes. It's a grand story and lovely to listen to, but it does nothing to solve the problem you're facing. So it seems to me as I watch debates in Congress over cutting $6 billion or $60 billion from a $3.5 trillion budget and a $1.5 trillion deficit as an effective solution. Anyone who's completed their "goes into's" knows that such trivial number theory is little more than distraction. (Can you say "NPR funding"?)

Yet instead of answering the question of what we're going to do about this country's crushing national debt we're talking about whether either of these insignificant numbers is a budget cut that's draconian in nature. 

When I've gotten over the confusion I feel with such mindless diversion, I am confronted instead with arguments over whether public sector unions should be continue to be allowed to live in symbiotic (if not parasitic) relationship with the politicians in charge of deciding how they are compensated. 

Just as my blood pressure subsides with the inability of political leaders to deal with the broad strokes of the issue however, I find them instead endlessly debating whether these same public sector workers should get pensions instead of 401k's like the rest of us; or contribute as much to their retirements and health care as their private sector counterparts. But we seem to be ignoring these vital questions while focusing instead on what 'rights' a public sector union has, as if they were carved into the Bill of Rights. 

Now Congress is holding hearings on whether the acts of terrorism perpetrated against this country are committed by those believing in the principles of jihad as preached in the Islamic religion. And while there is little argument that there is a radical Islamic agenda behind these attacks, the danger of these jihadists and salient question involved are ignored in favor of a conversation instead about a religious prejudice that might be perpetrated by an equally small percentage of the rest of the population. 

But OK. Perhaps the complexity of the road map where domestic issues are concerned is just too convoluted when dealt with by what are apparently simple political minds. Perhaps instead we should turn to the greater issues of the world. Surely these must be more clear-cut to deal with. 

Certainly a government that has been complaining that it should not have gotten involved in the internal affairs of Middle Eastern nations in Kuwait, Iraq, and Afghanistan can see that meddling in those of Libya might not be a good plan. It seems self-apparent that attempting to again attempt to aid people who think we've interfered far too often in their internal issues and hate us for every attempt we've made is a bad idea. Instead of settling this issue however, we're arguing over whether we should impose a no-fly zone, park a fleet off the coast, or wait for that bastion of decisiveness, the United Nations, to tell us what to do. (After all, their track record at crisis resolution is .... well, never mind that.) 

OK, then maybe we can just decide as a nation whether both sides of the political debate are going to hash over any and all of these topics in a civil manner. Don't get me wrong, if all concerned decide instead to drag out the blackjacks and brass knuckles to settle matters in the streets around each legislative forum, that's OK with me (and might make great Reality TV); but it would be nice if both sides were playing by the same rules. 

Instead we see one side of the debate accusing the other of violence and vitriol for stating their opinions and that accusing side attacking their opponents physically when things don't go their way. But rather than take on even the simple concept of maintaining a level playing field, the discussion focuses on why the side being physically attacked has to be so mean. 

You know come to think of it, I take it all back. I believe that after due consideration and shining a little light on these areas, I prefer the real "Irish Directions". They may not get you where you're going, but they're usually a lot more entertaining. (FYI: The mid-week post of the coming week will be on Thursday instead of Wednesday, so as to coincide with the Holiday - my granddaughter Maggie's birthday.)

No comments: