The American Dilemma and How We Can Fix It

Posts tagged ‘George Washington’


The May Jobs Report released this morning was abysmal.  Unemployment ticked up and the number of jobs we thought we created in April and March were revised downward.

Clearly the economy could and should be doing better at this point in the recovery.  Virtually everyone agrees on that point.  So until things really turn around it is imperative that we really try to cut our expenses as much as possible.

I would like to offer a proposal that would save us hundreds of millions of dollars.  While I realize that represents only a small percentage of our GDP, at least it’s a start – and we have to start somewhere.

This proposal saves us the cost of our participating in the process which we call voting – by eliminating it.  I know this may offend my more conservative readers to whose principles I generally adhere.  But I would like to think that I am a person who can see the handwriting on the wall (or is it merely graffiti)?

As more of our  Constitutionally-guaranteed rights disappear, can the elimination of our right to elect those who represent us be far behind?

In theory, being able to express our opinions at the ballot box is how we separate the wheat from the chaff and select the brightest and best – those who truly represent our interests and the best interests of our country.  But what more direct way is there to determine that than by having the candidates compete in an intellectual contest – the smarter being declared the winner?

Consider the hundreds of millions which we spend on the voting process.  Printing election materials, hiring people to serve as poll watchers, the amount of gas that is consumed to get to the polls, the cost of conducting trials over whether contributions are being accepted in violation of election laws.  All money down the drain.

Before coming to a judgment as to the worthiness of this plan I would ask that you read through to the end.

The two candidates for President of the United States will take a multiple choice exam consisting of 50 questions, one for each state of the Union.  The instructions for completing the exam follow:

Gentlemen.  You are here today competing for the high office of President of the United States.  Do not open your exam booklets until you are instructed to do so by your proctor who is an employee of OSHA.  This agency was chosen so that in the event this material overtaxes your gray matter and the proctor detects any wisps of smoke coming from your ears, he will be able to notify the appropriate emergency medical service of your condition and you will be treated for your incapacity.

This multiple-choice exam consists of two parts of 25 questions each.  You will be given three hours to complete Part I at which time there will be an hour’s break.  During that break you will be provided with a seven course box lunch prepared by a highly over-rated chef.  A number of Hollywood celebrities will provide entertainment for your amusement.

(Who will be making an appearance will depend on which stars have successfully completed their detox treatment and/or community service).

After your luncheon break you will have three hours to complete Part II.

Your tests will then be scored.  Please keep in mind that on this test a perfect score consists of answering 25 questions or less correctly in keeping with our philosophy that average is better.  Furthermore, should you both achieve the same score, there will be an elimination round that will determine the winner.  The details of that phase of the competition will be explained should there be the necessity to do so.

Before you begin your examination, please note that you must circle your answer using black and only black ink.  Should you decide to change your answer after reviewing it, you will find that you have been provided a bottle of White-Out.  You must completely eradicate your original answer.  Excessive use of White-Out may disqualify your answers from being included in your total score.  (The definition of what constitutes “excessive” is currently being determined by a committee.  Hopefully, we should have their report by the time you conclude your examination).

Open your booklets, ready, begin …

I have randomly taken ten of the fifty questions and listed them below in order to give you a flavor for the exam.

1.  George Washington was:

a.  A man who built a bridge in New York.
b.  A man who moved on up and owned a chain of dry cleaning stores.
c.  A man who liked corn on the cob but couldn’t eat it because he had  serious dental challenges.
d.  A fictional character invented by right-wing Fascist historical revisionists.

2.  If you were an Irish Setter you would want to:

a.  Live in Boston and drink with your friends at “Cheers”.
b.  Live in Boston, drink with your friends at “Cheers” and go home to your beautiful Irish Setter bitch.
c.  Ride on the top of your owner’s car when the family went on vacation.
d.  Not be eaten for cultural or any other reasons.

3.  Medicare is:

a.  A company that rents private jets to wealthy doctors.
b.  Doing its best to sink the economy.
c.  A company that rents private jets to wealthy doctors who take lobbyists and politicians along for weekend junkets.
d.  A program that will no longer exist when you need it.

4.  My greatest scholastic achievement was:

a.  I voted present more times than anyone else in my class.
b.  I bullied kids who were wimpy and deserved it.
c.  I was usually able to find my classroom.
d.  In class I invented a new action game called “warfare”.

5.  My view of foreign relations is:

a.  They can be fun if you don’t get caught leaving the hotel room.
b.  I have quite a few scattered around the globe.
c.  You have to be nice to them since we owe them so much money.
d.  Most of them have moved here illegally.

6.  The difference between a tomato and a potato is:

a.  There is no difference – Dan Quayle can’t spell either word.
b.  There has never been a tomato famine in Ireland.
c.  Their skin color defines them as minorities and they are both entitled to benefits.
d.  You can’t make vodka or French fries out of tomatoes.

7.  Telling the truth is:

a.  Generally a bad idea.
b.  It all depends on how you define the word “the”.
c.  Very damaging to a person’s reputation.
d.  Truth is such a malleable thing that by the time you’ve finished telling it, it has morphed into something else.

8.  People should not set goals for themselves because:

a.  If they meet them they just look like a bunch of stuck-up, snobby successes and everyone will hate them.
b.  We will define your goals for you.
c.  Only goals in sports really matter.
d.  I’ve never set goals and look where it’s gotten me.

9.  The economy is:

a.  A class of service found on an airline.
b.  None of my concern.
c.  In the crapper.
d.  All of the above.

10. I should be President of the United States because:

a.  I’ve made all the money I need and want to improve my golf game.
b.  I resent people who are more successful than I and am determined to equalize them.
c.  I have experience in both the private and public sectors.
d.  When I make a gaffe at a private party no one notices.  But when I insult our allies publically, I get a lot of media attention.  And I love media attention.

As it turned out, our two candidates tied on this exam and thus we had to invoke the tie breaker rule.

Come back a little later today and I’ll tell you how that played out.


This being February 21st I realize that many of you will feel this post is ill-timed.  After all, President’s Day is supposed to be celebrated on the third Monday of February.  In actuality the day is a commemoration of the birthday of the first President of the United States, George Washington.  The official name for the day is still Washington’s Birthday.  President’s Day is a gratuitous addition.

Until 1971 we used to commemorate the day by observing it on our first President’s actual birthday – which is February 22nd.  Falling between the cusp of the official observation and the actual date of the event may make me politically incorrect.  I hope so.  In fact, that is my essential reason for offering this post on this particular day.

I was thinking about how George Washington led us to victory to become an independent nation.  But that led me to think on other matters – prompted by the fact that I was following the important debate on “illegal aliens” and the effect they were having on our less than robust economy.  I couldn’t help but bring my historical training into this matter as I considered this very divisive issue.

Every so often I like to put myself in another person’s shoes.  That’s what I’m going to attempt in this post.  After all, the problem of “illegal aliens” isn’t a new one.  It is something that the indigenous American populations must have worried about as well.

Picture this – the year is 1626.  The Lenape Indians decide to accept an offer of twenty-four dollars’ worth of trinkets  and sell Manhattan Island to the Dutch.  Bad deal you may say.  Well it set off a chain of events whose consequences would be compounded over the next four hundred years.

You see, the fact is that the native Americans weren’t all that bright.  They signed treaty after treaty with the Palefaces – expecting us to honor our word.  We ignored most of the agreements we made in these treaties and did what we found more expedient for us.  (Did you know that we are still officially at war with the Seminoles in Florida).

Whether our ancestors were Irish or English or Dutch or Italian or whatever, we are all intruders in the land that belonged to those who were here before us.   We are usurpers who have legitimized our dominance through the promulgation of “The Monroe Doctrine” which granted us the right to expand as fast and as far as we could as the masters of the continent.

The fact that there were indigenous people in our way proved to be only a minor inconvenience.  We were successful in eradicating this stumbling block which barred our expansionary lust by killing a large percentage of them and confining most of the rest to reservations where they could live in sub-standard conditions. 

Of course, we were not alone in our treatment of native populations.  The Spanish did an even more effective job in dealing with the Incas in South America.  I guess that no matter where you are or who your are if you stand in the way of “progress” you’re going to get steam-rolled.

But isn’t it ironic?  The descendants of those Spanish conquistadors represent a large percentage of the “illegal aliens” about whom we are concerned today.  Some call this issue a “problem.”  Or is it perhaps just  karma.

Happy Birthday, President Washington.

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