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Showing posts with label Taxpayers. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Taxpayers. Show all posts

Monday, September 17, 2012

Why It Is Time To ban Mayor Bloomberg.

"A nation which has forgotten the quality of courage which in the past has been brought to public life is not as likely to insist upon or regard that quality in its chosen leaders today - and in fact we have forgotten."
John F. Kennedy

Late last week the New York City Board of Health passed a ban, pushed by Mayor Bloomberg, on the sale of large sodas and other sugary drinks at restaurants, street carts and movie theaters.

Nobody disagrees that the problem of obesity has reached epidemic proportions in America and that childhood diabetes is becoming a hugely dangerous and growing problem. I also understand that reducing obesity will save taxpayers a lot of money and help to reduce healthcare costs and energy consumption. These are all good things. However, to pass a law to ban the sale of large sodas is a travesty.

There are two fundamental issues with the Mayor’s decision; I am insulted because he assumes that we are all morons or idiots, unable to make personal choices about what is good and bad for us. And yes, it is a personal choice, even if some of these decisions can affect society as a whole. This brings me to my second point, the method he has chosen (to achieve the right outcome – a healthier America) is a slippery slope that starts to involve the government taking over personal decisions and mandating and legislating what is good and bad for us. The single greatest cause of obesity is not sugary drinks; in fact, I would wager that poor eating habits, portion sizes, lack of exercise and low self-esteem are all major contributors to the problem. So why should he stop here? Why not restrict the portions that can be served in restaurants, or even have suggested entrées based on your body weight. Then let’s make theaters, ballparks and street vendors only carry healthy fruit and vegetable snacks. And why stop there why don’t we start fining parents whose children binge eat based on low self-esteem. Heck I have longed believe that many people today are not fit to be parents, so let’s start to issue parenting licenses that require prospective parents to pass a series of tests, just like we make them when they want to get behind the wheel of a car. After all, our politicians and government know what is best for all of us and only ever look out for our best interests. Of course, I exaggerate to make my point, but you can see how this path is a slippery slope that can lead to Saudi Arabia-esque society and not the America with the freedoms we now know.

The Mayor is right that we need to tackle this major health crisis and he is also right that cutting down on the amount of soda and sugary drinks people consume will help, BUT we need to achieve the same objective through education and by helping people to make better decisions about their health and their lives. Bloomberg himself also argues that the proliferation of marketing and advertising messages, particularly aimed at the poor and less educated make a certain segment of our population vulnerable to these messages. So let’s start by fixing the problem with a counter campaign that informs and teaches people about the long-term and serious affects these things have on our bodies, our lives and how they also affect the people around us and society as a whole. Let’s pass laws that make it mandatory for all fast food joints and other eating establishments to clearly show the calories, fat and ingredients that go into the food we are about to consume. Let’s start a movement using celebrities and role models to stop endorsing products that are bad for our kids. Let’s pass legislation that forces schools to have recess time again, and completely take corporations out of the school lunch rooms, so they can no longer dictate the menu based on their bottom lines.

The reality is that leaders today don’t have the courage, integrity or fortitude to solve the big problems that we are facing. This would mean taking on trade unions, school boards, celebrity donors and the same corporations that finance their re-election bids and fill their campaign coffers; not to mention the fact that their popularity numbers among voters would also plummet if they were to force them to face some of the cold hard truths. So instead they focus on the small, less relevant things or make up problems that simply divert our attention from the real issue. To make us believe that they have made some progress but it is really just a sleight of hand and solves nothing. Rather than take on the real and tough issues, Mayor Bloomberg, like every other politician, took the easy way out by making it more difficult for us to buy a 32 oz. drink.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

When I grow up I want to be politician

"Crime does not pay…as well as politics.”
Alfred E. Newman

I want to do this because it seems to be the coolest job in the world. You get to travel, see the world, get your personal needs taken care of and have a group of “hangers on” doing your every bidding. You also have corporations and businesses courting you and paying for your family vacations and in many instances also paying to re-do or repair you home. I don’t think any other job in the world can compare. You also get a gold plated healthcare plan, which you can keep for life after working for a mere four years; you will not find this perk within any other corporation or company in the world. As if all this is not enough, it is also the only job in the world that has no retirement age…most often the older you are the better chance you have of getting the job in the first place. In fact, one could even create a persuasive argument to support the fact that this is the quite possibly the only job where senility can be a huge asset. Especially when it comes time to be questioned by your voters about how well you dispensed your job duties, and why you made some of the decisions you did. So why would I ever want to do anything else?

Granted, there is a small amount of work I would need to do, but that mainly entails traveling around the country, talking to people and pressing palms while allowing them to believe I am listening to their worries and concerns, but mostly just enjoying the sound of my own voice. The other aspect involves arguing with my colleagues about absolutely every topic, and then publicly disagreeing with anything the opposing party says. All the while deftly ensuring that the voting public is aware that I am always on their side, on every issue under the sun. I would also not be expected at the office while I am on the road. Be it to far-flung exotic destinations on critically important “research trips” that will help me make the lives of my constituents better. I might need to travel to the Polynesian Islands to witness first-hand the impact of local drug trafficking on the economy and how it might undermine the fundamentals of democracy. Or I might embark, at great inconvenience to myself, using a combination of military and commercial jets, to Copenhagen to protest the high levels of CO2 that are emitted into the atmosphere through our over reliance on jets. Of course, it would only be fair to take my family and friends along with me since my job demands being on the road so much that I rarely get to see them. And just because I care so much about the future generations, I might even bring along a group of young and impressionable school children to learn this valuable lesson on climate change, and perhaps awaken the same instinct within them to selflessly serve their country. To think that taxpayers grumble about these sacrifices and investments in future generations our politicians make. After having had a more sufficient view into and understanding of the personal sacrifices and grueling schedules these public servants keep, I am sure you are all empathetic enough to see why they deserve 16 weeks of vacation in a normal year. In 2008, one of the toughest years economically in the world, and since the Great Depression in America, they only worked a combined total of 103 days. I am sure they must have also quietly taken pay cuts along with their reduced workdays and workload for the year. To think that they did not even make a fuss or let us know about it…does this selflessness have no end I ask? So why would I want to grow up to be anything else?

I hear that the levels of stress can be very high in political life. The pressure of constantly being in the public eye and needing to have an understanding and expertise in a wide range of topics, from military defense systems to wild Iguana lizard co-habitation patterns, must take its toll on the poor little human brain. So, it’s not surprising that these noble people need to take a break sometimes, to get away from under our microscopes and maybe take a secret hike along the Appalachian Trail. Is that so wrong?

This pressure can also manifest itself in other ways from what I have seen. I, for one, cannot imagine being away from my wife and family for prolonged periods of time. We all say that long distance relationships are doomed to fail, so how do we expect these poor men and women to make them succeed? And this with the added pressure of having to juggle and solve not just multiple problems, but find solutions that will keep their corporate donors, special interest groups, lobbyists and, oh yeah, their constituents all happy at the same time. So I do not understand why we refuse to cut them some slack when they end up having sexual relations with staff members. Yes they are not their spouses, but are at close quarters 24x7 with them, helping them solve the biggest problems that face not just our country but also the world today. Especially when they more often than not try to quietly and privately sort out these types of problems, generously I might add, by paying for their lovers’ mortgages or by giving their lover’s parents a gift from their own hard earned money. Frankly, if their spouses don’t mind and will stand behind and beside them after the fact, then who are we to judge them or meddle in their personal affairs?

Politics is also the only profession in the world where candidates do not need any specific qualifications or prior work experience to get the job. Once elected the progression from this state of knowing little to nothing about anything, to becoming an expert on all things, concerning all people, is another fascinating aspect to which I'd like to be privy. My thirst for knowledge is great and I don’t see any other job in the world offering it in such a massive, rapid and wide-ranging way. The other aspect that has always fascinated me is that even if I accomplish nothing more than getting nominated by my party to a position that propels me into the national spotlight, and I never offer a coherent or substantive point of view on anything, or even finish my term of elected office – I can easily quit, write a book about having accomplished nothing and about being a quitter, get paid six figures to do speaking engagements on the subject of failure, and retire in two short years. Now, if that does not sound like an exciting job opportunity then I am not sure what will.

So, I want to be a politician someday because I know I too can make a tremendous contribution to society doing all the many wonderful things I just talked about, making all the mistakes I wanted, never having to apologise or resign. But the number one reason is that I can do all of these things, and you the taxpayers would be paying for it all – every paisa, penny and dime.