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Climbing The Tether

by John on 04/18/2015

Remember this image. It might save our politics.

It comes from Real TV in 1997. The video was recorded by a by-stander in British Columbia.

A woman is parasailing. The wind kicks in so strong, the motorboat she is attached to can’t bring her down. She is about to hit a live high tension wire that could kill her. Someone alerts the 150 people on the beach. They rush to the dock where the boat is moored and, incredibly, the 150 people climb the tether to the parasail and with their collective weight gradually bring the woman down to safety.

The video was not shot up close so you can’t see the emotions of, at first, sheer terror and then adulation and triumph. But you didn’t need to. You could feel it even from a distance. This was an amazing snapshot of the human spirit at its best.

No one was paid to climb that tether. It was an immediate human reaction to help someone in need.

Now look at our politics.

We fail as a nation now to climb that tether.

We have these two problems facing us that no one is climbing the tether to solve.

  1. We are aging dramatically as a nation. In five years, the number of Baby Boomers on Medicare will create a financial tsunami. Recipients have only paid in an estimated 1/3 to cover what will be their medical bills for the rest of their lives. The rest is paid by taxpayers probably over the next 30 years. When you consider the trillions of extra debt we have, some of it we don’t know about from the Fed, then there is little chance either our taxes aren’t going up dramatically or our government programs including education, homeland security, the military, and others are going to be slashed to the bone.
  2. We are under-trained for the 21st Century. Those taxpayers who will have to foot the bill for us aging Boomers are not trained enough so they can create or maintain the new jobs in this technological age. In a previous column, I quoted two financial experts who told me the biggest problem is a lack of US productivity. We need training. And we need infrastructure to spur that productivity and growth.

The biggest reason we are not facing these problems – or climbing the tether for each other — is money in politics.

Nearly 40% of the money donated is dark money. That means we don’t know who is influencing our lawmakers.

But we do know this:

  • That money is a good investment for the so-called donors
  • The turnover in Congress is miniscule
  • The barrier to entry to run for Congress is so expensive that it excludes many people making us look less like America and more like Iran, China, Russia, and Saudi Arabia
  • New laws protecting big money givers are being proposed more and more and backed by both parties
  • The big money givers are trying to keep the status quo to protect their wealth which stagnates our growth as a country.
  • The media – left and right leaning – say nothing because it is part of their revenues.

It stops us from climbing the tether. “I don’t know her so why should I?” “What do I get out of it?” “She’s not one of us so why bother.”

You can see the effect on our politicians. They perform for the money. It’s all entertainment. We too often decide on a candidate based on would we like to meet him or her at a barbecue. Really? That’s how we decide if we want to deal with a new neighbor or not. But is that how you would decide how to choose a doctor, accountant, or lawyer? “He sucks at what he does but he was fun at that picnic so I will hire him.” Of course not.

So why would you do that with a person who is going to represent you and lay the ground work for your job, career, and your retirement?

Instead what we all do is fall into line with the bribing class.

We view politics as another reality show. Look at the divisiveness of Missouri politics that caused the suicide of two people. The recent story of the gyrocopter pilot landing illegally on the Capitol lawn was covered by all the media outlets but only as a story about air safety not about his efforts to awaken people to the corruption of Congress.

We view politics as a sporting event. We root for one side against the other. What we don’t realize is that the Democrats and Republicans are on the same side. When I root for my favorite team – Red Sox or Patriots – it doesn’t change me if they win or lose. Trust me, if the Pats lost the Super Bowl I would have gone on living. The problem with treating politics like sports is that what you’re doing DOES have a major effect on your life and the lives of others in this country.

How can you not view this money as sheer corruption?

  • Judges can’t do it. They have to recuse themselves from cases they might have an interest or connection to.
  • Journalists can’t either. As a news anchor, I signed a contract that said if I took money for a story I would be fired based on the 1934 Communications Act.

So think about it. Judges and journalists are forced to adhere to bribery laws, but our lawmakers are not?

But then we hear: how will these poor victim politicians run a campaign without money?

It’s easy: social media. I can talk to thousands of people immediately. Why can’t someone who is running for office do that? By the way, that is today’s technology.

You can help stop all this.

  • Stop rooting for either party. You’re rooting for the same thing. You’re also putting money into their pockets.
  • Don’t donate.
  • Ignore postings from people who are clearly left or right and all they post are links that agree with their side using media from their side. Conservatives don’t have the answers; and neither do liberals. Pay attention to the person from one persuasion who sees merit in the other side while still holding their beliefs.
  • If there is something you disagree with, post credible links that offer an alternative point of view. No need to berate anyone for their beliefs so if you can’t be kind on a post then say nothing and just offer a link that rebuts.

Let’s climb that tether together. There are some tough times ahead.

Give me your thoughts.

By the way, if you looking to see the episode guide from Real TV check out this link.

In another post, I will talk about how Real TV was the last real reality TV show.

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