The price is right

Groucho glasses

There’s a famous joke that’s been told in various forms for at least a hundred years. Usually it’s attributed to a famous personality such as George Bernard Shaw, Winston Churchill or, in the version I’m using here, Groucho Marx. It involves the individual having a somewhat naughty conversation with a woman, and it goes something like this:

Groucho turned his attention to a lovely young lady and, in his usual style, asked her, “My dearest desert flower. What would you say if I offered you a million dollars in exchange for spending a romantic weekend with me in Paris?”

Taken by surprise, she replied, “Why, Mr. Marx! I’m flattered! Of course, I’d love to be your travel companion.”

Without hesitation, Groucho then said, “My darling. What if I wined and dined you and invited you to spend the night with me in my New York penthouse and gave you $100,000 for your troubles?”

“Mr. Marx, you’re such a flirt! Most certainly I would accept your invitation,” she replied.

“Well, then,” Groucho said with a wide grin, “how about I give you ten dollars and we sneak off for a little fun in the next room?”

“I’m shocked,” the young lady snapped. “What kind of woman do you think I am?”

“We’ve already established that,” Groucho responded. “Now we’re just haggling over the price.”

 

Yes, it’s a bit risque. But it suggests that people can be convinced to do things if they expect a reward in return. The greater the pay-off, the more likely someone will agree to activities they would otherwise avoid. And that brings us to our present political climate.

Are there limits?

You’d have to be in worse shape than the Pinball Wizard himself to not realize that our president leaves a lot to be desired when it comes to maturity and leadership. Even being deaf, dumb & blind, I still think Tommy would have had no problem recognizing that President Trump falls far short of the standards set by our founding fathers.

 

I’ve made it clear that I’m not a supporter of this president. I have great respect for our nation and the office of the chief executive, but I simply cannot hide my disgust for the words and actions of the current White House occupant.

 

I would take some reassurance if a few prominent men and women provided a counterbalance for Mr. Trump. That is, people in leadership positions who would step in and steer Trump on the right path, showing that cooler heads are in charge. But that’s not the case.

While President Trump is attacking cable news hosts on Twitter, or leering uncomfortably at a female reporter from Ireland, or sharing an altered video that portrays the president tackling and pummeling an entire news organization… the Republican leadership in the House and Senate do little more than offer a “tut-tut”. We would expect the adults in the room to step up and tell Trump that his behavior is disturbing, embarrassing, disrespectful, and most certainly beneath the dignity of the office he holds.

Instead, those members of Congress, along with media commentators and employees of the Trump administration, are often found making excuses, telling Americans that this is the type of president they voted for so they should just accept it.

How much?

There has to be a reason that otherwise clear-thinking people would enable someone so lacking in maturity and decency, and there is. You see, all people like Speaker of the House Paul Ryan want is a huge tax cut for the richest people. That’s the brass ring they’ve been reaching for over the past several years. If that means the less fortunate Americans are going to lose health insurance or government services or other benefits that should be expected from what has been the richest nation on the planet, then so be it.

And while we’re on the subject of tax cuts for the rich, I’d like to draw a distinction. Republicans try to tell us that cutting taxes on the super rich will result in better jobs and higher income for the rest of us. The thing is, those rich people aren’t the employers. It’s the corporations they own that actually hire and fire us. And those corporations already do a great job in avoiding paying taxes. No, the millionaires and billionaires want tax cuts on their personal wealth. Granting their wish is not going to help the working class at all. But the GOP has been trying to sell their trickle-down economic plans since the days of Ronald Reagan.

Reagan. You remember him, right? He’s the guy who pointed at Moscow and called it the “Evil Empire”. Back in those days, Vladimir Putin was a KGB agent, one of the guys President Reagan despised. Today, Putin is the leader of Russia and the chief organizer of efforts to tamper with ballots worldwide, including our own recent presidential election.

I have a feeling that Reagan would not approve of President Trump, especially his efforts to block investigations into Russia’s actions.

(Originally published in the Morrisons Cove Herald July 6, 2017.)

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