It’s All In the Numbers

Posted: October 22, 2010 by thesundowner in Uncategorized

by Colonel John K. Braddock, USMC Retired

“Thinks about it.” my old pappy used to tell me. “When people get upset about politicians and their nefarious ways… just take a few minutes and ‘thinks’ about it.”:

Now, a lot of people would probably say my old pappy wasn’t a brilliantly educated man. He was educated, but he certainly didn’t need any more letters behind his name. He had served brilliantly in WWII while in both theaters: German and Japan. He even did a few stints in Italy and France during that time.

He came home after the war and took up working in the “oil patch” — as they called it ‘back in them days.’ He occasionally butchered the King’s English, but you always knew what was on his mind. He spoke his mind. And if he didn’t speak his mind, he kept it to himself. He would often say that “it’s better left un-said.” Another one of pappy’s euphemisms.

He was brilliant though; my old pappy. He would sit there on the couch reading his old Bible: the 1934 translation of the American Standard, while smoking a bowl full of King Edward tobacco in his pipe. He liked the King James, most certainly, but the ’34 caused him to think through what the prophets, the evangelists and the Messiah was “a-sayin’.”

Smoke would swirl around his head as ol’ Ed dispersed his foul odor throughout the house. “Benjamin Braddock!” my mother would holler, “I wish you would go outside with that ‘steenkin’ pipe! You’re a-smellin’ up ma drapes!”

Then, out of duty, I suppose, pop would get up off of the divan and go sit outside on the porch swing… and finish his meditations.

We lived out on the Oklahoma Prairies, west of Tulsa. There wasn’t much out there but scrub and a few trees. The dirt was good, though. You could throw any kinda seed down on the ground and it would sprout and grow like a virus. We had more watermelons than the local supermarket. As a matter of fact, we supplied them with most of their melons, cantelopes and pumpkins during the Great Fall Harvest.

The sun started setting and cast a wide shadow across the veranda. The porch wrapped completely around the house, and you could circumvent the house without ever putting your feet on the grass. The flower beds were trimmed with heirloom zinnias, marigolds and the biggest rose bushes you ever saw. On the north elevation of the house where the front porch was, we had planted rosemary bushes and Four O’Clocks. You would think the Four O’Clocks would take them over each year, but such was not the case. Just before the winter freeze, the Four O’Clocks would die off and we would pull out all the dead stalks.

Being as the Four O’Clocks were perrenial tubers, they would come back each year and remind you, like a bad penny, that the pesky little buggers weren’t going away anytime soon. But, that was okay, I guess. Pop didn’t seem to mind. Neither did Ma.

They would sit outside of an evening and you could smell the fragrance of rosemary overpowering the mingling of the Four O’Clocks and the roses; occasionally you would smell a waft of zinnias or marigolds. The latter two weren’t as powerful as the others.

Now, this is where I come back to my premise of “it’s all in the numbers.”

While there was more footage of the less fragrant flora, they were often times overpowered by the lesser footage of the rosemary and Four O’Clocks and such.

Pops laid his Bible down in his lap, pulled his pipe out from his mouth (he never talked with his mouth full). Heck, Pops didn’t talk a whole lot anyway. But when he did, you listened. He could have easily replaced John Houseman in the Smith-Barney commercials, and would have made a better lawyer than the ones Mr. H. schooled in The Paper Chase.

Pops was a thinker: a man light years ahead of his time. I think he and Barry Goldwater had some sort of cosmic connection in their minds. They say thoughts have a lot of energy and when a man is thinking, he releases energy and creates things.

Well, Pop said, “Hubert Jackson… let me explain something to you, son.”

You see… I had been pestering Pops to explain to me why the lesser of the two flora was more powerful than the other…

He said, “It’s like this: if you control the flow of information, you control the environment. It’s like the lesser flowers have something over on the roses and rosemary, and the tubers. It’s something in their genes… I guess. Don’t rightly know for sure, ’cause I’m not a botanist. But, if you really want to know, then I would suggest you go get you some schoolin’ in that subject and find out.”

I always carried that advice around with me all my life and when it came to questions of why so many “stupid people” would elect stupid politicians — I came to the conclusion that they really weren’t stupid at all. And it wasn’t an issue that some were more educated than others. What you did with your “book-learnin'” determined a lot about your wisdom; and wisdom took lots of time to develop. It progressed from a natural intelligence to knowledge, then on to the application of that knowledge: hence, wisdom.

So, when folks started belly-achin’ about the politics of the day and a-pointin’ fingers at someone to blame, I had to “thinks’ about it” for a minute. After I figured it out, I asked everybody at the table to hear my questions.

I said, “If’n ya thinks about it for a moment, and take a look at the birds and the flowers, you’ll see why bad decions are made in the political arena.”

“Politicians are elected by educated people on both sides of the equation: Democrat or Republican. There’s really not much difference in the two. What’s happening is that there are fewer who are “informed.” It’s not that they aren’t educated, but rather they’re misinformed.”

“Well, how do you figure that, Hubert?” they would ask.

I said, “It’s like this: if you control the flow of information, like the flowers control their scents, then only a certain percentage of the populace can call themselves ‘informed.’ They’re all educated, and some better than others: kinda like the flowers; they all have their own frangrances, but some are stronger than others, even though they may be fewer in quantity.”

“What we have to look at now is this: the politicians are mostly lawyers and they don’t really specialize in tax laws or tax treaties between countries. While they’re supposed to know, because the Constitution has relegated that authority to the Congress, they really aren’t as swift on those legal issues like the lobbyists. So, they get the lobbyists to write the laws for them, then they review them and insert them into bills, and hope to hell the President signs off on them. And, if the law turns out to be a bucket of worms because of “unintended consequences” then both parties can always point fingers at the CEO of the corporation (in this case, the President) and blame him.”

“But the real problem is with us. We should stand in the mirror and ask ourselve why we keep voting for these knuckleheads and we keep retreading them into office term after term… after term.”

“If anybody is to blame, it’s not the misinformation, but rather it’s with us the voters, because we were too lazy to allow the nannies and ninnies to do our thinking for us. In reality we’ve all become accustomed to thinkin’ that we’re entitled to live without any responsibility and accountability for our actions — and inactions.”

“In this case, our inaction has caused us a lot of grief because the politicians are making their jobs easier because they, too, don’t have to think. They just let the lobbyists write laws that favor them, and allows them to move money around from country to country and avoid paying taxes.”

“But, see… the real argument boils down to this: the money, whether it is generated by corporations or individuals, doesn’t belong to the government anyway. It’s not the government’s money. But we allow them to suck us into an argument on false premises, and like any “straw man” argument, is easy to knock down.”

“When the lobbyists finish doing all the work we hired the politicians to do, they get their way, and the politicians get their palms greased up in their next campaign. And, if you think you’re ever going to see real campaign finance reform, well… you can kiss that idea goodbye, too. Because the lobbyists will do the writing on that one, too!”

“So, if’n ya wants to place blame and point fingers at someone, stand in the mirror when you’re brushing your teeth in the morning, and point at the mirror. Then look to see how many fingers ya got pointing back at you.”

Needless to say, I was not invited back to their dinner table.  Truth and wisdom make for unsavory guests at the table of Entitlement


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