Thursday, August 18, 2016

What school kids don't learn about Congress

Harry in 1996
On Dec. 14, 1995, at age 74, Harry wrote the following piece and filed it on his computer. It could be from an email he wrote to someone he knew, or maybe a letter to the editor of a publication. Obviously agitated, he was speaking his mind – in writing.

Young elementary school students who are taught that the Congress exists to enact legislation that benefits the public are being taught lies. The men and women elected to the House of Representatives have little or no interest in passing laws for “the good of the people” or for the “good of the general public.” If anything they do redounds to the “good of the general public” it is purely accidental or coincidental. The truth is, Representatives, when first elected, are interested in only one thing – serving the needs or meeting the demands of their constituents, no matter how narrowly based their constituency may be or how selfish their motivations.

After serving for the first year of their two-year terms, the primary goal for most of them is to do whatever they think they have to do to be reelected. Often this means carrying out the bidding of their financial backers, even if it means enacting laws that do genuine harm to the general public. So, nine times out of ten, when you hear some Representatives sounding off about something that will “get the government off our backs” or that will benefit the people, don’t believe it. They are lying through their teeth.

Case in point:  Every day you hear some Congress persons talking about cutting the budget, stopping the wasteful government spending, and putting an end to the notion that people should depend upon government handouts all their lives. But who are they talking about? Are they talking about the cattle industries, who want the government to provide them with free grazing lands? I think not. Are they talking about the mining industries, who want the government to give them free rights to mine the precious minerals on federal lands? No, I think not. Are they talking about the timber industries, who want freedom to harvest the wealth of our forests? Certainly not. Are they talking about the dairy industries, the tobacco industries, the peanut industries, the sugar industries, and a host of others, all of whom depend upon government subsidies in one form or another to reap their swollen profits? Of course not. So who and what are they talking about when they say they want to cut wasteful government spending?

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Campus conversation

On a lighter note, I came across the following writing from nearly a year later, September 1996. It captures a dining-hall conversation at the University of Maryland, where Harry audited courses – and made friends – post-retirement, from 1987 to 2002. He titled this “An overheard assignment”.  

Two dark-haired girls, one with brown eyes and one with green eyes, sit close together at a large round table in the South Campus Dining Hall munching on chicken fingers. A single observer sits halfway around the table, ostensibly reading a newspaper while eating a sandwich.

Brown Eyes speaks:  “You’ll never believe what happened to me last night?” (All sentences, no matter how firmly declarative, end on an interrogatory note.)

Green Eyes:  “What? What?”

BE:  “Well ... first you have to promise me that you’ll never breathe a word of this to anyone – especially not to Laurie?”

GE:  “Laurie? Your roommate?”

BE:  “That’s right. Laurie, my roommate!”

GE:  “You know I never will, don’t you? C’mon, tell me, what happened?”

BE:  “Welllll ... y’know when we were at the beer hall last week and Laurie’s boyfriend, he goes to Gerogetown, y’know, he’s goin’ t’law school? Wellll ... anyway, I thought they were almost engaged or something, y’know? Anyway, she introduced him to us, y’know, and I thought he was kinda cute, y’know?”

GE:  “Yeah, me too. So ... what happened?”

BE:  “Wellll ... he called last night and I thought he wanted to talk to Laurie, but she was at the library, y’know? But, guess what? He wanted to talk to me, not to her.”

GE:  “No kidding? What did he want?”

BE:  “Welll ... he asked me to go to a party with him next Saturday night. Can you believe it?”

GE:  “Wow! Soooo ... what did you say?”

BE:  “Wellll ... honestly, I didn't know what to say, y’know? I mean, what could I say to Laurie, y’know? And then, before I could answer him, y’know, he says to me that after all, he’s not married to Laurie, y’know, they’re just good friends, that’s all.”

GE:  “Ohhh sure. The way he had his hands all over her, I thought they were gonna do it right there, y’know? Y’just can’t trust those guys who go t’law school, y’know? Sooo ... what’d y’tell him?”

BE:  “Wellll ... honestly ... I didn’t know what t’do, y’know? I just wasn’t thinking. So I said yes. But I just can’t tell Laurie, y’know. Promise me you won’t say anything to her?”

At that moment, a tall, willowy blond girl approached the table with a tray of chicken fingers and sat down next to Brown Eyes.

BE:  “Hi, Angie, how y’doin?”

Angie:  “Same old, same old, y’know? What’s new with you?”

BE:  “Angie, you’re not gonna believe what happened to me last night?”

Angie:  “What happened? You won the lottery?”

BE:  “Oh, honestly, I’m serious.”

Angie:  “Okay, so tell me, what happened?”

BE:  “Wellll ... first, you have to promise me never to breathe a word about this to anyone, especially not to Laurie?”

At this point, the observer folded his newspaper, picked up his tray, and departed.

Copyright 2016, Elaine Blackman

1 comment:

  1. Uncle Harry was SO RIGHT about Congress. That's why we should have term limits. Elected for one term and then done! No special benefits or pension. That way no worries about being reelected.