I grew up with Peanuts characters. And now I live just a few miles from the home of Peanuts creator, the late Charles Shulz, in Santa Rosa, Calif. So, even though long gone, statues of Schultz's characters surround me wherever I go in town. The regional airport here was renamed in honor of Shultz and FAA officials even renamed one the local IFR navigation nodes after Snoopy.
Why am I rattling on about Peanuts characters? Well, because Charles Schulz was more than a cartoonist. He was also a professor of human behavior. And so each October my thoughts turn to poor little Linus. It might be a good thing if more folks took a moment to think about Linus. Because and this might come as a surprise to you -- Linus had a lot in common with the Tea Party folk of today.
Let me explain. But first, for those of you too young to remember the Shultz/Peanuts era, a short course is in order.
Linus was, well, kind of insecure. He was seldom without his blankie and whenever unnerved by something a not infrequent occurrence his thumb would go straight into his mouth and the tattered blankie up to his cheek. That's how Linus rolled.
But Linus was not entirely without hope. Every year he would plant a small pumpkin patch, tend it religiously and then, as Halloween approached, spend nights sitting among his pumpkins, waiting. Linus had an unshakable belief that, if he maintained a "sincere pumpkin patch," the metaphysical patriarch of pumpkins The Great Pumpkin would appear bearing gifts for his sincerity.
"According to Linus, on Halloween night, the Great Pumpkin rises out of the pumpkin patch he deems the most "sincere". The Great Pumpkin then flies through the air to deliver toys to all the good little children in the world. Apparently, one can cause the Great Pumpkin to pass him or her by merely saying "if he comes", as opposed to "when he comes". This could mean that the Great Pumpkin is likely to pass by anyone who doubts his existence. (Source)
According to Linus, the gifts brought by The Great Pumpkin were not gifts the sincere Patcher requested, ala Santa Claus, but rather what the Great Pumpkin felt were sincerely appropriate.
"Linus states that Santa gives away toys because it's his job and it's expected of him, whereas the Great Pumpkin gives away toys because he feels he is fulfilling a moral obligation."
Well, I don't have to tell you that, year after year, October after October, Linus' confidence in the Great Pumpkin's largess resulted in squat. Rather than chalking it up to mistaken confidence, Linus saw it as his fault, his failure to appear sincere enough.
And so, each year Linus would do the same thing, expecting a different result.
Back then Linus was alone in his psychosis. Today that pumpkin patch is crowded every October, as conservative voters gather to await the coming of today's version of the Great Pumpkin. Their pumpkins are tax cuts for the rich, and the belief that if they sacrifice enough public services on the altar of tax cuts for the rich, The Great Ones will trickle-down gifts upon them -- to wit "good paying jobs." (What? Like you were expecting cash?)
It has been so ever since the first Great Pumpkin of the Right, Ronald Reagan, first appeared revealing the simplistic Gospel of Ron;
- Government Bad.
- No-holds Barred Free Enterprise G-o-o-d.
- Taxes Bad.
- Tax-cuts G-o-o-d.
And so it came to pass. Every election cycle dimwit voters are assured that, if they are just sincere enough about "cutting the growth of government by cutting taxes even more," the Great Ones will appear and shower them with the gifts of middle-classdom.
But, how to appear sincere enough -- the Pumpkin Patch People asked?
Well first don't expect the Great Ones of American finance and industry to lift a finger to help. And don't be asking them for an advance on their promises, or even proof they exist. Your sincerity will be measured, at least in part, by how much you prove you believe the The Great Ones should be left alone. (Oh, and, BTW, that includes keeping your distance too.)
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