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War of the Roses and Its Victims

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Message Stephen Pizzo
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As best I can tell from my email I have made about as many liberal enemies as conservative enemies -- an accomplishment I am obnoxiously proud of.

I've long believed that the solutions to most of what needs fixing in America are pretty evenly split between the two sides. Conversely, most of what's wrong with America today can be attributed directly  to the policies and behavior of both parties.

 If American politics were a marriage, this one has devolved into what shrinks might describe as a dysfunctional, codependency.

And what of the rest of us? Well, we're the kids, caught in the middle, half of us defending Daddy, the GOP, and the other half of us going with the Mommy party, the Dems. 

And as always when marriages go bad, it's the kids that suffer most and pay the real price.

The Mommy party is an old softy. She wants the best for all her children, be they one minute old or a 110 years. She protects them with a non-stop flow of rules and regulations enforced by legions of bureaucrats and attorneys. Because, you see, Mommy is very, very suspicious of that company man with the candy. 

The Mommy party is against capital punishment, doesn't like guns around the house and believes it's wrong to spend billions of dollars on the military while 45 million of her children can't afford to see a doctor. Mommy prefers talking to unruly neighbors rather than shooting at them. Trouble is, not all our neighbors are good listeners.

The Daddy party says it wants the very best for kids too, but tends to favor the kind with no arms, legs, brains, hearts, skin or bones yet -- the “unborn” kids. (A concept Dad refuses to even consider might be the mother of all oxymorons.) Nevertheless Daddy wants to make it illegal to abort any bundle of undefined human cells,  but defends the right to inject lethal chemicals into the veins of  prisoners in order to abort full-term humans.

Finally, Daddy is a man of action, not words. He prefers shooting first and then, only if absolutely necessary, talking to whomever might still be standing.  Trouble is, once the shooting starts, it's nearly impossible to hear anything over the gunfire.

Bottom line: our parents are a couple of real nuts. They need a serious dose of counseling. They need to confront their individual shortcomings, learn how to give each other space and recognize when they are wasting the family's time, money and energy arguing over things that are only important to other nuts.

One of their most enduring, and damaging, disagreements has been over how much a role government and the private sector should each play in American's daily lives. Daddy believes his friends in the private sector can bring efficiency and cost savings to most of what needs doing, from health care to distinctly un-healthy exercises like waging war.

Mommy thinks Daddy's private sector pals are a bunch of snakes, interested only in making money, as much money as possible. She believes that, if taking care of American's basic needs gets in the way of making money, Daddy's friends will sell the kids into white slavery, if that's what it takes to turn a profit.

Sometimes Mommy wins. Sometimes Daddy wins. Trouble is, which ever one wins, we kids seem to lose.
Our health care system, for example, is a monumental mess. Mommy's pet project, Medicare is broke and getting broker by the day. Daddy's friends at private HMOs are bleeding those of us who can afford their services white. Meanwhile those who can't afford health coverage -- or are refused coverage because they might actually need it --  are dumped on Mommy's doorstep.

They've even left our home wide open. The back door has been busted for decades allowing all kinds of folks to just wander in and out, pretty much at will. Some of them are quite nice and even tidy up a bit. But others are not so nice, they hang around and run up expenses the rest of us have to pay. Some are even criminals who do what criminals do.

Still Mommy feels sorry for them and believes we should leave the doors unlocked. Daddy is conflicted. On one hand his tough side wants to lock and bolt the door shut. But his friends in the private sector want him to leave things the way they are, since the strangers work cheap, don't unionize and, when underpaid or mistreated, don't go whining to the authorities like higher-paid, Mommy-pampered American workers.

Mom hates the war in Iraq and says she wants her boys and girls to back home. But when it comes actually putting down her foot and demanding just that, Mom turns out to be a real wuss. Instead of putting her foot down -- in the way only a mother can -- she just bitches about it.

Daddy is not entirely happy with how his war turned out, but is not about to admit he should have stopped and asked directions long ago. Instead he insists we kids stop asking “if we're there yet,” and that he's going to  try alternative routes until he gets us where he thinks he's going --  a place he can't describe but assures us is quite splendid. But so far all we've seen on this trip is road kill.

Meanwhile back here at ranch the place is falling apart. Some days it seems nothing works. For example, at the start of the summer season the folks inform us kids we now need passports if we want to vacation in Canada, the Caribbean or Mexico. So we obediently comply – or at least try to comply. But no passports arrive. Why? Because our folks didn't bother to hire enough people to fulfill the inevitable spike in demand for passports. Millions of vacations are disrupted. Thanks a lot Mom and Dad.

Three years ago the folks ordered that a 700-mile fence be built along the US/Mexican border and then they only built 13 miles of it.  Now, three years later they are accusing us of being ungrateful children – sharper than a serpent's tooth,  because we just laughed when they promised they'd really secure the place if we just agreed to something they called “comprehensive immigration reform.” Fat chance folks. We're older and wiser now. You two are going to either have to get better at lying to us or start actually delivering the things you promise us -- if we're good.

Look guys, the place is a mess. You gotta stop fighting, at least long enough to fix the things that, if left unfixed, are going to put us all into bankruptcy, poison us, drowned us, make us stupider than we already are or send more of us off to die in some godforsaken sand-pit of country that's only claim to fame is that it squats atop a huge grease spot.

Mommy, listen --- we appreciate your concern for us. But sometimes you can be, well – don't take this personally – but you can be really smothering. We don't need to be protected from every little bump in life's road. Darwinism needs to be allowed to work it's magic, otherwise humans are going to end up along with dinosaurs on bone-heap of natural history. Stupid people need to be allowed to be all they can be, until the day they run with scissors or take a hair-dryer into the tub with them or light a match to see if their SUV is out of gas. Because such are the moments when nature culls that particular batch of DNA from the herd.

And Dad, we appreciate your faith in the free enterprise system. When it works it's a powerful force, to be sure. But when it's left to it's own devices it turns predatory – like that family dog we had that started running wild with other neighborhood dogs. They went from being useful watchdogs to a wild  pack, biting people, killing chickens and chasing Bambi's mother through the woods. Eventually we had to shoot the lot of them. Likewise, your friends in the private sector need limits, rules, fences. Otherwise they turn into a pack of roving predators. I know they don't like being fenced in. But it's for their own good – and everyone else's.

And can we ask for some base-level of competency out you two? Is that too much to ask from our folks? Here's where Daddy has a point. Remember Dad's old friend, Newt? What a pain in the ass he is. But he's right about how bummed up the place has become. Listen to this. It's short, if not sweet.

How did things get so fouled up? It's a direct result of this non-stop spat between the folks. Mommy thinks federal employees need to be protected from mean, self-esteem lowering superiors. Which explains why Mom and the federal employee unions have become tight as thieves. Just try to fire a federal employee. Forget about it. They could be cooking chickens on spits over open fires atop atop their desks during working hours, and the union would circle the wagons around them -- and Mom would cater the event.

On the other hand Dad has put so many of his private sector cronies in charge of federal agencies and public projects that some days our government feels like a Halliburton/Exxon/Wal-Mart subsidiary. And if you think it's impossible to fire an incompetent federal employee, just try arresting and convicting a crooked private contractor or appointee. They could be caught with their briefcases bulging with stolen taxpayer money, and get away with it -- and they have.

Seriously guys, you need to get a grip. We kids have had it and are at the verge of going to court for protective orders against both of you. You're both hanging with bad crowds. You need to get out more and make some new friends. . . like maybe us for a change.

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Stephen Pizzo has been published everywhere from The New York Times to Mother Jones magazine. His book, Inside Job: The Looting of America's Savings and Loans, was nominated for a Pulitzer.

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