Monday, July 31, 2006

Recent commentary: Political ads

How much weight do you give political TV ads?

(not published in the Appleton Post-Crescent)

Since I do not watch broadcast or cable TV, I am spared the agony or the ecstasy of having to decide how much weight they have. But I'll give my opinion anyway!

I have said before that Yoda had the right angle on politics: it surrounds us like the Force. Most of it you see, as in building regulations and streets and sidewalks and signs. But lots of it you don't see: air quality regulations and communications regulation – invisible broadcast frequencies are regulated by the FCC. Pretty soon they'll regulate how much sun exposure is safe for you and fine you if you don't wear your federally-approved sun block and radiation hat.

Even lying in bed, your mattress has one of those do - not - remove - under - pain - of - death tags put there by the mattress company to avoid government fines.

So we're supposed to vote for these clowns that control our lives for us. Is it any wonder that the entertainment media provide the vehicles for advertisements for America's only native criminal class?

I have to admit that I enjoyed Ross Perot's infomercials more than any political advertising I've ever seen. I mean, how much of a particular candidate does the normal person ever see? 6-second bites on the TV news shows is about the size of it. Perot's infomercials let us see how he spoke, how he connected with us, what kind and how complete a flim-flam man he was.

Political TV ads aren't even as nutritious as cotton candy. They're blipverts actually, to borrow the term from Max Headroom, for concentrated bursts of commercial content that would make us explode if absorbed too quickly.

Some people wonder why most eligible voters just tune out politics. I think that it's the most natural thing in the world. The only way a normal citizen can have any substantive impact on the political process is to complain loudly and longly about how not enough money is being spent on some silly extra-Constitutional "program" that benefits just a few at the expense of the rest of us. One will always get a hearing if one wants the government to spend more money. Oh, yes!

On the flip side, if one wants less money to be spent, if one wants the budget actually to be cut – and not just the rate of increase to be cut – one will be drowned out, ignored, disregarded, disrespected, and bowled over by the throngs clamoring for government money for their pet projects. Does it not seem to you that, say, our federal budget could be cut by 5%? I mean, really! It's getting close to $3 trillion. One would think that just a little fat could be trimmed. How hard could it be for the budget to be trimmed by 5%?

Silly question. As long as there are politicians yearning, clamoring, clawing and scraping to get into public office, the budget will never be cut. Each new program or each expansion of an existing program will be given all sorts of saccharine and glurge-filled justifications for its vital existence. What we all seem to forget is that those programs exist because we are smothered by so many of them that we are pinned to the floor as their sheer weight and volume increase.

My wish? That a real Department of Louise becomes the most influential part of the apparatus of government. In the near term? I've taken The Small Government Pledge:
I vote small government. Every issue. Every time. No exceptions. No excuses.
  • I will vote for and support only those candidates who consistently vote for small government; who work to make government smaller than it is today. For candidates who have never served in office, I will vote only for those who campaign to make government smaller than it is today.
  • I will vote against and refuse to support every candidate who votes to sustain or enlarge today's Big Government - or campaigns for it.
  • I will vote in every federal, state, and local election. If necessary, I'll get an absentee ballot. I'll find out about the choices on my ballot - and make sure I always vote small government.
  • If there is no small government candidate on the ballot, I will either write in and vote for a small government candidate, leave the ballot blank for that office, or write in and vote for "small government".
  • I will vote for every ballot initiative and referendum that shrinks the size, spending, taxes, scope, or power of today's Big Government.
  • I will vote against every ballot initiative, referendum, and bond that increases the size, spending, taxes, scope, or power of today's Big Government.

That's all I can do...besides continuing to write scathing letters to my Congresscritters.

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