This Sunday Sermon was inspired by a recent post on things I love recently. Thanks for the idea Alex.
Cast your mind back to 2006, when failed presidential candidate and former Vice President Al Gore was searching for a new ’cause’.
He chose Global Warming and for a while he fooled a lot of people.
He won an Oscar for a largely unproven ‘scientifically based’ documentary “An Inconvenient Truth” that made wildly exaggerated claims about man-made climate change. With hindsight perhaps “A Convenient Lie” would have been a better title. Then he was awarded the much discredited Nobel Peace Prize – although just what climate has to do with peace was never properly explained, after all people do fight wars in the rain!
He went on to found an ‘activist group’ and to create a new nonpartisan global movement around climate change that he misleadingly called the ‘Climate Reality Project’ – misleading because it had very little to do with reality.
Yes, Gore was in the ascendency and was now the world’s leading advocate of Global Warming….brrrrrr …ooops… make that Climate Change would you.
As lately as last January Gore took his old college roomy Tommy Lee Jones and a contingent of other gullible celebrities, donors and scientists on a cruise to Antarctica. Ostensibly they were there to see for themselves the effects of Global Warming, but the real purpose was probably to try to attract more publicity for Gore’s Climate Change crusade. When I say he ‘took them’ of course I meant the multi millionaire Gore was kind enough to let them pay for their trip themselves!
But last gasp publicity stunts or not, things haven’t been going so well recently for the Gore crusade. In fact if you look at the numbers, which I always like to do, you will see that the downward spiral has been a steep one.
For example, at its zenith just a few years ago Gore’s organization could spend the best part of $30 million on PR, advertising and political lobbying. It had offices in over half the US States, sometimes more than one office per state, and employed over 300 people.
Today those 300 employees have become just 30 or so, and all its state offices have been shut. There are no more hefty advertising campaigns and no more highly paid lobbyists in Washington. Not surprisingly financial donations have also dropped, by around 80 percent. And so cold a political potato is Climate Change nowadays that in the 2012 Presidential election campaign question sessions it wasn’t even mentioned!
Now Gore is going to call it the “Alliance for Climate Protection”, probably a recognition that all the claptrap he was formerly spouting has been largely discredited – a bit like himself.
The climate does change, Al, there’s no doubt about that. But the only climate man changes is the political climate where you can go from hero to zero when enough people catch on to the fact that you really don’t know what you are talking about!
The election is looming. Just about a month to go in fact.
Despite his numerous gaffs, after the first televised debate Romney has pulled slightly ahead in the polls and according to news reports, is “hardening his lead”, mainly on the back of a lackluster performance by Obama.
The VP debate last week didn’t produce a clear leader either – just created a frenzy among viewers to find out who was under the desk tickling Biden’s feet.
Last evening’s bout at Hofstra University, in Hempstead, New York didn’t produce a clear winner for me either, although some media polls put Obama ahead. His performance was certainly way better than in debate one, but you could easily have written the totally predictable moron media’s “Obama fights back” headlines without even watching it.
What this all means is that it’s still all to play for and far too close to call. In the end the committed supporters on each side will largely cancel each other out and the king-makers (or president-makers in this case) will be the 5 to 10 percent so far undecided.
Does it really matter who wins? After all, when it’s all done and dusted, the same types of people will hold the same offices as before. They will do the same things as before. And the mess we are all in will be as big as before – or bigger. I hope you have noticed that there has been a distinct failure by BOTH candidates to address the economic crisis in any meaningful and specific terms.
But there are two other questions we need to address.
First, there is an obscenity here that no one is talking very much about. Call it the elephant and the donkey in the room if you like. It is an obscenity that has been around for far too long, but today in our current dire economic circumstances, it has been elevated to the level of gross indecency.
What am I ranting on about this time?
Well, if you hadn’t guessed already, the obscenity I am referring to is the scandalous amount of money that BOTH presidential candidates are wasting trying to get themselves elected.
We all know Romney is a multi-millionaire, with equally rich chums or better, so it maybe isn’t such a surprise that he is able to raise hundreds of millions of dollars for his campaign war chest.
What is more surprising is Obama. His war chest is actually bigger than Romney’s and, quite unbelievably, is about to hit and probably surpass the $1 billion mark. It may already have by the time you read this.
I know a billion dollars isn’t what it used to be in terms of purchasing power, but it can still buy a lot of stuff. If you are having any difficulty visualizing how much a billion dollars is, think of it this way. The median income in the United States is around $29,000, meaning half the wage earners make less and half make more. If you make $29,000 a year, and don’t spend a single penny of it, it will still take you 34,482 years to save a billion dollars.
Now you are probably having trouble visualizing what it would be like to wait 34,482 years – if you are, it’s over 400 lifetimes!
Put another way, their combined waste of money could provide almost 150,000 surgical procedures, or more than 500 million meals for the poor and homeless, either of them money a lot better spent.
That anyone, Obama, Romney or A. N. Other can squander this amount of money for no return other than to aggrandize themselves with the title of President shows a deal of contempt for the ordinary people of the country, particularly those who are presently struggling to survive thanks to the financial mismanagement that these same politicians have presided over.
You can be sure that whoever gets into the big seat in the White House he will drown us in hypocrisy. We will get lectures about sacrifice and austerity measures, how deficits need to be cut, how taxes need to be raised, how you will have to tighten your belt for the sake of the country (whether you can still afford a belt or not) and so forth. Where was the belt tightening during the election campaign, boyz???
Of course, we are told that the bulk of the money in the politicians’ war chests is made up of the small $5, $10, $25 or $50 donated by ordinary folks. That may be true. But there are two types of dollars donated for election campaigns – ‘gifted’ dollars and ‘investment’ dollars. Most of the dollars donated by big corporations, super rich individuals and bankers fall into the latter category. Those people will be expecting, and will get, a return on that ‘investment’.
Thus the system – which is now so corrupt that rich executives ride roughshod over the law at will, and without fear of being punished no matter who is president – will remain largely as is.
This is a recipe for disaster. If history has taught us nothing else, it has taught us that a nation, caught between a broken political system and a populist movement of those who feel increasingly disenfranchised and undervalued, will at some stage experience rebellion against that corruption.
If you think not, think again. In fact, think tea parties in Boston and how and why the United States came into being in the first place.
Of course the solution to this particular obscenity is quick and easy. Put a ceiling on the amount of money a politician can legally collect and spend on his campaign. That would create a level playing field for all. Rich or poor, large party or small party, would have an equal chance of marketing their wears.
The only problem is that it is the same politicians who will have to make that law, and last reports still say that turkeys are very reluctant to vote for Thanksgiving and Christmas.
So that gets us to the second question in the title of this post, namely “Who is responsible?” In fact it is a two-fold question.
Are the politicians responsible because they lie to the people and promise one thing before an election and do another afterwards?
Or are the people responsible because they know fine well that the politicians are lying to them and won’t deliver on their promises, but still go out and vote for them anyway?
Let’s phrase these two questions another way.
Are the politicians responsible because they know that if they did not lie, not enough people would vote for them?
Or are the people responsible because they don’t really want to hear the hard truth and would not vote for a politician who told it how it is?
Everyone has to answer that dilemma themselves. Personally I wouldn’t vote for someone I know is lying to me, no matter what party they belonged to.