Be Careful What You Wish For

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You Might Actually Get A Smaller Government

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The Big Picture
by Glynn Wilson

Quit smiling at the television and take a minute to read this. It might piss you off, but so what? It might be good for you, like spinach.

I’ve been thinking alot lately about what happened to the notion of a shared cultural experience that could be called truly American?

When I was coming of age in the late 1960s and early 1970s, finding a shared experience that most Americans could identify with was easy to find. We all watched the first manned mission to land on the Moon, Apollo 11, on July 20, 1969. Most of us probably watched it on CBS News moderated by Walter Cronkite.

There were only four television networks then counting public television. Most Americans also watched “60 Minutes” on Sunday afternoons, so we were all tuned into the same big stories at least on a weekly basis.


Since television was so new then, most Americans also read newspapers. While the Associated Press had some competition then from United Press International, it is still a safe bet that most people read the AP or UPI version of the same stories no matter what newspaper they subscribed to or bought from the rack.

Then along came cable news in the 1980s, and by the first Gulf War in 1992, most Americans had access to cable TV and watched CNN. Fox News started up in late 1986, but it did not become the most watched cable news outlet until the 2007-2008 season.

But it is mostly watched by people who identify themselves as conservative Republicans, so that could not be called a shared cultural experience. MSNBC took a more liberal or progressive slant for awhile, until it was bought out by Comcast Cable last year.

Maybe the last time most Americans were watching the same show was on September 11, 2001, when the hijacked United and American airlines passenger jets crashed into the World Trade Towers in New York.

Now, about the only thing I can come up with for a shared American experience is that every network, cable and local television station has a cooking show, and they are inevitably delivered by smiling television hosts who clearly have no idea where the food comes from or how to cook. They have to find this chef or that one to tell them how to boil water and add salt and butter.

I imagine just about every American wakes up every morning and turns on the TeeVee and watches one of these shows, even though most never actually go online and look up the recipe and prepare the meal in question. It is simply eye candy to bring a smile to your face.

Meanwhile down in places like Montgomery, Alabama, and other state capitals as well, what is not getting covered with any depth is that the tea party is getting its way. Talk about a shared American experience, I have been hearing the political right in this country scream since the 1980s about the need for smaller government, and boy are we about to finally get it.

Somehow I don’t think anybody is going to be smiling happily when they finally find out what just happened to them and their families while they were smiling at the cooking show on TeeVee. Someone once said, “Be careful what you wish for. One day you might actually get it.”

Now I think most of the cries for a smaller government were talking about the federal government, not state and local governments, but since part of the outcry was against taxes in any form, the state governments are probably going to be the hardest hit.

For example, the Alabama House of Representatives just passed a general fund budget of $1.4 billion that slashes spending by 20 percent, cutting $340 million at least. Although since some of the provisions will also disqualify the state from receiving federal funding for certain programs, like Medicaid, it could actually result in $720 million in cuts, according to one early estimate.

Meanwhile over in the Senate, lawmakers passed a new pension plan for teachers and state employees that no one is going to like, except maybe the anti-government, anti-intellectual, anti-education radicals on the political right.

I wonder if they have mothers or daughters or granddaughters who are school teachers? Have they hugged them today? If so, perhaps they deserve a slap in the face instead for being such political idiots.

We suspect once the news actually trickles down to the masses in this state who pay absolutely no attention to what’s going on with state government because they are too busy watching the cooking shows, they will be appalled at what they finally find out, at least the one’s who get their news online.

Nobody is going to explain this to people on television, and since most people don’t read newspapers anymore, they may never find out what really happened.

The only way we are going to get this news to folks is to tell the story on the Web and share it with them on Facebook. That will not be easy because a lot of people use Facebook to keep up with the cooking shows on television, to pass around recipes they never cook, and to publish pictures of their kids who are soon to be out of work, along with their pets they will no longer be able to afford to feed.

Sorry for the bad news. I guess you can go back to your cooking show now. Smile you brain-dead morons. I hope you choke on those zucchinis.

© 2012, Glynn Wilson. All rights reserved.

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