May 22, 2008

Reaction to Steroids, Spygate Scandals Rooted in.....Terrorism?!?!

Bear with me here.

Quite a few people are upset that Congress is spending valuable time and resources investigating baseball's steroids scandal. Senator Arlen Spector wants to divert some additional effort into investigating Spygate and the New England Patriots.

I don't like it, but I get it.

There is a growing discontent among Americans in general. We are getting screwed because not everyone plays by the rules. Osama bin Laden crashes planes into our buildings and his followers behead innocent civilians, but we have to negotiate with Pakistan to even cross the border to look for him. If we find him, we have to follow international law and hold an actual trial, not cut his fingers off one at a time in a multi-network prime time special.

In a weak economy, we face the reality that nepotism still exists. Jobs are not awarded purely on merit, but rather through a system of favors and helping out old buddies. Halliburton has been awarded no-bid contracts, leaving other enterprises and their employees to wonder how they're supposed to compete. Even at the top levels of government, we see failed horse promoters tapped to run FEMA and mid-level White House lawyers tapped for the Supreme Court.

Hillary Clinton pays attention. She knows that playing by the rules is not the way to get things done these days. She campaigned in Florida and left her name as the only one on the Michigan ballot. Sure, it was cheating at the time. If momentum breaks a little differently, that cheating would make her the nominee. She's tried circumventing the rules, changing the rules, ignoring the rules and doing whatever it takes to win. It almost worked, but it definitely left a large number of voters standing around yelling and flailing that she wasn't playing by the rules.

Foreign countries can totally ignore safety, labor and pollution standards, sending us lead paint Barbies and tainted toothpaste. They can staff phone banks to handle our entire customer service industry. They can write software code as well as we can, for pennies on the dollar. They can make it faster and cheaper, and we have to buy it. We play by the rules, and we're screwed.

We pay taxes to fund our community schools and hospitals. We pave our roads, we sustain social security, we support our military and police. Illegal immigrants use all those resources and send the vast majority of their earnings out of the country. We play by the rules, and our reward is the subsidization of a class of freeloaders. Add in that the Census can't count them, and we must further subsidize to make up for the deficiency in federal funding. Once again, we're punished for following the rules.

And cheating on taxes. Do I need to even comment on this?

All of this fuels a mounting feeling of hopelessness and despair. If you play by the rules you are disadvantaged from the start. The concept of a level playing field really only exists in one place - the playing field. Sports in general are an escape from reality, but the parallels between sports and all aspects of life and nationalism and politics and wealth and fairness and greed and sacrifice and anything else you care to imagine are obvious to us.

What separates the steroids scandal and Spygate from all of the other examples I have mentioned? Congress can make these guilty parties do the perp walk, and excoriate them on CSPAN and CNN and ESPN. It's cut and dry. It's an angry pointed finger. "You, sir, disgust me." Congress can't do that with the same forcefulness, not to mention lack of hypocrisy, anywhere else.

Moreover, the sports scandals can be corrected. If we could make Bin Laden appear, we would. If we could make China and India suffer the same business and trade constraints we endure, we would. If we could make every immigrant follow the rules and register at the door, we would. If we could make every business only hire the best man for the job, we would. If we could make every politician fight a fair fight, we would. If we could make every individual and corporation follow the tax code to the letter, we would. We can't do any of those things. There are no easy solutions to any of those problems, but those frustrations still exist and simmer and threaten our entire way of life and national self-image on a daily basis.

So, like an unpopular child taking out the school day frustrations on his little brother, we fight the battle we know we can win. We fight the battle that makes us feel good, even if it fails to address the underlying problem. We won't stop cringing when Roger Goodell is sitting behind the same type of Congressional microphone previously reserved for Ollie North and Michael Corleone, but at least we can understand it.

And, to paraphrase Bill Murray's Caddyshack character, "For the righteous Lord loveth righteousness; his countenance doth behold the upright." So I got that going for me.

2 Responses:

JC said...

Couldn't agree more. It's all a bumbling attempt to appear more relevant. The American public sees right through it, but we're so jaded to the process, we don't know for what exactly we should be holding the powers-that-be accountable.

Dean said...

Great post. Linked.

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