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Saturday, May 28, 2011

A Tale of Metaphorical Frogs

In his documentary An Inconvenient Truth, Al Gore discusses a metaphor involving a frog. Although Gore attempts to apply it to our perceptions of global warming, I feel it is applicable to our collective perceptions in general. Gore explains that if you drop a frog in a vat of boiling water, it will sense the danger and jump out. However, if you drop a frog in lukewarm water and slowly bring it to a boil, it will not sense the danger and will stay in the scalding water until, as Gore said "it is rescued".

Whether global warming is as legitimate as AIT presents is beyond the scope of this article. However, this metaphorical frog example can be applied to many situations which this country has experienced over the past few years.

  • First, in the name of "national security", we were subject to moderately enhanced security at the airport. Then, there were "random" additional searches. Then, after the shoe bomber, we had to remove our shoes. Now, we have the full body scanners and "enhanced pat-downs" and before you know it, we'll have to go through security in the nude. Although the good news about that, as the Capitol Steps put it, is that "it will count as an MRI under Obamacare... Which means there will be a $15 co-pay". Like the frog, we failed to sense gradual change, and now it has become a ridiculous invasion of our privacy.
  • As I discussed in my last post, we have seen gradual invasions through the PATRIOT Act. Whether it's wiretapping, the infamous library card provision, or many other massive invasions of our rights, we once again, failed to sense gradual change.
  • Congressional spending. The deficit and debt are constantly rising, and we will soon pass our debt limit. But what will Congress do? They will just raise the debt cap. We need to CUT spending. The "historic" proposed spending cuts of 1.6% are a joke. We currently spend nearly as much on defense as every other country combined. Who are we afraid of? Not to mention the massive wastes that are the War on Drugs, the enforcement of educational provisions such as No Child Left Behind (which, like the PATRIOT Act, has continuously proven to defy its name), overpaid federal employees, wasteful programs like Medicaid and Social Security, and subsidies to many groups who don't deserve it. We need far more than a 1.6% cut. And we're still going to run a deficit. A massive one. We fail to see the gradual changes that the government is making in this financial situation, and things will get out of hand. In fact, they already have.  In 2009, when the British pound was in crisis, the prize money for the prestigious Wimbledon Tennis Tournament went up 13% from the previous year in pounds yet decreased by 17% in dollars. Since the "D-Day" for the debt cap is August 2nd, about four weeks before the start of the U.S. Open in Queens, we could potentially see the reverse happen in America's Grand Slam this year - prize money going up in dollars yet down in pounds/Euros/other currencies. But that's a topic for another post.

We as Americans and global citizens need to sense these gradual changes which are being thrust upon us. They will (and continue to) escalate out of control. Just as in Gore's example, global warming will spiral out of control (the truth of this claim is debatable but irrelevant), the invasions of privacy and fiscal irresponsibility that our government has demonstrated on multiple occasions continue to spiral in a doom direction.

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