Friday, October 29, 2010

Telling It the Way It Is

You have to admire Bill Gross, the eponymous bond king who runs PIMCO's portfolio. His latest monthly Investment Outlook in part takes on the silly season of the midterm elections and its outrageous campaign tactics. The election nearly neatly coincides with Halloween and the ghoulish nightmare of the endless direct mailings and automated phone calls insult the intelligence of the American voter. The negativity is overwhelming. Being on the National Do Not Call list is irrelevant as apparently the people who make the laws can easily bend them for their own benefit so night after night negative recorded messages besiege our land line. If you do not answer, the recording ends up on your answering machine -- some of them can last minutes. When we're home, call recognition winnows most so we can easily answer and hang up almost simultaneously.

The mailbox is stuffed with dire warnings, black and white photos of the opponent which makes he/she look like a ghost and then a nice colorful photo of whomever the mailing supports. Fill in any politician's name you want "[Blank] Is Sucking the Life Out of the Economy." Or another one we received today: "[Blank] Has a Secret She Doesn't Want You to Know." Some are sent by a major party while others are sponsored by "organizations" that sound mighty impressive but are totally unknown such as "Citizens for Lower Taxes and a Stronger Economy, Inc." Hey, I want a stronger economy and lower taxes -- I should be for what they're for!

But I say elect Spiderman!

Just imagine a political system with campaigning that relies totally on televised public debates and published position papers (on the Web, in newspapers) but NO PAID ADVERTISEMENTS or CALLS. Imagine saving all those wasted resources and putting them to better use, especially in these dire economic times.

I'm sick of it and so is Bill Gross. As I said, you have to admire his stance, a risk he takes as he is not a politician, but represents a major financial institution. He's also a damn good writer. Good riddance to the midterm elections. When will we ever learn? The link to Gross' article is above, but I conclude by quoting part of his statement on the subject. It's just too good to be buried in the link.

Each party’s campaign tactics remind me of airport terminals pre-9/11 when solicitors only yards apart would compete for the attention and dollars of travelers. “Save the Whales,” one would demand, while the other would pose as its evil twin – “Eat Whale Blubber,” the makeshift sign would read. It didn’t matter which slogan grabbed you, the end of the day’s results always produced a pot of money for them and the whales were neither saved nor eaten. American politics resemble an airline terminal with a huckster’s bowl waiting to be filled every two years.

And the paramount problem is not that we contribute so willingly or even so cluelessly, but that there are only two bowls to choose from. Thomas Friedman, the respected author of The World Is Flat, and a weekly New York Times Op-Ed author, recently suggested “ripping open this two-party duopoly and having it challenged by a serious third party” unencumbered by special interest megabucks. “We basically have two bankrupt parties, bankrupting the country,” was the explicit sentiment of his article, and I couldn’t agree more – whales or no whales. Was it relevant in 2004 that John Kerry was or was not an admirable “swift boat” commander? Will the absence of a mosque within several hundred yards of Ground Zero solve our deficit crisis? Is Christine O’Donnell really a witch? Did Meg Whitman employ an illegal maid? Who cares! We are being conned, folks; Democrats and Republicans alike. What have you really heard from either party that addresses America’s future instead of its prurient overnight fascination with scandal? Shame on them and of course, shame on us. We’re getting what we deserve. Vote NO in November – no to both parties. Vote NO to a two-party system that trades promises for dollars and hope for power, and leaves the American people high and dry.