Archive for March, 2009


March Madness

March has proven a crazy month. Between work, travel, and illness, I’ve had little time to write. However, I’ve been doing a lot watching and listening.

I’m baffled.

We seem to have lost our collective minds.

The country was so outraged over bonuses paid to AIG that Congress responded by proposing a 90% tax. Never mind that the Constitution frowns on singling out a select (small) group of people for legislative action (e.g, bill of attainder).

Critics of Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner were calling for his head after he’d been in office less than three months. These calls came despite the reality that few individuals could offer truly different alternatives and the consensus is that we won’t know of months, if not years, whether initiatives implemented to date will have the desired impact.

Pundits are posing the question of whether President Obama (and his family) suffer from overexposure. From appearing on Jay Leno to hosting a virtual town hall, Obama seems to be everywhere. So the question is asked, “Can he do all those things and his job, too?”

What we’ve overlooked through all this madness is our role.

Does it make sense that AIG executives who played a role in the current mess are receiving a bonus? Hardly, but when did we become a society that embraces the breaking of contracts? We also need to be careful what we wish for. If Congress proved willing to tax a selective group, what’s to keep them from doing so in the future at your expense versus the corporate bogeyman?

Tim Geithner, whether you agree with his policies or not, has undertaken a herculean task. In our 24-hour news cycle, he’s operating under circumstances that likely would have broken the New Deal before it was ever implemented. We also put unrealistic expectations on how a public official should handle himself. Do we want polished politicians whose expertise lies in sound bites or bureaucrats whose expertise lies in sound policy?

To the last bit of madness, I say this: while I didn’t vote for Obama, I find the criticism of his every action to be ridiculous. No manual exists for the job he holds. Lyndon Johnson put it best when he said, “The presidency has made every man who occupied it, no matter how small, bigger than he was; and no matter how big, not big enough for its demands.

I believe we are a nation made up of mostly smart people. Isn’t time we started acting based on our intelligence instead of our fear?


Graphics Novels, Politics, and Tropicana

I have an ongoing debate with a friend about the value of graphic novels (aka book-length comics). He lured me in initially with V for Vendetta and added to my collection with a gift of Watchmen and Y: The Last Man. I’ve read the first two, but haven’t gotten to the latter.

Perhaps I’m a snob, but there’s something that feels so adolescent about reading with pictures. Objectively, I know this issue is a personal one. Time has even gone so far as to place Watchmen on its list of All-Time 100 Novels. So, as an avid reader, why can’t I embrace graphic novels with the same abandon as the traditional book form (and why should you care)?

My graphic novel discomfort is an example of something plaguing many of us: when things we love take different forms, we aren’t always willing to share or to transfer that love equally. Translation: we’re missing opportunities.

Love Across Party Lines

Consider this application: in theory, as citizens of the United States, we love our country. However, every time a political party takes power we run the risk that our love will be compromised if said party’s ideology is the opposite of ours. For the last eight years, a growing number of people actively spoke out and campaigned against President Bush. Like all presidents before him, Obama now faces similar adversaries.

Of late, the media has been absorbed with the kerfluffle about who heads the Republican party and Rush Limbaugh saying he hopes President Obama fails. Much debate has ensued, with a large chunk focused on whether citizens who don’t agree with him should hope Obama fails and by default, don’t hope that our circumstances improve.

Whatever side you come down on, I think there’s a point being overlooked. We can still love something even as we’re critical and unsure of its different forms. For instance, I think people who say they hope Obama fails should take the time to provide an alternative. Love of something isn’t just about pleasure. It comes with responsibility

Squeeze’em Until It Hurts

We can take this attitude in multiple areas, not just politics. As companies morph into different things, or change their products, we either choose to adapt or push back (see Jackie Huba’s excellent write up on the Tropicana redesign drama). And simply because we can’t embrace the new form of our original love, doesn’t mean the new lacks value.

I will probably never choose a graphic novel over a traditional one, just as you may never choose to support a Republican over a Democrat or buy products in new packaging. However, the only person who looks foolish if I never consider the “new” honestly is me. Do you really want to be foolish?

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March 2009
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