Saturday, July 30, 2011

Political Commentary - Playing Chicken

It's not often I use my blog as a political sounding board, but I feel compelled to do so today.  If you'd rather avoid politics, I won't mind (or even know) if you choose to surf away.

Way back in 1983 I left a rinky-dink private ambulance company in Denver for a position with another, albeit slightly improved rinky-dink private company in Colorado Springs.  Both were reminescent of the fictional companies depicted in the motion picture 'Mother, Jugs and Speed', but the one in "'The Springs' offered better money by a couple of bucks per day, and a better mix of 9-1-1 versus routine transfer calls.  In other words, it paid better and it was more fun.

On my first day on the job I found I was assigned to a car partner with whom I'd worked a couple of years earlier.  That was wonderful news, as 'Mikey' and I were a great team.  We had much in common, including a similar sense of gallows-humor that made it a little easier to cope with some of the dreadful things that a paramedic has to deal with on a day-to-day basis.

As I climbed into the cab of the "car", Mikey smiled broadly and said "What would you like to run today?"  Joking around, I said "Trauma.  I've spent the last year running nothing but nursing home transfers.  When I go home in the morning I was the sleeves of this white uniform shirt covered in gore to the elbows."

Well, I asked for it, and I damned sure got it.  Just before midnight two car loads of GIs on leave got into one of those "mine is bigger than yours" arguments young men are inclined to pursue and ultimately challenged each other to a game of chicken.  There were six guys in each car, and they hit with a combined speed well in excess of 150 miles per hour.  All six of the front seat passengers were "DRT" (dead right there).  All six of the rear seat passengers were FUBAR (needs no explanation).  We called out every rescue truck and ambulance in the city to clean up that mess, and when all was said and done, Mikey winked and pointed out that my new white shirt which was indeed painted in gore to the middle of the sleeves.

Right now, both major political parties in both houses of congress are engaged in one of those "mine is bigger than yours" arguments, and are playing chicken regardning a decision to raise the national debt ceiling.  I think most Americans are pretty bored with the argument and recognize that they are most likely to cut some sort of last-second deal to prevent triggering another recession.  Nonetheless, I can't help but recall that the kids in those two cars expected someone to swerve at the last second to prevent a devestating tragedy. 

That's the problem with playing chicken.  Sometimes neither party "chickens out" or swerves.  Regardless of the outcome, we can expect each of the major parties to spend the next few months pointing fingers and blaming the other party for the consequences until the next opportunity to measure their macho against each other - and so forth, and so forth and so forth. 

For those who are supporters of either major polical party, I'll just offer this reminder.  If you vote as you've always voted before, you can't expect to get anything better than you've always gotten - and so forth, and so forth, and so forth.

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