Friday, April 26, 2013

But That's Different! On the Horror of Air Traffic Delays And Related Matters.

I've followed with some dark mirth the recent complaints about the flight delays caused by the sequestration law in the US.  From Huffington Post:

Lawmakers passed a bill Friday to ease air traffic delays before catching their own flights home for a week off, leaving unchanged other painful effects of the across-the-board spending cuts mandated by Congress' sequestration law.
While the legislators likely improved their chances for on-time flights when they return to work next month, cuts that are harming care for cancer patients, closing children out of preschool and ending food programs for the elderly remain in place.
The $85 billion in mandatory cuts this year are a result of the Budget Control Act of 2011, which Congress passed after its standoff over raising the nation's debt limit. The sequester was proposed as a fallback in case Congress could not come up with a more rational way to achieve at least $1.2 trillion in deficit reduction over a decade -- the theory being that sequestration would be so painful that Congress wouldn't let it happen.
But Congress and the "super committee" tasked with the budget-cutting job failed anyway.
Why would flight delays be something to fix while the cuts to cancer patients are not, hmh?

I think we meet two old friends here.  Let me introduce you to this tall guy with safety pins through his cheeks and ears.  He's called Lack Of Empathy,  and he often sits at the Congressional Bar and works out at the gym there.  He finds the poor undeserving because he is not poor and he is deserving!  He is proud of his logical thinking and his good work ethic, but he seldom dwells on the trust fund he grew up with.  It's possible that he used to pull wings off flies as a little boy to study what they would do without wings.

And here's Lack of Imagination!  She looks almost exactly like a human-sized Barbie doll, and cannot possibly imagine why any woman wouldn't.  All you need is some silicone, a diet of lettuce leaves and discipline!  She doesn't know anybody who is poor or really sick.  When she tries to think about how poverty might feel she comes up against an inner wall.  If she hasn't experienced something it doesn't exist, and so far she has experienced very little, having been cushioned by money and lots of family help and good connections.  Because her family helped her, that help is now invisible, just the way all families obviously automatically work.

Both of these critters find political decision-making very easy, and neither has any trouble with ethical or moral judgments about other people. 

You may have met them.  Their genders can be reversed, because Lack of Empathy and Lack of Imagination can be both male and female names, and often one individual carries both names.

When one of these types of politicians disapproves of gays and lesbians but then  learns that his (or her) son is gay, suddenly being gay is no longer an abomination but simply one form of sexuality.  Suddenly that politician no longer opposes same-sex marriage, suddenly that politician opposes discrimination against gays and lesbians.  Because it is different.

A pro-life politician with either or both of these names may regard abortion as murder when other people choose it but  a necessity when it is chosen by a family member of that politician or the politician herself.   Because it is different.

And although such politicians might deem the evil consequences of the sequestration law as lamentable, intellectually speaking, the emotional message only hits home when it...hits home.  When the plane they must take is delayed, for example, and they cannot get home.

That was a political fairly tale (better leave the typo in).  An alternative interpretation of all this is to point out the bubble our politicians live in, a bubble made out of money and sycophants and comfortable protection from such hunting monsters out there as Unemployment and No Access to Health Care.  Even politicians with empathy and imaginative abilities might get used to living in that bubble, might forget the other realities and might then complain about those few consequences of the sequestration act which hurt even them.