Common Sense Isn’t

Sun & Record/Wayne County Mail
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Support Your Home Team

   By JIM RUSSELL

Politics is a lot like sports. It’s your team vs the other team. You root for the “home team” even when they’re awful. That’s true if you’re a Buffalo Bills fan through the awful 2000s, or you have been voting for Chuck Schumer since 1974.

   Many people proudly wear their team colors. They fervently track “blue” and “red” states. The mascots aren’t any worse than most college teams, to be fair.

   Fans are willing to let a lot slide when their team is involved, too. Hey! Your running back was accused of domestic abuse. Our quarterback is only a drug addict. We’re way better than you!

And lastly, a mostly tepid fan during the season will suddenly become “super fan” when the playoffs hit. They might not have watched a game all season, but when they smell a championship, they are suddenly experts on everything and their team is the best ever. 

   I’ll admit I’ve watched election results with a bowl of popcorn and an adult beverage. I could see filling a stadium with an eager audience watching a huge screen of breathtaking poll results.  

   Meanwhile, the vendors are firing “Trump 2020” T-shirts into the overpriced hot-dog-eating crowd.  

   The difference between the two however, is that sports teams never force you to do anything. They don’t make you buy tickets. They don’t force you to watch the games.

   The NFL, MLB or NHL are entirely voluntary. Government is not. You don’t really have a choice. 

   You can choose not to vote, but that’s just silly. You still end up paying taxes and then don’t have any say in how that money is spent. That’s like paying for a season pass and then not showing up.

   If you vote, then you should be educated enough to vote. At election time many of us are like idiots betting on playoff teams they have no clue about. They can’t name a single player on the team, but “my cousin says they’re really good, so that’s good enough for me.” 

   Don’t think of yourself as a fan of politics. Instead, think of yourself as an owner. You aren’t getting the choice to buy into the franchise of government. You are being forced to invest your money into it. 

   Everyone who pays taxes should act like they are an owner of their government at every level. You need to know where that money is going and why. Who is worth it and who needs to go?  

   What sort of stupid or genius things are we spending money on?

   Just as we’re fans of more than one team (Go Spartans! Go Yankees! Go Giants!) we are also investors in many levels of government. Compare them. How are they doing?

   We spend about $300 a person on Town government. That goes up to $9,000 for State spending, and $12,500 for Federal. That tiny 1% is doing most of the important work in your life on a shoestring budget compared to the bloated bureaucracies in Albany and Washington.

   The stakes are that much higher now. People don’t fight over who the dog warden is because the job doesn’t have much power. The President and Congress do have that power to use against the “other team.” 

   What if we didn’t have all that centralized power at all? What if we shifted that power back to the counties and towns, where it was accountable and efficient? It’s immoral for 90% of a county’s spending to be “unfunded mandates” imposed by State and Federal decree.

   The Federal government can do everything in the Constitution for 25% of what it now spends. That would still leave it 10 times as big per person as a Town government. Isn’t that enough?

The local governments are better because they have to be. They can’t print money and levy oppressive income taxes. They must balance the budget and be responsive to their neighbors. 

    I know a lot of people who refuse to watch the NFL anymore. The league has ignored fans, wasted money, supported criminals, and become more advocacy and less sports. You occasionally get a little game play between activist segments. 

   Instead, they watch local and college sports. The players aren’t overpaid. The games are more fun to watch. They respect the fans.

   The closer a team is to the fans and community, the more successful it is. The same is true of government. A lot of people are willing to call up the mayor, but very few are willing or able to go protest in Washington. 

   Support the local team. Get involved in your own community. Stop voting for politicians who promise you big stadiums and fireworks. Is that $5 beer at the stadium really worth it when you can buy a six-pack back home for your cooler? 

 

James.patrick.russell@gmail.com

 

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