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22 January 2010 - Why Do We Do What We Do?

I must admit I am often confused and yes, often frustrated over what we, as human beings are willing to do and willing to accept. The topic comes to mind this week because in my state of Illinois we are days away from a Primary Election to select candidates on the party tickets for Congressional as well as State and Local offices. Illinois, like just about every other state in the Union, is facing severe budget deficits.

So now as I listen to the political candidates ask me for my vote, I am basically hearing the same thing from just about every candidate. "First of all, I will not raise taxes. Secondly I will cut costs and wasteful government programs and balance the budget." But then ask a candidate "what programs will you cut?" I guarantee you will never get a definitive detailed response. Instead, you will get a vague answer like ... "I will cut those programs where I find wasteful spending" and if the candidate is not the incumbent, this line is added "and I won't know what they are until I'm elected". But we know they are not going to name programs because they cannot afford to lose the votes of those who would be affected by the cuts.

Yet as voters, we continue to accept this without pursuing a definitive answer. I think candidates know, and we should know that during election campaigns promises are made that can never be kept. I don't know how we get to the truth in political campaigns but it is frustrating that we allow those seeking our vote to say what they say and do what they do. Will the day ever come when we would vote for a candidate who would tell us if we want better schools and police and fire protection, social programs and better roads, taxes must be raised? Probably not, because we don't want to hear reality.

Now another case in point that makes me wonder about human nature....the unbelievable media attention and concern over the multi-millionaire hosts who populate late-night television and the "tragedy" of one of them losing his job. Maybe part of my lack of understanding is because I get up at 3 o'clock in the morning to do my radio show and I don't watch late-night television. But with the earthquake tragedy in Haiti, and with the millions of unemployed people in our country struggling to pay mortgages and feed a family...why, oh why, do we worry about Conan O'Brien losing his job? He, of course, will not go on unemployment because he will cash a $35-million check from NBC.

That must make people living from one unemployment check to the next feel really good. And I wonder about the recent poll showing 30% of the people surveyed actually felt sorry for Mr. O'Brien. Believe me, I was not one of them! It does make me wonder tho, if we will ever get our priorities in order...in politics and everyday life.

My thoughts on Samuelson Sez.