‘Whizzing’ (pardon the language) On A Forest Fire

Peeing on a fire

Image by Lisa Brewster via Flickr / CreativeCommons ShareAlike

It’s amazing, sometimes, how real life imitates the fantasy world created in Washington, D.C. as our elected ‘public servants’ (pardon the language) go about their daily grind of destroying the American way of life. Here’s a great example.

I flipped on the television today to get my morning news fix along with a cup of caffeinated coffee, and watched with interest a segment on the tragic wildfires in Texas.

The news anchor passed along an estimate by some Texas official that one million acres was either burning or destroyed. That’s one million acres, just in case you are a dozing air traffic controller. As the broadcaster was making this statement, the video streaming in the background was of a helicopter flying over a large blazing area and dropping a pitifully small stream of water (a trickle that covered only a minute fraction of one percent of the visible inferno) that was obviously completely ineffective, but doubtless made the firefighters feel as if they were accomplishing something.

It reminded me of a Saturday from my youth, when I had abandoned the neighborhood sandlot baseball game to study for a Junior High School English test in an effort to raise my failing grade. After about ten minutes of study, my head was beginning to ache in response to all the dangling participles, so I picked up my baseball glove and returned to the game. My dad, on noticing the brevity of my academic endeavor, said, as I was walking out the door, “I’ll bet that will be about as effective as whizzing on a forest fire!”

It occurred to me that Dad would have appreciated the similarities with this news broadcast. It also occurred to me that the news segment was providing an extremely apt metaphor relating to the current federal budget fiasco going on in Washington, D.C. We all hear daily on the news how, on one hand, our government has bumbled, connived, recklessly legislated the country into trillions of dollars in debt…a debt that is growing every day…a debt that is destroying our economy and our way of life. On the other hand, it is also reported to us that Congress and the President are arguing over slashing the budget by a paltry few billions of dollars. Do the math. What our elected ‘public servants’ (pardon the language) are recommending is such a pitifully inadequate response to the national debt crisis that it will have no effect at all. It is, to use Dad’s phrase, “about as effective as whizzing on a forest fire.”

There was another element of the Texas wildfire story that I found very interesting. The man who started at least one of the fires has been identified, caught, and arrested. He is apparently a homeless man whose campfire had spread and ultimately caused an uncontrollable forest fire. If you extend that thought to include government and the debt, it brings up some interesting possibilities. Even liberal economists will concede, when pressed, the fact that Fannie Mae and other government-designed and –controlled forays into the free enterprise system are at the root of the current crisis. Flagrant and irresponsibly wasteful spending engineered by our elected ‘public servants’ (pardon the language) runs a close second in causation. Between the twenty-four hour television news cycle and the Congressional Record, we the people either know or can easily discover those who have carelessly brought about the current national economic disaster. I suggest we arrest and try them. The homeless guy in Texas started a campfire in dangerous circumstances (windy conditions in a dry, wildfire-prone area). It was an action doomed to disaster. He was irresponsible, and has been arrested.

Fannie Mae was designed to provide home ownership to people who couldn’t afford to make the payments on a house when conventional safeguards were required by lenders. I didn’t know that just a few years ago, and I’ll bet you didn’t, either. That sounds like a loan program destined for failure. Now…the failure has dragged all of us down with it. Congress created that particular problem, and we know who the instigators were. Congress has mismanaged the program, to an obvious disastrous effect, for many years. We know who the managers were, and who voted to continue the mismanagement.

Fannie Mae is certainly not the only example of Congressional malfeasance that deserves punishment. You can take your pick of hundreds of other wasteful national programs or pork projects that have only added to the disaster. It’s time we hold these guys responsible for their incompetence and frivolous waste of our hard-earned dollars. If a homeless guy can go to jail because his severe lapse in judgment caused an ecological disaster, then I firmly believe the offending ‘public servants’ (pardon the language) whose judgment, or lack thereof, has caused an immense conflagration of a different kind deserve the same punishment.

Imagine what a great nation we could be if our legislators, under threat of punishment for poor judgment, actually put a little thought into the damage their laws might cause the American people, intended or otherwise. As it is, I see them leaping on their horse every morning, spurs gleaming and lasso spinning, as the horse rises up on its hind legs and the congressman yells, “Yee Haw!” What can I do to screw things up today?”

What if it was otherwise? What if they had to put the interest of their constituents first? What if they had to act responsibly? What if they were required to actually read and understand the implications of the legislation they were about to vote on?

What if they quit whizzing on the forest fire and actually hauled out enough water to extinguish it?



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