Long ago, a group of 6th graders at Hancock Park Elementary School in Los Angeles were playing a game of kickball during recess. Kickball, for those of you who either aren't familiar with it or have worked hard to block it from your minds, is roughly the same as baseball, only the "pitcher" rolls a large red rubber ball towards the plate and the "batter" belts it with his foot. It's a workable alternative for an underfunded school because it doesn't require all that extra equipment. Plus there are fewer things to get lost.
On this particular day one of the kids was a total and complete jackass. Having decided he wanted to pitch, he grabbed the ball and began running around screaming, essentially holding the entire game hostage to his petty tantrums.
That kid was me.
Eventually what happend was that a bigger kid--Richard Angelini--slugged me in the shoulder. This was roughly the equivalent of Mike Tyson slugging Kenny from South Park: a total mismatch. (I'm pretty sure Richard pulled his punch, though; if he hadn't I think I'd still have the bruise. And, by the way, Richard was not prone to hitting people; I truly, truly deserved it.)
I learned several lessons from this incident. First, don't mess with the big kid if he asks you very nicely to give him the red rubber ball. Second, don't expect anyone to defend you when you act like a jerk. And third, don't keep staring at Ruth Rogow because any chance you might have had is completely, irrevocably gone.
However, what I now realize is that those were the wrong lessons. The real lesson was this: I had all the necessary skills to go into politics.
That's right: petty tantrums, hostage taking and running away are the techniques currently in use by our elected officials. The latest victims are all those who could be getting a paycheck but aren't while the government fails to collect one of the last legitimate sources of revenue it still has left, bickers over pennies and principles and then heads off for a month's vacation.
The FAA is awaiting re-authorization and in the meantime has no authority to do anything, which means that except for the often-tired eyes in the skies pretty much everything else is shut down. Work crews have stopped working, no one's collecting the taxes (except the airlines, as additional fees) and all those FAA employees are furloughed. On top of that the government has the audacity to ask some employees to work for nothing--and to pay for their own travel expenses in order to do so.
I really don't care who's to blame, either. Maybe it's Harry Reid who doesn't want his tiny little airport shut down. Maybe it's the GOP-led House that wants to drive another nail in the union coffin. Maybe it's Delta Airlines trying to buy it's own legislation. I don't care. What I do care about is jobs, and (supposedly) that's what the politicians say they care about, too. Meanwhile, tens of thousands of people aren't getting paid while the partisans run away with the red rubber ball.
So who should we hold accountable for this debacle? I vote for Harry Reid and John Boehner. They're the team managers, and if they can't get their teams back on the field, maybe we need new managers. But I'm pretty sure that no one will ever be held accountable...
Damn... I feel like sending Richard Angelini up to the hill just to punch a few more arms...