Bob Franken

Hearst-New York Times Column

(As usual, the arrangement with the syndicators means this column appears here a week after its newspaper release)

^STEPPING OUT OF THE CRISIS ADDICTION@< ^(For use by New York Times News Service clients)@< ^By BOB FRANKEN@= ^C.2011 Hearst Newspapers@= ``My name is U.S. Politician. I am addicted to widespread destruction. I am a Debacle-holic.'' We're looking in on a meeting of AA+ . . .the self-help organization for those who cannot resist wreaking havoc on our desperate nation. This is not the highly respected Alcoholics Anonymous. Rather, this is grossly disrespected Absurdity Anonymous. The ``+'' means REALLY Absurb. No one is identified, not because of secrecy, in this instance, since these people are hooked on publicity. ``I am drunk with power, poisoned by Demon Dumb. My irresponsible actions have not only brought serious harm to my family and friends but millions upon millions of others who have suffered great harm from my irresponsible actions. I am held in contempt by all of them.'' If there was ever a need for an intervention, this would be it. Look at the polls. A Marist survey, taken Aug. 2-4, shows that a startling 70 per cent of those questioned believe the United States is heading in the wrong direction. The scary part is that there's no assurance we've fallen as far as we will. The downward slide got a big push from that action by Standard & Poor's, the financial rating firm, the weekend after the debt deal. It left a bad taste in everyone's mouth. Whatever S & P's competence or motivation, its downgrade rationale is difficult to dispute: ``... the effectiveness, stability, and predictability of American policy making and political institutions have weakened at a time of ongoing fiscal and economic challenges.'' Maybe that blow to national self-esteem and the investment gyrations that followed were big enough jolts. Maybe the August break can be best used for rehab programs. Then, the time might be right for the AA+ 12 Step Program: 1) Put aside personal agendas and pursue reasonable solutions that will rescue the country everyone claims to love. 2) Pass laws where those who are responsible for careless and shady dealing that led to the economic downfall are punished instead of rewarded with greater wealth. 3) Raise taxes on those who keep their riches, instead of hiring the unemployed. 4) Take steps to live up to the historic promise of equal opportunity and equal protection. 5) By all means, eliminate the fat and fat cat favoritism from government spending without cutting to the bone of social need. 6) Create a congressional mechanism where every member of government must accompany his support for or against legislation with a list of all campaign contributions that might have influenced the decision. 7) Tone down the toxic rhetoric. That's enough. We don't need 12 Steps to get started on the road to recovery, particularly since most of these are in the ``Ain't Gonna Happen Category.''

Toxic rhetoric has continued to spew unabated even after the blow to the gut inflicted by the lowered S&P rating. “A Tea Party downgrade,” bleated the Democrats, while the Republicans were heard blaming “Obama’s failed policies.”

None of these outlined steps is worded to parody the actual 12 Steps of AA. That’s intentional, because the real admonitions are too precious to many people. But there is one worth quoting: “Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.”

The best way to make amends to the millions of Americans on this list will be to break this cycle.

By now we’re skeptical. Another poll, this one from the Washington Post released Aug. 9 asked respondents, “How satisfied are you with the way this country’s political system is working?”

More than 3 out of 4 (78 percent) expressed varying degrees of dissatisfaction. It’s up to our leaders to turn themselves around so they can turn the United States of America around while we are still a great nation.

^–@< (Email: bob(at); on the WEB:

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