Thursday, June 9, 2011

Don't Tell Us What To Do! (Are They Really?)

Is Michelle Obama really telling us what to do?  Hardly.

On many blogsites and comments pages, you hears a familiar refrain from the United Weak Thinkers of America (they must have a union by now, no?).  The same thing is said again and again - "Don't tell us what to do!"

Michelle Obama is singled out for particular abuse.  Every First Lady picks a "cause" to work on - Nancy Reagan did drugs (wait, that didn't come out right) and Betty Ford opened a clinic of some kind.  Michelle Obama decided that perhaps nutrition and diet was a good cause.

Gee, I wonder why?  Because we are the fattest country on the planet?  Because Type II diabetes is an epidemic in this country?  Because you regularly see people in Walmart these days who would have qualified for a circus freak show back when I was a kid?  Weighing 300 or even 400 pounds is no big deal these days.  And that is sad.

So it is a good and appropriate cause to take up - to try to educate people about the dangers of poor diet and overeating, just as Nancy Reagan tried to educate people about drug use.

And the response from the Wacky Conservatives is, "Don't tell us what to eat!"

Huh?  Giving good diet advice is "telling you what to eat?"  Sorry but no sale and let me slap you.

You see, when Nancy Reagan said "Just Say No To Drugs!" she was giving advice and the government was literally "Telling You What To Do" by arresting you if you did do drugs.  THAT is "Telling You What To Do."  - Get it?

On the other hand, saying "Eat a healthy meal, and stop stuffing your pie-hole with cheesburgers you disgusting turd of a human being!" is just stating the obvious - and no one from the Food and Drug Administration will knock down your door and arrest you if you did eat like a pig.

You do see the difference?  Or are you just being contrary because you hate Obama because he's....Hawaiian?

Similarly, at a campaign event in Iowa or somewhere, President Obama answered questions about the gas "Crisis" (now in its fourth decade!) and in response he said a lot of things.  And at the end, he said the obvious - that if we bought vehicles that got better gas mileage, that demand for gas would go down, and prices would go down as well - and the overall cost to the consumer would be less.

It took 500 nanoseconds for the teabagger bloggers to voice their outrage. "How DARE he TELL US WHAT TO DO!" - as if each one of us had a God-given right to commute to work 50 miles each way in a crew-cab F350 (alone, of course).

But the reality is, of course, that when gas was cheap, people bought gas hog cars and SUVs and trucks - and NO, not everyone "needed" them for work.  In fact, most of them were just penis-enlargers, even for the women.

And if you look back in time - to not too long ago - even work trucks made do with fairly small engines.  Towing a 10,000 pound trailer is not a matter of engine size, but chassis dynamics, and in particular, brakes and transmission.  Big engines just mean faster acceleration and better hill climbing.

But what am I saying?   "You don't need to know Physics in real life" - and it is doubtful that some of these Cooters could even spell it.

The DON'T TELL ME WHAT TO DO bit seems to me to be a bit too carefully orchestrated and thus sounds more like a Rodger Ailes taking point or Republican strategy than any real argument.

Simply stated, the problem the Republicans have, is that nearly four years into the Obama Administration, the much-feared Socialist State has yet to emerge.  Like most Democratic Presidents, he turns out to be, well, fairly conservative once in office.  So what can the Republicans do to fire up the masses?

Well, a simple approach is to treat every comment, suggestion, or educational program as "Another Example of the Government Telling Us What to DO!" and thus shout down what little good advice is out there these days.

And we see this in other arenas.  For example on a leasing debate blog, one fellow says "No one can tell me what to do!  And I want to lease a car!"

Well, no one is telling him what to do, only that he is an idiot for leasing a car.  And for some reason, his arguments FOR leasing don't qualify as TELLING ME WHAT TO DO.  It is only good advice that is seen as onerous fascism.

Do you see a pattern here?   Whenever someone can't respond to an argument on the merits, they just throw a hissy fit and say "DON'T TELL ME WHAT TO DO!" - it is a tacit admission that they have nothing substantive to argue.

What do you bet the fellow is actually a shill for the leasing industry?

And the same is true of the "nutrition debate" - how can you defend morbid obesity and 4,000 calorie-a-day diets?  You can't really, other than to cry like a baby and say "WHAAAA!  DON'T TELL ME WHAT TO DO!!"

Or the gasoline situation?  How can you defend driving a 6,000 lb 8-mpg truck as your primary form of transportation?  You can't.  So instead, it's "WHAAAA!  DON'T TELL ME WHAT TO DO!!"

Is there any harm in this?  I think so.  Because this sort of argument shuts down any argument and discussion.  Any rational advice can be shouted down on the principle that it is "Telling someone what to do" - when in fact it is just making a suggestion.

The only acceptable argument, in this mindset, is "blow your brains out, have a good time, who gives a shit anyway?"  In other words, do your own thing, baby, and when it turns out horribly bad, of course it wasn't your fault at all!

I run into this with this blog.  Believe it or not, there are people who think that going heavily into debt is a swell thing, and that squandering hundreds of thousands of retirement dollars on the serial leasing of cars is a sound financial decision ("to avoid costly repairs!" they say).  You try to point out the error in their mathematics  - and how much money they are squandering over the years, and they say "Don't tell me what to do!"

Because deep down, they know they are mortgaging their future for the present.  And they have no justification for doing so (other than those "costly repairs!" arguments).  So they lash out to rationalize their poor financial choices - if they are not in fact shills for industry.

But of course, these same people will run through all their money and retire broke, and then petition the government for more handouts.  And of course, they will get it.  And that money will come out of my bank account.

Talk about telling us what to do!