Alice in Wonderland / Being Economical / Politics / The state of the economy

A Caucus-Race and a Long Tale

This entry is part of a series I write about Alice in Wonderland, after which this blog is named. For prior posts see Chapters 1 & 2 Down the Rabbit Hole and Pool of Tears.

There’s a cool series on CNN called “Freshman Year” that follows two newbies in congress: Jared Polis, democrat from CO and Jason Chaffetz, a Republican from Utah. These two journal about their experiences in Congress.

Reading their blogs reminds me of how financially screwed up our country is. Everybody in Congress is running. But nobody is running in the same direction or towards the same common goal. It’s just a running frenzy. And this reminds me of Chapter Three of Alice in Wonderland. This chapter is a PERFECT representation of what goes on in politics.

They were indeed a queer-looking party that assembled on the bank – the birds with draggled features, the animals with their fur clinging close to them, and all dripping wet, cross, and uncomfortable. The first question of course was, how to get dry again; they had a consultation about this . . . . “Ahem!” said the Mouse with an important air. “Are you all ready? This is the driest thing I know:”

Our government spends money like . . . well actually it spends bigger money faster than any simile I can think of. The Iraq war, for example – $1.3 trillion. AIG bailout – $160,000,000. I could go on. It’s like the congress isn’t listening to the American people. We’re ready to save. We’re ready to conserve. We’re worried about spending. We’re worried about the recession. But instead of dealing with the matter at hand, the government just throws away more money that we’ll never recoup. We’re drenched with debt, we want to get dry but instead of coming up with a valid plan, the government bores and confuses us with conflicting rhetoric.

“I move that the meeting adjourn, for the immediate adoption of more energetic remedies – ” “Speak English!” said the Eaglet. “I don’t even know the meaning of half those long words, and, what’s more, I don’t believe you do either!” . . .

Polis: “America has a new national pastime, CEO hunting, that has driven the House floor into a frenzied free-for-all as members vie to one-up each other in placing blame and pointing fingers. Frothing members are echoing frothing constituents, and all sides are demanding flesh. . . . Everyone is seeking to avoid blame and only occasionally trying to solve the problem.”

“Why, ” said the Dodo, “the best way to explain it is to do it,” First it marked out a race-course, in a sort of circle, (“the exact shape doesn’t matter,” it said,) and then all the party were placed along the course, here and there. There was no “One, two, three, and away!” but they began running when they liked, and left off when they liked, so that it was not easy to know when the race was over. However, when they had been running half-an-hour or so, and were quite dry again, the Dodo suddenly called out, “The race is over!” and they crowded round it, panting and asking, “But who has won?”


Everybody in our government is running and nobody is on the same course. I hoped that by having a new President he could get congress on the same fiscal page – or at least on the same fiscal planet. But the more I read, the more disconcerting it is to realize that our country is running itself into the ground.

“At last the Dodo said “Everybody has one, and all must have prizes.”

When did we as a country, and as a people decide that everybody could be #1 at the same time? Some businesses have no place being in business. Sometimes it’s the natural order (call it capitalism) to have big companies fall. I was laid off due to a dealership not being able to weather the recession. And I’m still saying – let them fall! You can’t save everybody! We all need to be accountable for our failures and our successes – because they are ours. And it totally sucks when someone else’s mistakes affect you, but c’est la vie.

“Alice had no idea what to do, and in despair she put her hand in her pocket, and pulled out a box of comfits . . . and handed them round as prizes.

Chaffetz: “I want to remind Congress what my constituents already know: We cannot be all things to all people. In my opinion, we have to cut the size and scope of government. Further, we cannot continue to run this country on a credit card. We are racking up unimaginable and unsustainable debt. I was sent here to join those who would fight for accountability. That is my priority.”

The next thing was to eat the comfits: this caused some noise and confusion, as the large birds complained that they could not taste theirs, and the small ones choked and had to be patted on the back.”

There’s the material point: if you reward people who don’t deserve it, they’ll never thank you. They’ll  complain that it wasn’t big enough, fast enough, or good enough. Not everybody should get rewarded.


3 thoughts on “A Caucus-Race and a Long Tale

  1. All I can say is, SHORT t-bills. The federal printing presses are running non-stop, and it won’t be long before a loaf of bread costs $15.00. Did you know if you borrowed a million dollars every day, starting on the day Jesus Christ was born, you still would not have amassed a trillion dollars by . . . TODAY?

  2. Two words: gold standard. I just have these visions of various eastern block revolutions where people wheelbarrows full of cash just to buy some bread.

    I love the allusions you make to Alice in Wonderland, honey. It’s almost a shame to come on here and comment because I see so much of your writing as real art in its beauty and poetry. Do I comment on content or craft? It’s both so great, I think I’ll mainly just enjoy it!

  3. Great post. At book club I don’t really get into it but the spending in Washington makes me crazy. I think the comparison to Alison Wonderland is fantastic. It all feels that disconnected from any kind of reality.
    Jason Chaffetz is wonderful- at least he has a lot of potential. Plus, he got rid of Chris Cannon who I thought was an idiot.
    The other day I heard a commercial on the radio telling people to go out and spend more. It’s like everyone has this credit card, spend your way to happiness mentality. It could greatly hurt our country. That’s why I went to the tea party on tax day- yes I am one of those right wing extremists!

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