The Most Bang for the Buck

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by Hayden Hollingsworth

Well, thank goodness we’re through with THAT!  The NBA Finals, of course. Just in case you’ve nodded off during the tedium of the run up to the climax, there are a few things worth mentioning that your average fan has ignored.

Consider this:  Take the sum of the team salaries for the Miami Heat and the Dallas Mavericks divided by the total points scored in the 6 games and you find that each point cost $288,962.14.

Actually, I just made that up, but you get my drift.  It’s sort of schadenfreude, a perverse pleasure that the team with the most moneyed players did not win.  At least all of the players, in spite of their wealth, gave it their best.  Remarkable athletes one and all; it was fun to watch them display their one-dimensional talents.

Fortunately, we can now turn our attention to another blood sport: the presidential primaries.  The amount of money that will be spent between now and the first Tuesday in Nov, 2012 may match the salaries of professional athletes.  It certainly won’t be as much fun to watch as sports and the outcome will be, obviously, of world wide significance, unlike last year’s championship events which no one can remember.

As amazing as the money to be spent is, the way it is done confounds any sense of reason.  New Hampshire and Iowa, constituting far less than 1% of the population have the honor (the inhabitants think of it as a right) to launch the primary process.  In 2004 John Edwards, of all people, was a fairly close second to Barack Obama in Iowa where they don’t even have a primary; they have neighborhood gatherings where people are elected to vote in the county caucus.

Last week New Hampshire had their debates.  In full disclosure, I can tell you I did not watch but I can safely say that several things were apparent.  First, the President is the Devil Incarnate (DI). It matters not who he is, that has always been the opposition point: the President is responsible for tooth decay and every thing else you think is out of whack. Secondly, all the opponents see themselves as the Savior of America (SA).  What could be simpler?  Vote against the DI and for the SA and we will all live happily ever after.  Not to worry about tooth decay since there really is a tooth fairy.

Depressingly, it appears that both parties believe the public is so stupid as to fall for such pap; and we do.  About half the time the winner in Iowa caucus appears on the national ticket. Since 1984 five have actually won the White House. “W” did it twice.

The friendly folk in Iowa, at least some of them, think it is written in the Constitution that they should be first.  That ignores the fact that Iowa did not become a state until 60 years after the Constitution was ratified.

But let’s not pick on the good people of those two small states; the whole county is to blame and the only way to fix presidential nominations would be a constitutional amendment.  Larry Sabato, well-known political pundit, has a book that makes for very worthwhile reading.  In A More Perfect Constitution, published several years ago, he makes a strong case for many of the ills of our governmental system that could be corrected by a Constitutional Convention, the presidential primaries among them.

He points out the Founding Fathers thought their work would be revised every generation or so.  No doubt they would be astounded that only 27 times have amendments been made, the most recent in 1992.  That one had been on the congressional calendar for over 200 years; it dealt with congress not being able to raise their salaries until there had been an intervening election.

Nothing is likely to happen in how we choose the most powerful person in the world.  We will be subjected to “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” ad nauseam.  It is broken but the mills of the gods of politics do not grind slowly . . . they do not grind at all.

If we divided the amount spent on the election by the number of votes cast, the quotient would be a lot smaller than my little “calculation” about the NBA.  At least the players have their talents on public display while the politicians believe they can score points only by attacking someone else.

Too bad we can’t just have them go one-on-one with a rubber ball, but then the DI would clean a lot of SA clocks and that would be no fairer than the primaries.