A Time for Role Reversal

When I was a kid, one of the most powerful ads I saw on TV—this must go back 40 years—showed two old men grappling with each other like wrestlers while a circle of onlookers cheered for one or the other.  The idea was to show that if old men fought wars, instead of soldiers, we might not have as many wars.

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That Vietnam-era ad came to mind this week as the politicizing of the debt ceiling issue roiled markets across the globe, led to the downgrading of U.S. Treasury obligations, and threatened the fragile recovery.

It gave me an idea.

What if we brought all the service people home from Iraq and Afghanistan to run the government, and what if we sent everyone running the federal and state governments to Iraq and Afghanistan to fight on the frontlines of the war?

No matter how you feel about our involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan, you’ve got to admit that our troops are superb.  They’re well-trained, dedicated, imbued with love of country, and are willing to lay their lives on the line for the rest of us.  They embody the notion that “freedom isn’t free.”

At the same time, never have we raised a more slothful, indolent, self-serving, borderline useless group of individuals as those we have somehow elected to federal and state office.

The only difference between the way government officials run the United States and the way they run Italy, Greece, Portugal, Ireland, and Spain is…um, well, nothing.  There is no difference.  The people in our nation’s Capitol have pretty much spent all of our nation’s capital.  Especially in the last few weeks, they have done the seemingly impossible—destroyed the last shreds of self-respect and dignity that the United States used to enjoy in the  community of nations.

That’s why I say it’s time for a role reversal.

If the government were run by people who loved the country, like our service people, it would be a different world.  Work would get done on time and under budget.  There’d be a spit-shine on senators’ shoes, instead of the rest of us wanting to spit on them.  The business of government would be handled as adroitly and expertly as these brave young men and women handle their missions on the battlefield.

Meanwhile, if you took these lazy slobs running the country—the real welfare kings and queens—put them in uniforms, outfitted them with weapons, and sent  them into harm’s way, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan would be over in a New York minute.

Think of the savings.  We’re spending billions of dollars a day in these foreign lands, and for what?  Breathes there a soul this side of David Petraeus who truly believes the Afghanistani “army” will be able to defend itself from the Taliban?  You might even have some money left over to defend U.S. borders, instead of the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan.

The trouble with war is that the people who sign on to it are seldom confronted with the reality of the battlefield.  And the trouble with government is that the people who spend our money seldom have to go out and earn it.

This reminds me of Jackie Mason’s line about Congress.  “You know why there’s a deficit?  Because the Senators are all paid salaries.  Put them on commission.  That’s why they’ve never had a profitable season.”

Most Americans whose fortunes are tied to the wild fluctuations of the stock market haven’t been sleeping well these days.  But it seems like Congress has been sleepwalking to the edge of the precipice, and into the abyss.

It’s no longer enough to send them packing for home.  Let’s send them packing for Kandahar.  And let’s take advantage of the training, acuity, and dedication of our service people, by letting them run the country.

If you take one look at the people running our country and running our states, the evidence is irrefutable.

They couldn’t make things worse.


New York Times bestselling author Michael Levin runs the Orange County, California-based business ghostwriting service, www.BusinessGhost.com.

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