A blog about nothing in particular, with puns, drawings, and charts because I'm too lazy to write a lot.
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Thursday, February 23, 2012

How About Some Privacy?

Two weeks ago, Mimi Alford, a former intern during John F. Kennedy's presidency, released a tell-all book detailing her 18-month affair with the iconic president.  Then last night, the second of a two-part documentary about former president Bill Clinton aired on PBS, calling attention to the Monica Lewinsky scandal yet again.  Now more than ever, we’re reminded that privacy no longer exists for high-profile members of today’s society.  It’s not enough that the media breaks new scandals featuring current politicians.  Now, the media is rehashing old scandals and digging up more in order to smear the names of our nation’s heroes.

Every member of the media knew JFK was messing around, but they had the decency to keep it quiet.  There were unwritten rules; some things were simply off-limits.  But at some point, everything changed.  Maybe it was when Nixon got himself caught that people began entertaining the ridiculous notion that politicians' personal lives have any impact on their ability to lead.  Whatever it was, some event brought an end to the rules of civility, starting a frightening trend that continues to this day.  Suddenly, journalists realized they got more attention when they wrote scandalous stories about politicians.  Sure, people have been printing negative commentary about our leaders since the dawn of America, but these could be written-off as biased rants and rumors from political opponents.  Now, the stories have become more shocking, more personal (the more the better), and now there is proof.

And it’s not just politicians (e.g. Herman Cain, Anthony Weiner, Larry Craig, etc.) anymore.  Today, musicians, wealthy businessmen, and athletes are under unrelenting scrutiny from the media, who are constantly waiting for the elites to falter so they can create a scandal and steal the spotlight.  In the past, rock stars got a free pass, the upper crust was untouchable, and athletes got away with everything.  Now, artists like Britney Spears, Amy Winehouse, and Lil’ Wayne are persecuted for living lives they always dreamed about.  Now, rich people like Mitt Romney, billionaire sports owners, and CEOs are being condemned for wanting to make more money, and face constant pressure about how they choose to spend it.  Even athletes like Michael Vick, Plaxico Burress, Julian Edelman, Sam Hurd, and Josh Hamilton (just to name a few) are suddenly unable to do whatever they please.

So why is this a problem?  It’s a problem because it’s eroding the incentives that once convinced aspiring, talented individuals to strive for the country’s most important positions of power.  The type of person who wants to be a president or senator wants power and perks.  Take away his ability to sleep with subordinates, enact policies that benefit his own interests, make guaranteed money from book deals and speaking engagements that in no way depend on his performance in the position, etc. and what’s left?  The kind that wants to be a rock star wants free drugs and an infinite supply of booze.  The guy who wants to be incredibly rich wants to use the money to act like an asshole.  And the type that wants to be an athlete wants the ability to do anything he feels like doing without the fear of repercussions.  If you take these incentives away, what’s left? 

Would-be politicians are already rich.  They already belong to important families with connections to lucrative jobs.  They’re already able to wield the power that came with their last names.  So if our most important political positions have nothing else to offer, how are we going to convince these qualified candidates to give up everything they already have?  At this point, it’s easier to sleep with the secretaries and interns at their current companies than to take a risk with a white house intern.  In fact, it’s easy to have an affair with the temp at the copy shop across the street – the media doesn’t care about regular people – why strive for anything at all?

If we continue to harass politicians and tarnish their names, they may be forced to stop taking the unwritten privileges that were once fundamental rights of the officeholder. Then they’ll realize there’s nothing left to encourage them to press on and these great men will give up on their dreams.  Soon, the only people left to fill these positions will be the fanatics who want to “serve their constituents”.  Who is going to grow up dreaming of being President of the United States of America?  Pussies – that’s who.  Next thing you know, we’ll have politicians who just want to be public servants, rock stars who “do it for the music”, rich people who don’t act like dicks, and athletes who are thankful for the opportunity to play games for a living.  Suddenly, we’re not America anymore.  I don’t even want to think about where this story ends. 

Seriously though, rock stars without drugs?  At least don’t take that away from us.  If nothing else, we still need good music.

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