"Sometimes you eat the bear, and sometimes … sometimes the bear eats you." So were the prophetic words of Sam Elliot’s character in the classic film "The Big Lebowski."
America’s problems are the "bear," and he’s been feasting to his heart’s content for one of two reasons: 1.) the incompetence of clueless leaders, or 2.) deliberate procrastination of such leaders for miniscule partisan advantage. Either way, our problems continue to mount at an unprecedented rate despite the fact that a little common sense would go a long way to getting us back on track.
1.) The stalled — and late — Pennsylvania budget: Despite having hefty Republican majorities in the Legislature, Republican Gov. Tom Corbett has refused to sign the state budget, breaking a campaign pledge in the process. The problem, emblematic of Corbett’s entire first-term debacle, is his ongoing silence on what exactly he wants lawmakers to do, outside of vague references to pension reform and liberalized liquor laws. Not only hasn’t he made his case to the people, but even legislative leaders have no idea what Corbett is doing. As a top Senate aide stated, "We have gotten no feedback whatsoever from the governor’s office."
Here’s a clue: Corbett doesn’t have one. Nothing like trying to get major legislation passed in the eleventh-and-a-half hour. This stuff should have been a slam dunk in January 2011, given that Corbett rode to victory with a 10-point margin. But he squandered any mandate he had, alienating all sides. The right thinks he’s a squishy moderate; the center thinks he’s an extremist; and he hasn’t earned the support of any Democrats.
Now, he’s starting out on his own 2-yard line with less than a minute to play, down by 100, with absolutely no moral authority or political gravitas to demand anything. And to top it off, his budget revenue projections are once again pie-in-the-sky fluff, which is partially what led to the current billion-dollar-plus deficit.
Maybe if Corbett had attracted companies and jobs by reducing the nation’s second-highest corporate tax and pushed for a rebirth of manufacturing through cheap energy, while not funding sports stadiums and shipyards on the taxpayers’ dime and giving the public sector unions sweetheart deals (which, ironically, contributed to the pension crisis), we wouldn’t be one of just 11 states with lower-than-projected revenue and facing a downgraded bond rating.
What a legacy for one-term Tom.
2.) Lack of airline security. Again. America’s penchant for telling the world everything, including airline security procedures that any imbecile knows should be kept secret, continues to astound.
The latest episode is that, because terrorists are favoring cellphones and laptops to detonate explosives aboard aircraft, the Transportation Security Administration has mandated that all such devices must now be powered up at a limited number of overseas security checkpoints.
OK, let’s get this straight:
A.) We’re telling the enemy not only that we’re listening to them, but that we’re reacting to what they are planning. If they have half a brain, they’ll now change the way they communicate to stay one step ahead of us. It’s the complete opposite of what we did during World War II, when we didn’t issue a press release to the Japanese informing them that we had broken their code. That common-sense discretion earned us the strategic advantage. But now, by shooting off our mouths, we accomplished nothing, blew a shot at nailing terrorists, and gave al-Qaida a leg up on us. Brilliant.
B.) One might think terrorists will now modify ways to detonate bombs, though they really don’t have to, since not all of the 250 overseas airports with direct flights to the U.S. are using the new security procedure (another counterproductive announcement); neither are any in the United States. Yet, last time we checked, terrorism on domestic airlines isn’t exactly unprecedented, as none of the planes used in the Sept. 11 attacks originated overseas.
C.) This latest episode of TSA security should come as a surprise to no one, since the boneheads in charge already instituted a very public policy that children under 12 aren’t required to take off their shoes in the security line. (Really? Like a suicidal terrorist won’t sacrifice his children?)
Incomprehensibly, the agency also allows frequent travelers the "perks" of not taking off shoes, belts or jackets, nor even taking laptops out of their cases (let alone powering them up), and wanted to allow knives back on planes. And profiling? Forget about it. That is deemed too offensive to those hell-bent on hitting us again.
And despite all that, the Secretary of Homeland Security actually had the gall to state, "The screening we have right now domestically from one domestic airport to another is pretty robust as the American traveling public knows." Sure we do.
We have officially arrived at the point where airport security is a huge joke, and the ones laughing loudest are the terrorists. When the next hit comes, we will have no one to blame but ourselves.
3.) Government suing because employees can’t speak English: How ironic is it that World Cup referees are required to speak English when officiating games, but a private Wisconsin company is being sued by the federal government for "discrimination" because it fired workers who were unable to speak the English language?
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is suing Wisconsin Plastics because the company parted ways with some Hispanic and Asian employees over their inability to speak English in the workplace. The government claims that the English-language requirement is discriminatory, violating the Civil Rights Act on the grounds that it discriminates against "national origin," specifically "linguistic characteristics of a national origin group."
Honest to God, one only has to look at the calendar to realize this insanity is not an April Fool’s joke.
This has nothing to do with national origin and everything to do with running a company efficiently and safely — in the best way owners see fit. The government has absolutely no right to tell private citizens how they should operate their businesses. Period. It’s bad enough that English is still not the official language in America, but at the very least, it is the still language of commerce and free enterprise, something of which the government knows precious little.
In defense of this totalitarianism, an EEOC official stated, "When speaking English fluently is not, in fact, required for the safe and effective performance of a job, nor for the successful operation of the employer’s business, requiring employees to be fluent in English usually constitutes employment discrimination."
Who the hell are government officials, many with no private sector experience, to tell a company when English is or is not required for the successful and safe operation of a business? Yet, God knows they would be the first ones hammering a company on "lack of safety" when an employee gets maimed or killed because a language barrier caused a catastrophic accident.
This type of intervention, which forces companies to incur massive legal fees and could potentially cause some to close, shows just far out of bounds our government has become.
If this case isn’t immediately thrown out, it’s truly hasta la vista to our freedom.
Chris Freind is an independent columnist and commentator. His column appears every Wednesday. He can be reached at [email protected]
About the Author
Chris Freind writes a weekly column for the Daily Times. Reach the author at [email protected] .