NeffZone: Quotes Can Be Enlightening

I love to read newspapers (both in print and online) because I think the written word gives us a chance to step back and think about things. Read it, consider it, ruminate over it, keep or discard what was learned.

This is different from other media where something zips by in a nanosecond and you’re expected to formulate an instant opinion and response. Don’t sneeze or the opportunity is here and gone.

For example, after observing the debt deal shenanigans that went on in Washington I came across this quote by Henry Clay who was the Secretary of State from 1825 to 1829: “All legislation, all government, all society is founded upon the principle of mutual concession, politeness, comity, courtesy; upon these everything is based.” Clearly Clay would be aghast at our current crop of legislators.

Other quotes have recently caught my attention as well. David Brooks of the New York Times, for instance, recently said something that was sort of a modern day Henry Clay observation. “For many legislators, the purpose of being in Congress is not to pass laws,” he said. “It’s to create clear contrasts you can take into the next election. They do not see politics as the art of the possible.”

Beyond political commentary, I also like to look underneath issues. Sometimes it’s amazing where you find political insight. Take the theory that cutting business taxes automatically leads to an increase in the number of jobs. This is important to Michigan because it’s the centerpiece of Governor Rick Snyder’s economic program.

Writing in HuffPost Business, a writer named Dave Johnson made this observation: “If you ask around you will find that every business tries to employ the right number of people to meet the demand. Any business owner or manager will tell you that they hire based on need, not on how much they have in the bank. Taxes make absolutely no difference in the hiring equation. In fact, paying taxes means you are already making money, which means you have already hired the right number of people.”

Beyond thinking about these weighty issues, I often find amusing contradictions. Take Roy Roberts as a prime example. He’s the emergency manager appointed to oversee the Detroit Public Schools. He’s laid off teachers and support staff, asked employees to take a 10% pay cut and pay more of their health care costs, and told parents the district is getting rid of “unnecessary frills” (his words). This would be all fine and dandy except for one thing – in June the school district bought Roberts a brand new, $40,000 Chevrolet Tahoe. Apparently “shared sacrifice” means different things to different people.

Another category to which I’m drawn is the short quip. Some of these can be really insightful and I like to see if I can identify the author. Want to play along? Okay, who said each of the following and/or to which political party are they affiliated?

1. The politicians are up in arms against it … It would wreck the very foundation on which our political government is run … If you ever injected truth into politics you’d have no politics.

2. The money was all appropriated for the top in the hopes that it would trickle down to the needy. (The President) didn’t know that money trickled up. Give it to the people at the bottom and the people at the top will have it before night, anyhow. But it will at least have passed through the poor fellow’s hands.

3. Politics has got so expensive that it takes lots of money to even get beat with.

4. This country has gotten where it is in spite of politics, not by the aid of it. That we have carried as much political bunk as we have and still survived shows we are a super nation.

5. This would be a great time in the world for some man to come along that knew something.

Answer: All of these quips came from humorist and political commentator Will Rogers who died in 1935.

Rogers also said: “I am not a member of any organized party – I am a Democrat.” Which brings to mind a recent quote by comedian Jimmy Kimmel: “It’s been interesting to see the Tea Party go from a small group of people that everyone thinks is crazy to a large group of people that everyone thinks is crazy.”

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