Through the woodlands
Through the valley
Comes the horseman
Wild and free
Tilting at the windmills passing
Who could the brave young horseman be…
-Gordon Lightfoot’s Don Quixote
Dressing up to do battle in days of old was common. But sometimes some anti-government types who do battle have more in common with Don Quixote during his worst moments than knights of old…
My wife, Millie, works for the government. That’s right all you gov hating righties: she’s the enemy: though I have begun to believe she thinks of you as the enemy…
As many of you know we live near Nashville, TN, as well as have a home in the Adirondacks where we will go when we retire: move back to. Nashville was swamped by rain recently. We couldn’t get out for almost three days: no power for a week; phone out a few days longer. When Millie got back; irony obvious, she had a… flood… of calls complaining about services. Recycle carts floated away, brush not picked up because the street was flooded. Some who call this “help line” are rational and understand… there are limitations and rules. Others are of a different nature.
Millie takes their calls; from the nice, to bad… to the very, very ugly and seemingly mentally challenged… and I mean that as no dig against those who really are mentally challenged: just those who act that way when they really aren’t.
Over the years she had worked her way up to office manager, but the budget cuts hit and she was downgraded to office support specialist II. Sound fancy? Not really. She gets to hear all the complaints and questions, which include everything from sane, to not so sane; to those who are either attempting to con their way into service they are not supposed to receive. And, of course, you also have those who seem to simply lack something upstairs; above the neck and the chin: just barely above and behind the nose.
The calls can get pretty absurd… “What do you mean I can’t put my dead cats in the recycle bin?” “Why can’t I put leaky antifreeze containers out to the curb…” (Maybe why the cats died?)
We were talking about that as I drove her to work during the flood and I had a flash of intuition. Many of her worst calls are understandable from a human perspective, yet I was guessing the worst ones were those who will never be satisfied because, while demanding more and better services…and they also are the same type of folks who demand cut backs and tax breaks that force more cut backs. So I asked…
“Let me guess: the ones that call the most and demand more service; service they’ve never been promised and service that clearly doesn’t fall under Metro guidelines, are often the same folks who think government can’t do anything right and should have their budgets cut down to nothing.”
“Yup. Those are our worst callers. They don’t want to pay taxes but they demand the services anyway. And I know there’s going to be trouble and a lot of nonsense after they start with ‘I pay your salary…'”
Now bear with me. I’m not slamming all Conservatives, or all Libertarians, or even all teabaggers as the picture at the beginning of the column may seem to indicate. Every sane person wants more efficient; a well run, government. We may disagree as to what services should be funded more, what should be funded less, but run well? Who the hell wouldn’t want that?
The Knights of Nit… wit.
Remember the old Python skits where The Knights of Nit turned all rational, sane, conversation into nonsense simply by going, “Nit, nit, nit, nit…” over and over? They’d barge in at the oddest moments, adding confusion and stupidity to otherwise understandable situations.
Kind of like insisting the best way to make government more efficient is to “cut, cut, cut,” then call up wondering “where the hell is my pickup and what do you mean I can’t put dirty diapers in there? Don’t you know I pay your salary?”
At least the Python Nits were marginally funny: not the best of all skits they did by any means. Seems like these folks I’m referring to that call are humorless, at best. They raise hell and “can’t take it any more.” But when the government won’t pick up their recyclables at the curb, because the cart is loaded with dead cats, they still demand service right now and no questions asked, screaming…
“Government can’t do anything right!”
Maybe your formerly live cats might have thought the same regarding you, before you dumped them in there?
They demand personal numbers, or addresses, for the mayor. They call a Metro Nashville line to yell about something the state or the national government obviously does. Sometimes they call about services Metro doesn’t provide, but worse than mediocre’ businesses do: assuming it’s still Metros fault that they suck at what they do… or don’t do but were supposed to. These callers won’t take “you need to call the state…” or “the business involved in that…” for an answer.
Millie tries to help the best she can: but sometimes there just seems to be no “help” for some people who charge off to do battle with someone who neither decides policy, or can influence it… or who works for a branch of government that has the slightest thing to do with what they’re venting about.
Millie isn’t the only one who receives these call by any means. Just before this went to press I was listening to The Alex Bennett Show. A caller complained about how government never did anything right and messed up everything they did. Then, when it came to the corporate oil situation in the Gulf, he demanded the government do something. Alex asked the obvious: if the government messes up everything and can do nothing right, why would you want them to do anything?
“Because it’s a national emergency. That’s their job.”
Does that make a lick of sense to you? You’d think the caller would be hoping they don’t do their jobs and… well, let me guess, if they did do their jobs and stepped in where business has failed like in the Gulf, they’d be be screaming about “gov-ern-mAnt inter-fear-ance” in business?
Can you win in that situation?
Welcome to my wife’s job, some days.
Then there’s the chronic complainers know nothing about how government works. Nada. They call asking for a government approved list of private businesses, locally. But, after all, the have FOX, Limbaugh, O’Reilly, Beck; and God only knows how many others, telling them that government has their hands into, and controls, everything. Those kind, gentle, pundits couldn’t be wrong or even lying… could they?
Nitwits assume that there are always simple answers to problems, no matter how complex they may be. Complexity simply doesn’t compute in their dysfunctional, under used, brains. For example: cutting something makes it better. The problem is, as with big business, cutting anything automatically solves nothing. Adding more money also automatically solves nothing.
Now using money: taxes, more efficiently? That’s a conversation we could and should be having. But that involves the ability to understand something complex, rather than automatically patoo-ing out the spitball of wrath they shoot out of their mouths at everything that annoys them they simply will never comprehend. Their mind quickly becomes an answering service with no beep at the end when it comes to having that conversation…
“Please leave a message after the…”
You can almost hear the battle cry start, which usually translates into doing battle with windmills, or…
“Nit… nit… nit… wit!”
Think for a second. If cutting money made government more efficient the same folks who demand social services be cut would also demand the military, law enforcement and funds allocated to prisons be cut. They certainly would never claim any money: even for Christmas decorations, should go to religion related items. After all: less is more and makes it all better, right?
And if they really understood what cutting funds did they certainly wouldn’t complain when they lose brush collection, or trash collection, or… after demanding taxes be cut and claiming this same lack of funds “is my damn money.”
If you want any services at all, no, it’s not your “damn money.”
Why is it that those who think the homeless should “just get a job,” and that the best government is the least amount of government, and scream “socialism” at the mention of helping anyone less fortunate, are the loudest, most obnoxious callers: often demanding services they aren’t owed and that logically would have to be cut if taxpayers decide they shouldn’t have to pay taxes?
So, instead, our local knights out to rid government of waste call folks like Millie and, get this: demand services Nashville does not, and often shouldn’t, offer, all while frequently… as of late… dressing up in their own Don Quixote costumes either mentally, or for the cameras…
…to attend teabagger rallies, calling Phil Valentine… local rightie/anti-big-gov crank… and writing letters to The Tennessean screaming about “gov-ern-ment wayste n’ inter-fear-hance.” To battle something they either refuse, or simply can’t, understand. To flash their swords of rhetorical anger at certain phonebank windmills.
Hence the add of “wit” to “nit.”
Inspection is a column that has been written by Ken Carman for over 30 years. Inspection is dedicated to looking at odd angles, under all the rocks and into the unseen cracks and crevasses that constitute the issues and philosophical constructs of our day: places few think, or even dare, to venture.
Ken Carman and Cartenual Productions
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