CSotD: Nous réparons à zéro

Lio may be on the right track.

One advantage of a parliamentary system is that elections can be called anytime but then they only last a few weeks.

Yes, Brexit went on — has gone on — forever, but that’s an exception.

Under a parliamentary system, the Democrats and Republicans would each choose a party leader and then we’d all vote for our local Representatives, count up the House and be done with it.

For the record, in 2016 the Republicans kept control of the House, 241-194, so, assuming the GOP had chosen Donald Trump as leader, he’d have still been President.

Though it’s highly unlikely they’d have chosen someone from outside the party and, by the way, we’d see more than two political parties entering the fray.

Granted, whoever gets a majority pretty much governs unopposed. Both systems have their pluses and minuses.

Still, however much Boris Johnson or Theresa May get dragged over the coals nationally, the emphasis on local elections keeps things a little more focused on bread-and-butter issues rather than national personalities.

In any case, Bernie — speaking of unlikely party leaders — is starting to look inevitable, in large part because so many people think the point of voting is to pick the one you think is going to win, a perception helped along by the media’s relentless horserace coverage.


One possible way to fend off the burnout is to pretend all the cartoonists are on your side and find ways to interpret their jabs as agreement.

For instance, you could pretend that what Chip Bok is saying here is that everyone in Congress has a place to stay in DC without giving up their actual home and that, furthermore, it’s perfectly normal for a successful person in our society to have some sort of getaway.


(Bernie’s “mansion” on the lake is a nice but unremarkable
log home, indeed a camp and hardly a Great Camp.)

So the reason the “kids like socialism” is that young people —  unpoisoned by the Red Scares of their grandparents’ generation — are well-traveled and well-educated and understand that the style of socialism practiced in other countries is simply a morally responsible use of tax moneys and not some Communist, oligarchic cabal.

They know that there are wealthy people in Scandinavia and throughout Western Europe, and that achieving a comfortable life doesn’t require saddling the lower classes with student debt, poor health outcomes and mindless wage-slavery.

I’m sure that’s what he meant.

Well, okay, maybe Lio’s big sledgehammer is the more practical remedy for all this burnout.


We all strive for something or other, and in Pickles, Earl seems to have a healthy view of things.

“Midlife Crisis” is very real, and while gender roles may be in flux, men are still generally motivated by feeling responsible for providing and achieving, such that when they hit the point at which their life seems to be set in its tracks, they stop and wonder if they’ve done all they should have.

Sometimes that results in unbuttoned shirts and garish jewelry and Miatas, if not trophy wives.

I suppose the number of middleaged men left in the dust by unexpected divorces suggests that women also have midlife crises, and, in both cases, maybe you chose wrong, or maybe you’re judging wrong.


But despite the Flying McCoys’ suggestion, there aren’t any award shows for good plumbers, or good auto mechanics, or good teachers or good much of anything.

Including good spouses and good parents.

Knowing the political stances the McCoy brothers have taken over the years, I’m betting they don’t approve of giving kids “participation trophies,” nor am I a huge fan of the practice.

Grownups don’t often get trophies, either.

Certainly, plenty of us grew up not just with Rose Kennedy’s quoting the Gospel of Luke, “For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required,” but with similar parents saying that it was okay to become a ditchdigger as long as you became the best ditchdigger.

This need for trophies and riches and other visible rewards is a bit like the story of the military base on which British and American soldiers were both stationed, where a number of the American officers adopted the swagger sticks their counterparts kept tucked under their arms.

Until a new American commander came on the scene, noticed the fad and issued this directive:

“Concerning Swagger Sticks: If you need one, carry one.”

Whereupon they disappeared.

But, yes, if you need a trophy, by all means go out and strive until you earn one.


Bearing in mind a much older story of Cornelia, daughter of the Roman military hero Scipio Africanus and mother of the reformist Gracchi brothers, an educated and independent woman who, criticized for her plain dress and lack of adornment, gestured to her children and said “These are my jewels.”

Few people manage to earn, and keep, both kinds of jewels.


Today’s Tank McNamara was timed for the NFL Combine, when college stars go through drills for the benefit of the pro scouts, but it’s also, by happenstance, excellently timed for the proposal of a new Collective Bargaining Agreement for the Players’ Association.

The NFL’s TV network is a model of free speech, and discussion of the CBA on their flagship program, “Total Access,” has been frank and revealing.

The other night, the ex-players on the show explained that, not only does their health coverage throw them out onto COBRA after five years of retirement, and then completely out on their own, but that, upon retirement, they have to list all the injuries and ailments caused by their playing.

Damage that shows up a few years later is not covered by Workman’s Comp.

As for the money they make (over 3.3 years, not 40), it’s based on a percentage of league profits, and wouldn’t it be nice if McDonald’s or Wal-Mart had similar contracts with their “associates”?

But that would be socialism, I guess.

The moral of it all is to be careful in how you identify your jewels.

Your life ought not to be able to be totaled on a spreadsheet.


5 thoughts on “CSotD: Nous réparons à zéro

  1. Chip Bok used to be the Akron Beacon Journal’s very own editorial cartoonist. You all are welcome to him, thank you very much.

  2. Participation trophies are the bugaboo of ageism, and especially of the kind of ageism that says “communism is bad because only people who work hard deserve happiness” (never mind that capitalism doesn’t usually reward hard work nearly so much as luck and gaming the system) and yet I think they have almost nothing to do with age, but rather everything to do with class. Participation awards are a product of the sort of family where parents need a record of their children’s activities. I was just middle class to see kids who had more getting participation recognition and those with less being told over and over to work harder, despite working plenty hard (though not as smart, because they didn’t have the privilege of knowing things that the rich kids knew). In the end though, I don’t think any of us kids cared about the less meaningful trophies or awards – we knew what we had worked hard for and we were proud of those things.

    The real problem came when one kid worked their butt off for something and another kid did barely more than be present. How much is recognition worth if it’s applied incredibly unequally? Of course, if I had a solution for that, then politics would be a lot different, and probably a lot better.

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