Politics time again (to quote Buju Banton)

Time for some politics. Three stories. Two American, one British.

  • One is sad but true.
  • Another rings very true, but is, in fact, just silly.
  • The third might be true. I’ve no idea.

But which is which?

1. Sauce for the goose, but not the gander. This quote from Peter Schmuck, a Baltimore sports writer, concerning the indictment of Roger Clemens (left), a baseball player in the USA who allegedly lied to Congress about taking steroids:

“Isn’t it great to live in a society where the penalty for lying to a Congressman can be up to 30 years in jail, but the penalty for a Congressman lying to you is another two years in office?”

I’m not sure what the going rate for lying Congresswomen is.

Hey. This is what came up when I put AWNAA in Google images. Er... perhaps.

2. Finally a bill we can all support: The AWNAA Act of 2010

Washington, DC – Congress is considering sweeping legislation that will provide new benefits for many Americans: The Americans With No Abilities Act (AWNAA) is being hailed as a major legislative goal by advocates of the millions of Americans who lack any real skills or ambition.

‘Roughly 50 percent of Americans do not possess the competence and drive necessary to carve out a meaningful role for themselves in society,’ said California Senator Barbara Boxer. ‘We can no longer stand by and allow People of Inability to be ridiculed and passed over. With this legislation, employers will no longer be able to grant special favors to a small group of workers, simply because they have some idea of what they are doing.’

In a Capitol Hill press conference, House Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid pointed to the success of the U.S. Postal Service, which has a long-standing policy of providing opportunity without regard to performance. Approximately 74 percent of postal employees lack any job skills, making this agency the single largest U.S employer of Persons of Inability.

Private-sector industries with good records of non-discrimination against the Inept include retail sales (72%), the airline industry (68%), and home improvement ‘warehouse’ stores (65%). At the state government level, the Department of Motor Vehicles also has an excellent record of hiring Persons of Inability (63%).

Under The Americans With No Abilities Act, more than 25 million ‘middle man’ positions will be created, with important-sounding titles but little real responsibility, thus providing an illusory sense of purpose and performance..

Mandatory non-performance-based raises and promotions will be given so as to guarantee upward mobility for even the most unremarkable employees. The legislation provides substantial tax breaks to corporations that promote a significant number of Persons of Inability into middle-management positions, and gives a tax credit to small and medium-sized businesses that agree to hire one clueless worker for every two talented hires.

Finally, the AWNAA contains tough new measures to make it more difficult to discriminate against the non-abled, banning, for example, discriminatory interview questions such as, ‘Do you have any skills or experience that relate to this job?’

‘As a non-abled person, I can’t be expected to keep up with people who have something going for them,’ said Mary Lou Gertz, who lost her position as a lug-nut twister at the GM plant in Flint , Michigan , due to her inability to remember ‘rightey tightey, lefty loosey. ‘This new law should be real good for people like me,’ Gertz added. With the passage of this bill, Gertz and millions of other untalented citizens will finally see a light at the end of the tunnel.

Said Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL): ‘As a Senator with no abilities, I believe the same privileges that elected officials enjoy ought to be extended to every American with no abilities. It is our duty as lawmakers to provide each and every American citizen, regardless of his or her inadequacy, with some sort of space to take up in this great nation and a good salary for doing so.’

Using my great powers of investigation I’ve discovered that this bill stems from the Clinton era.

Deborah Orr

3. People coming to Britain should learn English: Remaining isolated from the culture in which you live is harmful to all. This piece is by the redoubtable Deborah Orr.

A legal opinion from Matrix Chambers, commissioned by the human rights group Liberty, warns that Home Office plans to introduce an English language test for people coming to Britain to marry UK citizens could breach human rights and race relations laws. The tests will affect more than 25,000 spouses a year.

Well, Matrix is probably right. And it’s not as if it is unknown for a British person to move abroad and not learn the language. Yet it’s a strange human right, this right to remain isolated from the culture in which you live, unable to talk to a doctor, or your child’s teacher, or the lady at the Job Centre. It is a right that harms the person who demands it, as well as the community they wish to join.

[BBC Radio presenter] John Humphrys recently presented a show about education, during which he visited a primary school that did very well by its children, even though many arrived there unable to speak English. Good for it, and its impressive head teacher. But, still – I remember my first day at school and how frightening it was. I think most people do. How much more frightening would that experience be, if the language the teachers used was unintelligible? Presumably the vast majority of people who wish to come to Britain and marry intend to have children too. Is this a right worth defending really, the right to impede the development of your children?

The head teacher also said that even though many of the children who attended the school lived next to a large park, a lot of them had never been taken to it. That is surely the acme of isolation, not even leaving the house to visit the park with your children. Heartbreaking.

So which story is which? OK, not terribly hard. And if all that is not enough to prompt you to grab a placard, unfurl a flag, shout a slogan and get matching… Then maybe this unusual way to draw people into activism is. Now watch the film.

Acknowledgements: Thanks to You Got To Be Kidding’s Blog for the American stories, the Guardian for the British one and Colt Monday for the film.



Filed under language, politics

7 responses to “Politics time again (to quote Buju Banton)

  1. These are marvelous reports from the muddled societies on both sides of the pond.

    I don’t know why French stopped being the diplomatic language. And now it looks as if English will go the same way.

    It seems always to be acceptable to take pot shots at the imperialist powers and their languages. So be it.

    Enjoy your lives unable to communicate with others globally. You’ll love writing with a brush as you learn Chinese.

    I have given up trying to support the view that when you move to a country, you have chosen to do so and you take on the local language and customs. Only invaders come under opposite circumstances.

  2. Persons of no talent whatsoever are the stars of television today. They are commanding salaries and time worthy of a monarch. We cits also buy magazines chronicling their misdeeds which have become iconic.

    Lack of talent never came to these shores on the Mayflower. It had to be cultivated here during post WWII’s prosperity. Imagine the high point of culture being the fact that you never have to be useful another day in your life. What freedom.

  3. There’s a disturbing proportion of native-born white British kids whose English is barely functional.

  4. Quite often, immigrants have a better command of English than those of us born (and educated) here in the US. Our entertainment industry celebrates mediocrity, and our newscasts are filled with stories on ‘celebrities’ whose only qualifications are that they are celebrities. Paul, your post was humorous and thoroughly enjoyable, but the reality is that western civilization is a thin veneer covering a mountain of crap, and the veneer is cracking.

  5. You gotta laugh – Maxi

  6. blackwatertown

    Tim – You’re right. You know what I mean like but.

    Samhenry – You make me laugh – and think. The laugh for your near rhyme (there must be a technical term for it – Tim will know) of monarch and iconic. Interesting take on the post WW2 generation. People usually hark back to the Great Society as a time when everything was going right for America – interesting to have your take on it as when the decadent idiocy set in. Which brings us to…

    exileimaging – “the reality is that western civilization is a thin veneer covering a mountain of crap, and the veneer is cracking.” Oh dear. Should I applaud the veneer? Or head for the hills before the ice gives way beneath me? I wonder what you’ll make of my new day job?

  7. You have a pretty good understanding of Barbara Boxer and California issues.

    Also of celebrity. It amazes me that actors become famous for pretending to be someone they’re not, and we celebrate their ability to deceive.

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