A Stones Throw 1-10-13

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Black Monday – not Black Friday – Black Monday.

Black Monday is not a day when shoppers look for one last bargain to buy. Instead, Black Monday is the Monday after the final regular season game of the National Football League. Black Monday is the day that 12 teams begin preparation for the NFL playoffs with the ultimate goal of winning the Super Bowl.

Black Monday is the day the owners of the 20 teams which have been eliminated from the NFL playoffs reflect on their teams and their selected leadership. And upon reflection, many owners decide it is a time for a change.

On Black Monday, change comes quickly. Head coaches are fired. General managers are fired. Entire coaching staffs are fired.

The determining factor in keeping or firing a coach is not always the final team record; instead, it is often simply the failure to meet expectations.

Last Black Monday (December 31st, 2012) seven head coaches and five general managers were fired. Immediately, the search for replacements began in earnest.

Last year, after a dismal 2-14 record, many Indianapolis Colts fans were appalled when Colts owner Jim Irsay fired his general manager, his head coach, and let Colts’ legend Peyton Manning leave to join the Denver Broncos.

During last week’s Black Monday there was no question what the Colts would do. They were busy preparing for their playoff game against the Baltimore Ravens. After an 11-5 regular season it is obvious Jim Irsay made the right decisions for the 2012 Indianapolis Colts.

Too bad we aren’t as smart as Jim Irsay.

Too bad we don’t believe enough to act on our convictions.

If we did, perhaps last week’s Black Monday would have been all about football. Unfortunately, the firing of 12 coaches and general managers was only a sidelight to the country’s Black Monday.

While NFL owners were evaluating the leadership of their teams against the expectations that were voiced when these leaders were hired, the leadership of our teams were turning their backs on our expectations.

That leadership was staring down at a ‘Fiscal Cliff’.

Like most others, I am tired of hearing about the ‘Fiscal Cliff’.

I am tired of hearing about the Republicans’ failure to compromise.

I am tired of hearing how the Democrats are willing to compromise as long as the Republicans agree with everything the Democrats want.

I am tired of hearing Republicans and Democrats alike condemn their fellow party members when those members decide to vote “the conscience of their constituents” rather than voting the party line.

And, I don’t like the fact that football’s Black Monday was overshadowed by our Black Monday.

Black Monday.

The day our elected leaders “solved” the ‘Fiscal Cliff’. At least the Senate solved the ‘Fiscal Cliff’. Our representatives were busy preparing for New Year’s Eve celebrations. They couldn’t take the time out of their busy schedules in order to save the country from the ‘Fiscal Cliff’ until late New Year’s Day.

I don’t blame our senators and representatives for waiting until the loose rocks were already falling off the ‘Fiscal Cliff’ before any action was taken. I don’t blame Democrats or Republicans for demanding that their fellow party members toe the party line – constituents be damned.

I don’t even blame our senators and representatives for raising taxes on the middle class – even though both parties claimed they would never agree to do so – or for raising taxes on the rich – even though Republicans said it would never happen.

I don’t blame our senators and representatives for passing a ‘Fiscal Cliff’ law that analysts claim will increase our national debt by $4 trillion, even though both Republicans and Democrats swore up and down that they would never agree to a bill that did not reduce the deficit.

I don’t blame senators or representatives. I don’t blame Republicans or Democrats.

I blame me.

And, I blame you.

You and I are the ones who elected these senators and representatives – and in an overwhelming number – re-elected these senators and representatives.

Time and time again.

We are the ones who ignored the fact that many of these people helped create the ‘Fiscal Cliff’ helped create a faltering economy. Helped create our national debt. Helped create the “state of the nation.”

We re-elected most of them.

I for one don’t want to hear another complaint about having to pay 2-percent more into Social Security. I don’t want to hear another word about the “new Fiscal Cliff,” just two months away.

I don’t want to hear complaints about our elected representatives trying to take away, or at the least reduce, our entitlements. Surely we have to agree with our senators and representatives that even though we have paid into Social Security all of our working lives, getting a payback during retirement years is nothing short of an entitlement.

If we didn’t agree with this, why would we have elected those who demand a reduction in our “entitlements?”

I could go on and on, but it would be useless.

I know we will follow the same pattern in future elections. We will elect, usually reelect, the person who spends the most money on the most vile and negative political advertisements. We will elect a person simply because he/she is a Republican – or a Democrat.

We won’t question why a person will spend tens of millions of dollars to get a job that pays $174,000 per year. (By the way, these same people voted themselves another pay raise for 2013.)

Would you spend $1 million in order to get a $30,000 job?

Me neither.

But, we don’t question spending tens of millions of dollars to get a $174,000 job. We don’t care that once elected, payback is due – due to those who contributed the millions of dollars – not to those who actually voted for the individual.

And then we complain while our elected leaders ignore our needs.

Ignore our wants.

We complain, and complain, until the next election – when we tuck our heads into our necks and vote to re-elect those who have demonstrated they don’t care about those of us who are taxpayers.

Fortunately, I have a fairly low cost solution.

Two months prior to each election, we ask the owners of the 32 National Football League teams to evaluate the performance of each senator and representative. Upon evaluation, they can fire any and all senators and representatives that have not performed to the expectation of their individual constituents.

These senators and representatives would not be allowed to run for office in the upcoming election. How long do you think it would take for our elected representatives to decide to actually represent us?

Then, we could still have the NFL version of Black Monday, and November elections would actually provide us with hope.

I know this idea won’t work.

At the same time, last week’s approach to the ‘Fiscal Cliff’ shows what we are doing now doesn’t work.

Unfortunately, nothing will change during the next election. We will continue to vote for those who seem not to care about us – or our future.

When that happens – we again will be the blame.

– Mike Cooney