Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Thoughts and Impressions

First impressions are the hardest to shake.
It’s the thought that counts.
Of course I’ll respect you in the morning…
The above three statements contain one truth; one semi-truth; and one bold-faced lie.
Can you match them up?
It’s actually quite easy but if you need some hints:
The truthful one is the one used daily by politicians every time they make a statement.
The ‘semi-truthful’ one is made by people bemoaning a failed hope.
And the out and out lie is the one used by almost every teenaged male on a date.
When a politician or anyone for that matter makes a statement about what he intends to do we are trained to listen.  The rhetoric is finely honed to instill hope in the listener. This time things will be different!  Maybe this time we’ll win.  This person is sincere and since the policies he is proposing are ones we want we fall further into the spell cast by his words.
Our first impression is a good one and we find that our initial reaction is one of support.
At this point it would take at least two instances of negativity to stop our belief in him.
I once created a birthday card for my older brother that said I was thinking about what expensive gift to get him.  But on the inside it said, “However I decided to just wish you a very happy birthday.  And after all – It’s the thought that counts!
Obviously I was teasing him but the bottom line is just thinking about things is not enough.  Think and do must go hand in hand.
There are so many examples of the above two statements in politics that it would take a post the size of “War and Peace” to rehash them all.  However one fine example can be found by searching and squinting through today’s newspapers with a magnifying glass.  For those diligent enough to do so you will find that the proposed ‘sweeping auto safety’ bill that was announced with much hoopla a few months ago has been altered a bit.
Did I say altered?
In horse racing I believe the term is gelding!
You may recall (cute choice of words, no?) the recent Toyota problem of sudden acceleration and failed brakes that caused many accidents and some deaths.  The public outcry caused our leaders to immediately give their version of first impression anger and thoughts on how to stop future problems.
The main three ways to ensure public safety was:
Impose tremendous unlimited fines in the event of disasters that could have been avoided (listening BP? Not to worry, wait);
Mandate ‘black boxes’ ala the airline industry be installed in all vehicles by 2015 to reenact any unfortunate accident in the future;
Set new and improved safety standards for the auto industry.
All three of these proposals reaped the expected public approval and conversely the ire of the auto industry.
Today it was reported that:
Those unlimited fines are now capped at a manageable (for big businesses) $200 million.
The ‘black boxes’ no longer have a deadline on installation (which means the twelfth of never.)
And the best is left for last;
The mandated changes in gas pedal design and standards for engine electronics must only be considered!  In other words, 'Hey auto manufacturers - please think about it!'
Thoughts are the fertile grounds from which great or not so great ideas spring forth.  Without the ensuing actions that cement the ideas in place all you have is smoke and mirrors and a failed policy.
Campaign promises followed up with in-office action is all too rare these days.  Politicians say and will continue to say anything they think they must say in order to get into office.  Unfortunately we the people are left with only one weapon in our arsenal to show our disapproval – the vote.
Oh, and about that last of the three statements noted at the beginning, the one about respect - don’t we all feel like the politicians have been using that line on us for years?

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