Pander to the People Right On
However, it's not so funny when the people we elect do the same thing. I was reminded of this when I saw John McCain's latest health care "reform" proposal. It was as if the band had given everyone in the audience free t-shirts or CDs or drinks, and funded it through a mandatory ticket surcharge at the door.
Here's how McCain's plan would work. Somehow, without raising taxes, he is going to give everybody $2,500 (or $5,000 per family) to buy health insurance. I imagine this is going straight into our deficit, which means, of course, that it is coming out of my eventual Social Security and Medicare payments. That's it. Oh, yeah, he wants to "promote" lots of other feel-good stuff, like insurance for people with preexisting conditions, healthy lifestyles, convenience, and competition. Where's the meat?
Kind of like the recent stimulus package, which similarly took from our future financial stability to help people who can't control their spending to pay down their credit cards.
Or kind of like the proposals being floated around to have a "gas tax holiday" for the summer, encouraging people to drive even more while not fixing crumbling bridges.
Does this stuff actually work? Meaning, of course, are people more likely to vote for a politician who writes them checks, even though they must know that the money is coming out of the government's ability to provide some other service that the recipient is likely to continue to expect? It's sad, but I have no doubt that it does.
Maybe if the band had handed out free t-shirts to the audience members, and built the cost into the price of the CD we were expected to go out and buy because we appreciated the free t-shirt so much. That would be pandering like a pro.