Category Archives: Eric Zorn

1000 Words: Know Yourself

Perhaps the primary message I’ve striven to convey through the years via this global communications colossus is the fact that people, by and large, are full of shit.

Old man Shakespeare was right: all the world’s a stage. And the lot of us, the cast of humanity as it were, are a bunch of ham actors.

So barely mediocre are we at the craft of thespianism that we can’t even keep track of our lines and motivations. I mean, an audience has a reasonable expectation that the players on stage at least keep within shouting distance of consistency and believability within the constructs of their characters. If, for instance, Larry David in the next episode of Curb suddenly took to beating the hell out of teenaged hoodlums or even just ignoring his neighbors’ peccadillos, we’d start muttering, Y’know, that just doesn’t ring true.

But the players on this Earthly stage — we  — are as contradictory and baffling as 12-year-olds. To wit: former Chicago Tribune opinion columnist Eric Zorn, who now puts out a blog-newsletter entitled The Picayune Sentinel, this morning talked about the results of a fascinating Associated Press/NORC Center for Public Affairs Research poll conducted late this past winter. The poll asked respondents what they thought about government spending. Some 60 percent replied the gov’t blows too much dough. That plays in nicely with the harangue that the Republican Party has hammered us with for more than a half century: the feds, the state, the city, and hell, even half to three quarters of local homeowners associations just piss away money trying to fix problems that ought to magically disappear if only we hitched up our jeans, pulled ourselves up by the bootstraps, prayed to our Judeo-Christian god, forgot about slavery and institutionalized racism, and transported ourselves back to some mythical 1950s nirvana where men were men and women kept their knees together and their mouths shut.

Anyway, gov’t spending. A significant majority of us think it’s way over the top. “People,” Zorn writes, “tend to hate it generally, but like it specifically.”

As in, when asked about gov’t spending that affects them personally, people, for pity’s sake, believe the president, the Senate, the House, the Deep State, and whoever the hell else writes all those checks backed by our hard-earned tax dollars, are damned misers! They’re squeezing us! Pull out that checkbook, they seem to be saying, and write more, more, more checks! All those poll respondents who shrieked the government spends like so many drunken sailors on shore leave are really, again, just like 12-year-olds, convinced mom and dad are abusively denying them their rightful $500-a-week allowances.

When asked their thoughts on government spending in specific areas, people want the feds and every other government entity to commence shooting dollars at us like confetti from cannon.

Here are some things people want the government to spend more on:

  • Education
  • Health care
  • Social Security
  • Medicare
  • Border security

Hell, even 35 percent of respondents complained that this holy land spends too little on the military. If you recall my last EP post, America spent more on its military than the next ten nations combined in the year 2022.

But, of course, 35 pct. is a minority, about the equivalent of the fraction of Americans in thrall to the 45th President of the United States.

The people calling for more spending on the above problems and programs are clear majorities. So, a significant number of people, as indicated by this poll, say the government spends way, way, way too much money while, at the same time, they say the government does not spend enough.

As I indicated at the top of this piece, we’re full of shit. Unless, of course, that poll was restricted to respondents who are full of shit, ignoring people who are not. But you and I know that’s not the case. We live on this planet. We live in this country. We know the vast majority of us are full of shit. Poll any random swath of the American populace and you’ll scoop up a preponderance of people who are full of shit.

If you don’t know it, not only are you full of shit but you have no idea about a basic building block of your own character. I know for a fact that I’m full of shit. I have as many contradictory, pointless, poorly reasoned opinions and stances as any other halfway informed knucklehead pontificating on a personal blog. At very least, though, I’m aware that I’m full of shit. Which makes me a tad less full of shit than, say, those people who responded to that poll.

I’ve long held that the biggest problem with democracy is people. The geniuses who dreamed up the idea of democracy believed, apparently, that an informed, well-read, rational, wired-in electorate could be counted on, in its inherent wisdom, to make the right decisions.

I ask you: are we an informed, well-read, rational, wired-in people? I can’t imagine a soul answering yes.

Is there an informed, well-read, rational, wired-in people anywhere on this Earth?

People complain about the quality of our politicians and leaders, as if those running for president or living in our governors’ mansions should have come to this planet us from another, smarter world. The truth is, they are of us! We’re a bunch of lunkheads, self-interested, wearing blinders, too tired to delve into the nuances of complicated issues, too busy watching “The Masked Singer,” to broaden our horizons. For our leaders, we want people who are just like us.

The fact that we’re full of shit doesn’t particularly offend me. Well, much, anyway. What really burns me is our collective ignorance of our ignorance. We really don’t know we’re full of shit. Which sounds a bit like the Dunning-Kruger Effect that everybody cited a few years back, albeit erroneously.

Even when we try to explain why we’re full of shit, our explanations are full of shit.

My advice: let’s all embrace our full-of-shitness. At least we’d be a smidgen less full of shit than we are right now.