Monday, July 11, 2011

"I'm Against It!"

In the epic 1932 film Horsefeathers, Groucho Marx plays the new president of Huxley College (after Thomas Henry Huxley), Quincy Adams Wagstaff. Groucho begins his career in academia by informing the assembled professors and students that, regardless what they are for, he's against it.

Sound familiar? It should. The ongoing debates over the debt ceiling and the bizarre arguments being presented all have one thing in common: they're all against something. They're against raising taxes, cutting spending, lowering benefits, whatever. It's very hard to determine just what anyone is for, much less what the solution is supposed to be. They talk about everything except how to get out of the hole they (and we) are in.

In this they're a bit like the four-page 1932 Time magazine review of Horsefeathers. Only a couple of paragraphs of the piece had anything to do with the plot of the movie or anything remotely connected with it. We get a lot about the Marx Brothers' private lives and careers, but no reason why we might actually want to see or not see the movie.

The rather strange Time magazine review of Horsefeathers does, however, have one great advantage over the current debates in Congress. A bad decision about viewing a movie will cost you, at most, a couple of bucks and a few hours of your time that you would probably have wasted, anyway. A bad decision about government spending and the failure to adopt a sound program of sustainable development like Capital Homesteading can destroy the country.

#30#

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