Those Spend, Spend, and Spend Neo-Conservatives

The demonization that politicians of the Elephant stripe have cast upon the Donkeys on the Hill has long been ‘Tax and Spend Liberals’. With Bush’s proposed budget, it seems that Republicans have decided it’s better just to ‘Spend, Spend, and Spend’.

As it was prior to the U.S. attack on Iraq when no thought as to a scenario other than a rosy one was contemplated by the Neo-con ilk, wishful thinking seems to be the order of the day. Convinced he has a mandate, Bush is trying his best to lead the country by filling the drawers of his legacy with every goodie item he and his cohorts have been salivating over. Attempting to unravel the New Deal may be a bigger fish to fry, though, than W. can get a skillet around. Remember, FDR, the longest serving President in history, had three terms to iron out his agenda that moved the U.S. out of the Great Depression. It’s unclear if W. will lead us to a Second Great Depression, but you can read more about his budget and its future costs here. (thanks to Richard for the link)

And, if you want extra credit, you can read this. And don’t miss this site.

Replacing KISS with SPASS

My old driving instructor used to have a rule of thumb that I’ve heard quite a lot in subsequent years. When he wasn’t calmly alerting us of the barreling tractor trailer in our blind spot, he would sometimes wax philosophic.

In fact, in just about every class I’ve ever been in that includes a ‘consultant’ as the instructor/facilitator one principle always seems to be prevalent. It’s a principle that seems to be mentioned at least in passing in every other graduation speech in every high school and college across the land.

The principle is a classic rule of thumb – ‘Keep It Simple Stupid’.

It’s a great concept because the acronym KISS coincides with the name of a famous rock band. And that’s cool. Plus, it sounds good around Valentine’s Day and it certainly can’t hurt the Hershey’s chocolate folks much. However, the KISS principle suffers due to a few fundamental flaws.

The first flaw is the phrasing of the concept. You don’t even know me, yet you’re automatically calling me stupid?. Ok ok… the ‘stupid’ part of the phrase is not directed to me personally. Well, then, who’s ‘stupid’ in ‘Keep It Simple Stupid’? Answer: It’s insulting regardless of how you look at it.

The second flaw is that adding ‘stupid’ at the end foils the concept. By introducing the insult ‘stupid’ to the phrase, it becomes more complex. Isn’t the idea to keep it simple? Why can’t the phrase simply be ‘Keep It Simple’. Isn’t that the message? The acronym could be KIS. That’s still a homonym* for KISS. Instead, the phrase creates a quasi master-servant relationship between the hearer of the phrase and the speaker of it. It calls attention to a whole societal structure filled with smart people ordering around dumb people. In short, the phrase opens a can of unintended worms simply by adding ‘stupid’ to the phrase; all for the sake of adding an ‘S’ in order to match the acronym exactly to a common word. Seems stupid.

The third flaw is that in very rare occasions is simplicity ever what’s needed. The idea that every situation can be boiled down to a basic idea or concept nullifies the inherent complexity of the majority of situations one comes across in any productive endeavor.

In other words, if you want to get things done, you have to think of everything it takes to get it done. Simplifying the process may sound like a good thing, but, in most cases, the process is the process. You have to go through step A and B to get to C. To boil the phrase down, ‘Keep It Simple Stupid’ is too simple and not very good advice. Typically, the person telling you to ‘Keep It Simple Stupid’ is just being impatient. Moreover, since it’s directed to someone who the speaker is insulting by calling him or her ‘stupid’ (as discussed above), there seems to be ample evidence that the phrase is, in fact, intended for simpletons who the speaker hopes will not even realize they’re being insulted.

Perhaps a better rule of thumb would be ‘Stupid People Always Stay Simple’ (SPASS). For example, tailgaters are stupid people who apparently think if they ride up the back end of your car as if ready to mount it like a stallion out to stud, you will appreciate these amorous advances, drive faster, causing the tailgater to arrive at the destination sooner. It’s a simple concept. Yet they fail to grasp the complex situation that we all know as ‘traffic’. One can only go as fast as the cars in front of you, which are quite numerous. In addition, the tailgater fails to see that, while it is a primary goal to arrive at one’s destination with good speed, a secondary goal is to arrive at said destination in one piece. In short, tailgaters are SPASS – ‘Stupid People Always Staying Simple’.

Beyond driving ettiquete, though, the point is this – it’s a complex world. Things are never as simple as they appear. That doesn’t mean you have to unnecessarily overanalyze. Just know who you’re dealing with. People who tell you to ‘keep it simple stupid’ want you to follow their orders. You have some choices when it comes to how to respond. You can listen politely and then go about your merry way. You can dutifully follow their every word, not thinking on your own. Or, you can respond to their insult with one of your own. It’s also a classic. When they tell you to ‘Keep It Simple Stupid!’, tell them, simply, ‘KISS my ass.’**

*A homonym is a word that sounds like another word. For example ‘pour’ is a homonym for ‘poor’. They have different meanings but sound the same.

**May be inadvisable if this person controls your paycheck in some way.

Homework: Compare and contrast the works ‘Take This Job and Shove It’ by Johnny Paycheck (winner of the 1978 ‘Most Ironic Relationship Between Title and Name of Artist’ award) and John Mellencamp’s ‘Authority Song’.