Let’s pretend that I’m from Missouri. Any city in that state will do. Frankly, I like Joplin. It has a nice ring to the name. It might be that thing I’ve got for Janis Joplin, but whatever. You know, Jefferson City, St. Louis, or even Springfield will do. It really doesn’t matter. Just so long as it’s not Branson. That city is just too busy for the likes of me.
You’re probably wondering why I want you to pretend I’m from Missouri. Well, Missouri is the “Show Me” state. And I need someone to show me how things in this country have so drastically improved in the last 91 years. It’s been promised to us. Just not delivered.
Let’s begin with the year 1928. We had won the war to end all wars. The roaring twenties were in full swing. Herbert Hoover was running for the office of President. His campaign that year was “A chicken in every pot and a car in every garage.” Less than a year later the stock market crashed, signaling the beginning of the Great Depression.
Does everyone have a chicken in every pot. They didn’t then. We don’t now. With the exception of the depression years, more people are going to bed hungry each night than at any other time in our history. It’s the children and the elderly that concern me. The rest of us can fend for ourselves. For the most part, they can’t.
What about a car in every garage? Hell, who can afford the garage? And if you can, it’s probably crammed so full of stuff you think you need or will need that you can’t get your car in there anyway. No, the cars are mostly parked on the street.
I guess we can overlook Hoover’s promise. He wasn’t given much of a chance to succeed. If you’re willing to buy that, then I’ve got a bridge for sale you will be interested in.
Let’s jump ahead sixteen years to 1944. We were winning World War II. The country was on the threshold of the greatest economic boom in history. Franklin Roosevelt was seeking his fourth term in office. He told the citizens of this fine country that everyone has “the right to a useful and remunerative job.” He didn’t stop there. Like most politicians he couldn’t keep his mouth shut. He went on to say that everyone has “the right to earn enough to provide adequate food and clothing and recreation.” Now we’re barking up the right tree. He continued by saying that it is “the right of every family to a decent home” and that everyone has “the right to a good education.”
FDR didn’t live to fulfill his promises. He died in office and left poor Harry Truman to take the fall. Let’s break down what President Roosevelt said.
Unemployment is at the lowest it’s ever been. So, more people do have jobs. But, are these jobs “useful and remunerative?” As far as I’m concerned, any job is useful. It keeps us active and fills our days. But, are these jobs remunerative? You tell me. It used to be that a man could earn enough to support his family. Now his wife must work and too many are still having trouble making ends meet. When’s the last time someone, anyone, could live on minimum wage?
He went on to say that everyone has “the right to earn enough to provide adequate food.” That one still hasn’t been met. It’s only gotten worse in this country. How about clothing and recreation? Ask the people freezing to death in January. Recreation? Hell, they can’t afford a coat, much less a ticket to the movies.
How about a “decent home.” Too many homeless for me to even think about giving the nod to that one. A “good education?” If you don’t have the money, or aren’t willing to go into debt, you will not be receiving that “good education.”
No, The Buck Stops Here Harry didn’t do a very good job of fulfilling his predecessor’s promises.
We’re going to move ahead twenty years. The 1964 elections were upon us. Lyndon Johnson boasted that “no American family should settle for anything less than three warms meals a day, a warm house, a good education for their children…and sometimes simply to plain enjoy life.” LBJ soon found himself too busy with Vietnam to concern himself with such trivia. In my book he goes down as just another politician with another empty promise.
I’ve just given you three examples of politicians promising to make life easier for us once they’re elected to the highest office in the land. I’m sure with not much digging at all we’ll be able to find many more instances of idle chatter, and meaningless drivel. Any promise to get elected.
I just wonder what’s going to happen when we finally get tired of hearing things like, “Read my lips. No new taxes.” Until then, I guess we’ll just have to live with what we’ve got. But, I still want someone to SHOW ME how life for the common (wo)man has so drastically improved over the past 91 years.
Good night, Mrs. Jackson, wherever you are.