September 2004

Hoopla over Elway exemplifies our skewed priorities

By Galen Larson

Open the Aug. 6 Denver Post and out falls a 20-page supplement about the life and times of John Elway, who turned the simple act of throwing a football into an $80 million used-car empire.

Pray tell me, did he ever appoint any judges that will make rulings that will affect our lives for years to come? Did he have input on the national budget? (Well, in one way he did, he is in that top percentage that gets huge tax breaks.) Does he have any input into balancing the national trade deficit? (Could be — he promotes all the overseas-sweatshop shirts, shoes, and other sports memorabilia.) Why does your acid-reflux medicine cost so much? Because he is selling his name for big bucks to hawk it. Do we really need him to tell us about medicine? Shouldn’t that be up to a doctor?

I shouldn’t be picking on poor John, as we have become dependent on sports to guide us through life from breakfast to heat-and-eat dinners, from clothes to shoes. We must have been all naked and hungry before they came along.

Elections where we pick the shakers and movers, the people that make the rules we live by – are they important? Not to the news media or the constituents (that’s us). Primary, smimary – who cares? We should. Primaries are when you pick the person to represent you in the general election. Not voting in the primary is like having the people with the bucks pick the horse you have to bet on at the race track. You may think the horse is better, but by not speaking up you don’t get to choose and that is just fine with the boys in the smoke-filled rooms.

The same day J.E. slipped out in the 20- page supplement, there were two small paragraphs in the back of the paper about the primary candidates, stressing home-grown Christian values, walking in threadbare shoes, driving an Oldsmobile pickup and chatting to us in down-home lingo as if we can’t understand the chicanery spoken in the penthouse. Lots of sound bites but not much substance.

A contractor I once worked for told me, “Don’t tell me what you’re going to do – show me.” I don’t believe any one of us would hire someone to build us a shed based on as little information as was given to us by the candidates, to say nothing of letting them build our house.

We are in our present situation because we were conned into thinking about matters that didn’t affect us and steered away from more pressing problems such as education (an uninformed populace is easier to fool), health care (really sick people can’t get out to vote anyway), insurance rates (car insurance is mandatory, after all), retirement funds and Social Security. Those are all glossed over. Blame doctors, lawyers, teachers, but never the elected. What do you expect from these officeholders when they’ve sold out to Daddy Warbucks? There was a lot of truth in that comic strip.

There is a bill to be voted on in September that will be signed by Dubya giving the sports franchises tax benefits worth billions. It is one sentence in a 1200-page bill. Twelve hundred pages to read to find just that one sentence. Most of our elected officials couldn’t get through the story of The Three Bears. So whom do they rely on for information? Lobbyists, the scourge of the nation, whose sole purpose is to get the most for their clients, not for the citizens.

I hope I have made a touchdown with this column. I’m so steamed about the fixed race, I’ve got to go to the shower. If you don’t know your elected officials’ moves, you can be sure they won’t play your game.

Galen Larson lives near Cortez.