George Carlin did a famous sketch about oxymorons. He brought to our attention the true ridiculousness of "jumbo shrimp". The tendency to oxymoron did not end with the passing of George Carlin, nor does it apply exclusively to a combination of seemingly dissimilar words. There are many oxymoronic examples in our daily life, and as they occurred to me, I jotted them down. I thought I would share.
How is it that a state which cannot, and will not pay its lottery winners, that same state is still expending huge amounts of money on advertising to promote the lottery? There are still television ads as well as the daily televised drawings for winners, all costing money. There are still an abundance of radio ads promoting specific lottery games, many of which are seasonally themed. There are print ads in newspapers and magazines, as well as billboards and ad space on vehicles like the bus, the train, taxi cabs. Marketing costs money. Even the pop up ads on the internet have a cost. Shouldn't they be using the advertising money to pay the people who won the prizes? And how do you get away with selling tickets to a drawing that you have no intention of paying? And how long will it take for the other states that participate with us in mega lottery to sue us for not holding up our end of the deal? Where will the money come from to counter that legal action? If we cannot pay for the lottery, shouldn't it just be suspended entirely until we can once again honor our debts?
Unemployment is down and the economy is improving. Our government asks us to believe this based upon the fact that there are fewer new claims for unemployment than in the past six years. However, nobody is mentioning that there are a lot fewer people in Illinois than there were six years ago. People already unemployed would have to get a job and then become unemployed again to file for benefits, and that job would have to extend for a certain period of time in order to be eligible. Perhaps we have reached the point where the reduction in new claims is simply that there are fewer and fewer people actually working, so fewer to potentially lose jobs. On the other hand, the news has been all about General Mills leaving, Mitsubishi leaving, Caterpillar leaving, John Deere ....well you get the gist. Eventually, thousands more are going to be hitting the unemployment rolls, and the powers that be in Springfield know it is coming. It seems that they just don't want to talk about it. Or the fact that large companies like Wal-Mart and Target are scaling back their inventory, installing self check out stations, and cutting back hours and staff, seems to go unreported. But the economy is improving, so why does Mayor Rahm need 775 million dollars in tax increases to serve a shrinking populace who, according to the media, all employed?
Interesting factoid: the most expensive one way rental for UHaul is any vehicle going out of Illinois. You see, none of them are coming back in, and UHaul has to pay to have those one ways brought back to the barn, so more people can escape. But, if you are crazy enough to want to move to Illinois, you might just get UHaul to give you the one way rental for free, just to get the vehicles back here. Silver lining in every cloud, as it were.
The monster gridlock in Springfield is ostensibly tied to the inability of the state to meet promised pension obligations, promises made by politicians to secure votes. Anyone with common sense can do simple math and see that these promises were never going to be sustainable over the long term, and particularly not if politicians were playing shell games with funding from one account to another. Even in a perfect and honest world, seldom does any investment yield the huge profits required to fund the mandates. Those promised the benefit want their pound of flesh. Arguments include the fact that they are not part of Social Security, but that is not wholly true. After a certain age, everyone who is an American citizen is eligible for Social Security benefits despite participation in FICA deductions through employment....But for the union workers, they will earn too much in their other pension to qualify for social security benefits. Meanwhile, they are upset at having to expend 10% of their earnings as contribution toward retirement. What they either don't wish to acknowledge or are simply unaware, most Americans have the required deductions for Social Security and Medicare, and yet they have even more money, up to 10-15% of their income set aside in 401K or IRA options to supplement Social Security. In other words, the folks outside the unions are probably deducting double from their earnings.
Our State government has produced nothing more than headlines for months. None of the people of Illinois are being served. So why do the representatives and senators continue to be paid? I am not aware of any other job that continues to pay a salary for accomplishing nothing, having no tangible result. Pay and income are based on value to the company. Those in political office are producing nothing of value, and not only are being paid, but voted themselves bonuses. Wouldn't we all love to receive bonuses for doing absolutely nothing? And why do they need paid staff? If they are accomplishing nothing, then exactly what do all those office workers do for their salary?
We want marijuana legalized, but we penalize people for smoking legal cigarettes. We don't mind people pickling their brain cells and trashing their liver with alcohol, but God forbid they trash their lungs with a cigar or cigarettes. We don't want our children being exposed to alcohol before they are 21, because they are too immature to handle the responsibility, but we give them birth control from the school nurse in junior high.
We buy insurance for uninsured motorists, but yet state law says that you cannot get a driver's license or plates for your car without proof of insurance....so how do uninsured motorists even exist? And how can any traffic accident be "no fault". Somebody hit somebody or something, which is simply not the goal of driving, or is that what is meant by "accident forgiveness." If my car is wrecked and I am injured, I don't want the insurance company forgiving anything. If I were the Pope, I would find it disturbing that insurance companies advertise absolution in exchange for premium dollars. That practice caused a major movement in the Catholic Church roughly 500 years ago.
Retailers and grocers started using plastic bags to save the trees, because trees clean the air. Now we legislate against plastic grocery bags. (Do we have a surfeit of clean air suddenly?) People buy plastic garbage and recycling bags(to sort out items that are inorganic and can be recycled, to separate them from organic, biodegradable ones) and carry them home in paper bags....made from trees. But we put biodegradable materials into plastic that won't break down for years. We buy plastic baggies to take our brown bag lunch to work. We wrap our recycled newspaper in plastic sleeves. People buy rolls of bags simply to follow along behind our dogs, collecting the organic materials and putting it in plastic. Churches and schools, using a large volume of paper products, are charged to haul away the paper which they have dutifully separated for recycling? And according to Madison Avenue, we are supposed to feel guilty because our recycled toilet tissue comes on a cardboard spindle, also recycled. Exactly which is the problem here? Paper or plastic? I have completely lost track of which side of the argument is correct this week.