No one knows anything. It\'s a phrase familiar to many who read this blog, as William Goldman\'s description of Hollywood. The thing is, and it\'s a sad thing, at that, is that it\'s true of most of the world. People tend to be headline skimmers. They see the headline, they hear the quick soundbite on CNN, and then act as though they know the whole story.
Talk to anyone about politics, and they\'ll regurgitate a few talking points, and something they heard in an attack ad, and they think it\'s the whole story. You can immediately figure out which party they vote for, because they always vote for the same party. Rather than pay attention to stances on issues that are important to them, they look at soundbites on the news, or what they saw on the headline of the paper the guy across from them on the subway was reading. They pick sides based on this and this alone, because the other guy can\'t possibly have any good ideas, because he\'s on the wrong side. It\'s like the tax thing, and I heard somebody talking about this recently. Nobody wants to pay taxes. Hey, you look at your paycheque and you see how much comes off. Nobody likes that. Then, if you\'re a homeowner, you get your quarterly tax bill, and you start looking at what they\'re doing at City Hall a lot closer.
We had a friend staying with us over the summer, one who works for the federal government. I mentioned to him that I imagine he\'d had a really busy time at work, as they\'d been extending the infrastructure spending to the beginning of the fourth quarter. He was surprised. What surprised him is the fact that I was aware that the deadline had been extended. What surprised me is when he said that most people were completely unaware of this. Not just that the deadline had been extended, or the mammoth amount of work that goes along with that, but the fact that the money was even being used. He asked how I knew. I told him, we work hard for that money, and we like to keep an eye on how it\'s used. Not just federally, but also municipally (and, to be fair, I\'m probably more scrutinizing of what\'s going on at the municipal level, because that\'s what feels like the over and above money to me, and perhaps the money on which I can have a more immediate impact). His answer was that most people don\'t. He\'s right, and that\'s probably what concerns me most. Not the fact that he\'s right. He\'s a really smart guy, and he\'s right about a lot of things. No, it\'s more that about which he was right. People don\'t know. Moreover, they don\'t care.
People say that they hate paying taxes. I can\'t say that I\'m crazy about it, but the thing is that the same people who say they hate paying taxes sure like driving on those roads. They like it when they don\'t have to take the trash down to the dump themselves. I mean, who doesn\'t hate garbage day, right? You\'ve got to get all the bags and bins together and drag them down to the curb. imagine if your weekly routine was loading everything into the trunk and lining up at the dump to get rid of it? Think you hate it when that bag splits down at the bottom of the driveway? Imagine if it was in your trunk at the time. Is there a lot of waste at all levels of government? Absolutely. This is the reason why we need to be more aware. We need to be more involved. We need to pay attention to the things that are important to us. It\'s a responsibility that we have to ourselves. Everyone says that it\'s all about making a better world for your kids and all that, but at the end of the day, you\'re always trying to make that world better based on the things that are important to you.
And that\'s as good a place as any to start.