Corsicana Daily Sun, Corsicana, Texas

May 20, 2013

I am so cynical

By Dick Platt
Corsicana Daily Sun

— Cynical: “...believing that people are motivated in all their actions only by selfishness; denying the sincerity of people’s motives and actions, or the value of living...sarcastic, sneering, etc...pessimistic implies an attitude, often habitual, of expecting the worst to happen...”

This dictionary description makes me feel I am being a little hard on myself when I say I am cynical. I realize that I am truly blessed to be an American, to be comfortably retired from two careers, to be married to The Little Woman for, lo, these 52 blissful years, and to have a loving and supportive family unit. So what have I got to be cynical about? Well, I’m going to tell you.

I have been, and still am, cynical about all those TV commercials with products “...not available in stores...” I have seen these spiels on everything from ear-wax vacuums to car-renewal waxes to 50-foot hoses that roll up so tight you can carry them in your pocket. “But wait! There’s more! Just pay separate shipping and handling and we’ll send you a second one free!” It just chaps my jaws that they don’t simply offer a 2-for-1 with one shipping and handling charge. I am just cynical enough to suspect the legitimacy of the “shipping and handling” charges.

Along these same lines, we just got some coupons in the mail along with the usual drill from Publisher’s Clearing House. One that stood out was from a well known store that offered a special sale and $10 off on any purchase of at least $50. That means, if I found an item on sale for $50, they would sell it to me for $40. What does that say about their pricing scale if they can afford to give 20 percent off an already discounted item? The paper today was full of sales with two prices on each item — the “was” price and the “sale” price. How about that mail-order steak company from Nebraska that always features a “regular” price and a “now only” price? These suckers continually try to convince us that shopping is a method to save money. It’s enough to make one cynical.

I am getting more and more cynical about our political system and the politicians who infest it. The Democrats and the Republicans continue to argue bitterly over the solutions to our problems and, as a result, lead us into one fiscal crisis after another. Our economy is getting so bad that Exxon-Mobile had to lay off 35 congressmen last year. However, according to a recent investigative report in our paper, there is one thing congressmen/women on both sides of the aisle can agree on — there is still plenty of money for “fact-finding” trips abroad. See if the following facts don’t grind in your gears also.

In 2012, at least 172 House members spent more than $1.5 million visiting 90 countries — and that doesn’t count the costs for spouses and hangers-on. It also doesn’t include the cost of riding on military aircraft which costs a whopping $10, 000 per hour. How about this? These clowns don’t even have to make a trip report when they get back! Also, 20 percent of these costs were incurred by 20 House members who are no longer in Congress this year — most of them traveled after announcing their retirement, losing reelection, or announcing they would not seek re-election.

The biggest “frequent flyer” was a Republican from California who traveled 58 days on nine trips in 2012 — he is not seeking re-election. A Democrat from California was a close second: he spent five days on the French Riviera and seven days seeing Ireland, Greece, Italy, Spain, and Portugal — he resigned from the House three days after his last trip and has since joined a D.C. law firm.

Two Democrats, who both lost re-election, took some final perks. One spent $12,000 on two trips and the other took four trips to 16 countries, including international trouble spots like Denmark, France, and Morocco.

A Republican from Indiana spent $60,000 visiting 14 countries including Azerbaijan. He did not seek re-election and, one month after leaving the House, took a job with the Azerbaijan America Alliance. According to Wiki, the AAA is a non-partisan, non-profit organization whose mission is to foster an atmosphere of mutual understanding and respect between the people of Azerbaijan and America. It may be the cynic in me, but I smell a rat!

I leave you this week with a few bits of cynical advice: Remember, if the world didn’t suck we’d all fall off. Never read the fine print — there is no way you are going to like it. You should set aside eight hours a day for work and eight hours a day for sleep — making sure they’re not the same hours. Confession is not only good for the soul — it can be turned into a best seller. You will never see a breaking news story so important that they run a news bulletin across the commercial. And the last one (yea!). Don’t worry about what other people are thinking about you. They aren’t thinking about you — they’re too busy worrying about what you’re thinking about them.

See ya...

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   Dick Platt is a Daily Sun columnist. His column appears on Tuesdays. Want to “Soundoff” on this column? Email: soundoff@corsicanadailysun.com