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A new commentary every Wednesday - March 8 , 2017


 A Crazy Time of Complaining

   Acrimony: sharpness, harshness, stinging bitterness in speech and manner

    I visited my Tax Preparer yesterday and while doing what he has done for me for years, he posed a profound question—one worth repeating: "Isn't this a crazy time? Have you ever seen anything like it?"

    My immediate response was "No sir, I have not. America may have reached some sort of apex. Even if it takes eight years, or eighteen, we need to get over this fix we're in right now and move on."

     The Great Depression (I was born in 1927), President Franklin D. Roosevelt's first 100 days in office, World War II, Vietnam and the Peace Protests, Nixon's abuse of power, the fall of the Berlin Wall and the dissolution of the USSR, were spikes; times when there was reason to complain strenuously, but as I look back through nine decades, never has there been as much complaining from as many parties as there is now. (Alright, I did leave out Bernie Madoff, but feel free to add to the list.)

    And it's not just derisive words and divisive action. Not since the original Tea Party and the Boston massacre, not even the persistent call to make peace with the North Vietnamese—never have I seen so many hordes of Americans so suddenly apt to take advantage of that right so quickly and rightly added to our Constitution in the First Amendment: to petition our government for a redress of grievances. (What would have happened if King George III had responded positively early on, to our appeals?)

    I can hardly blame our elected representatives for shirking from meeting with angry, confused masses of people whom I often call the "scufflers in the crowd," where overheated people stand and ventilate their spleen in shouting matches. More and more often, the people you want to reach at such gatherings, the principal speakers, are not likely to change their minds, even if you and others came with a guillotine.

    I recently read an excellent article on how to complain to our officials. Do not waste your time signing one of those On-Line petitions. According to Kathryn Schulz, writer for American Chronicles in The New Yorker, they are vastly ignored by our representatives, and more importantly, persons on their staffs.

    Okay, you wake up one day wishing to call the Senator or Member of Congress in order to give him or her a piece of your mind—You and sixty-some-odd-thousand (60,000+) callers each day, 22-million calls each year, pouring into the overloaded digital switchboard of the delegates to Washington—enough at times to force it into long shutdown spasms. If anything, you get a recorded invitation to speak your piece, able to be delivered in a specified time frame, a recorded thank you and goodbye.

    Writes Ms Schulz: "No matter how a message comes in—by phone, eMail, fax, delivery service, postperson or carrier pigeon, it is entered into a software program. (That might one day result in your receiving some sort of acknowledgment of receipt, such as "Senator Whatchumacalitt thanks you for your input...")

    Members of the Senate alone calculated that it processed 6.4-million pieces of mail delivered to their "in-box" in 2016.

    Still, This take away: The best and most effective way of getting through to your Representative or Senator, is by sending a brief statement by regular mail.

    Better yet, if you're really serious, is to hire one of those expensive lobbyists, many of whom were once members of the House and Senate, themselves.

    In my opinion the best thing is to receive a letter sent by the free franking privilege from one of one the Senators or Representatives, that without asking for a donation to their campaign, only solicits your opinion on a matter of public importance. 


-Phil Richardson, Observer of the human condition and storyteller. "He goes doddering on into his old age, making a public nuisance of himself." - Joseph L. Mencken



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