Monday, August 6, 2012

ARE WE PLAYING THE GAME OR GAMING THE PLAY?


August 6, 2012

Come on, fair’s fair. We mustn’t be too hard on those Asian badminton players. You can’t blame Wang, Yang and the gang for trying to fix their Olympic event by losing a match. The Chinese cheats and their Korean and Indonesian counterparts kept slapping the birdie into the net like kindergartners to give themselves an advantage for the next round. But it was a tactical move - they were only playing the game.
Not the game of badminton but gaming the system. Isn’t that what it’s all about? Football coaches do it, boxing trainers, team managers, athletes... They often test the legal boundary, and sometimes cross it. In soccer, for instance, there’s the “professional foul” that prevents a goal yet incurs a penalty. But, to quote 1950s football coach Red Sanders, winning isn’t everything - it’s the only thing! Everyone loves a winner. Therefore you do what you gotta do, right?
Wrong.
From our sportsmen and women we expect fair play on a level field. When they bend the rules, take performance-enhancing drugs or deliberately throw a contest they shame the game.
Unsportsmanlike? It’s outright fraud. Spectators paid good money to witness world class badminton with shuttlecocks whizzing through the air at 160mph. Instead they got flapdoodle.
But such disgraceful conduct isn’t limited to sport, it permeates our entire democracy - and here let’s ignore the crackpots who prattle on about it’s a republic not a democracy. It’s a democracy.
Take lobbyists. The sole raison d'être of these barnacles is to skew the system, favoring a small group at the expense of the population as a whole. Lobbying is why we have such headscratchingly perverse laws like the one prohibiting our government from chaffering the lowest price from the pharmaceutical giants. Thank you Billy Tauzin, perfidious Louisiana politician who fixed it on the sly and was rewarded with $12-million-a-year as CEO of Phrma. Incidentally, from initially condemning this atrocity, President Obama soon made a secret deal with Tauzin to continue it.
Play the twister’s game and you can sucker everyone else. Banks use other people’s money to enrich themselves. Sixteen of the ultrabiggies are members of Libor, a club that sets world interest rates on everything from student loans to credit cards to mortgages. It’s meant to be a fair reflection of the market: instead these crooks fudge the numbers, thereby swindling investors of tens of billions of dollars .
There’s offshore banking, a way to avoid paying your rightful taxes: among the many traitors gaming that system are presidential aspirant Mitt Romney and, of course, Citizen Tauzin who applauds this travesty. In hiding their assets from Uncle Sam they’re stealing from all his other nieces and nephews.
At least when we vote for our representative it’s a case of may the best man win? We already know that’s not true. In politics the victor is the best moneybags with the biggest lies and the sneakiest tricks.
 “Voter ID is gonna allow Governor Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania. Done.” Thus boasted Rep. Mike Turzai. Done because his state, along with others, erected hurdles to deny seniors and poor people a voice. Remember Florida’s Katherine Harris who disenfranchised thousands of eligible minorities in the 2000 election? That move handed the country to George W. Bush.
Once again fairness bites the dust, dishonesty triumphs. You only pull dodges to exclude voters if you suspect straightforwardness won’t cut it.
Ever since the Obama administration took office, the Republicans have played that same game of Chinese shuttlecock. Democrats serve up a bill and instead of evaluating it they simply smash it into the net. Happens every time. They would rather the country suffer than consider a Democratic idea. That’s a debasement of Congress and we’re all being victimized by this behavior.
We pay their salaries and in return we get diddlysquat. It’s fraud. We’re the losers and we have every right to be sore.
Last week the Party Of No squashed a Senate bill that would have extended tax cuts to everyone except individuals taking home $200,000 a year or more. The Republican battle cry has always been about cutting taxes, but suddenly it isn’t any more. Opposing their own ideology is more politically advantageous: when the country hurts people blame the president. So it’s a calculated maneuver. Gamesmanship once again from the enemy within.
Unpatriotic firms move their factories abroad. Last month a simple bill to stop giving them tax breaks and instead reward companies that bring jobs to America died in Congress. Every single Republican voted against it. Why? Same reason: undermine the country to make Obama look bad. These morally bankrupt politicians dismiss “fair play” as merely two four-letter words.
Greedy Rupert Murdoch, owner of Fox News, is being blamed for causing the collapse of a rival pay-TV company by hacking, then distributing, codes that enabled viewers to watch for free. The end justifies the means: sabotaging your competitor is the clever way-to-play.
In court proceedings, the search for the truth has been replaced by a battle of wits as evidenced in the O.J. Simpson criminal trial. The list goes on.
If we can pronounce them, we can spit out the names of Olympic perps Wang Xiaoli, Yu Yang and the rest, but we should also look at ourselves and our own society.
And some might do well to remember Abraham Lincoln: “I am not bound to win but I am bound to be true.”

ENDIT 

© 2012 Fred Wehner is a journalist formerly with the Daily Mail in London, who then founded and ran the New York News Agency before settling in Monroe 21 years ago.