Comparing Congress to Volunteer Firemen

A politician is a strange and wondrous creature.

They can easily favor opposing ideas on alternate weekdays while spending the weekend raking in money from lobbyists and contributors who have no concept of ethics or even any loyalty to this country.

On the day after taking thousands of dollars in “contributions” from some foreign company which has legislation pending that they will amend and vote on, the same politician can stand up in Congress and rail against third-world dictators and customs inspectors who demand small payments to favor businesses.

These days it is difficult to keep perspective on what is really happening as spin doctors work hard to confuse you and everything a politician says might seem to make sense, even if they held the opposite viewpoint a year earlier.

I thought an analogy might help.

Consider if our brave and hard-working volunteer firemen instead acted like Congress.

When your house is burning they would rush to the site, wave their arms, and half would shout loudly and repeatedly that the building is on fire. The other half are taking a quick poll of your neighbors to see if they like you and start shouting that, no, the house isn’t on fire, it is all illusion and you are just trying to get money and services you don’t deserve from the government.

All the while you stand there watching your home burn.

The fire chief and his staff are sitting in their cars getting makeup applied until a TV news crew showed up to photograph the fire, then, while the cameras are being set up they rush in, grab an ax and join the fire crew in breaking into your car and cutting down any nearby trees.

About this time one group of firemen would propose pouring water on the fire and the rest would all yell, “Great, that’s what we should do.”

But then the guy who wants to be chief next year says, “Wait a minute, this water in the river is the wrong kind, we need to buy water from my cousin’s pool company and, besides, we could put out this fire much faster if we had a new fire engine.”

Then they fall to squabbling and choose up sides.

You are by this time sitting on the ground trying to comfort your crying children while the house continues to burn.

One small group wants to just start pumping water on the fire with what they have. Another small group is quietly setting other fires in the same neighborhood to support their call for funding to expand the department and buy additional fire trucks.

The rest, some of whom have control of the hoses while others have the keys to the truck, are arguing about the new equipment both sides now want.

One side wants to buy a standard fire truck from the dealer located just down the block. The dealer is actually open and has a truck they can have at the fire in five minutes. Unfortunately, he forgot to contribute to the fire chief’s BBQ fund last month.

The other side is led by a guy whose brother-in-law owns a flower shop but wants to start building fire trucks instead.

The two groups keep grabbing at the news crew’s microphone while shouting insults at each other.

Eventually the TV cameraman turns to cover the burning building while the reporter interviews you, the homeowner, first asking how your children felt when they realized the family dog was still in the burning house (which they hadn’t realized until now.)

Next the chief and wannabe chief get together and decide to order the new truck from the brother-in-law so they have something to announce to the reporter.

They push the homeowner away from the reporter and step between the camera and the house to tell everyone how, in view of the gravity and urgency of the situation, they have decided to order a new truck with a pump twice as big as any other ever seen.

By now little remains of your house except embers where the local kids and the news van driver are toasting marshmallows.

The next day the chief asks the brother-in-law to design a new truck and get it built quickly. They also promise to double his asking price if he hurries.

He submits a design a few weeks later and everything seems to be on track to put out the house fire, but then some of the firemen start squabbling over what color the engine should be, while others want their relatives’ companies to supply a gold-plated steering wheel and some shiny decals.

Blah, blah, blah… I’ll let you fill in the rest, but the new truck arrives just in time to give you a ride to the new home you had built. It accidentally runs over your new dog.

My apologies to all the heroic, hard-working firepersons everywhere for even mentioning them in the same breath with the lazy, greedy bums we send to Congress.

Congressmen play politics with the future of our great nation, while being wined and dined (you’re not allowed to call it “bribed”) by lobbyists. And we’re supposed to believe they are taking their duties to the people who elected them seriously.

We REALLY need to send some volunteer firemen to Washington.

And, by the way, just why isn’t money given to someone who later supports a business called a bribe?

Copyright 2010, John A. McCormick, Inc.