AMERICA, Part 3 of 3
for Losers - Two Views
By Kirsten Andersen, with Amy Krause firstname.lastname@example.org
a recent chilly morning in D.C., I was emerging from the Metro when I
heard the notes of a familiar song drift through the terminal.
It took me a minute to catch on, but being the patriotic schmuck that
I am, I broke into a wide grin when I realized it was the strains of
the National Anthem, being played on a portable keyboard.
As a regular commuter, I am used to seeing beggars of myriad sorts at
the entrances to the subway system. Usually, like most
Washingtonians, I pass them by with an embarrassed smile. That
morning was different. As I turned the corner out of the Metro
station, I saw an ill-kept man playing the keyboard that must have
been his only valuable possession. What struck me was the
passion with which he played; eyes closed almost prayerfully as he
tenderly played a beautiful rendition of the anthem. The sight
and sound were so moving that I emptied my wallet into the jar sitting
by the keyboard.
It was not the man's poverty that moved me. Most beggars on the
streets of D.C. look so poor and ragged that you would almost think
they try to make their situations look worse than they are. By
contrast, this man looked like he had cleaned up and dressed up as
best he could for his performance. He was still obviously poor
and needy, but he was showing respect for himself and others by trying
to make the best of things.
In that same vein, the other reason I dropped all my cash in his jar
was that he was playing the National Anthem. It is not what you
think-I may be a sucker for my country, but the sound of the Star
Spangled Banner doesn't usually demand that I sacrifice lunch and my
morning bagel to give my money to someone else. What moved me so
was that that man, in his position, was playing our anthem with such
feeling and sincerity. Not only was he taking action to improve
his situation by using his God-given talent, he wasn't whining about
it or the country. He was one of very few truly poor people in
the J. Crew-clad, Palm V-toting crowd in the subway station that
morning, but instead of whining about how unfair that was, he honored
the nation and everyone in the Metro station with beautiful, patriotic
the other hand, I have a family member on welfare. Almost
everyone has one somewhere in their family, that one member who
prefers the generosity of the government to getting a job, or even to
playing music in a subway station for dollar bills. That family
member almost always has three or four (or eight) young children, most
of whom have constantly runny noses and bad oral hygiene.
With no thought of the message she is sending to her children, this
family member collects a nicely sized check from Uncle Sam each month
and spends the proceeds on pizza and cheap beer. Occasionally
she plays the lottery, thinking that if she could just win once, she
could pay back all the money she owes her family, and maybe get a nice
new car. Her children dine like college students on hot dogs and
EasyMac. Her husband (if she has one) is unemployed as well, or
doing under-the-table odd jobs so they don't lose the government
The rest of the family pressures this relative to think about the kids
and the lessons that they are learning. Unfortunately, rather
than seeing their problem, they are usually offended and end up doing
nothing to solve it.
I do not have all the answers. However, there are many groups
out there that actually care about people, unlike the impersonal
government. There are plenty of ways for them to get back on
their feet without using the government, including churches and other
other faith based organizations (to help care for the children) along
with programs like the Salvation Army and Dress for Success (to give
people tools for success). These programs along with sizable tax
cuts should be enough to help those who are willing to help
At this point, you are probably thinking, "What does any of this
have to do with the election results in Florida?" We
realize that it's hard to believe there could be anything more
important than dimpled chads, but we just wanted to remind everyone
that while the world watches Florida, life does go on.
HOWEVER: For those of you who absolutely, positively cannot handle an
opinion article without an election opinion, here's ours:
If you wanted to talk about WHINING IN AMERICA, Al Gore would be the
poster child. Not only has he fought for his irrational plan of
counting and recounting until someone says he wins, but he encourages
other people to whine as well (Remember the West Palm Beachers?
Now there's a whiny crowd if we ever saw one.). Even Gore's
policy supports whining.
How would President-Elect Bush and lame duck Vice President Gore (we
had to put that in) differ in their opinions of how to solve the
problems of the man in the subway station and Amy's relative?
First of all, Bush wouldn't stand for any whining. Bush knows
that there are plenty of avenues open to those who are serious about
helping themselves. Bush supports faith based and other private
organizations stepping in to help the underprivileged get back on
their feet. Compassionate conservatism is all about helping
people help themselves.
Gore is not a compassionate conservative. Gore is an extreme
liberal who would have run as a socialist if he thought he could get
one more re-count out of it. Gore loves the situation that Amy's
family member is in. Total government dependence is what Gore
believes people thrive on. Why should a woman on welfare give up
monthly checks and go to work when the free (to her) checks are bigger
than paychecks from the local bank, grocery, etc. If she did get
a job, then Al Gore would tax her earnings so highly (to pay for the
people who stayed on welfare) that she would be worse off than when
In the end, America really doesn't like whiners. There may be
quite a few of them inhabiting our land right now (and attempting to
lead it), but if there is anything Florida has shown us, it's that
whining is ultimately the last act of a loser. And maybe that's
a good way to finish up the series on WHINING IN
AMERICA…."Whining is for losers."
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the 2003 Al Gore Press Conference with the Cynic
the conversation about the election...
© Kirsten Andersen, 2000
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View expressed are
those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Political