Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Fakes, Shams and Exaggerators

Like most of my friends, I'm pretty fed up with fakes, shams and exaggerators. I don't think they are the same, but there is adequate room for overlap.

So the fakes first. I see them as people who have a job, take on a specific challenge and then back off from the challenge and don't do anything. Think about the super committee. These guys are fakes. They promised to write new legislation reducing our national debt and then rolled over and fell prey to the lobbyists and party muscle and did nothing. Oh, they met. They postured. They squabbled. But in the end, they didn't do the job they promised to do. Of course, they are members of Congress, as disfunctional group of elected officials as I've seen in a long time. Wouldn't it e great if We the People could lock them out, like the owners did the overpaid one-percenters who play pro basketball? Once again I have to remind Congress that you aren't doing the job of this "People."

Next are the shams. These people call us a dozen times a day trying to pry another dollar out of our pockets for some cause or other. Most of the causes may be valid, but so little of the funds donated by phone reach the cause. Those telephone beggars get paid, you know. I prefer to donate to a cause I can see face to face.

I realize that some of the shams believe they are doing good. There was a Catholic priest in New York City who ran Covenant House, a shelter for runaway and street teens. We donated to his cause for years. Then the newspapers broke the story that the priest molested several runaways. He got thousands off the streets but became a sham when he kept a few for his own purposes.

Let's look at the exaggerators. I just finished reading Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson. I knew that Mortenson had been exposed for not keeping good records about the schools he built in Afghanistan. When CBS's Sixty Minutes sent a camera crew to many of the schools, they found many Mortenson claimed to have built never were constructed. Others were storage units for animal fodder. Millions poured into his Central Asia Institute, which is now under scrutiny. Great idea, good results when Mortenson was working small. But when he expanded, he lost control. His book is compelling. Too bad it's as much fiction as adoration. There must be facts there, but they are clouded by the facts.

I'll spare you my rant about politicians on this holiday eve. Oh, wait. Many fit all three categories. Especially when they are running for president. I may have to rethink sparing you the rant. That's material for another post on another day.