Shut Down On This

schoolhouse-rock-billShall we play a game?

Before we can play, we need to know a few things. Like, what is a game? My attempt at a definition would be something like this:

Game – A competitive activity with participants, rules and objectives, and outcomes which are determined by strength, skill, or luck. A game is an activity severely perverted by the presence of humans.

Certain outcomes are deemed to be of value, others are not. The outcomes we like are known as winning. The ones we don’t are losing.

Too much emphasis on winning and losing can make the game unpleasant or even harmful, usually to the detriment of the “loser” but also, in many cases, to both sides.

I postulate that a game without rules is meaningless. If we sit down to a nice game of chess and you declare your opening move, “My pawn jetpacks above the board, whips out dual blasters and lazer-beams all your bitches” before sweeping my pieces to the floor, you have not won the game. At least not in terms of the defined rules.

Failure to adhere to the rules and the spirit of the game is known as “cheating.” I further submit that it is impossible to win when cheating is involved.

One last definition: Any activity where one party always “wins” without any chance of other outcomes is not a game. For reference: see the entry on God.

Now for another question. How many laws got your direct personal involvement and consent before going into effect? I’m going to guess about .0001 percent. How many laws do you personally agree with? I’m going to guess less than 100 percent.

What does this mean? Do you have the right to only follow the laws that you like and ignore the rest? “I don’t think I’ll pay taxes this year. After all, I don’t agree with that law right now. Maybe next year it will be more agreeable. We’ll have to wait and see.”

If that was the way things worked we wouldn’t need laws at all. We’d be an anarchy-based society.

Our society can be thought of in game terms. There is a system of rules, invented over 200 years ago and refined over time, regarding how play the game. We hold elections to select a president. The legislative branch has rules about making laws. They may or may not going into effect depending on how the game gets played. (For the full story on this, see Schoolhouse Rock: I’m Just A Bill.)

Once a bill is passed by both houses of Congress and signed by the president it becomes a law. Personal feelings of the vanquished do not change this fact. Remember: There’s no law that says everyone has to agree with all laws.

The standard is simple: Did the bill follow the rules to become a law?

That’s it.

If you don’t like the law, introduce a new bill to modify or eliminate it. What’s that? You don’t have the votes to get it through both houses of Congress? Or, even if you do, the president will veto it? Or, even if he/she does you don’t have enough votes to override?

In layman’s terms that’s known as tough cookies. It’s also sometimes referred to as “How The Rest Of Us Deal With It.”

Sometimes you win. Sometimes you lose. This is politics. No one gets their way all of the time. That’s not how it works.

When your guy is president you proudly say, nay shout, “The president doesn’t need permission of Congress to do XYZ. He can make recess appointments. Filibusters are bad. If you dissent we’ll lock you up. These aren’t the droids you’re looking for.”

Then, when the tables have temporarily turned, you change your tune. “This guy is bad. He didn’t get permission of Congress. He’s trying to make recess appointments. Have you ever seen the like? The unmitigated gall. We think all gall should be mitigated! All hail the filibuster! Dissent is our right! And look! He/she has our droids!!!

See? Certain people seem to think that when the vagaries of the game briefly ebb in the “wrong” direction, the rules of the game must be changed. Further, they seem to believe, that the rules should only be changed when it is to their own benefit.

In my world this isn’t considered fair. It is not chivalrous. It’s not even considered logical or good form. Basically, in gaming terms, it’s a big fat festering boil of cheating.

In the game of life you take your lumps. If you get knocked down you get back up again and come out swinging. You deal with it.

What you do not do is change the rules of the game. You do not cheat.


6 responses

  1. Nicely done. I thought about posting today, but I’d just get so angry that it didn’t seem like a good idea.


    1. I’m sure you’d have done better. But, you didn’t. Shut. Down.


  2. Why are you not writing for Huffington Post? You did a better job putting this into bite size pieces than any of their “reporters” did today.

    You get a cookie.


    1. You are far too kind. I’m just doing my bit waiting for the Huffington Post to come calling. It has been a long wait.


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