Of Politicians, Cows and Ice Cream

This is an old allegory that I've come across multiple times in the past. In the current iteration, it's supposedly from Nashville, and mentions Obama, but it could be equally applied to almost any locale with elected politicians.

In any case, I find it amusing, so I've decided to record it here:

From a teacher in the Nashville area:

“We are worried about ‘the cow’ when it's all about the ‘ice cream’

The most eye-opening civics lesson I ever had was while teaching third grade this year…

The presidential election was heating up, and some of the children showed an interest. I decided we would have an election for a class president.

We would choose our nominees. They would make a campaign speech and the class would vote.

To simplify the process, candidates were nominated by other class members.

We discussed what kinds of characteristics these students should have.

We got many nominations, and from those, Jamie and Elanor were picked to run for the top spot.

The class had done a great job in their selections. Both candidates were good kids.

I thought Jamie might have an advantage, because he got lots of parental support. I had never seen Elanor’s mother.

The day arrived, when they were to make their speeches. Jamie went first. He had specific ideas about how to make our class a better place. He ended by promising to do his very best.

Everyone applauded, and he sat down.

Now it was Elanor’s turn to speak.

Her speech was concise. She said, “If you will vote for me, I will give you ice cream.”
She sat down.

The class went wild. “Yes! Yes! We want ice cream.”

She surely would say more. She did not have to.

A discussion followed. How did she plan to pay for the ice cream? She wasn't sure.

Would her parents buy it, or would the class pay for it…? She didn't know.

The class really didn't care. All they were thinking about was ice cream.

Jamie was forgotten. Elanor won by a landslide.

Every time Obama opened his mouth, he offered ice cream, and 52% of the people reacted like nine year olds.

They wanted ice cream.

The other 48% know they’re going to have to feed the cow, and clean up the mess.

This is an instructive tale. But it is also very optimistic in its evaluation of the world, and quite partisan.

The idea that it's only left-wing voters that are swayed by promises of getting something for nothing is rather silly. Just take a look campaign promises from contemporary right-wing politicians. Full of promises to improve health care, education, welfare, build walls and bridges, and, of course, military spending.

And that still doesn't even begin to mention all the goodies U.S. politicians promise their real constituents: the corporations that pay for their billion-dollar election campaigns. Endless streams of corporate welfare, favorable legislation, etc.

No, you will have to search far and wide to find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy than modern politics.

People who vote in democratic elections generally vote what's best for their personal interests, for the politician who can promise them the most ice cream. The human desire to get something for nothing is a powerful, and dangerous force.