Donald Trump

Outrage Over Cut Funding to Meals on Wheels is Stupid

Your indignant fury over the possible elimination of the 4% contribution the government provides to budget for Meals on Wheels is both objectively overwrought and dumb.
https://cbssanfran.files.wordpress.com/2016/05/stolen-truck.jpg?w=640&h=360&crop=1
Pictured: The aftermath of Donald Trump’s previous attempt to destroy aid for retirees.
Unless you’ve deleted your Facebook/Twitter/Instagram account, you’ve probably heard about Donald and Melania Trump’s attempt to single-handedly crash Meals on Wheels into a brick wall of budget cuts and hasten the demise of the elderly, infirm, and poor… Most likely as part of their diabolical plan to finally clear those deadbeats out of their low-income housing so Trump can build more casinos.
(In the unlikely event that someone from CNN is reading this and is debating whether or not to use it as an “anonymous source,” that was sarcasm.)
 However, if your first reaction to this news was to immediately share an article or image declaring how we could fund Meals on Wheels for a thousand years if only Melania would just stop buying solid-gold flatware for about five seconds, then you’re part of the problem. It’s easy to feel angry when you see the extravagant lifestyle the first family lives while simultaneously hearing about how innocent charities are getting their shoe-string budgets slashed by Washington, but is this how we fix the it?
Don’t get me wrong: The idea of Donald Trump sucking at the teat of the American tax-payer for his own personal pleasure is a mental image that is deeply disturbing for a whole shopping basket full of reasons. The PROBLEM is that the entire argument being made by this fabricated hub-bub is grounded solely in that mental image; built exclusively on the fact that at least 1/3 of the populace and 3/3 of the media are convinced that the Trumps are stealing everyone’s gold and hoarding it in a cave beneath New York City like a family of gaudy dragons.
melaniadragon
“Tonight on Rachel Maddow…”
Unfortunately, when it’s framed in those terms, that outrage is completely misdirected, fallaciously over-exaggerated, and ultimately very silly, and I think you need to rephrase or rethink why you care. The whole affair has become a glorious exercise in misdirection, bias confirmation, and psychological projection. That’s a pretty heavy accusation, but let’s cover some things real quick:
1: This Was Never About Meals on Wheels.
This was never about Meals on Wheels for the media, it definitely was never about Meals on Wheels for the Democrats, and, in all honestly, was probably not really about Meals on Wheels for you either.
This whole thing started because the President’s proposed budget has a veritable army of belt-tightening cuts for a large swathe of agencies, organizations, and non-profits, almost each and every one of which has SOMEONE throwing apoplectic fits. It’s sparked hot debates about whether or not the federal government should be subsidizing non-profits, steering the direction of culture, or micro-managing education to begin with. The progressive left doesn’t like having these arguments, both because these arguments are hard and because the idea of Trump controlling art, charities, and schools creates a lot of cognitive dissonance. However, they can’t say they want to keep increasing federal power creep to pave the way for Hillary’s 2020 come-back, so instead they roll out what is literally one of the most sympathetic and inoffensive charities of all time: Meals on Wheels.
Suddenly, we have a completely different narrative. Innocent charity workers, busily baking healthy meals for the elderly, when an evil billionaire breaks down their door with a fire ax and tells them he’s cutting the power and repossessing all their ovens to use in his upscale steakhouse? This has gone from a debate over federal subsidies to something that’s two celebrity guest stars away from being a late 80’s television special.
But the real kicker?
2: Meals on Wheels Isn’t Even Directly Funded by the Government
No, seriously. Meals on Wheels doesn’t receive direct funding from the federal government, and their INDIRECT funding, as dispersed by local municipalities with money from the federal Older Americans Act along with any NON-federal funding provided by the state, accounts for less than THREE PERCENT of their yearly budget.
It’s the proportional equivalent of what you spend on a couple of candy bars during your weekly pilgrimage to the grocery store, and not even all of it comes from Washington.
And that’s just the national average. In some areas, it barely breaks 1% of the local chapter’s annual funding.
Some estimates place the federal government’s annual contributions to Meals on Wheels is right around a quarter of a million dollars. That’s not a lot of money by federal standards, right? So why can’t Donald just skip one of his exotic golfing trips and just give money to the poor already?
Donald Trump - Celebrity Style
Eat your heart out, starving old people. Real Men Have Curves.
3: Sorry. This Has Nothing To Do With Presidential Spending Either.
Everyone, left AND right, is desperate to paint the Trump family as this money pit of ostentatious spending… including the Donald himself, who seems to be weirdly committed to his public image as a cartoon rich person come to life.
Unfortunately, the sad fact of the matter is that lavish spending by the First Family has become the modern norm, regardless of party affiliation.
And you know what? It’s a legitimate problem. It’s a problem for the First Family, and for politicians in general.
HOWEVER, we’re lying to ourselves if we’re pretending that this is an issue that we’re only just noticing now.
If you’re having an aneurysm because Melania Trump doesn’t want to move into the White House (or whatever costly activity that Vox and Salon’s Facebook pages say she needs to give up), but had absolutely nothing to say when Michelle Obama took a government jet to go dress shopping, then your sincerity is in question. Conversely, if you spent eight years ripping Obama for golfing on weekends, and are now rabidly defending the Donald for doing the same thing, your sincerity is in question.
For or against, or somewhere in between, we need to treat presidential spending equally. And we need to stop pretending that limiting some random aspect of the First Family’s leisure expense is a realistic solution to whatever line-item we support in the budget.
4: Governments Shouldn’t Subsidize Charities.
It’s the job of the general public.
I fundamentally dislike the idea of the government sponsoring, financially supporting, or subsidizing charities and non-profits; especially ones that were never explicitly tied to government programs. I believe that people need to be intentional and proactive in their efforts to support their communities, rather than lazily waving their hand at the IRS saying “You take care of it.”
It’s the fundamental difference between liberalism and conservatism in the United States: The State handling all matters of charity vs. the people handling it.
First of all, I am a lot more comfortable and confident in personally deciding which non-profit causes I want to support with my finances than I am in Uncle Sam’s ability to do so. Second, there is something deeply unsettling about giving the government carte blanche permission to pick winners and losers among a WIDE field of charities, some of which I may support and some of which I may oppose, and then raise all of our taxes to force us to pay for them regardless of personal opinion.
This isn’t a crazed, libertarian screed against social policies writ large. It’s a concern over an unnecessary government mandate regarding an area of life that does perfectly fine on its own. Frankly, in an age of interminable national debt, it’s a discussion economists think we should be having about a lot of things. Over 90% of funding for Meals on Wheels America comes from corporations, trust funds, and private citizens. So why is Washington’s lowered involvement even a concern?
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“Here. Let me ‘Donate’ that for you.”
5: Meals on Wheels is a Charity. Which Means It Can Be Supported by People Like You.
Now, statistics say the odds are pretty low that you have ever personally interacted with the official Meals on Wheels America organization. Frankly, the odds are still kind of low that you’re actively involved with whatever your local equivalent organization is.
My generation, the Millennial Generation, is supposedly the most “civic minded” and “socially aware” generation born in the twentieth century. And we are frothing at the mouth because the federal government is refusing to cut back on luxuries in order to do our charity work for us.
Maybe it’s time we actually stepped into the shoes that all those overly-smug sociologists keep handing to us. Instead of just running our mouths about wanting the Trumps to just commit seppuku while signing a “Fund all charities 4ever plz” bill, we could actually do something about it.
Do you know how much money we could raise? Go look at the last Facebook post ranting about how Trump is personally gunning down the last survivors of his Meals on Wheels massacre, and look at the number of likes and shares.
If every one of those people gave up their daily Starbucks and donated it to Meals on Wheels America, we would outstrip the government’s yearly contribution in a MONTH.
Seriously. Just this post from The Week. Around 3,500 people. $4 a day. 30 days.
That’s over four-hundred grand.
No matter how many vapid “#CoffeeAddict” tags you add to your Instagram picture of your morning pick-me-up, it’s still a luxury. You don’t need it any more than Donald needs to golf.
trumpsandpit
“Take THAT, China!”
And guess what?
People are already doing it.
Reports say that Meals on Wheels has been receiving up to FIFTY TIMES its usual amount of donations since this debacle began.
So WHY doe we need to government to raise taxes, filter money through layers of bureaucracy, and lose an astonishing amount along the way, when we can LITERALLY GET THE JOB DONE FROM OUR PHONES? You don’t even have to leave your couch.
THIS is why the outrage is stupid: It was fabricated out of nothing, to cover a funding issue the government doesn’t even need to be involved in, because most of the people sharing the Facebook memes are too lazy to fix the problem themselves.
If you’re a progressive, and you hate the Trump’s lavish luxury spending when you think they should be helping vets and disabled people get hot food, then put your money where your mouth is, and donate your coffee cash to Meals on Wheels. If you’re a conservative, and you hate government spending and think the private sector can handle it, then put your money where your mouth is, and donate your coffee cash to Meals on Wheels.
This isn’t Trump’s problem. This isn’t the government’s problem. It’s our problem.
Still angry about Meals on Wheels? Skip Starbucks. Use a K-Cup. Donate to charity.
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 ~ Louis Petolicchio lives and writes in Central Pennsylvania. He has been actively organizing a company of adventurers to steal back his gold from Trump Mountain, but is still seeking a good burglar. Follow him on Twitter!
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If the 2016 Presidential Candidates Were Video Game Companies

Whenever politicians try and meddle in video games, the result is always awful. However, video games apparently make for some hilarious politicians. So here’s the 2016 presidential candidates… and their uncanny digital entertainment doppelgangers:

<> the Fox Business Network Republican presidential debate at the North Charleston Coliseum and Performing Arts Center on January 14, 2016 in North Charleston, South Carolina. The sixth Republican debate is held in two parts, one main debate for the top seven candidates, and another for three other candidates lower in the current polls.

 

Donald Trump: Electronic Arts

TrumpEA

I mean, was there any other possible option? A massive, well known corporate entity, they are almost universally reviled by everyone who comes into contact with them professionally, but still inexplicably successfully and popular despite employing some of the worst business practices in their industry.  They don’t have their own platform, piggy-backing on everyone and anyone else’s, making it their own. They haven’t developed anything unique or worthwhile in forever, instead relying on incessantly releasing newer and crappier titles for ideas that have been around for over a decade.

Mindless entertainment, sports, fast cars, and allegations of racism are their bread and butter; the cornerstones to their business models. The irony is that they also tend to pop up the champion of random, surprisingly progressive causes. They have a fetish with buying up as many subsidiaries as possible, slapping their own logo on them, and forcing loyal fans of those franchises to come crawling back and play by their rules if they want to play those titles again. This is second only to their obsession with making other people pay for things, preferably more than once. They’ll try to straight up copy popular client efforts from their competition, but the result just feels creepy, artificial, and super orange. Consistently rated as the “Worst in America,” they still remain an unstoppable juggernaut in their field, and they have enough leverage to completely rewrite the rules as they see fit.

 

Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio: Sony and Microsoft

CruzRubioSonyMicro

Known for their industry leading platforms, they’ve become the benchmark for presentation, as well as continuing to develop and produce ideas of their own. Currently engaged in a massive arms race and rivalry, the deep, dark, secret that their fanboys will never confess is that the two entities have a LOT more similarities than differences. While each one jealously holds on to a few exclusive titles, the vast majority of the stuff they present is available  cross-platform. Not to mention their mutually annoying habit of backtracking or revamping their public statements if the public opinion doesn’t react well to it.
Yeah, their controls are a bit different, and they have generally different personalities and tones to their message, but, at the end of the day, they still wind up feeling like two sides of the same coin. Except for security. They have WILDLY different ideas about security, and it shows.

Pundits spend an uncomfortable amount of time speculating what would happen if the two ever put aside their differences and joined forces, but the only thing more similar that their ideas and platforms is the size of their egos, and unless one of them suffered a sudden, crushing defeat, it’s doubtful we’ll see them team-up anytime soon.

sony-vs-microsoft“TO THE DEATH!!!”

(Which is which? I’d say that Ted Cruz is Sony because he generally has much a much more relaxed and free-wheeling approach to national security and personal privacy… and because of the Trump-ed up rumors that he’s secretly a foreigner plotting to brainwash children with Canadian thoughts. Rubio is Microsoft just because he’s so uptight about privacy, trade, and security issues…and Microsoft is younger than Sony.)

 

John Kasich: Ubisoft

KasichUbisoft

They will literally never stop reminding you of how open-minded, moderate, and reasonable they are. Ever. (Seriously. The beginning of EVERY. SINGLE. ONE of the Assassin’s Creed games. That splash screen talking about how the development team is so diverse and chill and stuff.) While they were hot stuff about five or ten years ago, now they spend most of their time just releasing mindless sequels to their various franchises and titles, not really developing anything of significance in recent memory. Nevertheless, they waste no effort reminding you of how potentially important they are and how groundbreaking those ideas were way back in the day when they first came up with them. They also have a deep love of rewriting history, sometimes for the sake of entertainment and sometimes for the sake of hiding poor voting decisions.

The irony is that in spite of ceaselessly trying to cultivate an aura of cosmopolitan inclusiveness, they are wracked by accusations of sexism and general hostility towards feminism, even though the reality is probably very different. The accusations are usually fairly petty, but quickly explode to massive proportions, and although both can claim to be generally far ahead of their competitors when it comes to women’s issues, they still get hit the hardest. They desperately want to be number one, but have to be content with being number four.

 

Ben Carson: Nintendo

CarsonNintendo

A well-known social fixture since the 80s and generally loved by everyone, you just can’t stay mad at them. Their most recent endeavors have pretty much flopped, but that can’t overshadow the massive legacies they’ve built for themselves or their irrepressibly positive outlook on the world and their chances of success in it. No matter how hard they face-planted, they’ve just kept trucking; not so much marching to the beat of their own drum as grooving along to a funk bass-solo that only they can hear.
They don’t take obvious hints to cease doing something, and you always get the impression that they know something you don’t. Sometimes this works out for them, and sometimes it doesn’t.

They’ve definitely produced a few titles and platforms that are widely viewed as “unusual” at best and “downright bizarre” at worst, but that hasn’t stopped them from owning it. Like Trump/EA, they’re often accused to appealing to the lowest common denominator and refusing to play by the rules. However, like Trump/EA, they have enough of a sphere of influence outside the current fracas that they just don’t care.

The BIG difference between the two is that people actually have fond memories of Nintendo.

 

Jeb Bush: Ensemble Studios (R.I.P.)

JebEnsemble

This one is actually for the Bush Legacy in general because, let’s be honest, Jeb is chained to his family legacy no matter what he does.
Once an incredibly popular developer, they peaked in the early-to-mid 2000’s and then just faded away. As the developer of the popular Age of Empires franchise, they changed the way we view global strategy and colonialism. While by no means original or revolutionary, they simplified and expedited the process.

In general, their mechanics were good and, with a couple exceptions, they produced solid, if not spectacular titles. Their ideas and releases became a legacy and mainstay in conversations about strategy or gaming in general.  They pretty much defined RTS games/the presidency/Florida-Governors for the entire millennial generation, for better or worse.

Unfortunately, they just couldn’t compete with or adapt to newer, bigger, faster, more aggressive developers and just stopped gaining traction. They were very close with Microsoft/Rubio, but were soon left behind by them as well. In spite of what, in theory, should have been impenetrable money-armor, they refused to delay the inevitable and closed up shop.

As the wannabe successor to his father and brother, maybe it would have been more accurate to compare Jeb to Robot Entertainment… except that Robot Entertainment is still functioning.

 

Hillary Clinton: 3D Realms

Hillary3DRealms

They were HUGE in the 90s and early 2000s and completely squandered their comeback in the late 2000’s, but they just refuse to go away. With an aristocratic pedigree of 90’s hits, it’s hard to deny them what they want, but people are just surprised to find out that they’re still around. They’re famous for proposing groundbreaking titles in the 90s, which tended to be a little controversial, but ultimately couldn’t keep pace with their competition… or even effectively manage their own organization. They made a ton of massive, grand promises during the 90’s, and completely failed to deliver on all of them. They had a brief resurgence in a more minor capacity in the early-to-mid 2000’s, but they still continued to squander their money left and right while constantly relying on their former status to keep opening doors for them.

They had their big chance to come back in the late 2000’s and fulfill the tease they had been putting on for over a decade and it not only fell through completely, but they had to sit on the sidelines and watch a young, fresh-faced rival take it from them and actually make it work, and they had to put on a fake smile and pretend to be happy for them. (In case you’re not picking up on it, we’re talking about Obama and healthcare.)

They’re still around, still kicking, and they still have “all these big plans.” We’ll see.
They are also wracked with women’s issues; mostly negative ones. Spending most of the 90’s trying to make excuses for or cover-up the bedroom abuses and indiscretions of their other half, they are now under fire for presenting a cartoonishly stereotypical “strong female hero” as an apology for victim blaming so many abuse victims twenty years ago. In other words, they aren’t gaining traction with anyone who wasn’t already playing their games in the 90s, but that won’t stop them because  “IT’S THEIR TURN!”

 

Bernie Sanders: Blizzard Entertainment

BernieBlizzard

They’ve been doing the same thing for decades and they’re extremely popular online and with people under the age of 35. (Most of the people over the age of 35 view them with deep suspicion, convinced they’re ruining the next generation.) Hailed by everyone as presenting bold new ideas and concepts, the reality is that nearly everything they’ve produced is borrowed from somewhere else (like Games Workshop). A gaming juggernaut powered primarily by micro-transactions, it’s notable for being one of the biggest developers in the world, while still acting (and fixing bugs) like an outfit running in someone’s basement. Their followers are extremely dedicated, vocal, somewhat socially awkward, and convinced that everything they produce is literally the best.

While they initially had trouble attracting women and POC to join them, their fans are growing very diverse, if not terribly good with economics or long-term perspective. But that’s ok, because neither is the company, making massively grandiose promises about their plan’s abilities that they can’t keep. However, as long as they are focused on doing one type of thing, with a handful of major titles, and they keep doing it well, their fans will never desert them.

Not to mention that they promise to let you play for free…. up until a certain level, after which your money is what’s paying for everyone else’s free time.

 

What do you think? Agree? Disagree? If it was up you, who would you pair with who and why? Let me know what you think, and don’t forget to vote in your party’s primary, just to tell your grand-kids that you participated in the Reality Show Election of 2016!

~ Louis Petolicchio lives and writes in Central PA, and, personally, he would rather NOT elect the human embodiment of EA to the highest office in the land. Follow him on Twitter!