Monday, February 23, 2009

Politicizing Jesus - Or Putting Out of Control Deficit Spending In Perspective?


One story that made waves over the weekend was the American Issues Project ad which first aired Friday:

“Suppose you spent $1 million every single day starting from the day Jesus was born — and kept spending through today,” says the announcer as an image of the three wise men flashes on the screen. “A million dollars a day for more than 2,000 years. You would still have spent less money than Congress just did.”

It would be an incredible understatement to say, "That's a lot of money!" Here's the ad:

"Every Single Day- The American Issues Project"


Totally Missing (Or Ignoring) The Point


The media's coverage of this political ad was annoying because they seemed to think the story here was the fact that the ad "used Jesus" to illustrate their point. Politico.com's opening paragraph, which was typical of what most news coverage said:



"After watching liberal allies of President Barack Obama flood the airwaves in support of the stimulus bill, a conservative third-party group is countering with a provocative new commercial using Jesus Christ [*gasp*] to emphasize the scale of the $787 billion package."

Oh noes! They used Jesus to make their point? How provocative! They're politicizing Jesus! Let's leave Jesus out of this.

The real story here is that the government just spent that much money. This seriously just happened. Can you fathom how much that is? Just consider for a moment how much a million dollars is. Consider spending one million dollars over just your lifetime. Now consider spending one million dollars every day for your entire life. Isn't that just an obscene amount of money for the government to spend all at once? How does sapping that much wealth from the economy help us out of a recession?

But it's worse than that. It's not just more money than you would spend in total if you spent a million dollars a day for your entire life, it's more than a million dollars a day since Jesus walked the Earth, a period of time that significantly dwarfs the duration of a single person's life. Jesus was mentioned only to give a sense of scale, not to imply that Jesus would take a side in this political debate or to be "provocative." This ad isn't provocative, it's shocking. Most of the media (including the "ultra-conservative" Fox News channel) either totally missed or totally ignored the real story and the real tragedy here.


Too little, Too Late

One thing the media did pick up on that I agree with was that this ad is too little too late. Where was this ad before the stimulus package was passed? There's a ton of outrage over the stimulus package, coming mostly from the so-called "conservatives," and I'd like to know where all that energy was when we had a chance at stopping the package from becoming law. Rick Santelli's rant on CNBC fired up a lot of people, but why weren't they organizing "tea party" protests before the package passed? Why didn't America take to the streets and stop this from happening to her? Why didn't hundreds of thousands of patriots descend on Washington D.C. and march up to the Capitol to say "NO MORE!"

I guarantee you that if I had been a major voice in the national dialogue with my own radio show, television program, or million-visitor-a-day website, I would have mobilized my community of avid liberty-lovers to do something and make a difference when it was most urgent to do so. But now that the damage is done, I am glad that people are using this as an opportunity to learn a lesson and to reflect on the direction this country is heading.


One More Illustration

The usefulness of illustrations like the one in the ad is that the human mind is not equipped to handle very large numbers. Large numbers are almost meaningless to our brains. If you want a way to grasp the magnitude of the money we just spent (that doesn't "use" Jesus), try this illustration: one million seconds from now it will be March 6 (just eleven days), one billion seconds from now it will be the year 2040 (that's 11,574 days or almost 32 years), one trillion seconds from now it will be the year 33,718 AD (that's 31,709 years- or fifteen times the number of years between Jesus' birth and the present. *oops- I just had to slip him in). Now imagine all those seconds from now until the year 33,718 were dollars. We're running a deficit bigger than that.


And for people who like pictures-

This is how a stack of nine million one dollar bills looks compared to a man of average height.

(source -check it out to see more examples)

This is how 630 billion (that's a lot less than the stimulus package cost) one dollar bills look (and yes, those tiny dots are the man and his car for comparison):

(source)

Anti-Bailout Merchandise
Anti-Stimulus Merchandise