The Common Good
May 2011

We're Number 33 (We Rock!)

by Ed Spivey Jr. | May 2011

Speaking of my granddaughter, I was changing her diaper the other day, and in the contents I'm pretty sure I saw ...

Speaking of my granddaughter, I was changing her diaper the other day, and in the contents I'm pretty sure I saw ...

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(Editor’s note: Stop. One column about the new baby is enough. Our readers just don't care. Please, stick to current events and politics.)

... the face of John Boehner. He recently took the speaker's gavel from Nancy Pelosi -- who didn't cry -- and is leading the House with a bold plan to "read my lips," just as soon as they stop quivering. I considered alerting the media about my discovery, but I didn't want tea partiers camping outside my house, paying homage. ("It's a diaper miracle! Quick, deport an immigrant!")

Meanwhile, Speaker Boehner has settled in to the important business of Congress, namely, denying my granddaughter health coverage because of her pre-existing condition of being SO CUTE!!

(Editor's note: PLEASE, we're running a magazine here, not a Facebook page. You wanna tweet, go tweet. But not here.)

Fine. At first, Boehner presided over the reading of the entire Constitution, which took almost two hours or, in my current measure of time, 1.5 diapers, depending on time spent inspecting for likenesses of congressional leaders. Many new House members were surprised at first to hear no words from the Declaration of Independence, the Bible, or Guns & Ammo magazine, all of which they incorrectly attributed to our nation's founding document during their campaign. Then they were elected. Oh well, no harm, no foul.

Unfortunately, Boehner has struggled to keep his caucus in line, particularly the House freshmen, because you know how freshmen are: They get lost between classes, they go to bars with fake IDs, and then, under the influence of alcohol, they try to cut $100 billion from the nation's social safety net.

And then they stagger back to the dorm and throw up in their roommate's wastebasket.

Speaking of immaturity, in reaction to Michelle Obama's wellness initiatives, Republican member of Congress Michele (no relation) Bachmann came out strongly for our constitutional right to baby food made from industrial chemicals. To be fair, Bachmann wanted to prevent the government from pressuring women to breastfeed since, according to major infant formula manufacturers, formula feeding is just as good. (Actually, formula is not as easily digested as breast milk, and the waste products are reportedly more pungent and darker in color, which affects how tanned the House speaker's likeness may appear.)

Bachmann and other conservatives are concerned about White House initiatives that could create a "nanny state." But heck, I'd love to live in a state with nannies. I could use their help, even though I think grandfathers are already "practically perfect in every way," to quote a famous English nanny whose techniques were especially lauded by the umbrella industry.

But back to politics. My granddaughter is only 4 months old, and already she's laughing at The Wall Street Journal's editorial page, which she thinks is written by extremely conservative stuffed animals. She's happy to have been born in the richest nation in the world although, since the U.S. is ranked 33rd in infant mortality, she can’t wait to get past her infancy. (At least we're ahead of Croatia, which is 34th. Take that, Croatia!)

Soon she'll begin to experience the many advantages of our nation, such as being only slightly behind the Slovak Republic in reading and math. Admittedly, in a ranking of 33 industrialized nations, the U.S. is last in reading, but it's coming on strong at 27th in math and an impressive 22nd in science. Eat our dust, Portugal!

Of course, these numbers could change if Republican leaders push through their cuts to education and health care. The hope is that future generations would inherit less debt, which is a good idea, even if future generations won’t be able to spell big words like "debt." They'll be too sick.

Ed Spivey Jr. is art director of Sojourners.

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