Saturday, January 19, 2013

Retirement Updates — Congress More Disliked Than…

Last week’s Time magazine cited voter polls that showed that the 112th Congress was “less popular than cockroaches, colonoscopies and communism.” That’s a pretty serious state of dislike. I found it curious that all the items mentioned began with the same letter. That of course set me to thinking about the polling methodology, which wasn’t disclosed. (It appears the data sources are Gallup and Rasmussen.)

The Time write-up mentioned ranking, so it’s unlikely that voters were asked an open-ended question (e.g. name some things you dislike that begin with the letter ‘C’). If they had been, you know that constipation would have shown up ahead of cockroaches, especially among seniors. For us women, chin bristles would surely have been disliked more than communism; it’s the new millennium, for heaven’s sake.

More likely, voters were given groups of items that began with the same letter and asked to do rankings within each group. Or maybe not. In any case, I began to wonder: What other government institutions and programs, and which political nuisances, might be embedded in various letters of the alphabet to be scrutinized? And how would retirees rank them?

Certainly if those surveyed were asked about the letter ‘S’, Social Security means-testing would be less popular than skin tags and static electricity and would probably also edge out soft money, even in an election year.

Similarly, under ‘M,’ we’d see Medicare revisions faring worse than Metamucil and missing socks. It might even get a colder shoulder than Mitt Romney from Tea Partyers post-election.

Speaking of Medicare revisions, I’ll bet the prospect of grandma being rolled off a cliff means that eugenics would be disliked more than those dastardly earmarks, which in turn would be far less acceptable than earwax or ex-spouses, except perhaps in the Kardashian household.

Chances are the deficit and the debt ceiling would be in a dead heat for least popular, even when stacked up against dust mites and dry heaves.

Given the performance of this Congress, can there be any doubt that filibuster would be intensely disliked, easily beating out flatulence, fibroids and finger pointing?

As for the letter “I”, the IRS would be the perennial popularity contest loser. But for those with IPhones, the iOS6 maps app would have a stranglehold on second place this year. Not even indigestion or ingrown toenails would be in the running.

Undoubtedly, polling for ‘L’ would tell us that, after this election, lobbyists are reviled far more than liver spots and lollygaggers, but only marginally more so than Libertarians.

In a related matchup, I don’t presume to know how PACs would fare against pork barrel spending, but I’m sure they would both be less welcome than presbyopia and pollen explosions.

And speaking of Libertarians, the NRA post-Newtown might well go toe-to-toe with Neo-Nazis on the ‘hate to even hear that’ scale. There would certainly be miles of daylight between those two and whatever is third on the list for ‘N.’

No assessment of the relative likeability of government-related terms would be complete without assessing Washington itself. Let’s assume it would be pitted against whooping cough, werewolves and whiners. Is there anyone who doubts that, in the current climate, Washington would be less popular than any of those ‘Ws’?

No matter how disliked all the other letter losers would be, you just know that in any head-to-head, the 112th Congress would be the most-reviled of the bunch. And we didn’t need Gallup or Rasmussen to tell us that.

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