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May 12, 2009

I'm Gonna Run fer Congress!

By: Aaron Datesman

If economists had groupies, I’d be a Dean Baker groupie. I’m sure I’m not the only one reading this web site, either. It’s probably my inner physics teacher, but his frequent lectures on innumeracy really, uh, turn me on. Unfortunately, since I actually was a physics teacher for several years, I find it no surprise that 17-year-olds who can’t really grasp the difference between a million, a billion, and a trillion grow into adults who still have no idea.

On the other hand, I have a proposal to turn our culture’s rampaging incompetence with numbers to my advantage! I’m gonna run fer Congress! And I’m going to win, too. This is how.

I have a simple platform, which I will scream loudly from every conceivable location until I turn red in the face. This will continue until I am elected. My message is this: “America’s military is worn down, and we’re practically defenseless! When I’m elected, I promise to spend $200 billion per year on the Department of Defense! That’s more than Russia and China put together!”

That sure is a lot of money! I think that there is no way this approach could fail. Once elected, I will then ensure my enduring popularity by spending the leftover $500-600 billion we were formerly wasting on “defense” to buy a puppy for every American. Also, guaranteed single-payer health care. And a free college education.

I honestly wonder whether anyone at all would be the wiser.

— Aaron Datesman

Posted at May 12, 2009 10:57 PM

Just one helpful suggestion: As you criss-cross your state in search of votes, you might want to avoid the use of light aircraft.

Posted by: SteveB at May 12, 2009 11:43 PM

Aaron, my best wishes. But I really think you should be rational about this and only promise puppies to people in your congressional district.

Your riff on number illiteracy reminds me of this(video).

Posted by: Jonathan Versen at May 12, 2009 11:53 PM

guaranteed college educated single-puppy is on the table

Posted by: hapa at May 13, 2009 12:16 AM

Aaron Datesman: Hope YOU make a serious run and win.

Posted by: Mike Meyer at May 13, 2009 01:49 AM

What SteveB said on the top. $500-600 billion is a helluva lot of money.

Posted by: abb1 at May 13, 2009 05:21 AM

Well Aaron, it seems that you have another goal in life. I think you would be great in congress and promising a puppy to all Americans will insure more jobs listed under pooper-scooper wanted. Go for it!

Posted by: Linda Datesman at May 13, 2009 07:47 AM

Aaron, don't be a pure purist hippie greenie. You have to be realistic and support the lesser-evil candidate instead of running for office yourself. Hope for gradual change over several decades - that's the only way progress happens in this country and you're unrealistic to fight for anything else. Maybe if you grovel and whimper at the feet of your local republicrat you can get him/her/it to adopt a small part of your platform, like sending ever twentieth person in your district a small picture of a puppy. Don't let the good be the enemy of the slightly-less evil!

Posted by: MediaGhost at May 13, 2009 08:35 AM

I hope you live in TN. I'd vote for you, if so.

Just found your blog via AfterDowningStreet links and I must commend you all on excellent work.


Posted by: BuelahMan at May 13, 2009 09:31 AM

Aaron, don't know if you know this already, but Dean Baker actually ran for Congress (during graduate school, I think). He was in a district that was Republican so the Democrats barely ever put up any resistance. So he was able to sneak in and get the Democratic nomination, and then run a campaign making giant amounts of trouble (although he then of course lost). So if you lived somewhere else it's not beyond reason to think you could do this.

Posted by: Jonathan Schwarz at May 13, 2009 10:16 AM

run a campaign making giant amounts of trouble (although he then of course lost).

Wasn't this Robert Redford's plan in The Candidate?

Of course, I've never seen Mr. Datesman, but he could be a dead ringer for Redford.

Posted by: SteveB at May 13, 2009 10:46 AM

Although it's nice to see I have my mother's support - and of course I do look like Robert Redford in the sense that I am also bilaterally symmetric - I was being snarky rather than serious. Nevertheless, the idea of telling my wife that we're moving from Chicago to Nebraska so I can run for Congress is.....interesting.

I didn't know that about Dean Baker. It increases his groupie factor by at least 3x.

(Mr. Datesman is a dead ringer for no one except for Tom Green, unfortunately.)

Posted by: Aaron Datesman at May 13, 2009 11:28 AM

Just one helpful suggestion: As you criss-cross your state in search of votes, you might want to avoid the use of light aircraft.

SteveB, what a horrid, horrid month that was.

I would have expected a lot more people talking about the possibility sabotage, demanding investigations, etc. I've heard very little. What do you know?

Posted by: catherine at May 13, 2009 12:15 PM

SteveB, what a horrid, horrid month that was.

I'm surprised we haven't seen more demands for an investigation, and talk about sabotage (and I mean from people OTHER then the standard conspiracy population). What do you know, anything?


Posted by: catherine at May 13, 2009 12:17 PM

You might be able to send every 100th person in your district a picture of a puppy, so long as you agree to increase military spending by several 100 billions. After all, politics is the art of compromise!

Posted by: AlanSmithee at May 13, 2009 12:28 PM

No, I don't have anything more than the usual suspicions (although if I did know something, I wouldn't blab about it here - I suspect Schwarz is a government operative who passes all of our IP addresses on to the Department of Homeland Security.)

Oh, and here's one more reason for candidate Datesman to avoid plane travel.

Posted by: SteveB at May 13, 2009 01:33 PM

I suspect Schwarz is a government operative who passes all of our IP addresses on to the Department of Homeland Security.

Ha ha ha ha ha! What a funny joking joke that is so far away from reality that it is not even worth thinking about for one second and soon I will delete this entire post!

Posted by: Jonathan Schwarz at May 13, 2009 02:10 PM

Aaron, why not ask your supporters to move to where you are....Chicago, Nebraska or wherever? You will surely get elected, strength in numbers you know!

"I honestly wonder whether anyone at all would be the wiser"

You are absolutely right. With the bankers in the eye of the storm and waiting for citizen deluge to attack them, no one is paying attention to the Pentagon and loss of billions missing from its budget would not be noticed except by your prospective supporters. Again, that would increase your chances for victory! So run Aaron run!

ps could you make an exception and instead of a puppy, buy my little friend a turtle? I am sure, you will not need Whitehouse permission!

@ Mr Schwarz:
Where and when did you learn to censor free speech?

Posted by: Rupa Shah at May 13, 2009 02:45 PM

Rupa - It's a good point, I think the financial bailouts have served to educate somewhat about the million/billion/trillion distinction. But I can't believe that even 5% of the population could really peg the defense budget at its proper scale in relation to the federal budget or the GNP. I would be interested to know whether 5% of voters could do this.

Posted by: Aaron Datesman at May 13, 2009 03:15 PM

Aaron, I am agreeing with the point you are making in your post. When I say "loss of billions ", I do not mean stolen money from defense budget, I mean "cut in the budget" that would result from your position, and it would not be noticed by majority. From the ones who would notice, almost all would become your supporter.

Posted by: Rupa Shah at May 13, 2009 03:59 PM

Aaron, some advice from my dissolute telemarketing days selling magazines -- quote the cost per day or week. People understand that better.

In my experience, talking to hundreds and hundreds of callers, none of them could ever (or would ever) convert "only $1.57 per week for three magazines" to eighty bucks a year -- an exorbitant amount for three magazines (but a nice income for me).

Now here you want just the opposite effect, because the numbers are huge, so you wow them with "When I’m elected I promise to spend over five hundred million dollars per day, every day, including weekends, for our nation's defense," and watch the votes flow in.

Posted by: Don Bacon at May 13, 2009 06:07 PM

Aaron: Don't forget to reduce foreign aid too.
Say, to half the level of Sweden.

Reminds me of the Satirical Canard Enchaine's headline after the Socialists reduced the French work-week to 35 hours:

"Government increases work-week to 35 hours."

(Cruel but funny.)

Posted by: Bernard Chazelle at May 13, 2009 08:11 PM

You get my vote. But better hurry and do it before I renounce my American citizenship, because after that I won't be able to vote in US elections any more. I'm planning to trade in my used American citizenship for brand new citizenship in my adopted country. Where, incidentally, I have free health care. And three puppies.

Posted by: Jean at May 14, 2009 06:18 AM

I hear our chocolate ration is going up too, to 20 grams. Double-plus good!

Posted by: SteveB at May 14, 2009 09:37 AM

I hope for your success, Aaron, and will support you how I can.
There is one concern.(Maybe we should communicate about it privately, though...)

Aw, to heck with it! Could I have a kitten, instead of a puppy?

Posted by: M. at May 14, 2009 07:50 PM

Why would you be so cruel to all those puppies? Just so they don't get hurt by all the stupid, insensitive people out there, I'll have to run against you. Either that or take all the puppies myself.

Posted by: Sharon at May 14, 2009 08:08 PM