Of Reality Shows and Facing Reality

There is no denying that “reality TV” has ingrained itself into our culture.  A look at recent headlines confirms this.  But the headlines also underscore how reality shows are nothing like the reality most of us face.  As families struggle with finances in this bleak economy, not only do we find our world completely apart from the one inhabited by the Kardashians and the like, but also increasingly adrift from Washington.  The politicians seem oblivious to the situation, even though the federal budget is as dreadful as many family budgets.

The “balloon boy” parents pleaded guilty recently to charges stemming from their now infamous stunt in which the former “Wife Swap” stars reportedly tried to snag a reality show of their own.  Unlike the bizarre episode they concocted that had many Americans riveted to their TV sets for a day, ballooning federal budget deficits are no hoax and demand our sustained attention.  These balloons won’t be coming down any time soon and it is very likely that our children are in for a rough flight.  Unfortunately, it is the would-be rescuers we find hiding in the rafters.

Massive red ink in government will affect significantly the standard of living of future generations.  The mounting disparity between federal receipts and expenditures – a record $1.4 trillion in 2009 – parallels the growing disconnect between Washington and the rest of the country as our elected representatives refuse to constructively address the dilemma and we fail to hold them accountable.  Now that U.S. National Debt reached a record high $12 trillion last week, the matter seems to have President Obama’s attention.  But it is still not clear that Washington has the resolve and farsightedness to seriously address it.

The “Dancing With the Stars” season finale is this week and there is growing anticipation over the upcoming season of “American Idol.”  At a time when too many families across the country have no choice but to face the financial music, it is disheartening to see the same old song and dance emanating from the nation’s capital.  However, we cannot use this as an excuse to tune out Washington.  It is exactly that attitude which has enabled the fiscally reckless behavior.  Instead, we must channel the same energy and ingenuity we are directing towards resolving our personal finances to restoring fiscal responsibility in government.

The resilience and resourcefulness that Americans are exhibiting in these trying times is inspiring.  Take for instance that fact that many people, of their own volition, are sending checks to the federal government to help pay down the national debt.  We must demand the same level of responsibility from our leaders – and ourselves – in tackling the national debt.  Just as we have learned to become more discerning consumers – leery of credit card and mortgage offers that sound too good to be true – so too must we be as voters in rejecting fiscally irresponsible campaign promises. 

Like many Americans, the fundamental need for fiscal responsibility literally hit home for me recently.  When I look at my two young children and ponder the future I can provide for them, I agonize over not only our family finances, but the larger economic picture that they will inherit.  I want to bequeath to them the promise of prosperity, not the obligation of debt.  That will only happen if we all start acting responsibly and face reality.

It is no wonder that the “Real World” and “Real Housewives” franchises are now filming in Washington.  The city is living in a reality of its own.  It is time for more action and less hot air and dancing around the issue.  We must deflate the deficits before they carry away our future.

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One Response to “Of Reality Shows and Facing Reality”

  1. What I’m Thankful For « Policy Daddy Blog Says:

    […] Policy Daddy Blog Balancing family, policy and saving the world one issue at a time « Of Reality Shows and Facing Reality […]

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