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  • Paula Tiberius

Mandatory Groundhog Day

February 2nd always makes me think of Bill Murray. Groundhog Day is one of my favorite movies of all time. Seriously, I own about 10 movies and this is one of them. Today listening to the news I was struck by the connection between what’s happening with the political and socio-economic divide in this country and this excellent motion picture:

Listening to The Thom Hartmann Show this morning, there were countless callers who phoned in to give their two cents about the comment Mitt Romney made about the ‘very poor.’ If you missed it, here’s Mittens at his best:

Yes, he’s a complete fool, but back to my point.

Each caller had a new fresh hell to recount about how they needed to rely on this ‘safety net’ that Mitt Romney thinks is perfectly fine for the very poor to fall back on. Some had lost their jobs and couldn’t find new ones, some had disabilities that were crippling to their employment, some were working parents who still couldn’t feed their families and were trying to do so on $3 per day in food stamps. It was enough to make you cry your eyes out.

Then a woman called in to ask Thom what he thought about the character of these politicians and corporate leaders who put money over people. She wanted to know whether they could be classified as sociopaths or worse. Thom didn’t get too into this debate, but I was very interested in the point this woman was making.

There comes a time when it’s not good enough to say, ‘Hey, it’s the free market. People should be allowed to maximize their profits.’ There comes a point where children’s water supplies are getting poisoned. There comes a point where millions of Americans are actually starving; where kids are going to school hungry – and guess what? It’s NOT okay. There comes a point where people are more important than money, no matter how much you may care about the profitability of your corporation. Right?

Not necessarily. Not for some people. Some people, apparently, can live with themselves after looting other people’s bank accounts, natural resources etc., and then go shopping with the money they stole. I think we need to address this fundamental problem at its root.

Cut to Bill Murray’s character Phil Connors in Groundhog Day, an asshole weather man who has very little concern for other people. For whatever supernatural reason, he’s forced to re-live the same day over and over again, and through this process, he’s compelled to examine his sociopathic nature. Over time, he can’t help but reform his ways and turn to compassion and love.

So what I propose is a Groundhog Day for every individual who can’t see past their own personal gain and profit. Let Mitt Romney come back to the political race once he’s spent 500 or so Mondays in a row reliving one day in his privileged life. Maybe he’ll be so terrified, bored or isolated from the experience that he’ll be forced to step out of his usual routine and discover something about the world. Maybe he’ll meet an actual poor person! Maybe he’ll visit the welfare office and see how difficult and humiliating it is to get help! Maybe he’ll go to the Congo where one of his biggest donors Paul Singer is profiteering from other people’s misery? Or maybe he’ll never come back. That would be okay too.

There’s a big difference between the very poor deluded Americans who vote Republican thinking that they are protecting their own interests as future millionaires, and the actual millionaires and billionaires who game the system for their own profit above the good of the country as a whole. For the former, the cure is education. For the latter, the cure is…Groundhog Day.

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