June 20, 2021

Lang: ‘Mandrake gestured hypnotically’

By Mike Lang, guest columnist

One of my favorite activities when I was eight years old was to listen to my dad read the comic strips in the newspaper. I would stand by his chair while my younger sister and brother sat on his lap. Dad subscribed to two or three newspapers in addition to the local paper. He was a news junkie, and this made more comic strips available to us. He was an excellent reader and made the comics exciting. Some of the newspapers spread the comics throughout the paper instead of putting them all on one page. This was good marketing, as people reading the comic strips were also forced to see many advertisements. Lots of apps on our cell phones use this same system today.

Among my favorites was “Mandrake the Magician.” Mandrake was an early version of what today is called a “super hero.” He made no effort to disguise himself or his faithful side-kick, Lothar. Always impeccably dressed, Mandrake wore a cape and a top hat. He looked like he was ready to attend the opera. Lothar was a deposed African King – no explanation was ever offered. Mandrake had the power to easily hypnotize people at will and he used this power as he confronted and overcame all sorts of evil people and villains. Every obstacle was overcome when “Mandrake gestured hypnotically!” His foe was subdued and was then under Mandrake’s hypnotic power.

As a child, I did not recognize that Mandrake, although acting for the betterment of mankind, had no authority to do the things that made him famous. Like so many super heroes, Mandrake often took the law into his own hands as he used his hand to “gesture” at people to gain control and compliance.

Many politicians operate much like Mandrake. They may not “gesture” with their hands, but seem to have the ability to hypnotize. Instead of waving their hand, politicians wave money at people to gain control and compliance and votes.

An example of “waving money” by politicians is President Biden’s proposed “American Jobs Plan.” The President is asking Congress to appropriate somewhere around $2 trillion for this plan. That is a 2, followed by 12 zeros and a decimal point. Write it down. Another way to describe this is: two thousand million dollars. Still another way to describe this is that it will call for the spending of over $6,000 for each of our 320 million citizens. To count one trillion dollars at one dollar per second would take 31,688 years. These numbers are staggering.

Labeled an “infrastructure” bill, less than one-third of the total is earmarked for true infrastructure, like roads, bridges, rails and airports. The remaining two-thirds is for things like climate change, electric vehicles, broadband internet, housing, public schools, child care, workforce development and replacing lead pipes. There is something for nearly everyone! We are being hypnotized by the promise of “free” stuff. This is on top of a regular budget of $6.6 Trillion! This is a strong “gesture.” If passed, we must indeed be under the government’s hypnotic power.

In 1967, then Illinois Republican Senator, Everett Dirksen, warned us that federal spending had a way of getting out of control. Dirksen commented: “A billion here, a billion there, and pretty soon you are talking real money.”

Just think — now, 54 years later, we can paraphrase Dirksen and say: “A trillion here, a trillion there, and pretty soon you are talking real money.” In my lifetime, since my dad read me the funnies over 70 years ago, our federal government spending has increased a thousand times! This is unsustainable! This is self-destructive! This is insane! This is criminal!

Have you noticed what is happening to prices lately? Gas is up 65 cents a gallon. Lumber, if you can get it, is up 25-30%. Home prices have skyrocketed. That is great if you are selling, BUT, watch your property tax bill and the cost to renew your homeowner’s insurance. Excess government spending guarantees inflation. We cannot think we are safe from the inflation that ruined Venezuela.

There is no such thing as a free lunch. Do not fall under the spell of big government when it “gestures hypnotically.”

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Mike Lang, is chairman of the Union County Republican Central Committee