'Tis The Season To Be Shaken Down
Except that Governor Rod maintains he did nothing wrong. Since he was caught on tape, I can't imagine he is planning to claim he was framed, so I am starting to wonder if he seriously believes there was nothing wrong with shaking down the CEO of Children's Memorial for campaign contributions. Some might argue that he was just going overboard with what tends to seem like business as usual in our state. However, since he seems to have kicked his crime spree into high gear in the last month or so, I am wondering if his problem wasn't merely that he was corrupt, arrogant, and amoral, but also that he was overcome with holiday cheer. I mean, maybe Rod just got too caught up in the notion that he was entitled to certain gifts? Some of what he is quoted to have said on that tape sounds like a far cruder, expletive version of the sentiment expressed by Sally in Merry Christmas, Charlie Brown, "All I want is what is coming to me, all I want is my fair share."
Alright, so I know this sounds like I hate Christmas, which is far from the truth. Now that I have a child, I absolutely love Christmas. I love the decorations, the stories, the traditions (cookie baking being my favorite, though my baking mojo appears to have left me and all my cookies have been underwhelming this year), the songs (and the fact that every year there is one song that seems to stalk me wherever I go because although I find it annoying, it also becomes oddly comforting to be followed by a song, vapid though it may be. BTW, this year it is Paul McCartney's Wonderful Christmastime), the message of peace and good will, and the general sense of excitement that hangs in the air. What I cannot stand is the demand that we give and receive gifts. For those who say this isn't a prominent part of our culture, I say you must live on a commune without contact with the rest of the outside world (inw hich case, how are you reading this?) Seriously, it's in all those commercials, celebrating the joy of finding a car with a bow on it in your driveway or the fact that "he went to Jared!" (note: girls, if you find yourself at a romantic dinner with a guy, it is in extremely bad taste to text your girlfriends the details of your haul while the date is still going on. Whether or not the guy goes to Jared, I would hope he would have the good sense to dump your ass when you showed the bad manners of pulling out your phone and typing. The fact that the commercial would show this as something to be emulated doesn't make ignoring the person you are spending time with alright, it just means the advertisers are trying to rope in the lowest common denominator. Just remember it is a commercial and real life people aren't as tolerant of rude behavior as people on tv.) It is in the shoppers who so desperately had to get the good deals ASAP they trampled a man to death. And, I am sad to say, it is in all the exhortations we make that kids should tell Santa what they want for Christmas and the notion that, so long as they were good, they can expect to receive these gifts. (Note: the post office here offers a way to play Santa to a needy family which is a really cool way to spread holiday cheer and to actually make a difference in people's lives, so I am not opposed to the writing of letters or the giving of gifts at all.) The sense of entitlement is most obvious in the ultimate letter to Santa song Santa Baby. I know, I know, it's supposed to be cute and vixenish, you listen to Eartha Kitt sing it and think it sounds sexy and, well, logical. I'll admit, I have sung this song many times and never thought too long or too hard about the words.
Santa Baby, slip a sable under the tree, For me.For simplicity's sake, let's assume that she means a full length fur and not a jacket or stroller. I have been checking various internet sites and it seems the cost of a full length sable coat ranges from around $40,000 to over $100,000. Because no specifics are offered, I'll just toss this coat into the mix. Price=$55,095
been an awful good girl, Santa baby,
so hurry down the chimney tonight.
The online blue books don't even go back past 1988, so for this, I must look on ebay to get an idea of the price. Currently, there are a few 1954 Chevrolet Corvette roadsters up for auction. The bid prices are up to $41,655 and $33,433, though the reserve has not been met in either case (and neither car is light blue, but considering we are talking near mint condition 54 year old cars, why quibble over color?) Because the auction won't end for a few more days, let's just assume the car will cost as much as the coat. Price=$55,095
Santa baby, a 54 convertible too,
I'll wait up for you dear,
Santa baby, so hurry down the chimney tonight.
Santa baby, I wanna yacht,
And really that's not a lot,
Been an angel all year,
Santa baby, so hurry down the chimney tonight.
Again, there is a wide range in the cost of yachts, so I will have to take a stab at what our protagonist has in mind. Let's just pick this one as it looks like something that the Harts would own. Price=$647,000
Santa honey, there's one thing I really do need,
To a platinum mine,
Santa honey, so hurry down the chimney tonight.
The platinum mine is a total intangible. This is where Santa will have to apply some x-mas magic by calling one into existence solely for this purpose. Price=priceless.
Santa cutie, and fill my stocking with a duplex,
Sign your 'X' on the line,
Santa cutie, and hurry down the chimney tonight.
Here in Chicago, we call multi-level condos duplexes and houses with two apartments two-flats. However, I suspect the singer is requesting a two-unit building, so that is what I will price out. Right now, on Realtor.com, there is a really nice two flat (just down the street from my house) selling for $1,189,000. Because the economy is terrible and I assume Santa can negotiate, we don't need to assume this is what he would pay to acquire the dwelling. Price: $1,000,000As for the checks, let's assume Santa is mindful of all gift tax laws. Price=$12,000
Come and trim my Christmas tree,The average price for a Tiffany ornament is $107. Let's assume that an assortment of 50 ornaments were purchased (because one would guess that the tree's owner already has quite a few ornaments already, so we don't want to go overboard here.) Price=$5,350
With some decorations bought at Tiffany's,
I really do believe in you,
Let's see if you believe in me,
Santa baby, forgot to mention one little thing,A 1.5 carat diamond in a Tiffany setting starts at $16,500. The round brilliant with pear shaped stones starts at $33,500. The emerald cut three stone starts at $48,800. Again, this is calling for a lot of speculation on our part, but why don't we choose the middle option? Price: $33,500.
I don't mean on the phone,
Santa baby, so hurry down the chimney tonight,
Hurry down the chimney tonight,
Total cost of this Christmas list=$1,797,240.00 (not including the impossible to price platinum mine).
And what does Santa get in return for all these gifts? The assurance that Marilyn Monroe/Eartha Kitt/Madonna was a good girl all year, missing fun and not kissing fellas, and, perhaps, some suggestion that if he hurries down the chimney with enough loot, he will see the depth of her gratitude. Wow. We know he is overweight and hairy, but one would imagine he wouldn't need to shell out quite so much cash to get a little action and I don't care how beautiful any of the women who have sung this song may have been, no one is really worth this much. Not to mention that if this is the amount it takes to buy someone's fidelity, I think the relationship is already in trouble. Of course, it is pretty obvious the woman who sings this must have a high regard for herself in order to consider herself worth all this which may be why I never got quite the right attitude I my voice when I have tried to sing it. That and the fact that I have no inner sex kitten whatsoever.
(At this point, you are probably wondering what the point of this whole digression has been. To be honest, I feel like I have lost the thread of this and suspect I am trying to cram what should be three or four separate posts into one. Unfortunately, I am too far along to give up now. Please bear with me through the end and we will see if I manage to pull it all together.)
Many people interviewed about the governor said they felt ashamed as Illinoisans. I thought that was a bit much as they weren't responsible for the corruption, why should they be ashamed? But now, after going through that detailing, I feel a bit sick because of the awful stereotype of women it perpetuates, but also somewhat ashamed because all it really does is take the jewelry commercials' message to its logical extreme. While a lot of women may decry prostitution and would never dream of accepting money for sex, many women seem to believe that their men should prove their love with gifts, so while the nature of the contract may be different, is the actual nature of the transaction? So, yes, I do understand that the profoundly grotesque actions of one can taint all the members of a group if it seems to perpetuate a negative stereotype people already have about a group. In the case of women, it's the notion that all women are whores, in the case of Illinois, it's corruption in politics.
But in light of the societal shakedown that is under way (even in these tough economic times) is it any wonder that a man who regards himself as highly as it seems Rod Blogojevich does would overstep as he did? Compared to the protagonist in Santa Baby, he is practically restrained. While I am not sure we, as citizens of this state, should have anything to be ashamed about (just as we, as women, should not be embarrassed inherently ashamed by the behavior of other women), maybe as members of this culture, we should be ashamed because, in some respects, it seems like Rod Blogojevich just took our society's message of entitlement to its logical extreme.