Action... Reaction...
’s not a game or a silly thought... it’s basic physics... and... reality

Before we venture too deeply into this subject… column… exploration… ok… whatever it is, I want you to take a second to check out this story. By now you’ve almost certainly heard of the governor and the prostitute. But did you hear the second story? And how about the third story? (Check out the link… it includes enough information for our overall discussion.)

I often find it amazing how quickly people swoop down on the first (proverbial) “shoe to drop” when big news hits. But hey… it’s the culture. In a world filled with updates every second, the rush to be first is stronger than ever… and waiting for a juicy story to become juicy and ripe often isn’t an option.

Of course… why should we wait? Britney Spears is walking around carrying coffee cups and looking every bit as if she doesn’t own a mirror (or underwear… sorry… couldn’t help myself). So when she is driving to avoid the very photographers taking those pictures… with her child on her lap… no seatbelt… regardless of even having another adult set of hands in the vehicle… run with it. The story is at a climax… yes? Can we possibly have any understanding that soon she will be getting out of cars without panties… or shaving her head… or having all sorts of unfathomable breakdowns? No… we can’t… so go with the story when it seems the best.

(By the way… have you noticed that the pictures or her younger sister… the very young, and pregnant sister… look remarkably similar to ones we saw of Britney just six or seven years ago? Hmm… maybe it’s just me. But I wanted that on the record. Ok… the governor.)

The first story was obviously the downfall of a prominent politician. But, as we’ve sort of mentioned is the way it goes, updates by the second were flying around the world, so someone needed a new angle, and maybe, perhaps, there is something to be gained by focusing on the prostitute.

Ashley Alexandra Dupre.

As part of the initial story… though released hours if not a day or two later… we start hearing about her good fortunes in all this. Million dollar offers to take off her clothes for photographs… movie and book deals to be negotiated… even some interest in a music career from hundreds of thousands of people that literally paid for a copy of one of her songs.

But wait… second story hits… and this gets better. Much better.

One of the groups interested in getting those naked pictures was the famous “Girls Gone Wild” production team. Pretty much figuring their offer was far from likely to be accepted (I mean seriously… big publications with at least a bit more credibility were in this chase), they had a group meeting and did some math. Young girl around college age… willing to be a prostitute… was there a chance she might have gone down to Florida for a legendary spring break party? Of course there was. So perhaps… long shot admittedly… they should check their files. Maybe… just maybe… they actually already have pictures and video of Ashley on file. Wouldn’t that be incredible? Come on… what are the odds that a year or two or four ago they were someplace and Ashley was that same someplace and they already have photos and videos of her boobies out in the open and her taking off a thong and she’s even already been paid far less than a million dollars… and heck… not only are the pictures and videos paid for and theirs, but they have even have a signed release? What are those odds?

Apparently… pretty damn good.

Let’s face it… the only thing that could make this story even better would be if the man sworn in to replace the fallen governor was married, and both he and his wife had strings of extramarital affairs. But why push our luck hoping for that?

This is all just a foundation point for me to build on though. I didn’t start this column to talk to you about Ashley’s breasts. (That was just a bonus.) What I want to talk about is how every story seems to have a second chapter… a sequel… a reaction (if you will). And often, the second story is much better than the first.

For a couple of years now, I have been making the observation that a breaking point is on the way. That people were ignoring what I saw as obvious signs that a financial crisis was coming… and individuals and families across the country were being forced to make decisions that were already painful… but far tougher choices were on the way.

I’ve done it by discussing schools… where my argument has essentially been that even public schools are, at their barest foundations, now private. After all, with more sales than ever of wrapping paper or cookie dough, fees tied to playing sports, and extracurricular activities falling off of budgets and offerings, the reality is that we are paying more and more to get even less.

I’ve done it by discussing global warming… where my argument has been essentially not to deny or debate whether or not the planet is being mistreated (it is), but to understand that immediate actions without considering consequences might be a bit rash. We have been hit in recent weeks with the news of contaminated drinking water. (The problem with lowered birth rates and couples facing fertility nightmares? Go figure… for some it quite possibly is something in the water… namely birth control medication that has run off from treated waste water into the drinking reservoirs.) In recent years, some places have banned bottled water because the disposal of the bottles is having a negative effective on recycling and trash efforts. (I could go on and on with this topic alone, but you get the point.)

I’ve done it by discussing gas prices… and how eventually this rise in costs, which is sad on its own, would hit other things. Grocery stores… pizza shops… and all sorts of operations raising prices or going out of business.

And it all forces us into reacting in unthinkable ways. The sacrifice isn’t a movie on Friday night with the family, but whether a credit card payment can be made. Decisions are being debated like filling a tank so you can get to work or feeding your kids. Look… when costs go up, people adapt. Action… reaction. Spending more on gas each week? Well… looks like grilled cheese on Saturday night for dinner instead of being able to have a family night out for pizza. You adapt.

But the reality is that we’ve been adapting for a few years now. (Some would argue that next January will mark eight years of adapting… but you don’t need my critique added to those voices.) And every year… every month… every week… and heck, every day… we’ve been making cuts and changes and allowances.

Eventually folks… something has to give. As I’ve quoted before (by intent if not exact wording), Ritch Schydner once said to his wife regarding their family spending: “You can’t pay out more than you take in. Stop me when this sounds out of line.” And while I won’t debate that several companies have shady business practices which led in part to the mortgage crisis, I think another question must be asked about people piling up debt after debt after debt because instead of being responsible or finding realistic ways of reorganizing household finances it’s easier to get yet another credit card.

And yet this rant of mine is all a set up for a final note. I read an article in The Providence Journal about the fishing industry in Rhode Island. It mentions expenses (such as gas), getting less money for more work (in the form of government regulations), and all sorts of other appropriate sacrifices and situations that everyone should be able to identify with.

I don’t want to pretend to have any tremendous solutions. I have a few suggestions… but without truly knowing the business end of things, it’s hard to know where the weaknesses may be in any of them. What I can tell you though is that alot of people are interested in only telling you what you want to hear… not what you need to hear… and not about what might happen.

It’s about time more people began asking “why” about these things. About time we tried to figure out what the complete result will be when we do something. It’s about time we all started taking responsibility for our actions, and realizing that when something gets done… something else will happen.

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This article was originally posted in April of 2008. I decided to bring it back when I saw an article where Al Gore was apologizing for his stance on ethanol subsidies because he was looking to get more votes.

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