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Similarities between Congress, NHL striking, especially in negotiations

Tuesday, January 8, 2013 - 12:01 am

The United States Congress and the National Hockey League (NHL) have many similarities.

Some are obvious: Both skate around a lot, reward good defense and don’t score many goals. Congress fights more but seldom loses teeth. The NHL has more Canadians and Russians. Both play on thin ice.

The National Hockey League has a blue line. Congress has nothing similar that forces a team to play together or lose the puck. There are a few red lines in hockey, but that is all there is in the current Congress. In fact, all of the current actions of Congress are played on one side of the red line.

NHL teams seem to negotiate salaries with little consideration whether those who buy tickets can afford the salaries. Consumers can only object by not going to hockey games.

Of course in the case of Congress, you can vote in general elections but not on specific issues.

In the case of spending, elected officials don’t seem to base votes on what the crowd can afford either. In fact, the current trend in politics is to take the money from the people who paid for the tickets that fund the salaries and give it to the people who don’t buy the tickets or even know how money is generated to buy the tickets.

Hockey players do at least handle their own sticks. Far too many congressmen rely on staff to write their speeches and do their thinking. When you watch an NHL game at least it is Sidney Crosby who is playing. On C-Span, it usually is one congressman reading a speech written by staff sort of debating another congressman reading a speech written by staff.

There are other analogies (e.g. assists are like co-sponsorships on legislative bills) and other differences (e.g. not many congressmen get penalized, and there is less turnover of players in Congress). I can’t come up with a good analogy for the puck, other than that Congress could use one.

But of course I am delaying the most obvious: The NHL and Congress both view real negotiations as something to be done only after it forces everyone else to plan for chaos and then they settle for what is the obvious compromise that everyone outside their little clubs saw was obvious.

What is most astounding is that both repeat the same stupidity over and over again. Demands are made by each side that the other side cannot possibly accept. Then they re-propose a new demand that cannot be met. They do this right up until the last hour.

At least both hockey and Congress used to do it that way. Now they settle for the obvious after the deadline. And the trend is getting worse.

Many people don’t realize that members of Congress are required to read the Aesop Fable “The Little Boy Who Cried Wolf” before being sworn in. The thing is, most don’t read full books. They never read the ending.

Mark Souder is a former 3rd District congressional representative.