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Widespread Panic

Posted on February 5, 2010

Widespread Panic




There is a great scene in the movie “Airplane”, when the passengers, in response to a request to assume the crash position, go into complete panic mode.

That reminds me of what usually happens at the first signs of a “snow emergency” in Washington D.C.  People flock to the stores, buying food they don’t need, toilet paper that couldn’t possibly use over a weekend, and a variety of others things that they probably already have in their house somewhere, which they bought during the previous snow panic.

Widespread panic can be fun.  But it also can be counterproductive and a complete waste of resources.

Congress is good as widespread panic.

For the Christmas underwear bomber, Congress went into panic mode.  It hauled everybody it could think of to a variety of Committees to find out what went wrong and how Congress could make the situation more complicated.

When the Salahis crashed the White House State Dinner, Congress again went into panic mode.  Congressional Committees again hauled unwilling and unwitting witnesses for a grilling that only a true connoisseur of Washington comedy could appreciate.

Sometime, Congress panics in a good way.  For example, when Scott Brown won in Massachusetts, Democrats panicked so much, that they might just talked themselves out of doing health care.  The President, who doesn’t seem to panic very often, also seems to have panicked.  He said “we will do health care later, when the panic has worn off.”

According to Wikipedia, Panic is a sudden fear which dominates or replaces thinking and often affects groups of people or animals. Panics typically occur in disaster situations, or violent situations (such as robbery, home invasion, a shooting rampage, etc.) which may endanger the overall health of the affected group. The word panic derives from the Greek πανικός, "pertaining to Pan", because Pan was reputed to give a loud, chaotic, bleating cry which disoriented the Titans in Hesiod's Theogony. Panic is also known as an acute case of anxiety.”

There are some things we ought to panic about, but are not taking very seriously.

We ought to panic about our debt-to-GDP ratio.  We ought to panic about the growth of entitlement spending.  We ought to panic about the fact that other countries (Greece, Ireland) are about ready to default on their debts.

We probably should cool it on panicking about terrorists.  The terrorists aren’t going to beat us.  China?  Well, that is a different story.

Panic is usually inspired by cable television, which tends to get much better ratings when people are panicking in front of the boob tube.

I, myself, am growing tired of panicking.  That being said, I better get to the grocery store and buy some more toilet paper.