My God, is there anybody that remembers “The Music Man”- that Musical which at its core, was about a con artist, who starts a school band in a sleepy little town of River City? Of course, it’s all about swindling money from the residents of the town, and never buying any musical instruments.
It is of course, how our society runs. We are twice as likely to do something or buy something, if we are both escaping from what we perceive to be a major problem, and at the same time, believe a simple solution is just around the corner. If we accept the problem is threatening our well being- then we are likely to accept any solution.
If you concentrate on the problem, make it as ominous as possible, this starts the fear process. The “Music Man” main character, is Harold Hill, who sings “Ya got trouble” in a pool hall in River City. See lyrics at the end.
This is so relevant to today’s political debate. We’ve got trouble, with a capital T that rhymes with P, and that’s called politicians! Trump, Rubio, Cruz are all jumping on what is wrong with the country, yet the extent of the problems and their solutions are typically likely to fail. Issues like abortion, immigration and gun control are hot button issues.
Oh- we’ve got trouble in River City. Eroding family values! Drugs everywhere! Police can’t do their job! The country has trillions of dollars in debt and we are sinking fast. North Korea is threatening us with their missiles! And on top of that, Obama wants to take away your guns and doesn’t respect anything in the Constitution! I’m mad as hell and I can’t take it anymore! (Peter Finch as Howard Beal , Network (the film), what a performance)
With the Democrats, it’s about the inequality of the wealthy and middle class. Colleges cost too much and people can’t get ahead. There is suffering everywhere and begging for help. The rich have all the benefits, pay lower taxes and can make huge donations to candidates. Unfair and unjust. We’ve got problems with the police, and unnecessary violence. Oh- it’s River City deja vu!
The Music Man debut in 1957. There were big crises at the time , communism was spreading like some disease, devouring China and extending itself through other poor countries. It was common to see a picture of the globe, drenched in red paint. Russia had the bomb, and there was a lot of talk of how Russia was coming “to bury us” and we better all have fallout shelters.
The secret of how to solve problems, is to reduce them, and work on them piece by piece. But, of course it is not the way to sell products, or win elections. Sometimes it is hard to tell the difference.
Music Man took a simple pool table, as the source of River City’s problem.
Mothers of River City Heed that warning before it's too late Watch for the tell-tale signs of corruption The minute your son leaves the house Does he rebuckle his knickerbockers below the knee? Is there a nicotine stain on his index finger? A dime novel hidden in the corncrib? Is he starting to memorize jokes From Cap'n Billy's Whizbang? Are certain words creeping into his conversation? Words like... swell? And... 'so's your old man'? Well if so, my friends, ya got trouble Oh, we got trouble Right here in River City Right here in River City With a capital 'T' and that rhymes with 'P' and that stands for 'pool' That stands for pool We've surely got trouble We surely got trouble Right here in River City Right here Remember the Maine, Plymouth Rock and the Golden Rule? Our children's children gonna have trouble Oho, we got trouble We're in terrible, terrible trouble That game with the fifteen numbered balls is the devil's tool Devil's tool Yes, we've got trouble, trouble, trouble Oh, yes, we got trouble here, we got big, big trouble With a 'T' With a capital 'T' And that rhymes with 'P' That rhymes with 'P' And that stands for pool That stands for pool
My feeling of course, is none of our problems, are as serious as any politician would make it out to be. Nor are any of the solutions likely to be easy. We have to make progress where we can- which comes usually from compromise.