The alt text for the comic, which references JFK quotes I’ve previously slandered, is:
Also, if you read his speech at Rice, all his arguments for going to the moon work equally well as arguments for blowing up the moon, sending cloned dinosaurs into space, or constructing a towering penis-shaped obelisk on Mars.
We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon… (interrupted by applause) we choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too.
As I’ve said before, doing something because it’s difficult is a very noble goal for an individual. It is not noble to say “we are going to do this very difficult and expensive thing, and by ‘we’ I mean you will pay for it and I will sign some papers.”
Sometimes very famous people say things that are so stupid, you can’t even believe the people are applauding:
The commercial just pisses me off, but you really only need the first few seconds of the JFK speech. What the hell does “we choose to do this thing, not because they are easy, but because they are hard” mean? It’s just flatly moronic. People choose to do things based on the benefit they estimate to receive minus the cost of doing so. There are tons of hard things we could choose to do — some even harder than going to moon. How about not nearly provoking a nuclear holocaust with Russia? How about not sleeping around with East German spies? How about not becoming addicted to drugs? If only we could’ve achieved these “hard” goals as well!
But remember: we’re not talking about what a person might choose to do. We’re talking about what a government is choosing to do with its citizens’ tax dollars. He’s saying “we choose to do something hard instead of something easy” with your money. Money you could’ve bought food or toys for your kids with, but instead was spent putting a man on the moon in some vain display of National Greatness. Depending on your political leanings, this could’ve been used to fight poverty or provide healthcare for the uninsured. Isn’t that great to hear that your government is explicitly choosing things to do are expensive, difficult and risky (however you want to define “hard”) instead of things that, you know, actually help people?
If you retort, “well, this is all just political showmanship, we had real reasons for doing this” then fine — but why is he babbling this stuff in public if it doesn’t mean anything? And why do people remember this as a stirring speech when it contains such third-grade idiocies like that? I still don’t understand why people like JFK at all. Does getting shot really make up for being a terrible president?
Don’t even get me started on “ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.” Good thing I can rely on superior historical Americans to retort with: “government of the people, by the people, for the people.” Does anyone even listen to what these people are saying? Or do the billowing flags and resonant marches just summon up that deep lizard part of our brain to blindly prostrate ourselves before Important Men saying Important Things?