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King Features Column

(The usual: Thanks to the deal with the syndicator, this column appears here a week after its newspaper release)

FROM NORTH AMERICA SYNDICATE, 300 W 57th STREET, 15th FLOOR, NEW YORK, NY 10019

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BOB FRANKEN

FOR RELEASE TUESDAY, MARCH 13, 2012

THE FIBS AWARDS

BY BOB FRANKEN

There are so many awards -- the Oscars, Emmys, Grammys, all those that range from journalism to graphic design, you name it. But some of the most creative work has gone unrecognized even though it is part of our day-to-day existence. Until now.

It's time for the annual Fiction In Broader Society (FIBS) award. This is the first and probably only annual, but let's not quibble.

As the name suggests, the categories cover what we witness routinely. The plain white envelopes, please...

THE COMPANY LINE

The winner is: “We are family, a team of allies pulling together toward a common goal”

Some family. Employers and employees have conflicting goals. The bosses fight to pay as little as possible for as much output as they can extract; their workers struggle for all the money they can get for the least effort possible. They are not allies; they are adversaries. These days, the ones at the top make sure they get huge profits and therefore ridiculous paychecks by simply lopping off however many underlings they need to eliminate, and never mind how the consumer product, service or safety suffers.

It would be impossible to single out one corporation. So there is more than one winner. And millions of losers.


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THE SPORTS AND TV “WE CARE” PACKAGES

Top dishonors go to: “Giving back to our community”

Again, there are hundreds of winners. They saturate the air with their warm and fuzzy vignettes that show our favorite jock or anchorperson mingling with the less fortunate. We can't miss them because usually, there just happen to be cameras on the scene to record every touching moment. This is not to say that everyone from Celebrity World is insincere or showboating with human beings as props at the behest of the PR flacks, but the ones who are not usually do their heartfelt good works quietly, behind the scenes.

THE POLITICAL EMPTY PROMISE FOR THE EMPTY-HEADED

“$2.50 Gas”

You knew, of course, that we would be recognizing the campaign for fibs. And Newt Gingrich's guarantee that he will bring gasoline back down to $2.50 per gallon is not just idle chatter, but flimflam -- and he knows it. Hence the accolade, particularly since he's not just a one-hit wonder. Newt has introduced so much deception into our lives that it's tempting to conclude that he himself is a deception. His distortions of history, his manipulations of religion, have all produced one campaign con after another. In fact, he probably should be given the Lifetime Achievement Award, except that he is just one of many colleagues whose every pronouncement deserves a tarnished trophy.

Herman Cain and his “9-9-9” plan had wide appeal until you delved into its real numbers. Mitt Romney's own tax plan and its premise that much lower rates for the rich benefit everybody is another that is remarkable for its sheer chutzpah. Rick Santorum would be in the running for the times he's taken an oath to uphold the Constitution, when he clearly wants to do away with the First Amendment. And to be bipartisan about this, let's include Barack Obama, who became president chanting “Change We Can Believe In.” Nothing really has changed. So this time around, his slogan probably will focus on his opponent -- something like, “You Gotta be Kidding.”

The real fiction is the misguided belief that we are powerless to do anything about all this subterfuge. Our recipients and their enablers have tried to make it seem like we don't have any alternatives, but we do. Change, however, means hard work by all of us. Those who benefit from our current paralysis thrive in the “what's the use” climate of complacency. If we don't get off our lazy butts, we're suckers for not demanding that our leaders are honest. Right now, we have to assume that they are fibbing and, in the process, tearing down our society.

© 2012 Bob Franken

Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.


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