The Beef du Jour for December 9, 2009 is regarding the day’s passage of the most vital piece of legislation by a committee of the US House of Representatives since the 2005 resolution that officially congratulated the New England Patriots for their Super Bowl XXXIX victory. I have tried as I will continue to try, to refrain from any sort of political beefery or policy discussions on The Beef, but today is different. I felt an exception to the rule was warranted today because only very rarely does such a huge piece of legislation elicit such a collective and bipartisan “WTF?” from just about every observer of American politics.

            When the morning’s sun rose over the east coast of the US today, Americans were waking up facing two protracted, costly and above all- deadly wars, a reeling economy in which thousands would be loosing their job by day’s end, a UN global climate summit with implications affecting the next few generations of this planet’s inhabitants, and last but not least, MONSTER BLIZZARDS engulfing two-thirds of the country.

How did the House Energy and Commerce Committee subcommittee choose to spend their afternoon you ask? They chose to vote on legislation that would ban the promotion of a postseason NCAA Division I Football Bowl Subdivision game as a national championship unless it results from a playoff. Despite the overwhelming sense of confusion and outrage at such a flagrant waste of time undertaken by the House Energy and Commerce Committee subcommittee, the measure passed almost unanimously by voice vote with the exception of one “No” from Georgia’s Democratic representative John Barrow. It should be noted that following the approval of the legislation, a Capital Hill janitor could be heard on C-SPAN shouting “Now get back to work!” to lawmakers as they left the chamber.

Of all the House subcommittees who could have played hooky to work on their fantasy football league today, why did the HECC group think they didn’t have anything more pressing to attend to? This week, the rest of the world has been gathering in Copenhagen to discuss climate change and craft new policies that will affect us all economically and environmentally. Meanwhile the subcommittee of the House ENERGY AND COMMERCE Committee was debating the fairness of the championship selection process of a sport that only Americans watch as the rest of the world mocks us. Making us look dumber still, the sport for which legislation was crafted today is a college sport- because football is the only part of our university system in need of reform. Nowhere else in the world do national politicians sit around debating collegiate athletics while millions of their citizens struggle to even get or afford an education from those institutions.

Without a bit of research, I would be hard pressed to name the last time a House committee passed a piece of legislation concerning anything else positively impacting higher education in this country. I am certain however, that the current administration has not done anything yet, which means that the last federal “improvement” to our colleges and universities came under Bush. With a statistic like that, it’s no wonder the US is ranked twenty-ninth in overall literacy behind the likes of Kazakhstan, Estonia, and gasp…. Cuba.

Every story has a hero however, and this one is no different. This story’s hero is the janitor at the capital. Even though he was probably denied access either by grades or finances to the institutions of higher learning mentioned in the bill, he clearly has displayed more intelligence, not to mention common sense, than our elected policy-makers playing in the big white clubhouse at the east side of the National Mall. 

There you have it, today’s Beef.