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Sunday, February 12, 2012

America the Dumb

As I watch the daily news cycle, I'm constantly amazed at how Americans are talked down to by the media; this is even more true about the conservative media who consider themselves smarter than the rest of us. How can you tell? How many conservative radio schlock jocks are there compared to liberal ones? They even have their own TV network. While talking down to voters has been true for a while in politics, it's taken a new turn with the inclusion of national conservative figures like George W. Bush, Sarah Palin, and Rick Perry. Collectively, these three aren't capable of being a dog catcher in a progressive industrialized country like Finland.

So how did we get here and where are we going? Well, we got here when the GOP decided that it was better to say whatever they needed to say to get elected, but to then do whatever they wanted to do after getting into office. Politics ceased being about the candidate who's best suited to fulfill the duties of his office and started being about whom the party cognoscenti could coach and get elected. In our lifetimes, it began with Ronald Reagan, an actor given lines to read and who put on an Oscar-quality performance for 8 years, even when he was unfit to lead due to the Alzheimer's that Nancy and her coterie kept from the public.

Why would the GOP want to dumb down America? Because smart people can see through the lies and would never allow them to wrest power from the electorate. The GOP had an image problem after Nixon soiled the office of President, and along came Ronnie RayGun riding a white horse into the White House. He was the perfect foil; he sounded genuine, he talked like Joe Six-pack, and he was a true believer. All they needed to do was to paint Jimmy Carter as an elite, something that they're trying to do again with Barack Obama,  and they had their man with the plan.

So who did they go after first? Well, if you're in the United States and you're looking for a body of people who have absolutely no critical thinking skills, who act in lock-step, who are monolithic in thought, you go to church. American Evangelicals are reared into a religion that stifles creative thinking, critical thinking, and just plain old thinking, period. Why? Because the guise of Christianity is so thin that having people think is tantamount to having them ask questions about the inconsistencies in the bible, and in their 23,000+ denominations. By the way, why ARE there 23,000+ Christian denominations? And each one thinks that only they have all the answers. Yet, when pressed, they'll clump together like so much fecal matter and shout down anyone who questions their beliefs. They'll scream that it's they who are being repressed if you complain that their religion is in your face every day, and that it's their demagoguery which has brought America to its knees. They've fought science at every turn to the point that science is taught in schools with a bent toward their mythology, Creationism, rather than the true path of Evolution. Is it any wonder that American school kids lag behind the rest of the industrialized world in math and science when what they're taught is at odds with the truth? It's shameful. And they've been duped into thinking that they're right. America lost its way the day we stopped following intellectuals and started following myth.

This morning, I watched a series of videos filmed in a small town in Minnesota. The interviewer was unbiased and was very neutrally trying to understand what people thought about government entitlement programs. The interviewer pointed out that those drawing Social Security today bring in 3 times more, adjusted for inflation, than they paid into the system. And in every case but 2, the people interviewed believed that they were exceptions to the rule, and that they had somehow earned the 3x payout. And in every case but 1, they considered themselves conservatives. I would like to see a similar set of interviews where people are asked who voted back in the 1980s for Social Security privatization. How would they feel today with no income? What? That's right, no income. Why? Because with two major recessions - that caused by 9/11 and then the Great Recession - their income would have been wiped out. Completely. The politicians who proposed that Social Security be privatized - and they're still at it - have cleverly avoided pointing out that they proposed that it would not be regulated by any government agency, that it would be governed by the free market. In that case, small investors, who would make up the vast majority of a privatized Social Security, would have been among those who lost everything in the Great Recession, and that the earlier 9/11 recession would have taken some out then. Ask people what they think about that and you get stony silence. I know. I've asked. I asked people at my mother's doctor's clinic when I've taken her to appointments. I've asked at the VA hospital when I've gone to my own appointments. Someone always blurts out that the government wouldn't have let them go without income. But that's wrong; the politicians - conservatives - who proposed privatization have all also proposed a laissez-faire system, letting the market rise or crash as it would with no oversight. None. And there are far too many people for the government to have picked up from the crash since Social Security would have been de-funded when privatization took effect. People get very quiet when you point this out, although there's always someone who thinks that he's outsmarted reality. IN reality, those people have to ignore some iron rule or another to arrive at their conclusions.

In those videos, this morning, there was person after person justifying why they should get 3x more than they paid into the system. All conservatives. All claiming that there were too many people with their hands held out. All ready to jerk the rug out from under someone else. All good, solid citizens. And every one of them was a hypocrite. Or as I refer to them, "Good Christians".