The Right Answer – Our Worst Enemy

July 23, 2009

As I race toward my sixty-fifth birthday, I’m reminded of the many things I’ve learned in my lifetime. One of my most significant discoveries is that the right answer is a terrible thing. For many of us, the quest for knowledge ends as soon as we think we have the right answer.

I sometimes joke that I found an object in the ‘next to last’ place I looked. How many times have we heard someone report that the lost object turned up in the last place he or she looked. Well, sometimes I go the extra mile just so I can make a silly comment.

When lost objects are the subject of the search, it doesn’t make any sense to continue the search after the object has been found. However, when it comes to knowledge, it’s extremely important to continue seeking a more definitive answer. Quite often, the additional probing turns up additional facts that, at times, totally alter our thinking. That’s when we realize our first conclusion was absolutely incorrect.

Case in point, a 1939 reference book listed uranium as a worthless metal.

It doesn’t take an in depth study of history to recognize how many times the scientific community has been mistaken. Yet, every time they ‘prove’ a theory, they’ll defiantly defend their findings as the ultimate truth.

It took an amateur paleontologist to prove that many dinosaurs were more akin to birds than lizards. The established community laughed at him until he found nesting grounds and eggs.

Lately I’ve been accused of being a right-wing FOX News watcher because I dared to question the universal health care plan being shoved down our collective throats by a President who seems to have little trouble spending tax payer money.

I’ll be the first to admit both parties seem to enjoy throwing around our tax dollars – especially when it can win additional votes for them during the next election. But the quantities of cash in question with this administration are beyond comprehension. We were told the stimulus package would turn the economy around. Thus far, it’s hard to say. Has it or hasn’t it? That all depends on who is doing the talking.

(Do you know how to tell when a politician is lying? His or her lips are moving. Trust me!)

The fact that the Administration is delaying the mid-year budget report until after the August recess of Congress seems to me to be a bad omen. Do they not want us to know how deeply in debt we are headed? It would be much harder to pass legislation to add to the financial burden if the public knew just how heavy that burden might already be.

And yet, when I question and try to determine the truth behind the news reports (on FOX, CNN, ABC, NBC, CBS, and PBS) I’m accused of being right-wing.

I consider myself a moderate. If I were to be identified with any political party, it would be Libertarian. I have never voted a straight party ticket and consider anyone who does so to be a complete idiot who refuses to take the time to learn about candidates of opposing parties.

Nancy Pelosi condemns the corporate executives who fly on private jets. Yet she does the same on a regular basis – at tax payer expense. Is this acceptable behavior? Might this be called hypocritical?

George Bush was accused of being arrogant. The way Barbara Boxer treated Harry C. Alford, the president and CEO of the National Black Chamber of Commerce, was a true example of arrogance. He tried to tell her how condescending her remarks to him were and, instead of taking the time to listen to what he was saying and, perhaps apologize, she interrupted him repeatedly to explain how wrong he was.

Sean Hannity does the same thing when he ‘debates’ someone who sees things differently. Bill O’Reilly is even more arrogant… but in a more polite way. I once heard him speak out against the Fair Tax. His comments proved that he had never read the bill and had no idea what he was talking about.

This country has forgotten the meaning of debate because we no longer listen to one another. We are so positive that we have the right answer that there is no need to listen to any facts that might prove us wrong.

We need to get back to being a civilized society that respects a person’s right to speak. We need to stop the protests that occur whenever someone from the opposition tries to explain his or her view of the issues.

Am I correct in my arguments? I think so, but can never be sure. If I’m off base, hopefully someone will come along and tell me where I’ve gone wrong. I promise to listen.

By the way, how many of you have taken the time to contact your friends and acquaintences in countries that have Nationalized Health Care. Do you want to get some honest answers from people who live under that system… or will you simply take the word of Glenn Beck?


Cap & Trade or Michael Jackson

July 7, 2009

Regardless of which side of the issue you’re on, it should bother you that the news media is spending far more time keeping the American people up to date on the Michael Jackson memorial service than they are in informing us of the progress of the Cap & Trade legislation.

And why are they placing so much emphasis on a dead celebrity? Why are they ignoring more important issues that could affect all tax payers?

Some right wing conservatives would have us believe that the left leaning media is intentionally taking the focus away from Congress so the Obama administration can shove another giant spending (and taxing) bill down our throats.

The left wing radicals would argue otherwise.

Naturally – and unfortunately – the truth has nothing to do with politics. Sadly, the media is giving the American public what the American public wants. I’ll admit I haven’t checked, but I’d bet that any broadcast of the American Idol show garnered a much larger share of the viewing public than any of the Presidential debates.

The truth is a large portion of our population doesn’t care about what goes on in Washington, D.C. In fact, they care even less about what goes on in their own state capitols.

Many years ago I attended a Key Club convention in Philadelphia. Each delegate was given a key ring. On one side was the Key Club logo. On the other was the phrase, “Combat Complacency.”

I believe we’ve lost the battle. In the 1960’s, college students stood up and voiced their opinions. While many of them were wrong in their beliefs, they all had the courage to stand up for what they believed. As a result, many things in our society were changed.

The youth of my youth took the time to learn about things that mattered. Sometimes they heard one side of the story and jumped to incorrect conclusions, but in most instances, they looked at both sides and came to good logical conclusions.

I’m afraid today’s youth are too busy twittering their lives away.

Perhaps that’s the major difference. While we didn’t have CNN, FOX News Channel, C-SPAN, or… come to think of it, we didn’t have any cable channels because we didn’t have cable. We also didn’t have lap top computers and the Internet. But we did have newspapers, news magazines, and the library.

We paid attention to the world around us – sweat bullets during the Cuban Missile Crisis – and felt a responsibility to speak out against what we saw as injustice.

Perhaps that was the influence of John F. Kennedy. I know we all admired the man and took the “New Frontier” very seriously. And we all deeply mourned his passing.

Until President Obama came along, we hadn’t had another President who could reach out and stir the interest of the youth as JFK did. But it appears that the interest of our current youth petered out once their man was elected.

It’s a shame because, the way I see it, it’s the youth and future generations who will be most harmed by what is currently happening in Washington.

The U.S. Government has no business being in business. Every time government has taken over an industry, that industry stops being self-sufficient. For example, independent bus and trolley companies operated in major cities for decades. They competed for riders and most of those companies were profitable.

The companies that couldn’t compete went out of business and their assets were bought up by the other companies. Then, the government decided to take over. The two ‘companies’ I’m most familiar with – the Port Authority Transit (PAT) in Pittsburgh and the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit  Authority (MARTA) – have both operated at a loss for decades. Taxpayer subsidies are the only way they stay afloat.

Will General Motors be any different? Will taxpayer subsidized pricing put Ford, Chrysler, and others out of business?

The Federal Government has put itself in a very awkward position. Congress is talking about passing a ‘clunker bill’ that will give citizens a tax break for trading in an old car for a new, more fuel efficient, car. Will the tax break be higher for those of us who buy a GM product? It would make sense if the government wants their ‘company’ to flourish.

But wouldn’t that be unfair to the other companies? Does the government care?

There are many people who believe the economic crisis could’ve been solved months ago simply by the government letting workers keep their entire paychecks. Think about that. The typical worker has almost a third of his or her paycheck withheld every pay day. If that money had been available to the individuals, they would’ve spent it. Even if they simply paid off some bills, the economy would’ve improved.

Foreclosures would’ve been reduced dramatically and banks would’ve had more money for other loans. Consumers would’ve bought more cars, televisions, and other big ticket items… which would’ve resulted in more jobs.

If consumers bought Fords and Toyotas rather than Chevys and Buicks, GM would’ve had to fix their problems or go out of business. With increased sales, the other auto makers would’ve been able to buy GM factories and put the former GM employees to work building other makes of cars.

Is it too late for the government to get out of the auto business? I hope not. And while they’re at it, they should also get out of the banking and investment businesses.

Come to think of it, maybe it’s time for MARTA and PAT to liquidate and let the private sector show the politicians how it should be done.

Considering the business acumen of most politicians, it wouldn’t take a business genius to repair the damage done by congress. Think of it! How many politicians have held a ‘real’ job during their adult life. There may be a few, but most of them were borderline lawyers who recognized they could make a lot more money supporting the causes of special interest groups.

If they were intelligent enough to be successful business people, why would they even consider becoming a member of Congress?

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go and see if Michael has been buried yet.