Saturday, January 24, 2009

Introduction to God's Motive

God's Motive is a new book I have just completed but which hasn't been published. I am in search of a literary agent. It is much harder to obtain representation than it is to write a book. I will probably publish one more chapter here at some point but if I put the whole book on this blog nobody will need to read the it if by some miracle it gets published. - Phillip

God is not a concept. God is not a spirit. God is not our father...stepfather maybe but not the all knowing gray-haired kinglike figure sitting on a gold throne someplace in a non-dimensional paradise. God is still a mystery but less a mystery than he used to be, at least to me.

Plausible deniability is the term that comes to mind when dealing with the subject of a visitation from God. Just writing that sentence causes me to look around the room to make sure no one is reading it over my shoulder. I looked long and hard at my future as a functioning member of society before concluding that this book was the best way to go. The decision to write all this down is not unlike deciding to go public after being the only witness to a UFO landing and seeing the alien craft discharging its crew of pink unicorns and silver fairies, who proceed to tell me how to conduct cold fusion, cure cancer and then mysteriously disappear.

Your first inclination is to go get really drunk and keep it all to yourself. The problem is you really do know how to do cold fusion and cure cancer. You also know that in a room of 1000 people 1000 of them will be skeptical or downright hostile to your claims. History is full of people burned at the stake, stoned in the town square, tied to chairs and dunked in the river, nailed to crosses, or locked in padded rooms whom I know with absolute certainty told the same story I am about to tell. The problem is they didn’t tell it right.

I am not a religious man. My personal piety is born of skepticism. I have been showered in the eternal flame of reason, tested by the relentless avalanche of man’s logic and tempted at the altar of science and certainty. I am a zealot in the pursuit of the secular. I will repeatedly claim that I am not a religious man. I am not a man of faith, yet I am asking people to take what I say on faith. I am not asking anyone to perform any rituals or chant in a certain way. There are no reasons to bow or scrape, face a certain direction when you pray or even to pray at all.

The accoutrements of organized religion have no bearing on anything here. No altars, no crosses, no podiums, no lecterns, no pews, candles, hymnals, sermons, fonts, rugs or symbols. No prophets. No dietary rules. No rules about how you should be dressed. No sacred places. No churches, temples, mosques and certainly no tent revivals. You can take every noun associated with religious activity of any kind lock it in a box and toss the box into the ocean. Yet this is a tale about God. Not just about God but about meeting God, at least hearing God while being held up by angels.

It has been thirteen years since I wandered back to my hotel room in Lakeland, Florida, more than a bit dazed and swore myself to secrecy about the events of that day, but here I am, spilling my guts to the world at large, counting on man’s skepticism to keep me alive and counting on their curiosity to keep me financially solvent. Don’t get me wrong. While I am conveying information that could change the world if taken seriously, I am also selling a book and chances are after most people read it they won’t take it seriously. Why should they? It wasn’t written thousands of years ago. It contains little or no lofty rhetoric. No one dies, no one is born to a virgin, no water into wine miracles and no one gets resurrected or ascends into Heaven on a horse. It has little or nothing to offer the common religious person.

For all of these 13+ years, I have been among the enlightened. I have carried around a knowledge unique to these times but common to history. Following is a set of narratives, descriptions and opinions setting down in print, what I know and what I think it means. Unfortunately, I wasn’t given any extended intellectual capabilities that would help me understand any of this better; I was simply given data and information. It is human nature to try and apply our opinions to our knowledge and I will not shy away from that. I definitely have a set of opinions that encompass the scope of this knowledge and it is included here. Everyone gets to accept or reject all or part of anything I have to say. We are all free to judge, we do it all the time about everything else, why should an alternative explanation of God be any different? Skepticism is at the very core of Free Will and Free Will is at the very core of everything.

I have good news and bad news. God exists. Depending on what you currently believe that news is either good or bad. God doesn’t interact with us on any level other than the conveyance of knowledge from time to time to randomly selected individuals. There is no evidence that the selection criterion is based on anything other than randomness. You get to decide which is the good news and which the bad. I wouldn’t know.

None of this is good news for the organized religions of the world unless they have a sincere desire to get to the bottom of the nature of God. When considering their reactions in the past, this doesn’t seem likely. In another time, I would be burned at the stake. In some places that may still be true today. I am not trying to convert anyone to anything because anything they would convert to would be a guess on my part and a waste of their time. While any guess is as good as another, so far, human beings have guessed incorrectly and the results have resulted in a less than stellar set of consequences to civilization’s humanity.

I may yet regret writing all this down. But my regret, like all else human, will be short lived. After all we don’t live forever…at least not in a biological sense. Based on what I know now, forever appears to be finite as well.

The lives of mankind over the centuries have all been guided. We have been convinced, cajoled and controlled by wave after wave of stories turning into traditions, turning into rituals and finally turning into commandments. We have been manipulated by a higher power and that power is ignorance; fed by the deliberate infusion of specific and clearly articulated knowledge that plainly isn’t true. The outcome of this historical distribution of faulty knowledge is not the motive for our existence. That motive is benign…God’s motive. To enlighten us is to bring us closer to understanding why we are here and why we are as we are.

The unforeseen consequence of enlightenment has been centuries of unbelievably stupid behavior driven by man-made dogma. Dogma imposed on us by people who misunderstood what they were being shown or by people who decided that what they were shown held no personal profit delivered “as is.” It had to be embellished to hold the attention of the audience.

So religion was born. Rules were written. Dogma was imposed. Death and destruction soon followed. We are gullible beings. Pretty much anything delivered from a position of authority will be embraced by someone and once embraced, fanaticism soon follows. We are willing …eager even, to use force on our fellow humans so that we aren’t alone in our irrational belief systems. Numbers mitigate doubt. Power removes all doubt. Absolute power removes reason and always leads to oppression. There is no such thing as the benign dictator because no power that controls our Free Will no matter how compassionate is ever benign.

Until 1995 I had led a pretty unremarkable life. I was born in the summer of 1955 in Fort Worth, Texas. We were living in the Fort Worth area because my brother had a severe case of scoliosis and my mother moved the family around based on what doctor he was seeing. Not much was known about the immune system during those times and excessive X-Rays may have compromised his resistance to infection and 3 years later while we were living in rural Oklahoma, he contracted an infection that is associated with chickens and died. Before you could say Munchhausen by Proxy, we moved back to Texas where I grew up on a farm just outside of Gainesville where ironically enough we raised chickens.

We were raised as what I term “holiday Methodists.” My mother wasn’t really very religious and neither was our father. Mama felt obligated to expose us to church so that we didn’t grow up to be heathens. It didn’t really work out. So we sporadically attended services. We also went to church with the family who lived across the highway from us, Marshal and Dosie Chapman. They had lost their son in an accident when he was 6, the same age as my brother.

The Chapman’s were very religious. Mr. Chapman, who smoked 4 packs a day of unfiltered Lucky Strike cigarettes was eventually diagnosed with lung cancer and their already zealous religious fervor, took on a decidedly fundamentalist and strident aspect. We often found ourselves in someone’s house sitting on couches being screamed at by a fire and brimstone preacher who had broken off from the already conservative church up the street as Marshal looked for a miracle. Marshal died in 1968 and I miss him still. God didn’t save his life. God saves no lives. God is only interested in your soul and your soul only presents itself to God when you die. All that happens before that sad event is the providence of man not God.

My next episode with religion was when we moved into Gainesville from the farm and started attending the 1st Methodist Church. My older brother and I attended Sunday school along with a lot of our friends. The Church Fellowship Hall is where I learned to play pool (Trouble in River City). Church to me was a place to play pool and meet girls. Bars played the same role in later life.

I was a kid. I wasn’t really paying much attention to the repetitive nature of the rituals. I know now that each service was exactly the same as the last one with the only variety being in the sermon and choice of readings and hymns. The Sermon’s were basically the same from year to year based on where on the church calendar a particular Sunday fell. People spend their entire lives going to church and repeating the same words, listening to the same message about the same set of events, their entire lives. It never changes. It is the antitheses of Free Will.

This repetitive liturgy is the foundation of a religion that claims to embrace Free Will yet believes in an omnipresent supreme being. Religion is illogical by definition if logic is the absence of contradiction. Basically the Methodists believe in the sacrifice of the perfect to the imperfect. It is not unlike casting pearls before swine or using the best table wine to make a sauce. They see no harm in it. I guess even knowing what I know now I see no harm in it…just a wasted Sunday morning that could be spent doing something constructive, like sleeping.

During my high school years, I discovered that nothing ticked off the adults around me more than a teenager spouting atheism. So as a typical rebellious teenager, I embraced it. I was once removed from a classroom for taking the Lord’s name in vain. I said, “for God’s sake.” It was Texas in 1971 and the English teacher was mortified, offended and angered. She had me remove myself from her presence to the principal’s office. I had to tell the Principal that I was an atheist so that I wouldn’t have to apologize to the old bat.

My youngest son has basically the same outlook now as I did then without quite as much cynicism. He is a true believer in not believing and therefore a zealot in the army of the irreligious and unchurched. I think there isn’t much difference between a fundamentalist Christian and an unrepentant crusading atheist. Both have the potential for making unbelievably intolerant utterances and each think the other is the harbinger of society’s eminent collapse. Opposites are equal.

They are both steeped in dogma and can be counted on to quote their leaders as if quoting the gospel truth. I on the other hand am a true believer in the ambiguity of God’s plan. At this point I know what God’s plan is and it doesn’t really include us except in an abstract way. God isn’t interested in us per se. He is merely protecting his main concept which is one of our many aspects from interference. It is kind of like the prime directive from Star Trek. Unlike Captain Kirk, God sticks to his guns and doesn’t violate his prime directive.

Our relationship with the almighty doesn’t kick in until our biological body dies and frees our soul from the prison of the flesh. Imagine what this sudden freedom must be like for a victim of brain damage?

So, this is the story I am about to tell along with the commentary that goes with it true? I believe that is the wrong question. You should ask, ‘does it really matter?’ It is what we do with the information that matters. The truth of it is irrelevant. We are judged; objectively, based on criteria that is unknown to us and will not be revealed. So there is no dogma to cling to. There is certainly no reason to force a dogma on others no matter how compelling the temptation because we are judged as individuals and not as members of some artificial affiliation with groups, races, creeds, nations or gender. When you stand before the almighty, no one will ask you what groups you belonged to, the color of your skin or the language of your ancestors. We are simply judged on the content and bearing of our souls based on criteria we aren’t allowed to know. So choose prudently your life’s philosophical bent.

My son, who is my sounding board for a lot of this, wasted no time in telling me how unfair such a belief system is. My response is that this is not a system and no one is being asked to believe it or do anything about it. It is just a fact, like gravity and just as unfair and fair. That it doesn’t require you to do anything and doesn’t ask you to emulate perfection with the expectation of failure, requiring forgiveness, makes it a lot more appealing to me than the proclamations of the Methodists. I don’t mean to pick on the Methodists. You kind of go with what you know. The Methodists don’t really expect much either, but they pretend to. I could just as easily have picked on the Lutherans…maybe even more easily.

I don’t have a church. Instead I have an expectation and am completely in control of what I do from a spiritual and every other perspective. I am not in control of my afterlife since I don’t know the criteria for salvation. As long as I don’t pretend to, I don’t foresee any crusades on behalf of Free Will. After all, you can’t impose Free Will on people, you can only leave them alone and “Free Will” will find them. So hold on to your hats.

What I intend to do in this book is explain what happened, what is happening and what it means to me. You will have to work it out among yourselves what it means to you. Here there are no offers of salvation. No promises of a final outcome. The God I know doesn’t care if you pray. He isn’t listening anyway. If you are living a decent life and are happy then you have to admit that life has been more than fair. If you are living a terrible life not of your own making no one is to blame except circumstance and we are in charge of circumstance.

You could be living in abject poverty squatting to pick the runway gravel out of your daily ration of wheat paste that UNICEF just airdropped near what’s left of your war ravaged village. You might be hoping that the water you mix it with to make that paste for your evening meal won’t give you cholera or terminal diarrhea. Life is random, death and dismemberment even more so. We shouldn’t waste a minute of it striving to meet unobtainable expectations of a deity who hasn’t made an appearance in 2000 years. Individual people don’t have an attention span of more than a few minutes yet collective mankind waits indefinitely for Jehovah to make a return visit.

Most of the people reading this will be sitting in their living room with the high definition TV turned down and a nice cup of coffee or tea on the side table. You have exactly the same shot at paradise as that fellow squatting on the runway in Darfur. Fairness is a concept that sits in the middle of a road that we really don’t want to go down. I for one don’t have a problem with the ambiguity of it. I don’t believe that misery loves company. I don’t have the power to fix all the stuff that is broken and now that I understand that God doesn’t either and wouldn’t if He could, I can finally relax and enjoy what is left of my biological life.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Excerpt from Write Winger

This is a little old but considering the less than vast nature of my original audience it will be new to most.
Chapter 1 POLITICAL OBLIQUENESS – Write Winger: Solutions for the Politically Oblique

“That which doesn’t kill me, makes me avoid it all together next time” is just one tenant of political obliqueness. To be Politically Oblique means to approach the world from a non-aligned, angled, north of center kind of direction. It does not require moving left or right but it could require stepping sideways or backing up. It involves the use of reason without tilting it first one way then the other in order to consider the feelings of the target. As a society we used to have taboos that we employed to keep us on the straight and narrow. We had a definite system of values. Right was right, wrong was wrong. There wasn’t all this ambiguity.

Today’s taboos have to do with ideas and the protection of group identity from criticism. I don’t believe in that. I don’t recognize any borders of political correctness that I’m not allowed to cross. I see liberalism, conservatism, religion, Indians, minorities, political parties, political movements and any other class of people as equally deserving of a closer look and a sound verbal thrashing as the situation demands it.

As Americans, we have allowed ourselves to be bullied into a kind of uneasy silence. We are not allowed to question the motives of the environmental movement because hey! ..who wants dirty air and water? The implication is, if you disagree or question the positions taken by certain groups you obviously want dirty air and water, or you want animals killed, or you want war, or you want liberals rounded up and put in camps. I’m here to tell you that I don’t want 3 out of 4 of those things to happen.

We are not allowed to question the special status of Indians even if that status has been destructive to their lives. From the point of view of the do-gooder, it is only the intent that matters. If keeping the Indians on reservations and allowing them to pretend to be independent nations makes the cry-baby whining class of American citizen think they are doing the Indians a favor, then we are supposed to look the other way as a large segment of American Indians sinks further and further into drunken poverty.

Now that Indians are allowed the privilege of opening gambling casinos when other citizens are not, we are supposed to shut up and not notice the double standard. Society demands we agree that the policy is correct because they are Indians. Equal opportunity is not to be applied as a concept when it is the politically correct victim group getting the perk. The Politically Oblique person will say....hogwash or some similar expletive.

The truth is paramount to taking these positions....the cold hard naked truth...if that’s what it takes. Honesty protects us from those who would have us be silent. The politically oblique person sees the individual and only refers to groups when the individual refers to himself or herself as a member of a group. I am heritage blind, ethnicity blind, and I am color blind. I see fine.

It is those people who insist on defining themselves and others on the basis of color, creed or ethnicity whom I oppose. Affirmative Action is a policy and not a right. It is a policy where color is considered ahead of merit. That is a racist position. Any political or social stance that considers race as a mitigating factor for good or ill is a racist position. I am interested in the content of your character. If the color of your skin drives your character, you’re fair game. Your character is also fair game.

I do not apologize for my beliefs. I do not question your right to have yours. I do not accept your beliefs as being on an equal footing with mine if I find them to be dumb or ill conceived. You, I and everyone else are not equals except under the law. Some people are smarter, faster, richer, more industrious, prettier, more talented and yes some are even better than others.

There are people with lofty ideals and motives but there are also people who are null and void, your basic low-life’s. I have the right and the intention of pointing it out whenever I notice it. Mother Teresa is better than Madonna. Ronald Reagan is better than John Hinkley. JC Watts is better than Snoop Dog E Dogg. Oliver North is better than Aldrich Ames. Almost everybody is better than Bill Clinton. I am better than Charlie Manson. Not just in actions, but fundamentally better, more worthy of the gifts of life, liberty and prosperity and subject to having it pointed out.

Do not for a second doubt my firm grip on my beliefs and opinions. I am one of those people feared and despised by those who define themselves by any affiliation other than their given name first. If you have a hyphen in the word that describes you, then to me, you are putting the collective ahead of yourself. I find that repugnant. I am Phillip. Not the white Phillip of German Irish stock but simply Phillip. In this country there is no greater description or position of greater merit than the individual human being. I am not a group. You are not a group. Identity is singular. Cattle live in herds...people live alone.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Excerpt from GOD'S MOTIVE - working title.

Chapter 3 - FREE WILL – God’s Motive

There is no such thing as predestination. Free Will is the metaphysically given. It is axiomatic. We are free to live our lives, determine our futures, and to imagine or create any creed we desire and there are no judgments about these held beliefs by a higher power. God doesn’t care what you pattern your thinking after. Free Will is the primary creation of God. The preservation of Free Will is God’s only purpose from the beginning of the universe and the reason for its creation.

In my view Free Will is absolute. Way back in 1981 long before any of this started, I got into a drunken argument with this FBI agent about the nature of Free Will. We were at the opening of the new offices of Derrick Petroleum where I was working at the time and Special Agent Dimwit was in attendance as one of my fellow employee’s date. She was hot. I seriously wanted to dazzle her with my soaring intellect. The more beers I had the more my intellect soared. I don’t remember how the argument started but my premise was that we were free to do absolutely anything we pleased and the only restrictions were self imposed based on our fear of consequence.

This fellow apparently took great offense to my very existence and all but proved my point by refraining from pulling his pistol and shooting me. I maintain my position on Free Will to this day. I didn’t understand the origin of Free Will at the time but I had a firm understanding of the implications of it.

Free Will demands nothing from us in the way of restraint. We can expect consequences. We can accept the consequences for what we do or we can deny them. They exist as a result of our actions and how those actions are viewed by others or even the laws of physics. But the fact is we have absolute freedom to do as we please. It remains a concrete axiomatic truth of existence. I don’t care what the FBI says about it. They should hire more abstract thinkers.

Free will is the reason for all of this. By all this, I mean the observed universe of stars, planets and miscellaneous structures of matter, energy, time and space. What we observe about the universe from a scientific perspective is valid. What we imagine about the nature of the creator of the universe is invalid from the standpoint of reason but valid from the standpoint of Free Will’s allowance for our being spectacularly wrong about everything.

The laws of physics remain in this universe regardless of our desires, perspectives, perceptions or actions. God set events in motion and the physical nature of the universe that He exists in took over the mechanics. Man was not the creation of God; we are the creation of circumstances set in motion by God. God lives in an objective reality just like us, only His ability to interact with that reality far exceeds ours. I won’t venture a guess on just what those abilities are or what allows them to exist. That is the stuff of dogma.

There is a rule in textbook logic that tells us that we may not logically discuss that which does not exist or that which we cannot observe or experience through our senses. “Existential import” is an artificial construct in logic used to have such discussions. I don’t need to employ “existential import” because I have witnessed God with my senses of hearing and sight. So what I tell you is what I know. God’s reality is my reality. There is nothing supernatural about God, just superior capability. It is not unlike comparing man’s abilities to those of a microbe.

Both are real and each observable by the other under certain circumstances. Being the only one of us who knows for certain doesn’t change my perception or understanding of reality. I do understand that others will have to take what I say on faith. Please note and keep at the top of your cognitive awareness, I do not require anything of you and neither does God. Go in peace and do nothing.

Free Will allows us to choose our destiny with regard to our lives on earth. While Free Will is inherent in everyone, not everyone starts at the same place or is afforded the same opportunities, cognitive skills or physical capabilities with which to direct the nature of their lives. There is also an aspect of Free Will that theologians and philosophers do not consider. We are subject to the randomness of genetics, evolution and dumb luck. Free Will works in the mechanism of how life comes into being and how it ends. The world is not controlled. The universe is not controlled. It is used as a tool by a being that has the physical attributes and capabilities to use it. I can wield a hammer. God wields a galaxy or two….billion.

The human race has wasted many an opportunity for enlightenment arguing the nature of Free Will. Free Will is the easiest definition of how things work that we could possibly hope for. It means what it says. We are free of any controls or obligations outside of those that we impose on ourselves. We are not forced by a higher power to do anything specific for others, to others or for ourselves. We are independent beings. There is not a collective anything. Connections are artificial.

The idea of complete freedom scares people almost as much as the idea of certainty. We need to use the disapproval or approval of a greater power in order to mask our own lack of knowledge and courage. Pretty much anything that exceeds our grasp we think of as being held out of our reach by God. It is a convenient excuse to lower our expectations of ourselves and others. Even those who profess no belief in God fear certainty and attribute it to a negative like hate or arrogance.

When we do something utterly stupid that results in damage or injury to others, how convenient is it to bring God’s will into the conversation and relieve ourselves from blame? The smallness of man’s God makes me wonder why so many would worship such a petty being. God kills your cat on the road at night, makes the bird fall from the sky and allows the virus to expand resulting in everything from the sniffles in a child to the wholesale death of entire population centers. God is the killer of crops. God is the maker of rain. God is the giver of luck both good and bad without rhyme or reason.

God is the giant random number generator in the sky making that fellow I don’t know over in the next state win the lotto instead of me every time I buy a ticket. God is the Supreme Being that so conveniently fits in my pocket to be withdrawn for credit or blame. God is also supposed to be the granter of Free Will according to the contradictory descriptions of the theologians in the Christian faith.

These are people who created the Holy Trinity of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost when they had to come up with an explanation of the manifestations of God in their own religion and they weren’t smart enough to insist on the very attribute of omnipotence that they claim God has. Instead they had to create a convoluted God physically divided sharing one mind so they could justify the Godhead of Jesus talking to his Father and the Holy Spirit lurking in the background kidnapping fishermen in the name of the almighty.

Free Will is our greatest attribute and we give it up willingly at the first sign of trouble.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Economics 102

Economics 101 is the axiom that subsidizing stuff gives you more of it and taxing stuff gives you less of it. This is true of everything concrete including subsidizing poverty and taxing wealth. You get more poverty and less wealth. It is so simple even a Chicago Democrat can understand it. We as a nation are now moving into the area of Economics 102. This is the theories that cover wealth creation and the direction of flow (trickle down versus trickle up.) It is much more complex than the axiom of 101. Those who push government giveaway schemes understand that the average taxpayer doesn’t understand the markets, that we will simply cash the checks and believe ourselves lucky to have a little extra money to spend.

Soon to be former President Bush passed out cash earlier this year in the form of the increasingly ill-named “economic stimulus” package where each taxpaying household received between $300 and $1500 depending on the number of people claimed as dependents. President-elect Obama promises even more checks under the same economic theory. He wants to stimulate the economy from the ground up. He takes it one step further and promises money even to those who haven’t paid any income taxes (hereafter referred to as welfare recipients.) He figures that the more money placed into the hands of the consumer, the greater the stimulus on the economy.

The problem with both of these Presidential plans is that they assume consumerism determines economic health.

Stepping back and taking a hard look at the nature of market capitalism, I have determined that both the Bush economic stimulus of last summer and the proposed Obama plan to take from the prosperous and give to the not-as-prosperous didn’t and won’t work. My reasoning is that wealth is created by capital investment and we are conspicuous consumers based solely on the financial ability of our employers to pay us well. Consumerism is a side effect of strong economic growth and not its cause. Wealth doesn’t trickle up. It would be akin to pouring water into the mouth of the Mississippi River to combat draught conditions in Dubuque, Iowa.

Both plans bypass the wealth creation mechanism. We give people money directly from the treasury in sums not large enough to impact anything we manufacture in this country in hopes of stimulating something. Most of this money is borrowed from China. So we take China’s money and purchase Chinese goods with it, plus we don’t even collect a tax on the way out. That piece of the pie we didn’t actually borrow we tax away from the people who actually create wealth. So, economic activity is reduced, tax revenues aren’t collected and the national debt rises. Anyone see an upside here? What exactly does this stimulate?

I believe that the amount of money given to the consumer is not all that relevant. What if instead of the small sums, the giveaways were large to enough to purchase an automobile? What do you think the outcome would be then? I’m fairly certain that most wouldn’t buy a car and of those who did, most wouldn’t buy it from GM, Ford or Chrysler. If the government demanded or required that everyone use the money to buy an American car, it would only serve to reduce the existing inventory of cars the companies have already taken a loss on, increase production to meet the excess demand short term, and leave the automakers with the same failing business model and union burdens they have now. Plus Americans at the Toyota plants would get laid off.

I am sure that those proposing this stuff understand the consequences and impact as well as I do. They assume with confidence that we are too stupid see the implications. What they are doing is attempting to purchase political power from the masses and they are perfectly willing to sacrifice our long term economic well being. All economic solutions in a market driven economy need to be market driven. Government doesn’t create wealth and it doesn’t drive economic growth except by lessening its cost to the markets.
* * * * *
Government is a drain on free market capital and if they would loosen the money supply and keep existing dollars in the marketplace they could help with economic growth. Nothing they do that involves taking money out of the wealth creation mechanisms helps. I guess our elected officials think it is better to be in charge of a sinking ship than to be just a passenger on a sound one. This is very short term thinking. Thinking we the people can no longer afford to ignore. Of course we will do just that.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

The Death of Journalism in America

The man who reads nothing at all is better educated than the man who reads nothing but newspapers. Thomas Jefferson.

To read a newspaper is to refrain from reading something worthwhile. The first discipline of education must therefore be to refuse resolutely to feed the mind with canned chatter. Aleister Crowley

When I was in Journalism School learning the craft of objective reporting I was lucky enough to have a professor who actually believed that being a journalist was a higher calling, a call to watch the world and faithfully report what I saw there. I was taught that there was nobility in the reporter’s creed to be thorough but to take no side. I was taught of a stark difference between the news and the opinion pages in a paper, that there was a wall of separation greater than the width of an ocean or length of an age. I was told that we were to report who, where, what and how and leave why to the imagination and leanings of the reader. This was in another time, long ago…1975.

Out in the real world away from the safety of the classroom there had always been bias in the press. It was easily recognized by the reader and steadily denied by the perpetrators. Early on, the subtly of it allowed the deniers to convince those of their persuasion that the perceived bias was an illusion being foisted upon the innocent reporters by malcontents with biases of their own. The chorus of indignant repudiation against the accusers relied on the myth of objectivity passed down to the public by those faithful in their belief in the sanctity of journalists like my former professor.

As the years have passed the bias has grown, yet the shrill disclaimers still were hysterically inflicted on the reading public. Before long the claims of journalistic integrity became something of a contest of wills, the journalism industry and those who shared their bias would nod and wink at one another as they claimed that those who pointed it out were imagining things.

It is hard for anyone to believe it these days, but once upon a time a free press was seen as the protector of liberty and the bastion of virtue standing against the excesses of government. The founders of this country felt so strongly about it that they enshrined the press into the Constitution with the other limits placed on government by the Bill of Rights. It was this belief in the integrity of the press that has offered reporters special protections and unparalleled access around the world. This sanctuary of the written word designed to be the gatekeeper for the people in their dealings with the institutions of power.

This last couple of years a good many of the nation’s newspapers have dropped all pretense to objectivity. They have left the throne of respectability and sold their souls for the paltry sum of partisan politics. They don’t even bother to object to the charge as it has become so apparent that not only would denial be futile it would be laughable. It would be like kicking the neighbor’s dog in full view of the neighbor and trying to convince said neighbor that it wasn’t you who kicked his dog.

This week a lot of the big newspapers along with their brothers and sisters in the electronic media have joined forces with a political position to elect a government and to protect those ruling the country from the scrutiny of the people. The ethics of journalistic integrity no longer hold sway over the practitioners of this once noble craft. At least it was once noble in my eyes, the eyes of an idealist who once held the singular dream of working in the fourth estate, the guardian of freedom and justice. The people’s champion in the arena of ideas no longer holds my esteem. Journalism is just another hurdle to overcome in the pursuit of liberty. Journalistic integrity is indeed dead and it has been ruled a suicide.