My college major was psychology. My graduate studies were in psychology and education. Still, I had an affinity for the English language such that I think I enjoyed my literature classes more than my majors. I never considered journalism as a potential career. Delivering the Daily Home News on my bicycle all over North Stelton and parts of Edison come rain, snow, wind, or sun was enough of the Fourth Estate for me. But I always read the news.
When newspapers were in vogue, I subscribed to papers I believed gave me the facts as facts and opinions as opinions. I could always disagree with an opinion, but I had to trust in the facts. I loved reading editorials and often responded to the Letters to the Editor column. I had my opinion and loved a good debate if I could stimulate one. I especially appreciated op-ed pages that gave conflicting opinions so as not to force me into leaning in just one direction. There were some contributors I always agreed with, some I never agreed with, and some I might or might not agree with. I think the latter earned greater respect than those I always agreed with. Why? Because they represented most of us.
The labels Democrat and Republican only apply to national issues. State, county, and local party units only support the national platform and its candidates. The terms Liberal and Conservative are mainly used by one to belittle the other. Liberals associate traits and beliefs with Conservatives with negative descriptions and Conservatives do the same to Liberals. So if you support Social Security, you’re a hero to the Liberals and a demon to Conservatives. If you’re against government regulations and controls over certain very profitable and exploitive industries, you’re a Conservative icon and the devil himself to Liberals. Unfortunately, too many Americans attach themselves to one philosophy or the other like tin cans to a wedding car. They get a lot of attention and applause but in reality they’re just a bunch of noisemakers.
So it behooves us to get the facts in order to make responsible decisions that affect our lives and those of our loved ones, especially our children. But how do we do that in our busy money-making lives? Why should we bother when the politicians are going to do what they’re going to do anyway?
This most recent farce of an election ought to prove to the current generation of voters that they only have the power to remove one set of power-hungry incompetents for another set. If the economy improves, the soldiers come home, and more people are working and safely owning their own homes, will it be due to a handful of Republican newbies? The Tea Party? Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi? Well, maybe some combination of these and other factors, but certainly not because of your semi-educated vote.
Come on folks, do you retirees, unemployed factory workers, farmers, shop owners, and tradesmen understand not only the wording of a bill working its way through congress but its short and long term ramifications any better than a rookie congressman? Or a veteran Senator in his tenth term?
Running a country has become more complicated. Relating to other countries as equals has become psychologically traumatic. In one century the U.S. has swung from isolationist to world meddler. Its “sphere of influence” has spread to all parts of Europe, Asia, and the rest of the Western Hemisphere and it is looking hard toward Africa as the new economic frontier. But the U.S. isn’t the star of the show anymore. China, India, South Korea are right up there. Here comes Brazil and the United Arab Emirates. Who the hell are they? They’re the competition and they’re putting as many or more chips on the table as the U.S.
The U.S. is now a debtor nation in part to Reagonomics and the mismanagement of Bush the younger and his advisors. But also in part to the successful management of Bill Clinton that led to an American thought pattern that said, “We’ve reached economic Nirvana. Let’s go into debt to invest in the future. Let’s continue to listen to government. Father knows best.” Not good!
So who does one listen to? Certainly not economists. They’re all academicians and we’re told therefore, they’re socialists who want ROTC off the campus. Certainly not the historians. They’re the ones who slant the truth and recreate facts in the Liberal image of revisionism. Certainly not our elder statesmen. They’re the ones who led us into our current situation. And, God forbid, not our journalists and investigative novelists. They’re just looking for book sales and appearances on Oprah.
We no longer live in the “town hall” era of those founding fathers some love to quote out of context and out of relevance in the 21st century. They had their Charlie Rangels and Newt Gingriches too. Government is l-a-r-g-e. Too large for the average brain to get around. The elite, who have been in control since the beginning of society, continue to win all the battles and wars. The hoi polloi never had a chance with all their strikes, rebellions, civil wars, and revolutions. It continues to lap the crumbs and leftovers from the masters’ tables while fawning at his slogans of patriotism, honor, glory and a bunch of other meaningless concepts to the hungry, homeless, and hopeless.
Americans are enamored with Prince William and his Kate as they were with Prince Charles and Dianna. Dreams can come true. Latinos glue their eyes to TV novelas, the soap operas that form their unreachable dreams of living like Ana Montaña. They have their own Lindsay Lohans, Britney Spears’ and Paris Hiltons to worship. Fantasy is in; reality is out. So, who can tell us the truth about foreign policy, international trade, Middle East peace, world economy, and Muslim encroachment in the “civilized” world?
I offer YOU, dear reader. It is incumbent upon YOU to read, to travel, to study, and to report. The Internet is a marvelous vehicle for communication. One does not need to be a professional journalist but one needs to learn, to know, to decide, to act. There are no simple solutions. Ignore anyone who offers you one. I don’t care if he’s “phried in phoenix.nuts”, one of Fox’s wackos, or the President of the United States. Their agendas are neither yours, mine, nor the majority’s. It’ s not an easy road to travel and certainly not popular with the power elite nor with their slavering mouthpieces.
Or you can do as I have done: move to a country barely affected by the woes mentioned above. We are a poor economy, but it has nowhere to go from the bottom but up. We’re told it is rising faster than our neighbors’ who have many advantages over us. We don’t concern ourselves with the Dollar vs. the Yuan or Euro. We don’t care about the price of oil or OPEC. We are not involved in an arms race nor are we trying to produce a better banana than Honduras. We will be among the last to enjoy any benefit of relief from world recession.
We ask God to provide tonight’s beans and tortillas and He is faithful. Few of us have luxury homes with ocean views to worry about the mud slides suddenly making them shacks in the valleys below. We already have those and we’re thankful if we have clean water and electricity for our bulb and boom box.
May these examples of the simple life help you to put into perspective how little import is “the news”. We care about elections in other Latin countries hoping they’ll be blessed with leaders who care and who do something about it as did Lula. We care about demagogues such as Hugo Chávez and Daniel Ortega and are grateful for our more centrist president Mauricio Funes. But then we can concentrate more on our nation’s internal problems such as drug traffic, gangs, robberies and murders, patching our highways, improving our health care and education, inviting investment that will create jobs, establishing a fair and impartial justice system, and lifting the country out of the quagmire of poverty.
And that’s the way it is. Good night, Chet.