Monday, April 29, 2013

Week of 04/29/2013

Argue From Reason, Not Arrogance
– by David Matthews 2

“Who cares what the majority wants?”

That was the question posed by columnist David Harsanyi for Reason Magazine when it came to gun control legislation.  Who cares about the majority, he argues?  The majority doesn’t matter!  It’s about the Constitution, you stupid ignorant twits! (Okay, the last part was added for emphasis.)

Having read the whole article, I couldn’t find fault with the premise.  And yet I didn’t want to agree with it.  I found myself wanting to dismiss both it and the author just out of spite.  And I didn’t know why!

I’m a practical libertarian.  Not only would I otherwise be agreeing with the author on the premise, I’d be writing articles just like it.  And yet I have this urge to want to disagree with him.

Then it hit me.  It wasn’t about the premise of the article.  It was about the tone given in the article.

Pompous, arrogant, self-righteous… and it’s right there in the title: “Who Cares What the Majority Wants on Guns?”

Who cares what the majority wants?

Bear in mind that every member of Congress is there today because of the majority of the voters.  Every Supreme Court justice is seated today because they were each confirmed by a majority of Senators.  The President and Vice-President of the United States are where they are today because of a majority of Electoral College delegates that were selected from a majority of voters in their respective states.

And if that’s not bad enough, we just got done with a very abrasive Presidential Election season where two dominant political parties not only claimed to represent “the majority”, but also to this day claim to be acting in accordance to that same “majority”.

The so-called “Tea Party” crowd, conservatives and neo-conservatives one and all, claim that they represent that fictional “silent majority” first originated by Richard Nixon.  They demand that the GOP carry out their bidding because of that fictional status.  They demand the dismantling and sabotage of the federal government because of that fictional status.  And they aren’t the only ones playing the “silent majority” hoax either!  The AARP, the NRA, the Christian Coalition, the Parents Television Council, they all claim to represent “the majority”!

And now here comes Mister Harsanyi, who then dismisses the “majority” and says that what they think doesn’t matter when it comes to gun laws!

He may be right, but he doesn’t do his stance any favors with the arrogance.

This is neither the first nor the last time that “the will of the majority” is used to take away the rights of others.  Remember California’s Prop. 8?  The “will of the majority” supposedly dictated that same-sex marriages should be illegal in that state.  Does that make it right?  No.  But it was passed nonetheless, and now it’s up to the Supreme Court to decide if it is right, and even they’ve indicated that they don’t want to be the ones to make that decision.

Speech is censored, supposedly because “the majority” demands it in the name of little children.  Is it right?  No.  But it’s done nonetheless and our courts rationalize it by saying that “family values” trump the First Amendment.

Funny how the First Amendment can be traipsed on continually by “the will of the people” with hardly a word in protest, but when the Second Amendment is targeted we suddenly have these “freedom-loving defenders of the Constitution” who argue that “the will of the people” is tyranny!  And unlike the Second Amendment, the First Amendment uses some pretty no-nonsense words!  You can’t beat “Congress shall make no law”, and yet they do on a continual basis, and all supposedly because of “the will of the people”.

Now we can fight a million-billion-trillion battles one after another after another with the majority on these causes, arguing the same position, the same stance over and over and over again.  We can fight this battle in the editorial sections and on the Internet and on the cable news channels all we want.

And you know what?  We’re probably going to lose a good percentage of those battles. 

Politicians want to stay in office, which means they have to pander to the groups that can get them that majority edge come Election Day.  Lower court judges want to become high court judges, and they know they can’t do that if they can’t get support from the politicians.  The media doesn’t want to take on a cause that doesn’t bring in the majority of viewers.  It’s not about what is right with these groups; it’s about appeasing the majority.  So they will use that to subvert our rights on a continual basis.

Or we can try to cut down on those million-billion-trillion battles by convincing the masses that not everything is about “the will of the people”.  So the politicians won’t feel obligated to subvert our rights on a continual basis.  So the judges won’t feel that they have to choose between their careers and doing what is right.  So the media can talk about freedom instead of trying to nudge down Orwellian nightmares.

Well guess what?  We can’t do that when you have people like Mr. Harsanyi sitting on his high horse and telling the masses “It doesn’t matter what you want!”  That kind of attitude not only turns people off, but it makes them want to do the exact opposite just out of spite!

Sadly, this isn’t the only instance concerning Reason Magazine of arguing from a position of arrogance.

A recent Reason article whines about how the NFL Draft is somehow “unfair” and needs to be abolished.  Keep in mind that the National Football League is still a private organization… a fact that they remind us of at every televised game when it comes to their copyright disclaimer.  So where’s the issue?  Doesn’t this fall under “freedom of association?”  Nobody is forcing you to play football.

Reason’s YouTube channel is rife with mocking and condescending “exclusives” of any protest group or rally that either they or the Koch Brothers have a beef with.  Borrowing a page from Fox News, they look for the zaniest of people, the ones with the weird signs or the outlandish statements, and put them center-stage to be the standard-bearer for that group.  It’s like going to a science fiction convention and then focusing on the protesters from the Westboro Baptist Church and then passing that off as being the whole convention.

Let’s get brutally honest here… if Reason wants to be taken seriously by more people, they need to argue more from a position of reason instead one of pompous arrogance!

It’s one thing to argue from a position of arrogance when you’re preaching to the choir.  You can afford to be arrogant when your audience already agrees with what you have to say.

But when it comes to the Internet, this is not the same Internet audience of fifteen years ago, when most users were intellectual and mostly libertarian and voted for the Libertarian Party candidates in online polls in staggering numbers.  Today the Internet is as diverse as the rest of the world, with liberals and conservatives passing around links based on what appeals to them.  People that have been brought up thinking that might makes right and the majority will have their way no matter what.  They don’t take to arrogant positions like someone from the libertarian choir would.  In fact, they will probably resent what you have to say simply because of how you presented it.

One of the complaints made about libertarians is that they are seen as being stuffy elitists.  It’s hard to get past that kind of negative stereotype when you have groups like those from Reason Magazine perpetuating the image with messages that say “Who cares what the majority wants?”  If the folks at Reason want more people agreeing with them, or at least respecting their stances, and hopefully cutting down on those million-billion-trillion battles against “the will of the people”, then they need to use more reason and less arrogance.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Week of 04/22/2013

The Same Five Sentences
– by David Matthews 2

I’ve learned to do something that people in power don’t want me to do.

I’ve learned to love silence.

If there is ever a reason to turn off the television set, it’s not long after something bad happens.  Get the basic information; the who, what, when, where, and how… and then turn it off.  Turn off the TV set.  Turn the whole thing off.  Put on some music or otherwise just enjoy the bliss of silence.

Why, you ask?

Simple.  Because of the media and their fetish of repeating the same five sentences.

Tragedy happens, like the terrorist bombing of the Boston Marathon, and the media uses it as the justification to interrupt our lives for hours on in.  They barrage us endlessly with talk about the tragedy, the number of lives lost, the number of those injured or missing, the damage caused, even rumors and theories become supposedly “breaking news”.

And for the hours upon hours of time spent on tragic events, they waste most of it repeating themselves over and over and over again.  The same five sentences, over and over and over again, told by different people, rehashed from different viewpoints, and then once again repeated “in case you just tuned in”.

Mind you, I’m not talking about the cable news channels like CNN, MSNBC, and Fox News, where they live for nothing but breaking news and have no qualms repeating the same things over and over and over again.  They need something to happen in order to fill their 24/7 news schedule.  In fact one might say that they were created for this kind of regurgitated news.

No, I’m talking about the mainstream networks of ABC, NBC, Fox, and CBS.  The national networks with all sorts of scheduled programming that now gets sacrificed because of something that happened hours ago.

It’s one thing to have something fluid, like the events of 9/11, or some of the military activity from either the Gulf War or the Iraq War.  Not too many people would dispute the need for the media to provide urgent information to the public in those situations.

But of late the mainstream media news divisions have decided to go above and beyond simply providing the basic information before turning things back to our regularly-scheduled programs.  They’ve turned “breaking news” into excuses to sabotage whole hours of commercial time.

The great “Boston Manhunt” of April 19th is the best example of this.  Both ABC and NBC took it upon themselves to sacrifice literally a whole day’s worth of programming to cover the supposed “lockdown” of Boston while police searched for the bombing suspect.  Continual coverage over what happened in Boston and that people need to stay indoors and that nothing is open and how empty the streets are.  Well, not really empty, because you had search parties, and of course the media out giving street-by-street assessments of how “empty” things are and how urgent it is for people (not including themselves of course) to stay indoors.

Ironically it was someone that was sick and tired of being held hostage in his own home by the city and the media that led to the discovery of the wanted bombing suspect.  Imagine that: a modest act of defiance to the fear-mongering of the media led to the end of the lockdown.

But the question is why did ABC and NBC decide to waste their whole day talking endlessly about this lockdown, rehashing the same five sentences over and over and over again?  There was nothing new happening, and if there was, they could have always broken in to report it.  Events are cancelled, stores are closed, schools are closed, businesses are closed, people are in their homes, the police are looking for the bad guy, nothing new to report, and there was no reason to justify holding their own viewers hostage all day.

And it’s not just the national networks that are doing this!  The local media here in Atlanta have also taken it upon themselves to drag out news stories obscenely long after their “breaking news” status has expired.

WXIA here in Atlanta, the local NBC affiliate, decided to take a local story of two children caught up in a carjacking and perpetually regurgitate the same five sentences over and over and over again.  The children were found, thankfully, but WXIA’s news people took it upon themselves to hijack the viewers and stay on that story over and over and over and over again, supposedly so they could catch the mother being reunited with her children.

The same video footage over and over and over again of the school where the stolen car was found, the same video footage of the road where the carjacking reportedly happened, the same reporters repeating the same five sentences over and over and over again, lather, rinse, repeat.

And they never did get that footage of the mother being reunited with her children!  WXIA held their viewers hostage for nothing!  Just an endless, nauseating regurgitation of the same five sentences with the news anchor slowly turning the story into a religious sermon.

Now imagine you’re a local businessperson who paid good money to have your commercials appear at a certain time of the day.  That money is now wasted for the day because the news division decided to regurgitate stagnant news for no reason other than for ego-gratification.  Would you want to continue doing business with that kind of station?

Okay, now imagine that being spread nation-wide.  Well, you don’t really have to imagine that, do you?  That is what ABC and NBC did on April 19th.  They wasted a whole day with stagnant news for something that pertained only to Boston.  The Boston Marathon bombing suspect wasn’t in New York, or Miami, or Tucson, or Cleveland, or Portland, or Dallas, or Charlotte, or Las Vegas, or Los Angeles, or Honolulu, or Anchorage.  It was the news divisions of those two national networks that decided all by themselves that it should involve all of those cities and everyplace in between.  They held their viewers and their paying sponsors hostage for much of the day over stagnant news.

Now you know why I’ve come to appreciate silence of late.

Let’s get brutally honest here… there is no excuse for the media, either regional or national, to hold their viewers hostage with stagnant news.  It’s one thing if the story is fluid.  If events are still happening and the story continues to evolve, then, by all means, keep going.  But if you’re repeating the same five sentences over and over and over again, then you need to wrap it up and save the rest for the six o’clock news.

Because what the major networks have been engaging in at that point is not news.  It’s misery pornography.

Unfortunately there’s no real remedy that we the viewers can employ other than to simply turn off the TV and radio when the media gets fixated on regurgitation.  And it’s not easy, because it’s just as hard to turn off the TV in the middle of so-called “breaking news” as it is to look away from a car accident, but still it must be done.

News has a fast expiration date.  “Breaking” news, even faster.  But only those in the media are concerned as to whether or not that news is “fast”.  The rest of us simply want it to be accurate and honest.  And if you’re repeating the same five sentences over and over again, then the news isn’t “breaking”; nor at that point is it “news”. 

At that point, the only thing that really makes sense… is silence.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Week of 04/15/2013

Where’s the Tea Party for Small Government?
– by David Matthews 2

I was reading the local Georgia paper recently when I noticed something strange was missing.

Local communities were talking about their tax revenues and how city and county officials say they have no choice but to raise local taxes and utilities to make up for the expected loss in revenue due to the extended Great Recession.  The newspaper articles each reported on these things as though they were foregone conclusions that tax rates and utility costs were going to go up to compensate for the Great Recession. 

And that is pretty much what will probably happen.  Local communities will jack up taxes and utilities to make up for the revenue they feel they need to keep the area going.  There’s very little discussion about it, there’s virtually no debate as to whether or not the community can afford it.  They announce it and then it happens.

As I read the latest announcement of a property tax millage hike, I realized that there was something important missing from this regular “foregone conclusion”.  Or, at least they presume themselves to be so important when it comes to this subject.

Where’s the so-called “Tea Party” crowd?

I’ve been watching the local government discussions in the greater Atlanta area, and in pretty much every local decision to raise property taxes and utilities has gone on without so much as a word from the so-called “Tea Party” crowd in protest.  No rallies, no marches, no pushes to have local officials removed from office, no scathing letters to the editors.  It’s like the “Tea Party” is operating in a totally different universe from small-town America.

And it’s funny too because, from what I understand, many of the self-professed “Taxed Enough Already” folks are small-town small-community homeowners.  These are people that have to see their tax bills go up and up, so you would think that they should be the first to start complaining about a bill that they know they have to pay.

So… why are they so silent when it comes to local taxes?

Granted, the voters here in Georgia recently rejected a Special Local Option Sales Tax, which was the first in a long time, but that one was for a special project that got plenty of negative feedback from communities in general.  An aberration when compared to the dozens of taxes that get passed and renewed without so much as a word in edgewise.

And, again, not a peep from the “No New Taxes” crowd!

That should sound off alarm bells given how the so-called “Tea Party” crowd have this thing about taxes and how we all are supposedly “taxed too much” and what they define as a “tax increase”.  They’re normally throwing on their tinfoil tri-fold hats and making picket signs and slapping on cheap bumper stickers in protest of anything that raises taxes.  They talk of needing to wage a new American Revolution or a new Civil War when a tax break is scheduled to expire or when someone suggests cutting a tax loophole.  They supposedly condemn any – and I mean “any” – attempt to raise taxes as a matter of principle… but not apparently for local taxes.

So why aren’t they up-at-arms about what’s going on in their own backyards?  Why aren’t they as fixated about taxes with local government as they are with the federal government?

Are they ignorant of their own local burdens?  I really don’t think that’s the case.  Property tax assessments and bills are sent out in their own individual notices, and, again, the local newspapers are quick to announce when a change in those tax bills are going to be made, with plenty of time before it becomes reality for people to voice their objections, so it’s not really a surprise.

Someone suggested to me that the local governments have a certain measure of transparency that the federal government doesn’t.  People can supposedly see the “need” for those tax increases and accept them.  I have to disagree with that rationalization for two reasons.  First, because objecting to taxes as a “matter of principle” precludes any exception, even those based on necessity.  Second, because I have seen local community leaders base their budgets on tax revenue that did not exist and dedicate an ever-expanding amount of local revenue to certain divisions like law enforcement without proving necessity.  Besides, it should be easier for so-called anti-tax people to complain about local taxes because of that supposed transparency.  Just because Small Government is announcing its intentions doesn’t automatically make it right.

Another suggested given to me is that the so-called “Tea Party” crowd is really a national party and they do best on a national stage instead of smaller battlegrounds.  This rationalization actually comes closer to what I suspect is the truth, but it doesn’t really justify their political hypocrisy.

Bible-thumping freedom-hating groups also claim to be national groups, and yet they seem to have no problems whatsoever sticking their noses in local matters.  If there’s a local strip club or bookstore they want shut down, they have no problem mobilizing people to City Hall to have their will imposed on us.  If they feel some town is lacking a Ten Commandments display in local government, they have no problem mobilizing people and resources to make sure that “their will be done”.

If the freedom-hating bible-thumpers can do that, why can’t the so-called “Tea Party” crowd?  After all, aren’t they supposed to be this huge leviathan of voter outrage?  Aren’t they supposed to be the literal embodiment of Richard Nixon’s fictional “silent majority” ready to rise up and take back control of government?  Any group that is supposedly that large should have no problems whatsoever with a government of any size.

Or maybe the supposed “Tea Party” crowd is not really as large as they claim to be?  Maybe they’re not the fictional “silent majority” that they’ve propped themselves up as.  Maybe the reason behind their fixation on national taxes instead of local ones has less to do with some sense of “anti-tax principle” and more to do with the dysfunction of the federal government and the interests of the K-Street backers?  Maybe the reason why they’re silent about Main Street and Your Street is because they’re only concerned with Wall Street and Pennsylvania Avenue.

Let’s get brutally honest here… if the so-called “Tea Party” crowd is supposedly so interested in taxes, then they need to do far more than just complain about federal taxes.  They need to be consistent with their philosophy and concentrate just as hard on the burdens imposed by state and local government. 

For every announced millage rate or tax rate hike, for every added fee, for every increase in government-run utilities, there should be protests and picket signs and people marching to City Hall screaming “Hell No!”  The message should be resonating from this so-called “not-so-silent majority” loud-and-clear that the mayor or city councilman or county commissioner or state representative that proposes these things does so at the cost of their career.  They should treat state and local politicians just like they would their federal counterparts. 

Indeed, many a federal politician came from the state and local levels.  This is where they develop that pompous belief that they are above accountability.  This is where they learn how to play the system like a rigged game and get away with it as long as they keep certain special interest groups appeased.  Any true grass-roots political movement knows this.

So again, I ask, where is the so-called “Tea Party” crowd when it comes to local taxes and local government-run burdens?  Why do they appear to be so silent on these matters?  Are they silent because they don’t care?  Or are they silent because they’re not what they appear to be?

Sure it’s easier to focus on one body of government than to spread one’s efforts out through fifty states and then through hundreds and thousands of individual counties, cities, towns, and communities, but that is the burden one faces when they claim to be a huge “national movement”, never mind making any kind of broad political statement like opposing all taxes and claim it be “on principle”.  The burden is on you and your members to actually live up to that supposed “principle”, and not just when it is “convenient”.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Week of 04/08/2013

Tax Extremism Needs To Go For Tax Reform To Begin
– by David Matthews 2

“Taxation is Theft!”

“No New Taxes!”

“Taxed Enough Already!”

It’s hard to talk about the subject of tax reform without coming across some mind-numbed conservative or neo-conservative throwing a teabag-stapled hat on like they are Minnie Pearl and spouting off bumper sticker platitudes about how people are being taxed to death and how it’s all President Obama’s fault and the only way things will be better is if taxes are slashed to the bone and tax breaks are given like they were papal indulgences. 

These conservatives and neo-conservatives are tax extremists.  To them, any kind of tax is “wrong”.  It doesn’t matter if it’s a new tax, an old tax, a tax break that is scheduled to expire, or a tax loophole that should have been closed, if it adds so much as one quarter-penny to the tax coffers, these extremists scream bloody murder and demand it be put to a stop.

“We don’t have a revenue problem,” they arrogantly proclaim, “we have a spending problem!”

Actually we have a hypocrisy problem, considering this is the same political faction that drove us into two wars to be paid for on credit, and only one of them was a matter of necessity.  You see, spending is never a “problem” as long as it is for the things that they want the money spent on, like wars and police-state activities.  But once they are out of power, then any kind of revenue and spending becomes a “problem”.

That’s why we really have a hypocrisy problem rather than a “spending” problem.  The people that are bitching about spending are only bitching about it because it’s not the stuff they want spent.  Should they ever get back in power, they’ll proclaim the problem “contained” and then spend that same tax money on the stuff that they want spent.  If you don’t believe me, then just think back ten years as to which group was doing the spending and on what.

But this hypocritical tax extremism affects us in more ways that just the current political morass.  It also prevents us from coming up with ways to fix the tax system we have.

Yes, our system of taxation is messed up.  It has been twisted and used by politicians to favor their special interest friends so they can pay nothing in taxes and continuing to build on the debt that these tax extremists continue to hysterically scream bloody murder over.

Is it right that a big corporation like General Electric manages to virtually pay nothing in U.S. corporate taxes, leaving the burden to fall on smaller companies?  No.

But good luck trying to close the loopholes and exemptions that allow that to happen!  As soon as you even hint at doing so, the tax extremists scream “Unfair!” and order their friends in Congress to kill any such idea.

Well how about starting from scratch and coming up with a new tax system where everyone pays without exception?  No good.  Be it a “flat tax” or a “Fairtax”, these ideas are quickly dismissed as being “impossible” or “impractical”.

So let’s recap here… these tax extremists think that the current system of taxation is “unfair”, that the American people are taxed too much already, that removing any kind of tax break or tax exemption even through its own scheduled expiration date is a “tax increase”, that the government should not get one additional penny in tax revenue, and apparently they are not really interested in fixing the tax system itself.

Fueling this extremism is this myth that cutting taxes would somehow result in economic growth, which would get more tax revenue through more people working and being promoted.  This is a myth, though, because it presumes that big businesses would take the savings from a tax cut and put it into expansion and promotion and hiring.  This is the old theory of the 1980’s and 90’s, but one that did not happen in the 2000’s, when tax cuts were given, profits soared, but real wages for employees stagnated.  The theory presumes that the companies won’t outsource their workforce to third world nations, or that they won’t simply keep the profits and pay their chief executives obscene amounts of money.  In other words, the very things that Big Corporate did in the previous decade.

Don’t you hate it when the world just doesn’t work according to script?

Let’s get brutally honest here… we cannot resolve the tax problem until we remove the tax extremists from the equation.  It is clear they don’t want to be part of the solution and are only interested in keeping the dysfunctional status quo going.  That’s not progress… that’s sabotage.

It’s funny how the United States managed to survive and thrive forty years ago when the highest tax rate was at ninety percent, and yet today’s tax extremists are throwing temper tantrums when that same highest tax rate is a little over one-third that.  How did the rich keep getting richer back then?  Well, we know how… tax breaks and tax exemptions and tax shelters.  As Leona Helmsley once reportedly said, “Only the little people pay taxes”.

We need to modify this extremist mindset when it comes to taxes.  Taxes, like the government it funds, are a necessary evil.  Needed but not wanted.  You want your ego-driven wars?  You want your ego-driven domestic crusades?  You want to keep that “Lone World Superpower” mindset going?  Then you need to pay for it.  You.  Yes, you.

And if you don’t like the current tax system, then come up with a better one, or throw your support behind one that you believe would be better, and keep supporting that better system until it becomes reality.  Coming up with tax cuts and tax breaks and tax shelters and tax exemptions and then screaming bloody murder if anyone dares mess with them does not fix the problem.  It only makes the problem worse. 

Bumper-sticker slogans on taxes are not solutions.  They are simple-minded sales pitches that reflect the simple-minded hypocrites that expect government to work only for them… and only for free.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Week of 04/01/2013

The “Smartest Men” Problem
– by David Matthews 2

Not too long ago I wrote an article calling for the resignation of Attorney General Eric Holder for his repeated failure to bring the big banks to trial for their criminal activities.  While I received great feedback from many readers and even listeners to my radio show, not everyone agreed with me.

One reader in particular gave a rather condescending message supposedly about “small town journalism” followed by what could only be described as a high school math quiz.  The gist of the response can best be summed up as “you don’t know what you are talking about and you cannot grasp what we do.”

And that is part of the problem.

My critics either don’t know or don’t want to know that I am a published writer with a college degree.  I’ve written fictional stories with long and complicated storylines.  I’ve studied law and the legal system and I am familiar with how our political system works.  I work with computers and I have on more than one occasion tracked down defective code that stymied even the so-called “experts”.  In short, I’ve spent much of my life being able to grasp complicated concepts that so-called “experts” think is “above my pay grade”.

So to accuse someone like myself of not being capable of grasping what “they do” not only shows their pompous self-serving arrogance, but it also reinforces my suspicion that they are really grifters and shysters, trying to dazzle the masses and baffle them with BS.  Like dime-store magicians and amateur-league wrestlers, they don’t like it when someone like me figures out the little tricks of the trade.

There is a difference between being intelligent and being “smart”.  My good friend and fellow ShockNet Radio personality Dr. Charles Doswell III is intelligent.  He knows more about meteorology than most of the people that get paid to talk about it on TV and radio.  And he’s even able to take that intelligence with him on speaking tours and conferences around the world. 

But that person on TV that can talk about the weather and then spin a yarn about a woman turning a hundred-and-two and what the local weather will be for her birthday, that person is “smart”.  They’re able to figure out how to appear credible on television and get paid doing it.  They don’t have to actually be intelligent; they just have to look like they are.

But what happens if you’re that person and you get the weather wrong?  You predict rain and it doesn’t happen.  Oh, well you claim that an upper-air mass was stronger than the front that was supposed to move in, so your weather computers had to take that new data into account and come up with a new prediction model.  And people buy it!  That’s pretty smart if you think about it.

Now if that was all that a “smart” person does, then we wouldn’t have half the problems that plague us in the world today.

If an intelligent person is wrong, they have to find out how and resolve it quickly, or else they get discredited.  But not a “smart” person!  Never them!  A “smart” person knows that if they’re wrong they can invent all sorts of ways to get around being held to account for it.

If, for instance, an intelligent person confuses the female biology of a duck with a female biology of a human, then that person is dismissed as a quack or a fraud.  They lose credibility and other people stop calling on them for advice until they find some way to correct that mistake. 

But a “smart” person doesn’t respond in the same way as an intelligent person.  Oh no!  That “smart” person will instead “double-down” on their assertions, no matter how ludicrous those assertions may be.  He or she will rally for help, attack the credibility or even the character of the accusers, claim to have their words “taken out of context”, and then claim to be a victim of persecution.  The “smart” person will try to convince the whole world that it is wrong instead of the other way around.

The difference is simple: an intelligent person relies on knowledge, while the “smart” person relies more on ego than knowledge.  The intelligent person gets recognized for acquiring and applying knowledge.  The “smart” person sells themselves for having some kind of knowledge.  If the information is wrong, the intelligent person works to correct it, while the “smart” person works to save their ego.

We’d like to think that if we had the right kind of intelligent people, we could figure a way out of the problems we are facing in terms of the economy and government.  We look for people with backgrounds that include universities like Harvard, Yale, M.I.T., Stanford, and Oxford.  We think that if we call upon successful business leaders that they would be able to show us the way out of these problems.

Unfortunately we don’t end up with intelligent people.  We end up with “smart” people.

And let’s get brutally honest here… “smart” people are the ones behind the messes that we are in!

In the 2005 documentary “Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room”, we see one of the biggest corporations of the time collapse from the weight of their own orchestrated games.  We see the arrogance of the so-called “smartest guys in the room” setting up scams on top of scams designed to move debt around and taking pride in making all of that “money” that only existed in theory.  And they honestly believed that they could get away with it, even after it all fell apart.

An intelligent person wouldn’t set up a financial house of cards like that and expect it to go on forever.  But a “smart” person would, and a “smart” person did.

When you look at what happened with the housing market and the banks and Wall Street and how they are all connected and were responsible for creating the Great Recession, you see a similar pattern.  Just like Enron, you have debt and toxic funds being packaged and marketed and shuffled around the various banks like baseball cards.  Then they’re sold on Wall Street, where investors put pension money into thinking it would give them easy money.  And it was only a matter of time before it would all fall apart.  Just look at the 2010 documentary “Inside Job” if you don’t believe me.

Again, an intelligent person wouldn’t play this game, nor would they market it on Wall Street like a rigged roulette game.  But a “smart” person would, and “smart” people did just that.  And they got away with it because they had “smart” politicians to bail them out with taxpayer funds and make sure they didn’t stand trial for their actions.

Don’t think that this is some aberration either!  Ever hear of the Peter Principle?  We laugh about it, but “smart” people not only know about the Peter Principle, but they find ways to get around it.

And if that’s not bad enough, these “smart” people then launched an anti-intellectual campaign to turn away efforts by truly intelligent people to try to fix some of these problems.  Truly intelligent people are dismissed as “stuffy clueless elitists” while the “smart” people use their ill-gotten positions of authority and power to complete the screwjobs being perpetrated on the rest of us.

Confusing, isn’t it?  Anti-intellectualism is also one of the signs of a society turning to fascism, so I would hope that you would be concerned about this.

Certainly the “smart” people have something to be afraid of if someone like yours truly is able to connect the dots, but I’m far from being a threat to their con games.  I only know enough to be dangerous.  If I were truly “smart” I’d be far more successful at this than I am right now.

But like all of their other schemes, it’s only a matter of time before it all collapses.  The only question, then, is to ask when we would be intelligent enough to put a stop to it, or at the very least make sure that we don’t end up bearing the brunt of the damage.