The new political fact of distraction
I am quite taken by the fact that facts no longer seem to be in vogue in our society. In the last 10 years or so our news media seem to represent a truth-less society. Example: The electronic recordings of what one person says often are ignored by that person who says, “I never said that,” regardless of the contrary data.
Even more of a problem is the use of distraction to keep citizens from dealing with the real core issues. In today’s society, opinions hold favor with people because they are so much more useful in political debate. For one thing, opinions do not have to be founded on fact, though I think they should be. Often opinions are framed as facts and held as facts when the listeners cannot distinguish between facts and opinions.
More so, in today’s society what you believe seems to be more important than the reality of the facts. In storytelling, of course, you should not let facts mess up a good story. But when we, as a society, are trying to deal with the important problems of our society, facts are ever so critical.
How does distraction work? Perhaps call it deception, since the point is to get people looking at the wrong things, to get people thinking about lesser problems. Currently a huge deception is going on in the media where every day a myriad of less-important things keep citizens from noticing the critical problems concerning the five core election issues: government reach, energy, employment, financial insolvency and security.
Why these five? These five are what will truly change our lives for the better or worse. Each of these five is an area in which bad policy really destroys our country. After these five core areas, everything else is subservient to those concerns. Example: This week some people lost whatever mind they had when Obama supporters in Florida put the president’s picture in the flag of our country instead of the stars. So what?
There are hundreds of distraction stories, starting with the critics known as birthers who spend their political capital in a losing game. Me, I could not care less where this president was born now that he is in office. I care about this president’s actions and their effect upon me.
Facts that are obscured by opinions
In this political debate little time is spent on the facts of government reach into our lives and whether that reach is the legitimate role of government in a free society. Little time is spent on the role of the president’s energy policy as it applies to the cost of energy. Likewise we are not seeing the president’s role in jobs, our desperate financial crisis and the security of our nation. This election is centered on these five areas.
All of these topics have facts that are obscured by opinions. Fact: Fuel is about twice as expensive as it was three years ago. The reasons are several, but all go to supply and demand. It is quite disturbing to hear one side say that increasing the oil supply in the U.S. through drilling will not lower the price of fuel.
The truth of how prices are adjusted in energy is right out of Economics 101: increases of supply or decreases of demand lower prices. The president’s plan to require an increase in gas mileage for car makers will lower prices at some point, but not until those standards are on the ground, which will be in years. Contrast that to drilling, which has an immediate effect upon the futures market, the place where tomorrow’s prices are set.
People out of a job are really out of a job even if the government gives assistance. No amount of fiddling the job figures changes what is really happening to our society because we have so many people outside the job market. Looking the other way as perhaps one person in five is not employed does not help the situation.
Also, continuing to spend $3.7 trillion a year while taking in $2.2 trillion is a society-killer regardless of the people saying you cannot cut enough to bring those figures back in line. The government went up by 40 percent in the last couple of years. It can come right back down if there is the will to do the financially correct things. Having members of Congress say that the runaway spending is not a problem is a huge problem.
Finally, we have extreme security challenges being ignored by people who should know better. As lesser nations go nuclear and cartels buy off law enforcement in our country and others countries, American citizens are very much in danger. Putting our heads in the sand makes us easier to be destroyed by people of evil intent.
‘Are you going to believe me or your ears?’
These areas of concern are being ignored by the media and citizens. On the campaign stump candidates are followed all day long by reporters. At each stop the politicians amend their remarks to curry favor with that set of voter. Often they play fast and loose with facts. This seems odd since we are an electronic age where what people say is recorded. So by the end of the day reporters have several versions of the truth and it is not reported. Confronted politicians ask, “Are you going to believe me or your ears?”
Americans can continue to be distracted or they can vote the facts.
Swickard is co-host of the radio talk show News New Mexico, which airs from 6 to 9 a.m. Monday through Friday on a number of New Mexico radio stations and through streaming. His e-mail address is email@example.com.
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