What Bothers Me

I’ve got about fifteen things churning in the back of my head, so you may see a bit more of my writing than my typical glacial pace.

The first thing is this article from The Boston Globe talking about how we don’t really care about facts anymore, especially in political discourse. The reason why it bothers me is the fact that I care about public policy and how it’s formed, and most of the time I feel that our policy in this country is driven entirely by ideologies, some seen, others not. One of the burning questions that lends itself to oversimplification is “Should the Government have the right to regulate an industry?” You can’t categorically say “yes”, and you can’t throw out the blanket “no” either. (Yes, I understand the Libertarian view of getting government out of things, but Libertarianism makes, in my opinion, a blind assumption about the nature of human beings. Do we self-regulate when given the chance, especially when there are other factors at stake–i.e. personal gain? I don’t think so. There are too many visible cases of the only thing that matters being the profit margin for anyone but a naive, blind, unthinking creature to say that we all will be good).

I want my food to be safe. I want my roads fixed. I want a working infrastructure, and I’m more than willing to pay for that. However, there isn’t any option to just pay for the parts of government you like.

The things that bother me about policy and politics are when issues of morality and ethics come into play. All of the hot topics (abortion, gun control, homosexuality). Then, more often than not, we wind up with situations where people with personal agendas because of their belief in one set of facts completely base their policies not on facts but on their interpretation of them. And if we elect people who can’t critically think about issues (and I’m looking straight at all of the Texas State School Board members and their textbook decisions) that have a mighty influence, then how can we not throw up our hands and say, “I told you so” when the longer-term effects of these decisions start appearing? Look at climate change. Most of the misinformation that leads people to not believing in anthropogenic climate change comes from a government study done that framed the issue in economic terms, not scientific terms. The gist of the report presented by the government was a combination of 9 different points of view, but the person compiling the report deliberately chose to present a view of global warming as an issue of this sort: “Well, the effects won’t happen for a long time, and by then we’ll have the technology to fix things.” This ignored a ton of evidence about climate change that had been noted since the 70s.

I have a remarkably thin skin when it comes to politics; I am more than willing to admit I can be wrong about things. But you can’t be wrong about facts, especially when they become the frame through which you view life. I can’t count the number of emails that have been forwarded to me stating essentially that “this country’s going to hell because Obama was elected.” These make me angry, but it’s a useless waste of time to argue with the people who send these emails out. Their attitude won’t change. Their thoughts won’t change, even when presented with a line-by-line, point-by-point listing of their inaccuracies. There’s a large part of me that wants to scream “WHY ARE YOU SO AFRAID? HE’S NOT GOING TO MARRY YOUR DAUGHTER OR STEAL YOUR WIFE THROUGH HIS MAGIC VOODOO”, but again, it’s like shouting into a jet engine.

And when these attitudes start creeping into policies like “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” or the recent allowance of corporations to spend freely in political campaigns, that’s when I have a real problem. Suddenly, people who vote for something because they are a one- or two-issue voter now are granting power to corporations to run their lives, decide their health care, and make decisions that just might not be in the person’s best interest. Because they’re not informed or they’re completely misinformed and are willing to only see one side of an issue that’s dodecahedronish in shape, they stop thinking. And that doesn’t bother me, but it makes me sad. What are the “powers and principalities” that run our lives? Why do I have to swallow my pride every time I walk into Wal-Mart, because they have stuff I need at a price I can live with, country of origin or exploited labor be damned?

Okay. I’ve ranted enough for now.