We all should be seeking truth, but we don’t. Truth is frequently disturbing, and we go into self-deception. Instead of seeking the truth, we seek out others who bolster our self-deception. Today, Sr. Eileen White, who coordinates the panel of From a Faith Perspective writers I serve with, published an excellent Christian perspective on self-deception about January 6th coverage.
If you or someone you know refuses to watch the hearings and avoids the news summaries, this brief article gives a gentle nudge toward seeking the truth.
Sr. White urges us to question our beliefs. What’s real and true can stand scrutiny. Lies and deception can’t. Receiving information and seeing things that are discordant with our beliefs takes strength. Discernment takes work. Being cynical and saying, “what is truth?” is a dodge that perpetuates self-deception.
The Economist reports that the Vaccines for Covid-19 probably saved more than twenty million lives worldwide. That’s quite wonderful.
But I’m prompted to wonder how many more might have been saved if there had not been so much doubt and fear generated by the anti-vax people. The right to express one’s own opinion carries responsibility for the consequences of others trusting that opinion and relying upon it to make a life or death decision. It’s a moral obligation, and maybe it should carry consequences for the purveyors of fear. It looks to me like many of the anti-vax leaders are in it for the attention and money it gets them.
Covid-19 still kills about 400 a day in the US despite vaccines. Vaccinated people with other health issues can still become gravely ill, and unvaccinated people are still something like ten times as likely to have a bad outcome from infection. If you are old or frail you need to continue precautions even though most people are lowering their guard.
I’m a capitalist. I believe in free enterprise, and I respect entrepreneurs who risk everything, confident they can build a thriving business because they believe they have something valuable to offer the rest of us.
But, I think that a person should always be willing to reassess how their beliefs serve them. My belief in free enterprise is no exception. Too much that’s going wrong in the world is driven by narrow business interests that conflict with the common good and public welfare.
Jim Hightower thinks so too. He attacks Monopoly Power in his October pamphlet The Hightower Lowdown.
That’s the mantra. Some people enjoy the drama they cause by triggering a confrontation and fueling the configuration. It’s akin to being an arsonist – a social arsonist. The result can be devastating to any community of shared interest.
Karen Tibbals names this destructive game in her current blog post:
In her book, “High Conflict: Why We Get Trapped and How We Get Out,” journalist and author Amanda Ripley gives a name to people who fuel conflict: conflict entrepreneurs. She asks us to recognize those who delight in each new plot twist of a feud, those who make a concerted effort to fan the flames…
I’m seeing a lot of this in the political mail I get from the GOP. Half truths and outright lies are employed to fuel outrage and villify the motives of the Democrats and all those who criticize Republicans.
It’s particularly distressing that these tactics attack proposals and policies that have socially desirable reforms such as stopping tax fraud and closing loopholes. The GOP attack on reforms that would allow the IRS to spot high dollar tax evasion and enforce the law earned three Pinocchios from the Washington Post’s fact-checkers.
Nonetheless, Senator Pat Toomey (R-PA), restates the falsehood in his current email blast, the theme of which is to denigrate Democrats and exalt Republicans as virtuous defenders of truth, freedom, and the American way. Never mind the GOP’s determined efforts to stonewall voting rights or the investigation of the instigators of the January 6th insurrection.
Sometimes things have to go very wrong before they come back right. I hope we have reached the moment when rational Republicans decide to sink the extremist wing of their party instead of riding it to power and scuttling the democracy they have sworn to serve virtually every time they were installed in an official position.
Heather Cox Richardson gives an excellent summary of what is now going public about GOP loyalists having a moment of truth, an opportunity to change course and purge their party of its cancerous extremism.
Various writers, tongue-in-cheek, have urged that the Treasury Secretary mint a one trillion dollar coin and use it to buy back debt. This would resolve the debt ceiling crisis.
Whoa!, you say. If they just print more money, won’t that cause inflation? Maybe not. Money is created and destroyed all the time. Your bank routinely makes loans it doesn’t have the funds to cover. It is not required to have deposits equal to its loans. When the market price of housing, soybeans, or General Motors stock fluctuates, money is created or destroyed.
In its essence, money is only a promise to pay. We rely on the Federal Reserve to impose monetary policies that keep us as close to 2% annual inflation as they can. It’s an art, not a science.
The unknown is whether minting the coin would alter the world’s faith in our promise to repay.
There is little question that failure to raise the debt ceiling would cause the US to default on its existing debt. This would certainly shake faith in our monetary promises because we would be breaking them. So maybe the risk of minting the coin is small relative to the alternative of certain default.
Here’s my suggestion. Let’s mint eight of those $1T coins. Put Mitch McConnell’s likeness on one side and the GOP elephant on the obverse. Use them one at a time during Biden’s presidency to pay down the deficit and keep the economy rolling. Why eight coins? That’s about equal to the record-setting deficit that accrued under #45’s four-year term. So, it would be bold political theater to remind us all that the GOP is not fiscally more responsible than the Dems. Quite the opposite – they are willing to scuttle the economy and throw us into recession to game the political system.
This NYT article analyzes social research on why people are hesitant about vaccines and how the rest of us can help them choose to get vaccinated. In addition, it lets you examine information specific to your locale.
Getting everyone vaccinated in the United States has become much harder now that demand for the Covid-19 vaccine is flagging. America’s vaccination strategy needs to change to address this, and it starts with understanding the specific reasons people have not been vaccinated yet.
The conventional approach to understanding whether someone will get vaccinated is asking people how likely they are to get the vaccine and then building a demographic profile based on their answers: Black, white, Latinx, Republican, Democrat. But this process isn’t enough: Just knowing that Republicans are less likely to get vaccinated doesn’t tell us how to get them vaccinated. It’s more important to understand why people are still holding out, where those people live and how to reach them
The popular uprising against authoritarianism, tyranny, and deception has given rise to parody in song. The talent matches the cleverness. Enjoy!
The COVID-19 pandemic should not have become a political issue. But it is. Disregard for the practices that protect others became an expression of right-wing individualism. Late in the 2020 campaign the right began advocating for abandonment of the curve-flattening practices that slow contagion. Driven by the desire to restart the retail economy, GOP leadership flaunted maskless super-spreader events. While experts rallied to oppose this wrong-headed notion, the President persisted.
In the world of bikers, rules about wearing helmets are often considered overreach. One of the pleasures of motorcycles is being out in the elements: feeling the alternation of cool and warm air on your face, smelling fields and forests as you pass. The helmet is a barrier.
Likewise, the COVID-19 mask is shunned. But neither of these items of safety gear is for the wearer alone. Accidents and contagion affect many more people. This two sentence news item from Time Magazine dramatically underscores the far-reaching social consequences of ignoring precautions.
Fun loving, party hardy, macho bikers have cost society more that 12 billion ($12,000,000,000) plus spreading suffering that’s impossible to quantify.
I haven’t heard how the town of Sturgis is doing. Could it have been worth it when the economic benefits are accounted for? This is a preview and a demo of what may happen this fall. The administration continues to downplay the threat. The president and his faithful followers continue to scorn mask use. Yes, he’s grudgingly begun to appear wearing a mask, but he makes no bones about not liking it.
Meanwhile the death rate hovers at 5,000 souls a week and experts estimate it will rise from the present 200,000 total to over 400,000 in December. At one point the president and some of his staff proffered the idea of letting COVID-19 run its course so that herd immunity could develop and the people’s lives (and the all-important economy) could return to normal. The Lincoln Project has vividly panned this bad idea in a recent political ad.
The ad is over-the-top harsh, and my initial reaction was that it’s deceptive. But then I considered the president’s actions of late. He’s pressured the CDC to recommend NOT testing people who are not symptomatic. He’s holding maskless rallies in indoor venues. He’s pressured schools to open before they are prepared to do so safely. The GOP legislature hasn’t passed enabling legislation, so the Democratic Governor’s mitigation rules have been declared unconstitutional. The President routinely contradicts his own experts’ assessments of risks and the timeline for vaccine protection. And he’s attacking mail-in ballots to necessitate in-person voting at crowded polling places.
All of those acts would be consistent with a plan to reopen and briefly enjoy the election week illusion of normalcy while COVID-19 does its grim work. Although millions would eventually die, the surviving 99% would be “fine.”