Corrosive Cynicism

An Associated Press article this morning speaks to one of the real dangers facing western society today, creeping dishonesty and the cynicism that makes it seem a proper behavior.

The article was based on a survey by the Josephson Institute of more than 29,000 students at 100 randomly chosen high schools across the country. Among the findings of the survey were that 30% of students surveyed admitted having stolen from someone over the last year, and that more than 60% admitted having cheated on schoolwork in the same period.

Michael Josephson, the institute's founder, commenting on the survey said-

"What is the social cost of that — not to mention the implication for the next generation of mortgage brokers?" Josephson remarked in an interview. "In a society drenched with cynicism, young people can look at it and say 'Why shouldn't we? Everyone else does it.'"

Among the things children see these days is that there seems to be little real cost to such forms of theft as plagiarism. Vice president-elect Joe Biden, for example famously plagiarized not only in law school but also in speeches after the beginning of his political career. Such indiscretions clearly have cost him little. Doris Kearns Goodwin, a fixture on PBS, also plagiarized the work of others but, a precious few mea culpas later, she goes on strong.

In the A.P.article much is made of the "pressures" placed on students to achieve today. That has nothing to do with common thievery. Such cynicism is ultimately a sign that young people believe they are not capable of fending honorably for themselves. Our accommodation of thieves in public life only reinforces their fear. If someone with a Pulitzer Prize can't get by without stealing why should a teenager in high school think they can?

Finally, who is standing up for the value of honor in our society? Certainly not our mass media. Take, for example, this report on last night's 60 Minutes article on internet gambling and its ethical problems. To the people at CBS it seems a scandal that online gambling sites would cheat their clients. Never mind that it is ILLEGAL to gamble online in the United States. CBS want there "to be a law", as it were, about the owners of gambling sites and the quality control they practice, though there is in fact a law about the practice itself they don't mind you ignoring.

An honorable society is one that reinforces the belief that one can prosper by one's own efforts without cheating or stealing. A society so built benefits everyone. A cynical society (Remember the old Soviet addage? "They pretend to pay us and we pretend to work.") eats away at its own capacity to provide for everyone because its people will seek to grab the resource they see before they will risk the effort to produce more resources.

Whatever side of the political aisle you are on you benefit from a society that has faith in honesty.

Posted by Lee Emmerich Jamison at December 1, 2008 10:53 AM
Comments
Comment #271251

I read your link to the 60 minutes report. It was interesting. They clearly mentioned the gambling was illegal and I have never seen the show call for there “to be a law”. Nevertheless, you did your duty and managed to force fit the “bad liberal media” theme into your post which I guess was your main objective.

Posted by: Schwamp at December 1, 2008 1:07 PM
Comment #271253

So, we’re officially in a recession as of December 2007. I don’t suppose the gyrations of this current administration could possibly have anything to do with the premise of your post? Nah.

Posted by: womanmarine at December 1, 2008 1:26 PM
Comment #271254

Schwamp,

Doesn’t 60 Minutes mean to give the impression that something ought to be done, that someone ought to be made whole? In fact they do.

But why? If the “victims” in the story had simply followed the law there would be no story, nobody to cheat, no loss to rectify.

That is moral ambivalence. Cynicism is also moral ambivalence.

Posted by: Lee Jamison at December 1, 2008 1:28 PM
Comment #271255

womanmarine,

Yep, you’re right. There has been plenty of cynicism at work in the Bush administration, especially in programs like the African AIDS relief that was supposed to be so humanitarian.

Posted by: Lee Jamison at December 1, 2008 1:31 PM
Comment #271260

Lee:

That wasn’t what I had in mind, but glad you agree.

I was thinking more of dishonesty which causes cynicism.

Posted by: womanmarine at December 1, 2008 2:08 PM
Comment #271266

Dishonesty does not cause cynicism. A society conceding to dishonesty the high ground causes cynicism.

Posted by: Lee Jamison at December 1, 2008 2:57 PM
Comment #271268

Plagiarism! Plagiarism!

The trick with plagiarism is that it is what it is even if it’s an honest mistake. For example, as when Biden forgot one time to attribute a speech to Labor Party leader Neil Kinnock, having made the attribution all other times. Or when Doris Kearns Goodwin attributed all the sourced selections, but didn’t put them in quotes.

But of course, throw that word out, and the obvious connotation is the cynical, intentional lifting of source material to be represented as one’s own work. Use the incident as an example of such cynicism, and you play more on the connotation of the word than the reality of her actions. She didn’t quote her source material properly, but she was not attempting to steal that person’s work.

In avoiding dishonesty and cynicism, or just plain garden variety error, it pays to do the research on the matters at hand, rather than just pass on warmed over rhetoric.

I agree that dishonesty is a major problem. What I would say is that we have developed a culture that rewards the elevation of personal expedience over earned intellectual and educational progress. People who work hard to become experts or who see getting things right as preferable to just getting things done are often pigeonholed as elitists or nerds. We’ve taken the schoolyard mischief of kids trying to get out of doing difficult things and elevated it to a cultural paradigm.

I think part of our problem in this society is that we’ve put the mindset of the immature on a pedestal.

I hardly think, though, that this is strictly a Republican or Democratic Party problem. I think this is an overall problem.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at December 1, 2008 3:07 PM
Comment #271278
Lee Emmerich Jamison wrote: An honorable society is one that reinforces the belief that one can prosper by one’s own efforts without cheating or stealing. A society so built benefits everyone. A cynical society (Remember the old Soviet addage? “They pretend to pay us and we pretend to work.”) eats away at its own capacity to provide for everyone because its people will seek to grab the resource they see before they will risk the effort to produce more resources. Whatever side of the political aisle you are on you benefit from a society that has faith in honesty.
True.

Responsibility = Power + Virtue + Education + Transparency + Accountability
Corruption = Power - Virtue - Education - Transparency - Accountability

Where:

  • Virtue = the source of moral and ethical judgment; a sense of right and wrong; a sense of caring. A good conscience and Virtue is not merely knowing what is right or wrong, but caring enough to do what is right, and provides the motivation to seek the balance of Education, Transparency, Accountability, and Power required for any successful society, government, or organization;

  • Education = an understanding of the importance of: Education, Transparency, Accountability, Power, Responsibility, Corruption, and the fundamental human desire to seek security and prosperity with the least effort and pain, and that some will resort to dishonest, unethical, or illegal methods to obtain it;

  • Transparency = visibility and simplification of cleverly over-complicated processes to reveal and identify abusers, create outrage, reduce opportunities for abuse, and discourage abuse and dishonesty;

  • Accountability = consequences needed to encourage law enforcement, encourage ethical behavior, and discourage abuse and dishonesty;

  • Power = force required to enforce the laws, discontinue abuse, ensure consequences, punish abusers, and discourage abuse and dishonesty; but unchecked Power without sufficient Education, Transparency, and Accountability breeds Corruption.

If we don’t learn (via Education) the smart way, and learn to recognize and reject the abuses and mechanisms used by some for self-gain, we will most likely have to learn the hard way (again).

  • Unfortunately, the U.S. has declining Transparency in government (i.e. the U.S.A. Corruption Perception Index has fallen for 10 years): www.transparency.org/policy_research/surveys_indices/cpi/2007 Based on Transparency International, the U.S.’s Corruption Score has fallen for 10 years from position 11 (year 2004), to 17 (year 2005), and to 20 (year 2006 and 2007);
  • Unfortunately, the U.S. has public Education falling in quality and rising in cost.
  • Unfortunately, too many voters refuse to hold Congress Accountable, and repeatedly reward Congress with 85%-to-90% re-election rates, despite dismal 9%-to-18% approval ratings for Congress: www.rasmussenreports.com/public_content/politics/mood_of_america/congressional_performance/congressional_performance
  • Unfortunately, Congress is increasingly irresponsible, Corrupt, and too busy giving itself a raise 9 times between 1997 and 2007; and giving the wealthy subsidies, corporate welfare and pork-barrel; while U.S. troops are going without armor, adequate medical care, promised benefits, and do 2, 3, 4, or more tours in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Examples:
  • Subsidies for the wealthy: farm.ewg.org/sites/farmbill2007/top_recips1614.php?fips=00000&progcode=farmprog&enttype=indv&enttype=entity
  • Pork-Barrel: One-Simple-Idea.com/Links1.htm
  • 10 major abuses: One-Simple-Idea.com/DisparityTrend.htm
  • Pressing problems ignored for decades and allowed to grow dangerously in number and severity: One-Simple-Idea.com/CongressToDoList.htm
At any rate, the voters have the government that the voters elect (and re-elect, and re-elect, and re-elect , … , at least until that finally becomes too painful). Posted by: d.a.n at December 1, 2008 3:53 PM
Comment #271283

Stephen,

I hardly think, though, that this is strictly a Republican or Democratic Party problem. I think this is an overall problem.
That is true. It will not be solved by either Republicans or Democrats, but by both deciding they benefit by defeating cynicism together.

I would say, though, the issue runs deeper than mere “expediency”. We go through schooling to acquire knowledge. That has a benefit to all of society. Cheating assumes the goal is acknowledgement instead, just as stealing assumes the goal of exchange is simple acquisition. The exchange has a benefit to society as well. One person’s desire begets a return to another of value for value, work for work. Cynicism, in short-circuiting this process, says of the thief “I am not of value”.

Posted by: Lee Jamison at December 1, 2008 4:19 PM
Comment #271285
Lee Emmerich Jamison wrote: I would say, though, the issue runs deeper than mere “expediency”. We go through schooling to acquire knowledge. That has a benefit to all of society. Cheating assumes the goal is acknowledgement instead, just as stealing assumes the goal of exchange is simple acquisition.
Cheating and Corruption grows where ever opportunities and conditions allow it.

Transparency is needed expose corruption and cheating.
Education is needed to identify the clever mechanisms used to cheat others (many mechanisms of which most Americans are unaware of).
The U.S. has been losing Transparency for a decade (i.e. see the U.S.A. Corruption Perception Index Grade, based on Transparency International, the U.S.’s Corruption Score has fallen for 10 years:

  • YEAR_RANK_GRADE (higher grades better)

  • 1998: 17 (7.5)

  • 1999: 18 (7.5)

  • 2000: 14 (7.8)

  • 2001: 16 (7.6)

  • 2002: 16 (7.7)

  • 2003: 18 (7.5)

  • 2004: 11 (7.5)

  • 2005: 17 (7.6)

  • 2006: 20 (7.3)

  • 2007: 20 (7.2)

  • 2008: 18 (7.3)

By the way, “cynicism” exists, but “cynicism” is not our biggest problem, and you may be confusing selfishness with cynicism.
Definition of cynicism:

  • An attitude of scornful or jaded negativity, especially a general distrust of the integrity or professed motives of others: the public cynicism aroused by governmental scandals.

That is, “cynicism” is more likely a symptom of a more fundamental and basic problem, such as excessive selfishness, and it is the selfishness and the resulting corruption that fuels “cynicism”.
The major problem, which may run in cycles, boils down to a few basic human traits.
The root problem is us, and too much selfishness, and the many manifestations of selfishness, which include (with some over-lap):
  • (1) apathy, complacency, sense of futility, negligence, ignorance, and laziness;

  • (2) greed, selfishness, gluttony, lust for power and control, envy, pride, and exploitation of others and things (e.g. lawlessness, wealth, usury, wars, taxation, etc.);

  • (3) irrational fear, fear mongering, anger, intolerance, hatred, prejudice of others and things (e.g. religion, race, gender, color, ethnicity, etc.);

  • (4) delusion (deception and self deception), misplaced loyalties, partisan-warfare, misplaced compassion, misplaced priorities;

Education is a key part of the solution, because that is the only thing that might substitute for a lack of Virtue, because as you say …
Lee Emmerich Jamison wrote: An honorable society is one that reinforces the belief that one can prosper by one’s own efforts without cheating or stealing. A society so built benefits everyone.

That is, what must be learn is that we bring pain back onto ourselves when we surrender to excessive cheating, corruption, and other manifestations of unchecked greed and selfishness.

That is, we can learn the smart way, or the hard way, because eventually, the hard way will become too painful for most people, if not all people.

That’s why Education is a key part of the solution.
Either way, we are going to get our education.
We merely need to choose how - the smart way, or the painful way.
The sooner the better, because we’ve dug ourselves a very deep hole, and a lot of pain and misery may now be unavoidable.
However, now is not the time to give up, because it can still get much, much worse.

At any rate, the voters have the government that the voters elect (and re-elect, and re-elect, and re-elect , … , at least until that finally becomes too painful).

Posted by: d.a.n at December 1, 2008 4:55 PM
Comment #271286

Lee Jamison-
We don’t go through schooling to acquire knowledge. We go there to acquire the ability to process the information we come to know. The distinction is important.

The cynical response of many students, is “when will I need to know this?” The assumption will be that one will simply be running something that just requires common sense to operate. The trick is, though, all the good jobs out there are skilled jobs, or jobs that require a degree, so common sense by itself is not enough, at least not if one wants a choice. The cynicism creates a bit of naivete.

Cheating, too, is its own form of naivete. One staves off an eventual reckoning by cheating, floating above the reality of one’s inadequate knowledge by bending and circumventing the rules.

Naivete and cynicism represent the same mistake in two directions, naivete being blindingly optimistic appraisal of a situation, cynicism being the blindingly negative counterpart to that. One thing to keep in mind is that cynicism and naivete can both breed a problematic degree of complacency. Naivete can create it by lulling people to sleep regarding harsh truths.

Cynicism, though, leads people to accept negative situations because the operative understanding is that this is reality and only the hopelessly deluded would try and change it or triumph over it. How long did people let the Pentagon Budget bloat, and the DOD become an inefficient monster, simply because that was the way it was?

How many Democratic and Republican leaders let corruption saturate their ranks and their practices, precipitating the collapse of their majorities? How many of the folks who were voted out in the last two elections took for granted that voters would continue to support them, regardless of what they did?

We let too many things slide, and now we’re faced with an overwhelming reality and a choice. What’s the choice? Learned helplessness, or a renewal of our initiative to solve problems and triumph over obstacles.

Cheating is a natural temptation, as is cynicism. Sometimes it’s to one’s advantage to cut the Gordian Knot, or to accept a difficult to change reality. But most of the time, it’s better to take something other than the path of least resistance.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at December 1, 2008 5:02 PM
Comment #271291

Stephen,

We don’t go through schooling to acquire knowledge. We go there to acquire the ability to process the information we come to know. The distinction is important.
Since I’ve learned far more since I was in school than I learned in school you win half a point, but the other half of the point was that the reason for being there was to give one the capacity to be of benefit to society (as a foundation for being of value in the economy). What we try to win by that process is the war for young people’s sense of personal saleable value. (Yeah, I know, that sounds so crass. But we’ve devalued such concepts as self-worth and self-image so that they no longer mean “assurance that one can stand on one’s own two feet”.) People who believe in themselves will stand up to people, their own bosses, their own political parties, even their own clients, who try to put them in “their place”.

You’re right about nievete for the most part, but I think the case on cynicism is less about knowledge per se and more about an assurance that “my hard work will be worth the effort” and “my honor is worth delaying gratification”.

Posted by: Lee Jamison at December 1, 2008 5:36 PM
Comment #271296

Cynicism might well be defined as an author of an essay using three examples of cynical behavior, all of whom are liberal, in order to advance his personal political agenda by pretending that no one from the his own side of the aisle might as easily have been given as an example.

Way to call the kettle black, Lee.

Posted by: EJN at December 1, 2008 6:25 PM
Comment #271297

Here’s some cynicism from noted writer George Will.

“”By acting without rhyme or reason, politicians have destroyed the rules of the game. There is no reason to invest, no reason to take risk, no reason to be prudent, no reason to look for buyers if your firm is failing. Everything is up in the air and as a result, the only prudent policy is to wait and see what the government will do next. The frenetic efforts of FDR had the same impact: Net investment was negative through much of the 1930s.”

For the rest of this great article go here: http://townhall.com/columnists/GeorgeWill/2008/11/30/same_old_new_deal

Posted by: Jim M at December 1, 2008 6:28 PM
Comment #271299

Lee Jamison-
Here’s what I’d say: kids need to be taught and shown a certain measure of respect, regardless of how they perform. That would include, though, being held accountable for their actions, and being paid proper respect for what they’ve done right, or extraordinarily.

I didn’t much like that expertocracy/meritocracy crack a while back, because it seemed to me another in a long line of cracks taken at people who worked hard to get their status. If a so-called expert fails to get something right on a consistent basis, then we can question his or her merits on those counts. But we had better understand what we’re criticizing well enough to get past a generalized sense of distrust, and introducing politics into it should be avoided as much as possible.

I think the best way to put it is that the best way to handle that is (expert’s failures to properly predict situation)+(decent explanation of what went wrong)= a better approach at critiquing expert’s positions than just cynically discounting experts on general principle.

Or put another way, we have to make ourselves a little more expert, a little more educated in whatever system is at work so we can critique from a position of knowledge rather than simple political or personal reactionary bias. Otherwise we set ourselves up to look like fools when somebody who does know what they’re talking about picks our explanation apart.

What makes cynicism corrosive, in the long run, is the unwillingness to see past a reactionary bias, an unwillingness to consider things apart from personal assumptions. We have to all be willing to sacrifice ideology and personal philosophy on the altar of skeptical inquiry and educational self-improvement.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at December 1, 2008 6:39 PM
Comment #271320

Cynicism…low expectation from a lofty position.

Posted by: Marysdude at December 2, 2008 1:42 AM
Comment #271326
Never mind that it is ILLEGAL to gamble online in the United States.

First, it shouldn’t be illegal.

Second, it is only illegal if the site is located in the US. It is not illegal for a citizen to participate on a foreign run online gambling site.

It is, unfortunately, illegal for US banks to transfer funds to online gambling sites, which just makes it an annoyance for many who wish to exert their freedom to live in dominion over their own lives…

Posted by: Rhinehold at December 2, 2008 8:56 AM
Comment #271327

BTW, it is interesting that people want oversight of online gambling when it is not legal for one to exist in the US, how is the US going to have any oversight of them? Perhaps if they quit trying to tell people who to live their lives and removed the (IMO) unconstitutional restrictions on running an online gambling establishment they could provide some…

Or is that too logical for the US government to comprehend?

Posted by: Rhinehold at December 2, 2008 8:58 AM
Comment #271329

Rhinehold the laws against on line gaming are the brainchild of the Las Vegas resorts. On line gaming was cutting into the profits of the established casinos. The law was passed due to the casino lobbyist and their paid for Congress. It is the fault of the people of this country not the Federal government that this type of manipulation of our system of government exists. As long as a majority of people in this country believe political bribery is free speech we deserve what we get.

Posted by: j2t2 at December 2, 2008 9:46 AM
Comment #271330

EJN,

Cynicism might well be defined as an author of an essay using three examples of cynical behavior, all of whom are liberal, in order to advance his personal political agenda by pretending that no one from the his own side of the aisle might as easily have been given as an example.

First, controversy promotes discussion. Second, you ignore my comments on the Bush administration, both in this thread and others. Third, could you point out a recent example of a national Democrat politician who has been voted out of office, like Mark Foley or Senator Stevens, because he or she was under the shadow of a criminal investigation or under indictment? (aside from the utterly brilliant bit of Greek theater by Eliot Spitzer)

Finally, does this mean you admit that 60 Minutes is a liberal mouthpiece?

Rhinehold,

It is illegal because the representatives of the people made laws declaring it so. Libertarians have to win this argument with the people. You and I both have to convey philosophical points to ordinary folks. In this regard I think you have the harder task, because the ordinary person really can’t tell the difference between Libertarianism and anarchy.

Stephen,

I didn’t much like that expertocracy/meritocracy crack a while back, because it seemed to me another in a long line of cracks taken at people who worked hard to get their status.
My comments on what I call the “expertocracy” are really comments on the limitations of self-conscious human culture. (I have not recently used the word meritocracy that I can recall.) In the pendulum swings of cultural dominance our “experts” tend to be the people who skillfully reinforce the dominant world view’s biases- until they fail. Herbert Hoover was an expert until he failed. John Maynard Keynes was brilliant until his world view failed. Now people are trying to lift him up as brilliant again.

The arbiter of all this is whatever group, school of thought, or philosophy holds a sort of conceptual dominance in the culture today. My problem with this assessment of expertise is that it is fundamentally anti-evolutionary, where evolution is a means of allowing individual decisions to forge new and dynamic ways to success in a changing world- not trying to pre-assess and then lead the path to success.

Our committment to expertocracy forecloses truly evolutionary avenues to success by limiting the ability of states, localities, and individuals to go their own way. My criticisms are not a slight to those who have educated themselves well. They are a comment on what I consider an arrogant presumption that any amount of education or even accomplishment grants to one person, school, or philosophy the right to claim exclusive control of the levers of society.

Everyone, no matter how well educated, no matter how brilliant, lives in a world in which there is billions of times as much to learn as they already know.

Our “experts” appear too stupid to comprehend this very, very simple fact.

Posted by: Lee Jamison at December 2, 2008 9:55 AM
Comment #271337

“It is, unfortunately, illegal for US banks to transfer funds to online gambling sites, which just makes it an annoyance for many who wish to exert their freedom to live in dominion over their own lives…” Posted by: Rhinehold at December 2, 2008 08:56 AM

If it were legal for US banks to transfer funds for online gambling I wonder how long it would be before someone would be lobbying Congress to bail out the poor unfortunate gamblers who were lured to the online gaming sites.

It has already been determined that most folks aren’t smart enough to read the provisions in the mortgages they sign and need bailing.

Perhaps our brilliant federal government can come us with a skills test before allowing anyone to spend more than $100. By passing the skills test the individual would be allowed to spend and purchase whatever and whenever they want with the vendor being held blameless for stupidity.

Is that being cynical? You bet it is and for good reason.

Posted by: Jim M at December 2, 2008 11:36 AM
Comment #271345

Lee Jamison-
Nobody knows everything about any subject, much less all. But ignorance is relative, and I see no reason to entrust positions of authority to those relatively ignorant in the respective fields.

One thing I would recommend is not to try and understand an entire field through one expert’s eyes, or even through one school of thought. I think a good working knowledge of the various disputes and controversies, as well as the commonly accepted theory does a person well. When we fail to educate ourselves, fail to heed experts, we make ourselves a gullible breed, to put it bluntly.

I would offer to you that politics is enough of a complex, distinct, and difficult field to require specialization itself. But I would venture to say that what we want are leaders who can listen to and rely upon multiple points of view, and who have a decent level of awareness concerning the important issues of the day.

The fact of the matter is, it is reality and not the experts themselves who most limit the survival of different points of view. If people get things wrong time and again, they will be held accountable, either by their peers, or by the public.

The key is not to avoid reliance on experts, but to moderate it with a broader point of view.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at December 2, 2008 1:29 PM
Comment #271346

Stephen,

One thing I would recommend is not to try and understand an entire field through one expert’s eyes, or even through one school of thought. I think a good working knowledge of the various disputes and controversies, as well as the commonly accepted theory does a person well….
The key is not to avoid reliance on experts, but to moderate it with a broader point of view.
I’m not really advocating avoiding reliance on experts. The point you make in the first of these comments is well taken. It speaks well for the president-elect, for example, that he is secure enough to build an “adminstration of adversaries” (though it appears his tolerance for disagreement seems not to go far past the yellow stripes). That is a good move, but can an administration whose far right comes from the middle even hear the great idea that comes from the real far right? Yet a market economy (some would say a far-right idea in itself) was able to detect the great ideas of a couple of liberal ice cream makers from New Hampshire and liberal coffee sellers from Seattle.

What happens when experts muck around with the performance of the markets by trying to choose who will fail an who will not is not a cessation of market forces. Our medical industry is a monument to the dithering imposed on a market when governments seeks to eliminate the market forces that once regulated it.
When experts try to tell every state how they must solve legal issues or educational issues the result is not universal success. It is a loss of diversity in potential solutions, a narrowing of lessons learned. When experts keep failing entities too large to fail they get not more stable, successful economies, but entities easier to manipulate centrally.

What we see today are people demonstrably operating beyond the rational expectations of any human learning curve. That is not expertise.

It is hubris.

Posted by: Lee Jamison at December 2, 2008 2:13 PM
Comment #271351
womanmarine wrote: So, we’re officially in a recession as of December 2007.

I wrote this in year 2007.

However, I later wrote this in year 2008.

That is, the recession may have really started in year 2006, since GDP has been falling (against all other earlier U.S. Dollars adjusted for inflation) since year 2006.

At any rate, the voters have the government that the voters elect (and re-elect, and re-elect, and re-elect , … , at least until that finally becomes too painful).

Posted by: d.a.n at December 2, 2008 4:37 PM
Comment #271356

My friends, it is highly unlikely that someone could overlook the cynicism of a certain duo of politicians this season, you betcha.

Even if you wasn’t lookin’ all that hard, there was one opportunist who was completely unqualified for the job, by golly jeepers, but she stayed around a-spoutin’ all kinds of ultra-righty newkular red meat and a-rilin’ up the base, a-placin’ her own ambitions ahead of the good of the nation and her party, by golly you betcha yep.

Then the other, my friends, never said anything without, my friends, prefacing it “My friends”, my friends. And my friends, he dumped his principles overboard, my friends, left and right because he thought it was the only way my friends he could win the election, my friends.

My friends, in the end, all he and she had was the most shamelessly cynical team of politicians you ever heard of, but for some reason Lee decided not to use them as examples of cynicism.

My friends, go figure, by golly gumdrops you betcha.

Posted by: intel at December 2, 2008 8:17 PM
Comment #271365

intel,

My friend, you really put some lipstick on that one, you betcha!

Posted by: Marysdude at December 3, 2008 6:28 AM
Comment #271367

How cynical the people of Georgia must be. They have reelected Saxbee Chambliss to the US Senate.

You remember Saxbee…he’s the draft dodger who trashed Max Clelland in a particularly nasty Rovian campaign last time around. And, you remember Clelland, the one the draft dodging Chambliss trashed, don’t you? He’s the one who lost both legs and one arm in Viet Nam, while trying to protect his fellow soldiers.

In that case Saxbee vilified Clelland for being soft on Iraq, as though he Saxbee, understood war better than the war hero Max. And he did so by associating Clelland with the likes of Osama benLadin and Saddam Hussein.

This time he vilified his opponent, Jim Martin, for supporting child molesters and being fired from his job as Director of Health and Human Services, both of which were out and out lies, and that having a majority in Congress would be turning Obama into a king somehow. Georgians bought into those lies and foolish suppositions…how cynical? Pretty damned cynical.

So, we have one of the most cynical Senators in Congress reelected by one of the most cynical of states…whee!

Nope, Lee’s right, Republicans ain’t as cynical as Democrats. Proof of that is in the Georgia pudding…

Posted by: Marysdude at December 3, 2008 7:46 AM
Comment #271369

Marysdude,

As with most electoral decisions the reelection of Saxbee Chambliss is a calculation on the part of the voters. I read news reports citing Obama supporters who voted for Chambliss in this round simply because they didn’t want to give Democrats an unfettered access to power. In other words they wanted even Intel’s strange people on the “far right” to be a part of this nation’s political discussion.

Funny thing, that. The American people seem to trust that a near Senate supermajority (remembering that there are two well left-of-center RINOS from Maine and one from Pennsylvania who will vote with liberals on most subjects) is sufficient power for one party. That does not seem cynical. It is not cynicism to fail to trust the Democratic Party with total power any more than it was cynicism not to trust Republicans in the same way. That is simple prudence.

I noted at the end of the article that all of society benefits from a faith in honesty. One of the the factors reinforcing honesty is transparency. With a filibuster-proof Senate the dominant party would be able to bury dissent in silence and thow a cloak of seeming peace over its proceedings. Without that power we will be better able to observe the workings of the halls of government.

That is not a bad thing.

Posted by: Lee Jamison at December 3, 2008 8:51 AM
Comment #271372

Lee Said,”The American people seem to trust that a near Senate supermajority (remembering that there are two well left-of-center RINOS from Maine and one from Pennsylvania who will vote with liberals on most subjects” RINOS? The North east portion of America is Closer to the party of Lincoln and a true reflection of the people they represent and the Far right Kicked many Noreaster’s out in the 1990s and lost some more in 2008 I bet you wish you had them back, Y’all need to Think about that, I just read Jeb bush might consider running and he said the party needs to open up to Hispanics and young people ,The republicans are looking like the old geezers on the Muppet show.

Posted by: Rodney Brown at December 3, 2008 10:15 AM
Comment #271375

What the hell is a RINOS?

Lee:

You mean it’s not a bad thing when it’s Democrats, right? It was certainly given to the Republicans and look what happened.

Posted by: womanmarine at December 3, 2008 10:18 AM
Comment #271380

Ignorance Reigns Supreme

Here’s an excerpt from one of my favorite writers. After reading these test results perhaps you will become a cynic also.

“With limited thinking abilities and knowledge of our heritage, we Americans set ourselves up as easy prey for charlatans, hustlers and quacks. If we don’t know the constitutional limits placed on Congress and the White House, politicians can do just about anything they wish to control our lives, from deciding what kind of light bulbs we can use to whether the government can take over our health care system or bailout failing businesses. We just think Congress can do anything upon which they can get a majority vote.”

Link: http://townhall.com/columnists/WalterEWilliams/2008/12/03/ignorance_reigns_supreme

Posted by: Jim M at December 3, 2008 10:55 AM
Comment #271381

Interesting (and disturbing) article:

    townhall.com/columnists/WalterEWilliams/2008/12/03/ignorance_reigns_supreme

That’s why what Jefferson said is so important …
    “If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be.” - Thomas Jefferson

At any rate, the voters have the government that the voters elect (and re-elect, and re-elect, and re-elect , … , at least until that finally becomes too painful).

Posted by: d.a.n at December 3, 2008 11:56 AM
Comment #271383

womanmarine,

You mean it’s not a bad thing when it’s Democrats, right? It was certainly given to the Republicans and look what happened.
At no point did Republicans have a supermajority, that is, a 60 Republican majority in the Senate.

Rinos are what we conservatives call “Republicans in name only”.

It is a good idea to remember that whatever horrors you think you see in past Republican rule, they were made possible by previous horrors the American people saw in Democratic rule. We all, when given the chance to make complete fools out of ourselves, have a purely human tendency to take that opportunity up with gusto.

Republicans took their turn. Now the times have handed Democrats their chance.

Posted by: Lee Jamison at December 3, 2008 12:17 PM
Comment #271390


Jim M.: The article that you posted reminds me of the alliance forged between our government (politicians) and capitalists in the 1950’s.

The governments role was to give corporations the most favored statis in the legislative process and create a since of well being in the minds of the public by promoting the idea that economic downturns, especially another depression, was no longer a posibility because of New Deal legislation.

The adults of that time lived through the Great Depression. They did not trust banks, they were extremly leery of going into debt and they were frugal in their spending habits. There was a great desire by the capitalists to change that mindset.

The capitalists would use the medium of television to entertain and educate the public for the purpose of promoting hedonistic mass consumption and provide election funds for politicians to increase or enhance their ability to secure their incumbency.

It would have been educational to know how many respondents who did poorly in the survey are voters.

Don’t Worry, Be Happy, Go Shopping

Posted by: jlw at December 3, 2008 1:56 PM
Comment #271397

>It would have been educational to know how many respondents who did poorly in the survey are voters.
Posted by: jlw at December 3, 2008 01:56 PM

jlw,

Mostly those in the North and Midwest who were registered by ACORN, and those in the South and Midwest who were signed up by the church. The rest of voters, i.e., those who have been voting for any length of time would likely score an average grade on such a poll.

Posted by: Marysdude at December 3, 2008 2:49 PM
Comment #271400

PS:

Many schools in America do not teach civics at all, and those that teach history, do so as a second tier subject. It is a shame, but…

Posted by: Marysdude at December 3, 2008 2:52 PM
Comment #271401

jlw said “”The article that you posted reminds me of the alliance forged between our government (politicians) and capitalists in the 1950’s.
The governments role was to give corporations the most favored statis in the legislative process and create a since of well being in the minds of the public by promoting the idea that economic downturns, especially another depression, was no longer a posibility because of New Deal legislation.

The adults of that time lived through the Great Depression. They did not trust banks, they were extremly leery of going into debt and they were frugal in their spending habits. There was a great desire by the capitalists to change that mindset.”” Did not trust banks? no that was my grandparents not my parents what a Horrible time it was the 1950s When Inflation was low and business and labor did well and Our government had surpluses and good education was available to most “not all” And millions of the lower classes climbed up to became middle class and saved and consumerism took off Like no other period in our history and no wars and A Solvent social security and pension plans. I would like to see that again for all ,And my Vote was in keeping that hope Alive.

Posted by: Rodney Brown at December 3, 2008 2:56 PM
Comment #271402

PPS:

Old Tom was not talking of the populace when he spoke of knowledge being essential to a democracy, he was talking about the gentry. In Jefferson’s day very few people were educated.

Posted by: Marysdude at December 3, 2008 2:58 PM
Comment #271403

jlw wrote; “It would have been educational to know how many respondents who did poorly in the survey are voters.”

I agree. I recall some TV news show that featured interviews with voters right after they voted in the last election. They ascribed false quotes to candidates to test the knowledge of the voter. It would have been funny if the subject hadn’t been so serious. All the voters they tested failed miserably.

In my opinion there is a significant portion of our electorate that really shouldn’t be voting as they have no real knowledge of the candidates and just vote party or for the candidate that dresses best or speaks most eloquently with little, or no, regard for the candidates past or ability to function well in the office being voted.

Few will agree with me but if it’s important enough to test those we allow to drive on our highways to be sure they know the rules of the road it is not a stretch for me to advocate some kind of competency test for voters. Perhaps we could base the test on that given to individuals wishing to become American citizens.

Some will call me an elitist and that’s OK. One of the writers above spoke of learning to be a good citizen in our public schools. In the 40’s and 50’s when I was in school we did have a civic’s class and studied our constitution, bill of rights, and other important founding documents. We read histories of our greatest leaders and discussed what made them great. One can hardly call themselves or their children educated if they don’t know the basic’s of our democratic Republic.

Posted by: Jim M at December 3, 2008 3:24 PM
Comment #271415

Jim M
Interesting article from town hall. I wonder if the referenced studies taken in the early and late 90’s are revelent today. Being a cynic myself I wonder why the author went back roughly 15 years to cull his data that supports his theory that we are a nation of ignorance. I mean when you think about his juxtaposition of the civics and history related studies with current events wouldnt one expect people questioned out of the blue to be more up on current events?

IF we are to think that by selecting voters based upon their knowledge of civics then surely we should teach civics from grade school forward. Then we face the problem of what level of education should the required testing level be set at. Seems odd to me this attention to the lack of civics education by conservatives so soon after the election of Barack Obama, our first biracial president, perhaps it speaks to a larger issue or two. But then I may just be a cynic.

The thrust of education these past 30 years has been a focus on math and science as a way to compete with other nations. To keep costs down we have foolishly cut out many important classes and seem to be paying for that mistake. The nationalized testing put in place by the Bush administration may need to be reviewed and perhaps thrown out with other bad ideas.
Were we not so interested in busting the tachers unions and teaching religion and only the sciences in public schools perhaps we would have more class time for a well rounded liberal education which would include civics and history as well as art music and critical thinking. As cyncial as I may be I find it hard to blame the teachers for a curriculim set by school boards and testing dictated by the “no child left behind” act.
Further, I find it rather cynical to believe the intentions of conservatives, who lead the charge to do away with public schools these past 30 years to have the best interests of the American people in mind when they suddenly feel the need to restrict voting rights to the educated aristocracy of this nation.

Posted by: j2t2 at December 3, 2008 11:47 PM
Comment #271426

“Few will agree with me but if it’s important enough to test those we allow to drive on our highways to be sure they know the rules of the road it is not a stretch for me to advocate some kind of competency test for voters.”

Gee, and here I thought driving a car was a privilege, and voting was a right.
I must be a complete idiot.

Lee,

You want cynicysm;

Q; How many capitalists does it take to screw in a light bulb?

A; None, because if market forces were allowed to work, it would have fixed itself.

Rocky

Posted by: Rocky Marks at December 4, 2008 9:44 AM
Comment #271429

Lee> Finally, does this mean you admit that 60 Minutes is a liberal mouthpiece?

I admit that you, and probably everyone who honestly believes that Fox is “fair and balanced”, think 60 minutes is a liberal mouthpiece, but I don’t admit that they are.

But then again you, and everyone who believes Fox is “fair and balanced”, think anyone left of Rush Gasbag is a raving, radical left-wing nutcase.

Lee >you ignore my comments on the Bush administration, both in this thread

Comments or comment? I see exactly one comment by you prior to my response:

Lee >There has been plenty of cynicism at work in the Bush administration,

But my point was your original essay contained no references to the cynicism on the part of any but (in your opinion) liberal sources.

Lee >could you point out a recent example of a national Democrat politician who has been voted out of office,

Maybe not on a national level, no; although I haven’t really given it a lot of thought, I’ll admit. I’m apparently not quite getting your point on this comment, maybe you could expound and expand.

Posted by: EJN at December 4, 2008 10:33 AM
Comment #271439

j2t2 wrote: “Further, I find it rather cynical to believe the intentions of conservatives, who lead the charge to do away with public schools these past 30 years to have the best interests of the American people in mind when they suddenly feel the need to restrict voting rights to the educated aristocracy of this nation.”

Thanks for blowing my proposal all out of proportion. Conservatives are interested in ideas that might improve education and one of those ideas is to allow parents to choose the school their children will attend by virtue of some kind of transferable voucher.

Conservatives are not anti-public school, but rather, pro-education. It is quite clear from all I have read that many of our public schools are failing despite throwing huge sums of taxpayer dollars at them to fix the problem. We can choose to throw more money at the problem or fix it…which is what conservatives advocate.

Regarding your comment of restricting voting to the educated aristocracy you make a very broad and inaccurate assessment of my position. We require a basic knowledge of our republic for every person applying for citizenship. Would you call these new citizens aristocrats, or merely informed?

Driving on our highways requires a license to demonstrate a minimal level of knowledge for the safety of all. We require a license for hair stylists, plumbers, taxidermists, masseuses, and many others, including prostitutes, where it’s considered a legal profession. Is it such a stretch to require some basic knowledge of our electorate?

Posted by: Jim M at December 4, 2008 12:25 PM
Comment #271446


How about a one question test?

Are you willing to support the two party system controlled by the plutocracy, yes or no.

Am I being cynical or factual?

Posted by: jlw at December 4, 2008 1:37 PM
Comment #271447

>Is it such a stretch to require some basic knowledge of our electorate?
Posted by: Jim M at December 4, 2008 12:25 PM

Jim M,

Yes…it is too much of a stretch, i.e., those SEEKING citizenship are asking for something they do not, right now, possess. Those who wish to drive on our roads are asking to be allowed to do so, and can only receive that privilege through a government agency. Those who walk into the voting booth are citizens of this country, be they wealthy, intelligent, uneducated or ignorant…they have that right because the Constitution grants them that right.

We tried your way, at least twice, to the detriment of our country and an insult to our citizens…you don’t have to be smart or informed to vote, you merely have to be a citizen.

For a group of folks who stretch the second amendment all out of proportion in order to carry a bazooka in your hip pocket, you sure are loose with the rights of others…

Posted by: Marysdude at December 4, 2008 1:40 PM
Comment #271473

marysdude writes; “you don’t have to be smart or informed to vote, you merely have to be a citizen”

Well, that’s certainly the truth. I wonder what percentage of the electorate is “uninformed” and “unintelligent”. And, upon what do they base their vote if they know nothing about the candidate, policy positions, or how our republic works. Perhaps it makes no difference, and perhaps that is one reason we have now, and in the past, had at times such abominable leadership in Washington.

Posted by: Jim M at December 4, 2008 6:53 PM
Comment #271474

” Is it such a stretch to require some basic knowledge of our electorate?”

I guess the question that begs to be asked Jim M is what is that basic kinowledge. Does a knowledge of revolutionary war battles and the generals that fought them predict a better judgement in the voting booth? Do people that have taken the classes required for citizenship demonstrate superior decision making capabilities in the voting booth?

Of course the list goes on. Would, as you say, we have been better off without the abominable leadership of GWB and was the cause of this failure in leadership the result of uneducated voters voting for him twice? Would a “knowledge of civics” requirement to vote had prevented this grievous error in American history?

If the studies used by Mr. Williams in the town hall link are perused it seems that they specifically mention college educated respondents in 2 of the 3 test mentioned. Should we just exclude those with college degrees from voting?

Certainly Jim M I would think we could all agree that an emphasis on civics and history at the pre-college level should be the norm not the exception. These studies are an embarrassing reflection of the people of this country. But it has been known for decades that Europeans and Asians are in general more knowledgable than Americans. It seems to me that we should work to rectify the problem not put restrictions on constitutional rights.

When it comes right down to it we have a choice between 2 people for president of this country Jim M. Do you really think an advanced knowledge of civics and history would have made much difference in the Obama- McCain race we just witnessed? You really can’t be implying that an advanced knowledge of civics would have changed the outcome of this race, as if this knowledge would make a voter more conservative minded, how presumptuous of you.


Posted by: j2t2 at December 4, 2008 8:06 PM
Comment #271483

From Wikipedia:

“Literacy Test refers to the government practice of testing the literacy of potential citizens at the federal level, and potential voters at the state level. The federal government first employed literacy tests as part of the immigration process in 1917. Southern state legislatures employed literacy tests as part of the voter registration process as early as the late nineteenth century.

As used by the states, the literacy test gained infamy as a means for denying suffrage to African Americans. Adopted by a number of southern states, the literacy test was applied in a patently unfair manner, as it was used to disfranchise many literate southern blacks while allowing many illiterate southern whites to vote. The literacy test, combined with other discriminatory requirements, effectively disfranchised the vast majority of African Americans in the South from the 1890s until the 1960s. Southern states abandoned the literacy test only when forced to by federal legislation in the 1960s. In 1964, the Civil Rights Act provided that literacy tests used as a qualification for voting in federal elections be administered wholly in writing and only to persons who had not completed six years of formal education. The Voting Rights Act of 1965 suspended the use of literacy tests in all states or political subdivisions in which less than 50 percent of the voting age residents were registered as of 1 November 1964, or had voted in the 1964 presidential election. In a series of cases, the Supreme Court upheld the legislation and restricted the use of literacy tests for non-English-speaking citizens. Since the passage of the civil rights legislation of the 1960s, black registration in the South has increased dramatically.”

Bold emphasis is mine. Jim M, this is the reason we allow CITIZENS who are age qualified to vote.

The vote is the only recourse for many in our society, and when stringents are placed on the vote, many are disenfranchised. No citizen should feel so left out of our system, not even the ignorant, unproductive ones.

Posted by: Marysdude at December 5, 2008 2:55 AM
Comment #271503

j2t2 writes; “It seems to me that we should work to rectify the problem not put restrictions on constitutional rights.”

Once again we hear what we should do, but haven’t done for at least 30 years. Our educational system is broken and doesn’t begin to prepare our youngsters to become informed voters.

And j2t2 also wrote, “When it comes right down to it we have a choice between 2 people for president of this country Jim M. Do you really think an advanced knowledge of civics and history would have made much difference in the Obama- McCain race we just witnessed? You really can’t be implying that an advanced knowledge of civics would have changed the outcome of this race, as if this knowledge would make a voter more conservative minded, how presumptuous of you.”

Your first sentence is absolutely false. Do you not recall how many folks were competing in the caucuses and primaries? Do you not recall the other candidates on the November 4th ballot who were not running as either Demo or Rep?

And, where does j2t2 find in my proposal anything about advanced knowledge of anything? My suggestion was to have a requirement of knowledge similar to what is required of those wishing to become citizens. I have read and taken that test just to find out for myself what it entailed. I suggest you may want to also.

And finally, j2t2 just can’t seem to respond without ascribing some hidden agenda as in his comment; “as if this knowledge would make a voter more conservative minded, how presumptuous of you.”

I love being called “presumptuous” and will presume that by this statement j2t2 implies that well educated and informed folks just naturally lean towards the right.

Posted by: Jim M at December 5, 2008 1:02 PM
Comment #271513

“Once again we hear what we should do, but haven’t done for at least 30 years”

Jim M I also agree that “no child left behind” is not working of course I’m not surprised at that. Perhaps there may be changes with the new administration. To think that vouchers will solve the problem is, to me, along the same lines as NCLB, the wrong answer to the problem.

“Your first sentence is absolutely false. Do you not recall how many folks were competing in the caucuses and primaries? Do you not recall the other candidates on the November 4th ballot who were not running as either Demo or Rep?”

I don’t think it is false at all Jim M.. I do understand that in Colorado we had 16 choices for President, however as I said “When it comes right down to it we have a choice between 2 people for president of this country Jim M.” The other 14 candidates combined had a total of less than 5% of the vote hence the preface of “When it comes right down to it”. That is just reality to me Jim M.. If your point is that a more advanced knowledge of civics would allow the other 14 to garner more of the vote then perhaps that is valid, perhaps not. I would like to believe it to be true but that wasn’t the point of the town hall link was it?

“My suggestion was to have a requirement of knowledge similar to what is required of those wishing to become citizens.”

To me Jim M when the point is that most Americans do not have a basic knowledge of civics and history, partially due to cutbacks in public schools,then the knowledge learned by those preparing to become citizens would be advanced would it not? I was not trying to imply anything else.

“I love being called “presumptuous” and will presume that by this statement j2t2 implies that well educated and informed folks just naturally lean towards the right.”

I would think that well educated and informed folks would just naturally lean towards the candidate that they believe has their best interest in mind instead of a particular ideology only, myself Jim M. I’m sure that depending upon the person we are both right.

As far as a hidden agenda Jim M don’t you think that by culling the numbers of voters it would tend to favor the republicans, at least that it what they say. So perhaps Mr.Williams in his article does have an agenda that he did not come right out and state. Why else would anyone want to have less voter participation?

Posted by: j2t2 at December 5, 2008 2:37 PM
Comment #271521


Rodney Brown: Yes, most of us were doing well in the fifties. We had a huge industrial base built up during the war, much of which could be converted to peace time production and most other industrial bases were bombed out of existence. We had virtually no competition. It did not last long.

Posted by: jlw at December 5, 2008 3:21 PM
Comment #271532

j2t2 asks the question; “Why else would anyone want to have less voter participation?”

I would ask, why would anyone not want more informed voter participation?

Posted by: Jim M at December 5, 2008 6:42 PM
Comment #271533

“I would ask, why would anyone not want more informed voter participation?”

I think we are in agreement here Jim M.. I am not against voters being informed by any stretch. I generally support all efforts to educate Americans in general and voters in particular. I just don’t think we need to violate the constitutional rights of the American people by making a law that requires a certain level of civics and history as a qualification to vote. Mandatory education such as the NCLB hasn’t worked to provide this type of education so why would I think mandatory civics requirements would work as a requirement to vote?

Posted by: j2t2 at December 5, 2008 7:00 PM
Comment #271571

Many on this blog have advocated voting out the incumbents, or establishing new political parties as a way to effect better legislators. While these proscriptions may work over a long period of time, I believe the root problem with poor leadership is in fact…poorly informed voters.

Poorly informed voters are hardly expected to vote out incumbents or be enthusiastic about new party affiliations.

I believe education of the electorate will pay big dividends. How this is accomplished is the question. If we continue to do nothing, we will continue to be poorly served by our elected leaders.

Posted by: Jim M at December 6, 2008 1:32 PM
Comment #271582

Jim M,

Can you cite how the votes of the great unwashed differs from the votes of the intellectual elite?

Posted by: Marysdude at December 6, 2008 9:43 PM
Comment #271612


What is the best way to educate voters?

What if we had a nonpartisan watchdog group with the resources to mail a flier to each constituent of a politicial each time that politician tells a lie?

What if that group sent fliers to constituents explaining the laws that their politician votes on and how that vote effects different groups or classes of constituents?

Posted by: jlw at December 7, 2008 9:24 PM
Comment #271619
What is the best way to educate voters?
What most voters should learn will be learned, one way or another.

All voters need to decide is how they want to learn it:

  • the smart way,

  • or the hard and painful way (again).

At any rate, the voters have the government that the voters elect (and re-elect, and re-elect, and re-elect , … , at least until that finally becomes too painful).

Posted by: d.a.n at December 7, 2008 10:05 PM
Comment #271621
What is the best way to educate voters?
The “best way”?

That’s a good question.

Enough voters, first need to become more interested in their own government, how it works, and the importance of Education , Transparency , and Accountability.

    Responsibility = Power + Virtue + Education + Transparency + Accountability

    Corruption = Power - Virtue - Education - Transparency - Accountability

Where:

  • Virtue = the source of moral and ethical judgment; a sense of right and wrong; a sense of caring. A good conscience and Virtue is not merely knowing what is right or wrong, but caring enough to do what is right, and provides the motivation to seek the balance of Education, Transparency, Accountability, and Power required for any successful society, government, or organization;

  • Education = an understanding of the importance of: Education, Transparency, Accountability, Power, Responsibility, Corruption, and the fundamental human desire to seek security and prosperity with the least effort and pain, and that some will resort to dishonest, unethical, or illegal methods to obtain it;

  • Transparency = visibility and simplification of cleverly over-complicated processes to reveal and identify abusers, create outrage, reduce opportunities for abuse, and discourage abuse and dishonesty;

  • Accountability = consequences needed to encourage law enforcement, encourage ethical behavior, and discourage abuse and dishonesty;

  • Power = force required to enforce the laws, discontinue abuse, ensure consequences, punish abusers, and discourage abuse and dishonesty; but unchecked Power without sufficient Education, Transparency, and Accountability breeds Corruption.

Voters need to also learn to recognize Cheaters, their tactics, manipulations, and methods.
And most importantly, based on one of the biggest problems in America, voters need to overcome their blind partisan loyalties, which allow themselves to be manipulated, and be tricked into repeatedly rewarding FOR-SALE, irresponsible, and/or corrupt politicians with perpetual re-election due to:

  • (01) the No-Same-Party-Challenger(s) mechanism which works wonderfully to keep re-election rates high, since they know voters will never vote for an evil politician in the OTHER party;

  • (02) the fueling of the circular partisan warfare, which helps prevent voters from ever considering candidates in the OTHER party.

  • (03) the fueling of the circular partisan warfare to distract voters from the truth, more important issues, the incumbent politicians’ own malfeasance, and keep voters partisan-centric instead of principle-centric.

  • (04) the fueling of the circular partisan warfare to pit voters against each other on moral and unresolvable issues (abortion, gay marriage) that may never be resolved, while ignoring the more important and solvable issues.

  • (05) the fueling of the circular partisan warfare to pit voters against each other so that a majority can never exist to oust incumbent politicians from office.

  • (06) the straight-party-ticket button/lever which makes it easy for the lazy and blindly-partisan voters, which also works wonderfully to keep re-election rates high.

  • (07) the pandering and bribing of voters with their own tax dollars, tax breaks (which turns out to make taxes more regressive), more cradle-to-grave entitlements, lies and more empty promises that can’t possibly be fulfilled with such massive debt of nightmare proportions, and pressing problems growing dangerously in number and severity.

  • (08) incumbent politicians that despicably pit voters against each other for votes and profits, disguised as compassion for illegal aliens costing tax payers an estimated $70 Billion to $327 Billion per year in net losses ( One-Simple-Idea.com/BorderSecurity.htm#Burdens )

  • (09) the numerous unfair incumbent advantages: One-Simple-Idea.com/FAQ.htm#UnfairAdvantages.

  • (10) the 99.7% of voters are vastly out-spent by a very tiny 0.3% of all eligible voters who make 83% of all federal campaign donations of $200 or more: One-Simple-Idea.com/OpenSecrets_DonorDemographics.htm

  • (11) the resistance any and all campaign finance reform; /li>
  • (12) to the Gerrymandering.

  • (13) to the clever over-complications to hide malfeasance, reduce transparency, and increase opportunities for self-gain (HHmmmm … about time for another raise, eh (like the 9 raises for Congress between 1997 and 2007, while U.S. troops went without armor, adequate medical care, and are forced into 2, 3, 4 or more tours in Iraq and Afghanistan)?).

  • (14) to the selective enforcement/violation of the U.S. Constitution (e.g. ignore Article V of the U.S. Constitution so that Term-Limits, Campaign Finance, and other amendments can never be considered by the states).

  • (15) to the hide and distortion of economic statistics (e.g. understating inflation to reduce the Social Security cost-of-living increases: One-Simple-Idea.com/DebtAndMoney.htm#Measurement ) to either paint a picture that is either rosier or worse than reality to make the IN-PARTY party look good, or to fuel the partisan warfare, all of which helps to cleverly increase incumbents re-election rates.

At any rate, the voters have the government that the voters elect (and re-elect, and re-elect, and re-elect , … , at least until that finally becomes too painful).

Posted by: d.a.n at December 7, 2008 10:15 PM
Comment #271648

marysdude asks me; “Can you cite how the votes of the great unwashed differs from the votes of the intellectual elite?”

It’s quite obvious to me marysdude by the words you use (“great unwashed”, “intellectual elite”) that you are not interested in pursuing solutions…but rather, in promoting some other argumentative agenda. Should you ask me a question without using those class-baiting words I might be interested in answering.

Posted by: Jim M at December 8, 2008 11:47 AM
Comment #271658

I tried that, and it didn’t work either…

I’m not interested in pursuing solutions to what I consider to be a non-problem.

Others who have chosen to pursue the ‘problem’, have given us solutions that were worse and more harmful that he non-problem.

Posted by: Marysdude at December 8, 2008 3:35 PM
Comment #271659

Sorry…”than the non-problem”…I’ve got to start reading these things before posting…

Posted by: Marysdude at December 8, 2008 3:38 PM
Comment #271660

I am glad to hear that marysdude is pleased with the current ability of our electorate to cast educated and informed votes. Most likely we will not hear any complaints from him in the future about our elected representatives as they merely reflect the majority will of what he believes is an electorate that is highly selective, motivated and informed.

Who-ah-thunk-it?

Posted by: Jim M at December 8, 2008 4:32 PM
Comment #271666

Jim M,

No, No! I’m not necessarily pleased with the ability of the current electorate to select a good representative of our needs…I’m pleased that they are allowed to vote in a bad one…key word, ‘allowed’. Ain’t it nice we live in a country that allows even the ignorant to participate?

Posted by: Marysdude at December 8, 2008 6:28 PM
Comment #271667

Jim M said “I believe the root problem with poor leadership is in fact…poorly informed voters.”

Jim M isn’t this passing the buck a bit? When you generally have 2 choices and both are bad how much additional information would you require a voter to have to rectify the problem. Now if we had a “none of the above” then perhaps your point would have some validity.

“Poorly informed voters are hardly expected to vote out incumbents or be enthusiastic about new party affiliations.”

Yet in the 2008 elections the “ignorant voters” Mr. Williams speaks of has changed the power structure of the government by throwing enough incumbents out to allow progress on legislative action. Seems we voters may be ignorant but we knew enough to change the horse we have been riding without feeling the need for passing any test to do so. This recent vindication of the voters seems to throw water on the voter requirement question in my mind.

“I believe education of the electorate will pay big dividends. How this is accomplished is the question. If we continue to do nothing, we will continue to be poorly served by our elected leaders.”

The answer to that Jim M is to pass this knowledge along to our children and grandchildren. As you said:
“In the 40’s and 50’s when I was in school we did have a civic’s class and studied our constitution, bill of rights, and other important founding documents. We read histories of our greatest leaders and discussed what made them great. One can hardly call themselves or their children educated if they don’t know the basic’s of our democratic Republic.”

According to Marysdude “Many schools in America do not teach civics at all, and those that teach history, do so as a second tier subject. It is a shame, but…”

It seems to me the solution to the problem is to teach civics and history in grade school and high school Jim M.. In fact that is almost a no-brainer in my mind.

To require a test similar to the “new citizens” test be required of citizens prior to voting seems an extreme measure because college graduates can’t answer some history or civics questions when queried by phone or on the street. You have not presented any evidence that this testing could or would produce a better outcome. In fact the recent elections outcome has proven the voters eventually get it right. You have eluded any questions and/or comments that question motive and need. You haven’t even shown any causation between Mr. Williams referenced studies and voting preferences. Hell for all we know these college educated people in the studies may all be foreign born non citizens! Although, using your automobile reference, it seems to me you may want the driver of the car to be able to rebuild the transmission before they are allowed to drive the car. Yet the mechanic is only required to be a certain age, born in our country and conviction free to work on the car.

I just can’t shake the idea that there is a hidden agenda behind this sudden need for a “means testing” of voters. Especially since those that think it to be a rational idea think they didn’t fare as well in the recent election cycle and we have elected our first biracial president in part due to many voters heading to the ballot box for the first time.

Posted by: j2t2 at December 8, 2008 7:25 PM
Comment #271691

j2t2 wrote a long response with the most revealing sentence being; “In fact the recent elections outcome has proven the voters eventually get it right.”

Apparently the voters are well informed when they vote democrat. I heard a considerable about of yowling for the past 8 years from many on this blog about the ineptitude of the electorate.

Then, j2t2 writes this of me…”I just can’t shake the idea that there is a hidden agenda behind this sudden need for a “means testing” of voters.”

I would never call j2t2 or anyone else on this blog a hypocrite…but would suggest a little more consistency.

Remer, d.a.n. and others have been promoting a proposition that we should not re-elect sitting legislators but rather throw all the bums out on a regular basis. And some promote a strong third party to rival the two major parties.

Without a knowledgeable and motivated electorate this is just magical thinking. My proposal of some sort of voter knowledge requirement has been soundly thrashed with no counter proposals to bring more enlightenment to our electorate. We can teach our children how to use a condom in our schools but can’t teach civics and the consequences of voting to adults…outrageous!

Posted by: Jim M at December 9, 2008 12:13 PM
Comment #271692

Oh, NOW Republicans are interested in PUBLIC education…er…er, perhaps civics should be taught only in schools that vouchers are used…???

Posted by: Marysdude at December 9, 2008 12:23 PM
Comment #271702

Seems to me that JimM has hit on the answer…….those students able to grasp the concept of the condom usage, will ultimately stop the production of future “ignorants”,,,,therefore, only the intelligent and literate will vote.
Got it..problem solved.
It’s all covered now, dude.

Posted by: janedoe at December 9, 2008 1:30 PM
Comment #271707

As always, marysdude and janedoe’s well thought out and substantive ideas provide for a great discussion. Their valuable comments and feeble attempts at humor are always appreciated.

Posted by: Jim M at December 9, 2008 1:44 PM
Comment #271721

Jim M,

I have been consistent in blaming the parents for the state of the schools, and those on the right seem only interested in school vouchers as a means of repairing our public schools, as if the only way to fix the schools is to abandon them.
Parents elect for the school board members, the board members set the curriculum.

What is so hard to understand about that?

It seems if you want a change in your schools curriculum, it is imperative that the parents and the school board see eye to eye. The parents are the key to little Johnny, and Jane’s education, yet the parents seem to want to wash their hands of the public schools.

Rocky

Posted by: Rocky Marks at December 9, 2008 4:43 PM
Comment #271726

JimM, as always, your comments only serve to pat yourself on the back for brilliance beyond the norm.
Sorry to inform you that all that gets you is indfference, and a tired arm.
You have all the answers, so there is no need to discuss anything with you.
Now don’t you feel silly for having wasted all your time???

Posted by: janedoe at December 9, 2008 5:15 PM
Comment #271730
Jim M wrote: Remer, d.a.n. and others have been promoting a proposition that we should not re-elect sitting legislators but rather throw all the bums out on a regular basis. And some promote a strong third party to rival the two major parties. Without a knowledgeable and motivated electorate this is just magical thinking.
Jim M,

You can not require citizens to pass any test for the right to vote.s

Education is very important.
But choice is important too.
But you can not force voters:

  • to learn how to recognize Cheaters, their tactics, manipulations, and methods.

  • to overcome their blind partisan loyalties, which allow themselves to be manipulated, and be tricked into repeatedly rewarding FOR-SALE, irresponsible, and/or corrupt politicians with perpetual re-election (despite dismal 9%-to-18% approval ratings for Congress) due to the No-Same-Party-Challenger(s) mechanism which works wonderfully to keep re-election rates high, since they know voters will never vote for an evil politician in the OTHER party;

  • to stop fueling the circular partisan warfare, which helps prevent voters from ever considering candidates in the OTHER party.

  • to stop fueling of the circular partisan warfare that distracts voters from the truth, more important issues, the incumbent politicians’ own malfeasance, and keep voters partisan-centric instead of principle-centric.

  • to stop fueling of the circular partisan warfare that pits voters against each other on moral and unresolvable issues (abortion, gay marriage) that may never be resolved, while ignoring the more important and solvable issues.

  • to stop fueling of the circular partisan warfare that pits voters against each other so that a majority can never exist to oust incumbent politicians from office.

  • to stop wallowing in the time-wasting, petty, distracting partisan warfare.

  • to stop pulling the party-lever, which makes it easy for the lazy and blindly-partisan voters, which also works wonderfully to keep re-election rates high.

  • to stop falling for the pandering and bribing of voters with their own tax dollars, tax breaks (which turns out to make taxes more regressive), more cradle-to-grave entitlements, lies and more empty promises that can’t possibly be fulfilled with such massive debt of nightmare proportions, and pressing problems growing dangerously in number and severity.

  • to recognize incumbent politicians that despicably pit voters against each other for votes and profits, disguised as compassion for illegal aliens costing tax payers an estimated $70 Billion to $327 Billion per year in net losses ( One-Simple-Idea.com/BorderSecurity.htm#Burdens )

  • to recognize the numerous unfair incumbent advantages: One-Simple-Idea.com/FAQ.htm#UnfairAdvantages.

  • to recognize that 99.7% of voters are vastly out-spent by a very tiny 0.3% of all eligible voters who make 83% of all federal campaign donations of $200 or more: One-Simple-Idea.com/OpenSecrets_DonorDemographics.htm

  • to wonder why Congress resists campaign finance reform;

  • to wonder why Congress and states resist prohibiting Gerrymandering.

  • to reject the clever over-complications to hide malfeasance, reduce transparency, and increase opportunities for self-gain (HHmmmm … about time for another raise, eh (like the 9 raises for Congress between 1997 and 2007, while U.S. troops went without armor, adequate medical care, and are forced into 2, 3, 4 or more tours in Iraq and Afghanistan)?).

  • to reject the selective enforcement/violation of the U.S. Constitution (e.g. ignore Article V of the U.S. Constitution so that Term-Limits, Campaign Finance, and other amendments can never be considered by the states).

  • to demand the end to misinformation and distortion of economic statistics (e.g. understating inflation to reduce the Social Security cost-of-living increases: One-Simple-Idea.com/DebtAndMoney.htm#Measurement ) to either paint a picture that is either rosier or worse than reality to make the IN-PARTY party look good, or to fuel the partisan warfare, all of which helps to cleverly increase incumbents re-election rates.

  • to stop repeatedly electing the candidate that spends the most money (usually the incumbent).

  • to stop repeatedly rewarding Congress with 85%-to-90% re-election rates, despite dismal 9%-to-18% approval rating for Congress.

  • to know who their politicians are, much less their voting records

  • to not be ignorant.

  • to stop allowing themselves to be used and abused.

  • to vote responsibly to hold their elected officials accountable.

It’s up to the voters.

The voters have a choice.


Eventually, regardless of what anyone says, the voters will most likely get their education one way or another.

At any rate, the voters have the government that the voters elect (and re-elect, and re-elect, and re-elect , … , at least until that finally becomes too painful).

Posted by: d.a.n at December 9, 2008 6:06 PM
Comment #271733

“My proposal of some sort of voter knowledge requirement has been soundly thrashed with no counter proposals to bring more enlightenment to our electorate. We can teach our children how to use a condom in our schools but can’t teach civics and the consequences of voting to adults…outrageous!”

Outrageous is right Jim M., Your proposal was soundly thrashed because you could not justify the need for a law to require that citizens pass a test befor being allowed to vote. People repeatedly asked for information that supported your position yet you side stepped these requests. You have not shown causation, need or motive to support your arguement. As far as counter proposals what more do you need? I have agreed that schooling in civics and history is desirable in each comment I have posted.

Seems you have now thrown condoms and the “consequences of voting” into the mix. Your not implying a link between condom use and voting are you? Seems the voter should be requiring the elected officials to use a condom not the other way around judging from the way the country has been run the past 8 years;)

Exactly how do you teach consequences of voting? Seems the consequences of not voting should be the subject to me.

“Apparently the voters are well informed when they vote democrat.”

Well we did both agree earlier that the GWB administration was “abominable leadership ” and a “grievous error”. The republicans ran on more of the same and lost the election.

“I heard a considerable about of yowling for the past 8 years from many on this blog about the ineptitude of the electorate.”

Well Jim M. after ‘04 and the GWB re-election can you blame them? I really haven’t seen where anyone hasn’t agreed with a need for more education in civics and history but to restrict our right to vote by a means testing recalls a time in our history, as Marysdude has pointed out, when voting was restricted for racial reasons.

“I would never call j2t2 or anyone else on this blog a hypocrite…but would suggest a little more consistency.”

Where have I been inconsistant JIm M.? I have suspicioned a hidden agenda in most of my posts on this thread. Perhaps you can put my suspicions to rest with an intelligent comment that rebutts my concerns in lieu of sidestepping the issue.

Posted by: j2t2 at December 9, 2008 6:53 PM
Comment #271776

Oh please j2t2…just listen to yourself! On the one hand you claim voter ignorance and ineptitude in electing George Bush twice and then praise this same electorate for voting for Mr. Obama. Would you like us to believe this is consistent?

Comparing voting restrictions for racial reasons is hardly comparable to what I am advocating. I have heard calls for improving the education of our children with regard to their civic duties many times in the past 30 years with no results. Why is it that learning to use condom’s in school can be so easily accomplished but not the return of civic instruction?

America is being dumbed-down in many ways…not the least of which is our duty to be informed and educated voters.

Posted by: Jim M at December 10, 2008 12:56 PM
Comment #271782
Jim M wrote: America is being dumbed-down in many ways…not the least of which is our duty to be informed and educated voters.
True.

Better public education could help.

But voters must make the choice.

We can’t require voters to pass a test to vote.
We can’t force voters to be better informed.
The major motivation for voters to be better informed is the painful consequences of failing to be better informed.

At any rate, the voters have the government that the voters elect, and re-elect, and re-elect, and re-elect , … , at least until that finally becomes too painful.

Posted by: d.a.n at December 10, 2008 1:28 PM
Comment #271799

Here’s another good article that speaks to the woefully inadequate knowledge of our electorate. But, of course, there is no reason to have some kind of voter qualification requirement.


Civics Class: Gimme an F

“ISI (Intercollegiate Studies Institute) gave more than 2,500 people a 33-question quiz about basic historical and constitutional principles. The average score: 49 percent. By any measure, that’s a flunking grade.

Seven out of 10 Americans who took ISI’s test failed it. And a look inside the numbers is even more sobering.

* Fewer than half can name all three branches of government (legislative, executive and judicial).

* Only 53 percent realize Congress has the power to declare war (even though lawmakers have voted twice in the last eight years to approve foreign wars).

* Just 55 percent know that Congress shares authority over foreign policy with the president. Roughly 25 percent mistakenly believe that Congress shares its foreign policy authority with the United Nations.

* Almost half (43 percent) don’t know what the Electoral College does. One in five guessed it “trains those aspiring for higher political office” or “was established to supervise the first televised presidential debates” instead of identifying its actual role: selecting the president of the United States.”

Full story; http://townhall.com/columnists/EdFeulner/2008/12/10/civics_class_gimme_an_f?page=1

Posted by: Jim M at December 10, 2008 4:50 PM
Comment #271811

“Oh please j2t2…just listen to yourself! On the one hand you claim voter ignorance and ineptitude in electing George Bush twice and then praise this same electorate for voting for Mr. Obama. Would you like us to believe this is consistent?”

Jim M. you seem to misunderstand what I am saying. I never claimed voter ignorance and ineptitude was the reason GWB was elected twice. I simply said that the ‘04 mistake was corrected this time out. The voters saw the Country take a turn for the worse, saw the republican candidate not offering anything new and have attempted to change the course of this Country by voting in the opposition. I am saying that voters seem to have the ability to correct their mistakes from time to time.

However this is still not the real point of the discussion. IMHO you seem to have been saying that because more than half the people cannot pass a civics test then they cannot make wise choices at the voting booths, therefore we must require that all people that vote must pass a test on civics similar to what new citizens must pass. I am saying that while I agree that education in civics and history is important and should be treated as such in elementary and high school I don’t see why a law requiring citizens to pass this test is necessary. The townhall articles you refer to do not tell us how those that passed the study voted nor how those that failed the study voted. How do we know, or for that matter,how can we know if the lack of knowledge in civics impacted who these people voted for. The study didn’t seem to test knowledge in current events that may have affected how these people voted. Your arguement is the driver of the car should be able to show they can rebuild the transmission or not be allowed to drive. My arguement is the driver should not have to pass a test on the transmission to be able to drive the car. To be able to rebuild the transmission would be nice and perhaps the driver should take classes on it but should not have to pass a test on the inner workings of the car to be able to drive.


“Comparing voting restrictions for racial reasons is hardly comparable to what I am advocating.”
Oh really? How so? A literacy test or a civics test doesn’t seem to be that much of a leap to me. Since the testing requirement is coming from the party of rich educated white guys one can surely see how that party could benefit from the exclusionary tatic the test appears to be.

” I have heard calls for improving the education of our children with regard to their civic duties many times in the past 30 years with no results.”

My guess is those in the Congress have been to busy argueing about and trying to subsidize private schools and teach religion but that is just a guess.


” Why is it that learning to use condom’s in school can be so easily accomplished but not the return of civic instruction?”

Fighting about learning about the use of a condom has also brought many distractions to the forefront taking time from more important educational issues IHMO Jim M..

“America is being dumbed-down in many ways…not the least of which is our duty to be informed and educated voters.”

I could not agree with you more on this statement Jim M.. With all due respect Jim M. have you noticed that this tragic dumbing down of America’s youth has coincided with the rise of the conservative movement? I have always thought it was intentional and due to the conservatives in power, their followers and agenda. As I have learned more about it I have come to believe that it was not the movement followers that wanted or caused this but instead they have been mislead by their leaders and are in fact victims as well. I have brought up NCLB previously in this thread as an example of this. But many, many other issues are also behind this dumbing down. Way to much to go into here.

Posted by: j2t2 at December 10, 2008 8:51 PM
Comment #271827

j2t2 writes; “With all due respect Jim M. have you noticed that this tragic dumbing down of America’s youth has coincided with the rise of the conservative movement? I have always thought it was intentional and due to the conservatives in power, their followers and agenda.”

Now that’s a stretch j2t2. The extremely strong and anti-conservative NEA has been in charge of school curriculum for many years and has promoted teachers and administrators over education of children.

Wasting their time promoting condom instruction and battling any type of prayer on school grounds by willing participants on their own time, among other things, has drawn attention away from instruction to social engineering. Today we find our educators battling for gay rights in our schools. Many seem to believe it’s more important for children to understand that it’s OK for men and women to marry same sex partners than it is to be able to read an American history book or understand our constitution.

My wife retired with 33 years of teaching in Texas. As you know, Texas has been a very conservative state and even here, those God-awful mandates from Washington, with no accompanying funding, have been a direct cause of many of our school failures.

Washington meddling in state and local school affairs, combined with the left-wing agenda of the NEA has resulted in our nation’s schools becoming places of political correctness rather than buildings featuring good education where civic responsibility is taught.

As to your example of driver and mechanic…an informed and educated voter isn’t required in my state to understand the electronics in the voting machine. Our founders promoted education to make for a better electorate to ensure our Republic would have qualified leaders. That’s not happening in our schools today and needs to be addressed. Would it not be acceptable, as an additional requirement for high school graduation, a passing grade on a civics test designed to make for a more knowledgeable electorate?

Posted by: Jim M at December 11, 2008 11:24 AM
Comment #271855

“Now that’s a stretch j2t2. The extremely strong and anti-conservative NEA has been in charge of school curriculum for many years and has promoted teachers and administrators over education of children.”

I thought that you would feel this way Jim M. but school curriculum is not set by the NEA. In fact many teachers, depending on the state they teach in, feel they don’t have much say. Texas is, of course, one of the states that less than 30% of the teachers feel they have adequate say in the curriculum. However the last time I checked the state of Texas school board had a major say in the choice of textbooks as it is a larger state.

To say the liberal NEA is against a liberal education that would include civics and history as well as art and music doesn’t seem to fit for me JIm M.
To think that teaching teens about the use of condoms in one small section of one class has anything to do with not requiring more classes in civics and history seems to me to be quite a stretch itself Jim M..

Posted by: j2t2 at December 11, 2008 5:12 PM
Comment #272415

>As always, marysdude and janedoe’s well thought out and substantive ideas provide for a great discussion. Their valuable comments and feeble attempts at humor are always appreciated.
Posted by: Jim M at December 9, 2008 01:44 PM

Sometimes, Jim M, a few short sharp words carry the same intelligence levels, and actually say more than the litteny of Republican talking points we read here daily.

I cannot speak for janedoe, as she can well take care of herself, but as for me…well…oh, oh!..I can’t say that, or I’ll risk…oh, never mind!

Posted by: Marysdude at December 19, 2008 1:42 PM
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