Letter to Editor
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Economics is not a religion.
In studying the current tax reform legislation being considered by our nation I realized that the Republican Party relies on “faith based” economics. It has nothing to do with facts, history, case studies or examples from other countries. It is simply the “belief” in free markets. That faith remains un-swerved by any clash with reality.
That faith gives a warm fuzzy feeling of importance… our representatives love to huff up their chests and profess their faith. But where is it really leading us? Does this free market thing have an enlightened soul of truth, beauty and love? Is it going to envelope us in a blissful prosperity with no downside? Do we even know?
The reality is that there is no such thing as a free market. A market, by its very definition, is a system of regulations. Money is highly regulated from it’s very conception.
For instance: we can’t just print our own money. If we do, they throw us in jail. That’s a regulation. The things we are allowed to buy and sell are highly regulated. We can’t buy and sell people. That’s a regulation. We can’t buy and sell murder for hire. That’s a regulation.
Our very concept of free market STARTS with regulations… regulations that we agree upon as a nation. The reality is that these are protections: a series of agreements designed to protect the regular guy. It protects us from having our daughters kidnapped and sold, and from your ex-wife deciding to eliminate you on a whim
Any idea of “free market” starts as a lie.
Arguing about free markets is nothing more than a deflection from the real issue. What we should be arguing about is what set of rules we want to make around money. Our only real question should be: How do we make a society in which human beings can flourish?
Instead of arguing about free markets let’s argue about what happens when we have particular laws in place: Who benefits? Who loses? Or the most important question of all: Does anyone know? Has this ever been tried?
Otherwise we are constantly stuck in a loop of arguing about something that does not exist, and we have no idea how deep into disfunction our representatives are willing to take us to fulfill their belief… in nothing.
We are no longer a Christian nation, and it’s our own fault. It’s not the Muslims; it’s not the blacks; it’s not the Jews or Catholics; it’s not the Hindus (who are all over the place too, you know.) Nope. It’s us. We’ve become so mean, so closed minded, so high-and-mighty, that we’ve simply handed off any kind of moral high ground. We’ve completely lost the ability to take off our sandals and enter a stranger’s house for a meal. We have turned our National Anthem into a weapon of subjugation. We pride ourselves on how deeply misinformed we can be. We worship leaders whose only God is money. We don’t care about the earth; we despise the educated; we don’t care about anyone who doesn’t fit in our box.
Yes. We’ve done it to ourselves.
It’s no wonder that young people are flocking away from the church, that our generation of home study youth are floating lost and confused through society, that our families are falling apart. All that proselytizing has driven a wedge. How many of us have a family member who won’t speak to us any longer? How deep are we willing to go into this confusion of angry righteousness that we have sown?
The world is watching us with shock and awe. We’ve driven our government to dysfunction. We live in an atmosphere of daily chaos.
So as the holiday season comes upon us, and we prepare to go to war with Christmas cards and greetings. As we prepare to sling sharp barbs of criticism and all those “Say Amen and Share” posts over how people wish to greet us, maybe we should pause. Maybe we should listen a bit. Maybe we just try to be happy for the holidays.
We’ve lost a battle for our souls. This isn’t a Christian nation any longer. It’s our own fault and no one else’s. Where are we going to go from here?
Gosh. I sure loved our country back when we believed in education, news and science. I remember when we put a man on the moon. How proud we were at every step forward. I remember how we felt about working together to achieve something great.
Imagine how proud we would be as a nation now if we had stepped up to the plate and tackled climate change. It feels so good to work together like that. Hurricanes would be normal and not dump 5 feet of water. We wouldn’t be choked with smoke all summer, every single summer. We’d be out floating the river. Fires would still be manageable and rains would come. Anything is possible when Americans are working together with common goals.
Imagine if our spiritual leaders were living up to the ideals of faith. Ideals that speak against greed, and encourage us to take care of each other. What if we prayed for peace instead of praying for something for ourselves? What if we appreciated the simple life instead of worshiping wealth? Imagine if that was a national theme, and our business leaders held to a morality of cleanliness and prosperity for all. What if big business saw the protections we enact as the barest minimum they would hold to? What if they actively researched ways to be cleaner, and kinder, and better? What if we had leaders and talk show hosts who were kind and encouraged our better side?
What if we believed in each other? That would be nice.
In great crime movies, we get to watch the hero catch the crook by “following the money.” I think that, today, we can all be heroes by doing the same thing. For instance, historians have been showing us lately that the reason poor white people hate black people is because of a campaign of “propaganda” by the small landed elite who didn’t want poor whites and slaves rising up together and breaking their economic superiority… hundreds of years ago. They controlled the white people by convincing them to hate the black people. They have been “capitalizing” on that belief system ever since. Just barely over 1% of southerners were ever slave holders. Think about slavery and what that did for jobs for white people like you and me in the deep south? Who would hire a poor white guy for a job when they can get the same thing done (almost) free by a slave? No one. Right?
Follow the money.
What we should think about now is: who has been convincing us to hate liberals? After all, liberals are basically nice people. There are a handful of them living quietly here in Salmon. Some of them are quite whacky, but many liberals have gone to college and are educated in things like history, economics, and social science. Educated means that they are actually smart and understand stuff. So why hate them?
Who has been convincing us that climate change is not real? Who benefits from us not creating clean technology? Who benefits the most from privatizing public lands? These lands belong to us, the regular people. How have they convinced us that the rich people should own them? Who benefits from all us poor people going broke over medical bills when a loved one gets sick? Who gets the best deal when we remove protections for clean air and water? Who benefits the most from institutions that keep good Americans uneducated?
It’s a good thing to answer those important questions as we formulate our morals and beliefs. I remember a book that taught me to always care for poor people; to care for myself by working hard, by being educated and informed; to not blame others for my own failings; to examine my personal prejudices with the suspicion that they may be the voice of the dark side speaking to me over my shoulder.
I remember when being a good American meant feeling love and appreciation for the institutions of checks and balances which make up our federal system. I remember when we believed that our federal government was something that protected us and kept us safe and prosperous. I remember when our leaders spoke eloquently for unity. I remember a time when I believed that my fellow Americans were allies in creating a safe and prosperous future.
Think of this. The way for us to be the safest country in the world is for us to embrace the full racial and cultural diversity of our citizens. Now is the best time for us to live up to the ideals of our Founding Fathers of Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.
Imagine a Congress and White House brimming with every ethnicity and every religion. Imagine half of our leaders as women… women of every diverse background possible. Imagine if Congress was full of scientists, clergy, teachers, ranchers and even farm workers and waitresses. These good Americans would cover the widest possible range of thought and experience of the whole world. Not only would we be embracing the ideals of our Constitution, we would be sending a new face of America out to the world. This would be the melting pot at it’s very best.
We could represent the best that humanity has to offer.
Take a deep breath, literally hold on to your heart, and then dare to imagine the United States with a Muslim president. Make your brain picture a Muslim who is a true, honorable, American first. An American who has the best interest of our country in his heart. A Muslim who uses his faith as a background base to be the best human being possible. After you are done hyperventilating, think about how that would help heal our relationship with the Middle East. Go get drunk, and then after you sober up from that one; do the same thought experiment on a President whose parents came from Korea, or maybe Mexico. Or how about a full blood Native American as our leader?
If we can relax and embrace this new world then we will be safe in our neighborhoods; we’ll have thriving cities and States. We will be the most colorful and thriving nation on earth. It will be really fun to be us.
The American spirit is strong enough to inspire this solidity. By living up to our full potential as the United States of America we will honorably take our place as a true world leader. As a leader of the actual world, full of actual people of every kind.
We will then, also, be the safest country in the world because we won’t have anyone to fight.
May 31, 2017
Are we stronger than ignorance? It’s a big question for today. Can we change a culture of misinformation into a quest of curiosity? Can we begin the slow process of pulling ourselves upwards so that we are a nation of thoughtful citizens? I sure hope so.
How in the world did we turn into a nation that denies the truths right in front of our faces? We have the facts and figures about health care in front of us and yet we allow ourselves to be manipulated by big business concerns who do not care about our health. We know full well the trauma of a loved one with cancer. We rally together to support a community member who is ill – whether or not we think they have worked hard enough to deserve good health care. We love them because we know them, we know their families.
Anyone who is curious enough to do a little research will find that there are many other countries who have worked through the details of health care, and managed to evolve a system that works well. A little research will reveal that affordable care and prevention is so much cheaper than waiting until a poor soul is sick enough to need the emergency room… because that is all they can afford. We know there is a better way.
If we can lift ourselves from our ignorance for a moment we will notice that the Paris Climate Agreement is signed by the best and brightest countries around the world. Just a little research will reveal that the countries at the leading edge of technology are thriving and will be the leaders of the future. Even disregarding the moral imperative that looms in front of us from a warming planet, the economic benefits of being the leaders of technology should be enough for us to rise up and participate as a nation in a viable future.
Ignorance is not bliss. Time will reveal all. Your grandchildren will know how you voted and where you stood as these great decisions are embraced by our nation. How do you want them to look back on you? None of these things are about “belief.” They are provable, and results will be revealed over time. Please everyone: study, learn, inform yourselves about what is really going on. In the end, the only ones we can rely on are each other.
216 Stevens Ave, 756-3076
Climate change is real. It is caused by humans. And it is fixable. It’s critical to understand that every single step needed to reverse climate change will make our lives better. Renewable energy will be cleaner, cheaper and more fun. Imagine a life where your money is not bleeding out to manage your car and heat/cool your home. Imagine a world where the activities of your daily life bring a feeling of satisfaction with who you are and how you interface with the world. Imagine us coming together in a creative adventure to discover the best and most beautiful ways to live with each other and with our possessions.
There is only one thing we need to do, as a culture, to create this renewable world: We simply need to stop subsidizing dirty energy, and start subsidizing clean energy.
If we turn our collective vision and resources towards living clean, an enormous surge of creativity will sweep the nation. People will be able to have satisfying work that ranges from home gardening to energy technicians. Just look around our valley and notice the number of young people who are out there building barns and digging up new land to plant. We have the most creative generation ever born ready and able to rise up to this adventure.
There is nothing in the teachings of Jesus that says we have to be backwards because we are remote and poor. In fact, it’s the very opposite. My faith tells me that the poor in spirit are blessed and will be the vehicles of a new world. We don’t have lots of money, but we have our hearts and minds. We have an ability to learn, grow and innovate together. We have an ability to embrace any environmental and political change that may arise with love in our hearts and light in our eyes. I ask everyone to look upwards with inspiration; not down into the pit of anger sparked by negative rhetoric. Let us lead with our true spirit.