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Monthly Archives: February 2012

Ask Not What Your Country Can Do For You

Alexis de Tocqueville said in his book Democracy in America that democracy “can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves largesse from the public treasury.” [1] He also said, in the same book, that “The American Republic will endure until the day Congress discovers that it can bribe the public with the public’s money.” [2] This Frenchman, over 170 years ago, saw with alarming accuracy what is happening today in America. Modern political races have become more like middle-school student council elections, with the candidates offering wild promises to their electorate that they have no way to keep. And the voters have become just as bad, choosing candidates based on who is offering them the most, instead of voting for what is best for the country.

Voters and Congress, working in tandem, have swept any concern about sustainability and finances under the rug, choosing instead to vote themselves more and more payments and services from the public treasury, which we have no hope of paying for as a country, and that government has no business providing. This is not to say that fiscal responsibility means the government should abandon the elderly and disabled to their fate, as the pro-spend mentality of some individuals would have you believe. However, it is clear that the government is living well outside its means, and that people have come to expect far more from government than it was ever meant to provide.

Tocqueville predicted that the ultimate result of this process is that democracy will collapse over loose fiscal policy and be followed by a dictatorship. As a country, we are dangerously close to this point, but it is not too late to halt and reverse the process. However, to do so, a majority of the voters must recognize that the financial writing is on the wall, and that, as a country, we have maxed out our credit. The only option left, other than to continue in our current path until the government collapses, is to eliminate the extravagances in our budget and to cease operating on a deficit.

 
 

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The Importance of Being Earnest

The Digital Revolution is changing the way people communicate. The internet is increasingly becoming the means by which people get all their news and information, and many people are taking advantage of the internet to spread political information and viewpoints. This is especially true now that we’re coming into an election year.

While the internet is a marvelous tool, it comes with its own unique hazards. Anyone can say whatever they want, whether it’s real or fabricated. When it comes to the internet, the burden of proof and accuracy has shifted from the author to the reader. Becoming internet savvy is the key to using the internet as a tool for staying informed.

The first step in evaluating information on the internet is to find the source. If there is no verifiable source, your first reaction should be extreme skepticism. When in doubt about information, always do your own research. If something has sources, make sure that the sources are real, reputable, and are being quoted accurately. Use discernment when viewing videos and photographs, as they can be easily edited to modify their original content. The website Snopes.com is an excellent and impartial resource to find if something you’ve read is real or fake.

Some warning signs for questionable information include: if it sounds too good to be true, if it provokes a strong emotional response, if it has been sent to several people, as in a chain letter, or if the information is extremely shocking or graphic. The biggest red flag is if you are asked to spread the information to others

November 6th will be here before we know it, and theOregon primaries are just around the corner. It is a crucial time for every voter to have access to accurate information. Thomas Jefferson said, “wherever the people are well informed they can be trusted with their own government.” [1] In order to become well informed through using the internet, it falls to us, as individuals, to exercise discernment and sound judgment in filtering the information we receive.

 
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Posted by on February 28, 2012 in Personal Responsibility

 

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