Wednesday, November 23, 2005

It's the Ignorance, Stupid!

I met Robert Kennedy Jr. a few years back in Utah. When he started speaking, I wondered why everybody had made such a big deal of the so called "Kennedy Mistique." By the time he was through talking, I was ready to run outside and scream in some polluter's face. I just read a speech of his that's I'll tell you about in a minute.

In contrast to Bobby Kennedy Jr., Yesterday I had lunch with a U. S. Congressman from Tennessee and heard him say several things that point out exactly why we have such a mess on our hands. He said "Developers have their hands tied because of the environmental regulations" and he said that he can't back Nano technology too hard because of the moral issues involved. Why do we have so many of this guy and so few Robert Kennedy's?

It's not stupidity...It is ignorance.

Did you know that some religious nuts, of which we in Tennessee have way too many of, believe that Nanotechnology is too close to becoming the Intelligent Designer? Huh? Talk about an uninformed group!

And frankly folks any developer, and I am one, who had his hands tied because of environmental regulations under George Bush...ought to! We're down to only a few forms of wanton destruction actually being illegal.

Why are we so ignorant? What is this disease that we as a society have contracted?

It all boils down to the same few diseases that are causing all of our symptoms.

First of all is the infamous "K" Street. This is the lobbyists row in Washington, D.C. where all the money is handed out to the politicians who sit up, beg, and do tricks for billions of dollares in corporate donations. Tom Delay has been the faucet keeper for this money, which is his source of power. Tom is a crooked a guy with little moral restraint and no vision of the America he is helping to create. I suspect his days of power are over but someone else will fill the vacuum unless the power to bribe our lawmakers is handed back to the people.

Secondly is the combination of removing the "Fairness Doctrine" and allowing the ownership of our information providers in America to be consolidated into the hands of so few corporations. I didn't say "So few people" you should note...I said "Corporations."

Except for the one percent or so of all people who are sociopaths, most people have a conscience of sort. There is some guilt felt in doing wrong. For corporations there is only celebration in profit...monitary profit. There is no corporate joy at eradicating a terrible disease for instance. Unless there is money made in the process.

"Hey Boss, We can eliminate half of all asthma cases by reducing our profits a over the next few years."

Can you imagine a CEO thinking this is a good idea? Neither can TVA!

The antidote to corporate greed is an informed electorate. For instance, George W. Bush's approval rating is about 34% in the general population. Among the group of people who can name President Bush's first business partner it is nearly ZERO! This would be an informed group. (George's first business was Arbusto Oil and his backer was Salem Bin Laden, Osama's big brother...but you knew that, right?)

Or are you ignorant. too?

This is curable.



Here is an excerpt from Robert F. Kennedy Jr.s speech:

This all started in 1988 when Ronald Reagan abolished the Fairness Doctrine. The Fairness Doctrine said that the airwaves belong to the public. They were public-trust assets, just like our air and water, and broadcasters could be licensed to use them but only with the proviso that they use them to promote the public interest and to advance American democracy. They had to inform the public of issues of public import. They had to have the news hours. (None of those networks wanted to show the news, because it's expensive, and they lose money on it.) They had to avoid corporate consolidation. They had to have local control and diversity of control. That had been the requirement of the law since 1928.

Today, as a result of the abolishment of that doctrine, six giant multinational corporations now control all 14,000 radio stations in our country, almost all 6,000 TV stations, 80 percent of our newspapers, all of our billboards, and now most of the Internet information services. So you have six guys who dictate what Americans have as information and what we see as news. The news departments have become corporate profit centers. They no longer have any obligation to benefit the public interest; their only obligation is to their shareholders, and they fulfill that obligation by increasing viewership.

How do you do that? Not by reporting the news that we need to hear to make rational decisions in our democracy but, rather, by entertaining us, by appealing to the prurient interests that all of us have in the reptilian core of our brain for sex and celebrity gossip. [applause] So they give us Laci Peterson and Michael Jackson and Kobe Bryant, and today we're the best-entertained and the least-informed people on the face of the earth. This is a real threat to American democracy.

I do 40 speeches a year in red states, and there is no difference between how Republican audiences and Democratic audiences react when they hear what this White House and this Congress are doing. There is no difference except that the Republicans come up afterward and say, "Why haven't we ever heard of this before?" I say to them, "It's because you're watching Fox News and listening to Rush." Eighty percent of Republicans are just Democrats who don't know what's going on. [applause]

(JR sent me this so blame him) Here's the rest of the speech:


1 comment:

  1. I'll tell you, because you won't yell at me and call me an "elitist," but we have ignorance in this country because we have a lousy school system followed by a lousy higher education system. We like it that way.

    There are exceptions in both cases, of course, but by and large we don't educate to learn, we train for work. I was lucky. You were lucky. We were taught that education teaches you how to open your mind and learn, and that you haven't been educated if you have a closed mind.

    But there are Americans who positively celebrate close-mindedness ("I know what I like; I know what I believe; ain't nobody gonna fool me."). It's a great fall-back when you can't let go of prejudices. Our society teaches us that prejudices (we call them "values"), self-satisfaction ("pride in America"), and closemindedness ("faith") are what distinguish us from The Other.

    Safe from what? From life. From being fully human. And, oddly, from knowing god.

    The very educational institutions which are now persistently under attack from the religious and social right are the ones which encourage questioning and life-long learning. Speak softly and listen. Very different from shout-the-other-guy-down conservativism.

    It's discouraging to many (and simply unbelievable to some) that Cuba's educational system bests ours consistently. They do better, too, in healthcare, particularly children's healthcare. They are said by our leaders to be enslaved by communism and a cruel dictator. But the people who see them that way are themselves enslaved by corporatism and...

    The interesting thing in all of this -- to me anyway -- is the extent to which we are also self-destructive. Not in a pernicious slow way but with day to day, hell-bent-for-leather dedication. I don't think we're going to have to wait for our polluted environment to kill us; we'll be long gone before then even given the most pessimistic environmental forecasts (which are the ones I tend to believe).