Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Inside the Phone Booth or Supermen love Civics and Economics

One of my guilty pleasures with which I partake is to peruse the news as Google sees it.  Google being the tool of research for many is also a place for viewing the real interest of users of the internet.  It is safe to say that Google is one of the dominant search engines on the web, and it is also reasonable to say that the greatest access to the internet occurs in the first world. 

Previous analysis of the 22,000+ people who viewed the blog of Evan’s journey might be interpreted as having an origin bias.  But that would place too great an emphasis on the physical location when the internet is a tool open to the world, even if politically restricted in some regions.  That said, the political fallout of the discussion of a dying child hardly warrant censorship.  And so we see highest viewings in the first world nations of North America, Western Europe and Oceana, although notably no hits from Japan or Korea.  The next level of interaction was by persons in “second” world nations, et cetera, et cetera.  The blog service is even kind enough to share this information in a color coded picture.

All of this is of course foundation for the following Google News list (links remain embeded) of the most popular news items at 9:00 am on this last Tuesday in November 2012.

So number 1 is a face shot of a person who was on the wrong end of a fist fight.  On this morning the entertainment headline writers got their job done right, while the faceless masses give credibility to one-on-one violence, a passion for seeking out the pain of others all in an effort to undoubtedly disguise their own pain. People in the story are not living well, the people covering the ‘story’ are lacking any sense of human decency, and the people reading the story lack the good sense to move on in their own lives and stop comparing their pain with those in the ’public’ eye. Next. . .

Number 2 is an issue worthy of coverage, worthy of being addressed by the involved parties and should be a high priority item of interest for the huddled masses.  Ideological intransigence between the two biggest power broking groups in the United States has resulted in the sort of gridlock that puts Los Angeles rush hour to shame. The political parties of the Democrats and Republicans are nothing more than idea Ponzi schemes regurgitating positions while doing nothing constructive, manufacturing no products but sound bites, and are populated by people who are ideologically fixed and intellectually dishonest while being led by people who only seek to gain and retain power on the basis of keeping just enough people happy enough to be re-elected. 

And so these so called political leaders at the elected Federal level are not seeking to do what is in the best interests of the country, but in the self-interest of keeping their constituency happy enough to vote for them in the next election.  Compromise is seen as weakness and as the Tea Party has shown, it does not take much for one organized group within a party to upset the machine and cause both the ideology to lose credibility while ensuring that the ‘other’ side wins.  But that is just representative of this election cycle, the Democrats had a similar challenge in the John Anderson and later Ralph Nader, while Republicans have had to deal with the likes of Ross Perot and the threat of a Michael Bloomberg or Ron Paul third party.  But I digress not unlike the President or the news coverage.

Let us start with the premise that few people liked Civics, fewer people like Economics, and the number of people who enjoyed both can be fit in a phone booth.  Civics is based on the principles that we elect to office those people we believe are best suited to do the best job – not to do what will get them reelected.  Economics is the study of values as expressed in purchasing power.  So in our current system, the elected take actions that will get them reelected, and place the highest value on those items that are in their own best self-interest of reelection. 

The President is elected by an electorate who wants the office to present to the world the face the people would like to have represent them.  Not for their leadership ability or skills in moving the country forward.  At best the ability to manipulate the fifth estate to present the most important issues in the most favorable light is perhaps the extent of day to day leadership.  Please see Ronald Reagan or Bill Clinton as examples of this skill, while Jimmy Carter and George H.W. Bush never grasped this skill.  Our current President has mastered the oratorical, but is average at best in bringing the populace to common ground. 

That he now wants to take a leadership role in the ‘fiscal cliff’ budget talks is admirable, but this is not a time or place for public appeal.  This is disingenuous and smacks of digging his feet in rather that communicating and compromising.  If ever there was a time for a smoky back room deal, it is during the lame duck session of an unchanged political landscape.  Both sides would take their PR lumps from their core constituencies, but there is another 22 months to heal those wounds.  These are the two months every two years when the government actually has an opportunity to lead and make some difference.  But unfortunately it appears that the phone booth on Capitol Hill where the Civics and Economics nerds used to live is a vacant property.  Prediction – the Federal car is going off the cliff with the hands of extremists at the wheel.

The people in the story are you and me and we are not well people, the people covering the story cannot do it the justice it deserves because they would have to compromise core values to share opposing points of view in a palatable light, and the average readers could care less about anything other than the fear mongering that the average family will have to pay $2,200 more in taxes next year. 

Story 3 is about a snotty child actor, Story 4 is a tragedy of a family who decided to take their dog on a walk at a beach with 10 foot waves – dog jumps in water and gets in trouble, then the family goes in after the dog, everyone dies because of a ‘sneaker’ wave.  Question of the day – what is sneaky about a 10 foot wave? While the next set of questions about what was going through the mind of the family outing leader go begging, let me ask a follow-up, what makes this personal tragedy worthy of being in the top ten most important stories in the world on any day?

Story 5 is politics, chaos, mayhem and global warming/climate change all wrapped up in the Jersey Shore, Story 6 is about sports

Stories 7 and 8 deal in part with the world as a whole but are wrapped up in human intrigue angles.  In Egypt the underlying story is whether countries ruled by dictators are more prone to want to continue with dictators or at what point does democracy/revolution reach a tipping point.  Similarly the discussion must ensue: is it more important to have a degree of freedom of speech or is it more important that there exists a principle of one person one vote, and is this potential rabble democracy in need of tempering by the principles of governance as a republic.  World Civics and World Economics  

Stories 9 and 10 delineate upon a dominant theme of the top ten.  The consuming public of the United States places more value in hiding their heads in the clouds of entertainment news, gossip and scandal because they can relate to seeing other people, even larger than life people suffering through the challenges of every day.  It comforts many human souls to see others in more pain than themselves, rather than facing the pain of educating themselves about who is leading them, why they are travelling the path they are, and seeking to engage others in dialogue about what is really important. 

Listening to the updates on the past weekends shopping sprees, people vote with their wallets and many people do not see the government avoiding the cliff so they are holding onto their money in anticipation of paying more to the government.  This lack of confidence in the government leads to a lack of confidence in the individual.  Unconfident individuals do not buy stuff, no stuff bought means the economy suffers.  If the US economy suffers, so does the world as a whole.  Extremist viewpoints take hold and wars are fought  because extremists cannot compromise. 

A US government in gridlock, interested only in meeting the needs of their own extremists leads down a road to the rise of other extremists across the globe, most notably among those whose agenda of aggressive behavior against the US is fomented by a Capitol Hill more interested in getting reelected rather than doing what is in the best interest of the country.   

What might be taken away from these observations on the most popular internet stories of today?   Supermen(incl.) - true political leaders -  love Civics and Economics; and they (both Supermen and C&E) are critical to understanding the world in which we live.  Political Leadership is currently an oxymoron in our society.  And finally that he US consumer believes that ignorance is bliss.

My advice, decide to participate in dialogue on the important issues that affect others, and by dialogue I mean to say walk a mile in the other person’s shoes and engage them with an open mind.  Understand that facts, like statistics never lie; but statisticians, politicians and spin masters (No matter the news organization they work for) and don’t be afraid to put your mind numbing fascination with celebrities in the same light as alcohol, marijuana, heroin and crystal meth.

Any comments on today’s observations might include your favorite news story of the day, and your favorite politician and why.  This should be good.

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