December 2015
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News for Norther Colorado and the world

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Magical Thinking

Ken Gordon

Dear Friends and Neighbors:

Let me ask you a question. I want you to make a choice. Gas can cost either $2.50 a gallon or $4.75 a gallon. In order to have gas cost the lower amount, it costs 5601 American military deaths in the Middle East, and 39,991 wounded.

Are you willing to pay this fee for lower gas costs? Did any of your elected officials ever ask you the question in this way?

Let me ask you another question. You can have the government services that you are accustomed to. These include prisons, the interstate highway system, Medicare, Social Security, schools and the largest military in the world. In order to have these things, you need to pay more in taxes.

Are you willing to pay increased taxes? If not, what do you want to cut?

If you think that it is someone else’s job to answer these questions than you have missed the essence of what it means to be a citizen in a democracy.

We blame politicians for being dishonest, and many, though not all, of them are. They tell you what polls tell them you want to hear. The reason they do this is because we don’t vote for candidates who honestly tell us bad news.

Politicians ask us to engage in magical thinking. Their numbers don’t add up. But we ususally don’t choose the reality of voting for the candidates whose numbers do add up. We would have to act like adults.

John Boehner, the minority leader in Congress, just announced the Republican “Pledge to America. ” It says that they are for lower taxes, smaller government, a balanced budget and continued levels of services in Social Security, Medicare, and military spending. Even conservatives are pointing out that this is impossible.

Boehner is making a cynical bet that voters won’t look logically at what he is saying. His experience leads him to believe that he is likely to win this bet.

Huge money: Huge campaign money is destroying our democracy.

The Supreme Court has distorted the First Amendment by first ruling that money is speech, Bucklely v. Valeo, and then ruling that corporations have individual rights, Citizens United v. FEC. They did this on behalf of “freedom. ” But it is a strange kind of freedom which allows wealth to rule the country for its own benefit. It is the kind of freedom that a powerful predator enjoys in the jungle. The lion can do whatever it wants, but everyone else is a potential meal.

Money isn’t the same thing as speech. If it is, then the wealthy have enhanced freedom of speech, because their speech makes everyone else’s unhearable. It isn’t an accident that the Justices who have twisted the Bill of Rights to benefit the wealth of this country were chosen by conservative Presidents who have also benefited by that wealth.

In many instances, our political system has become a con game. Public relations consultants create television ads that make a candidate appear to care about your welfare, and fund them with money from the wealthy interests whose welfare the candidate actually has to care about.

Although not as sympathetic, the system works on the same principle as Tinkerbell. It only works if you believe in it. They need you to absorb the positive and negative images that come from television. It won’t work if you don’t buy the con.

Only people who see through the public relations to the reality can hope to change this. That would be you.

Now would be a good time.

I hope you are well. As always, do not hesitate to write back with comments or questions and please feel free to forward this email or reprint it in any other format.

Ken Gordon

P. S. I would like to put in a good word for Colorado candidates who have decided not to take campaign contributions from special interest PACs. That would include, Stan Garnett, running for Attorney General, Joyce Foster and Michael Johnston in the Colorado Senate, Lois Court in the House, and Jared Polis, running for Congress. It took courage for all of these candidates to buck the system. If you know of someone else let me know.

P. P.S. Former Republican Governor Bill Owens deserves credit for opposing Amendments 60 and 61 and Proposition 101 in Sunday’s Denver Post, Perspective section. He points out that if these measures pass, there will not be money for higher education, health care, prisons, agriculture and public safety in our state budget. This is the kind of reality that is missing from the above-mentioned “Pledge to America. ”

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