Reality: a concept, not a conjob

Karl Rove doubted that Obama won Ohio. Marco Rubio doesn’t think we know much about the age of the earth. Rick Perry thinks evolution is a theory that’s Out There. Michele Bachman thinks the HPV vaccine causes mental retardation. Mitt Romney thought Iran had no coastline. Ron Paul thinks secession is an American tradition. Several Supreme Court justices and Mitt Romney believe corporations are people.

Reality is a funny thing. There are facts, and then there are facts, as someone once said. Two plus two is four. Water is H2O. And if it walks, talks, looks and smells like a duck…. A friend of mine once said, “Reality is not a concept; it’s a con-job.” It was David Hume who said, “A wise man proportions his belief to the evidence.” And Paul Krugman will believe corporations are people when Texas executes one. The left claims, legitimately I say, that it is more attached to the empirical world. And the right is more prone to choose its facts according to what suits them. There are times when one must face the facts, and times when the spin-meisters can present them to agree with somebody’s wishes. This time, the republicans took their version of reality too far, and it cost them. Obama won, and the Dems picked up seats in congress. And they can’t change that for the next few years.

Now our country is debating about coming together, and whether we will face the supposed Fiscal Cliff. This cliff may be a reality, a concept, or even a con-job. JP, lately you have been making the case that it is largely a con-job. You certainly do not believe cutting entitlements need be a part of the treatment. The press – who loves high stakes conflict – has posted it as a reality. The press wants this to attract a large audience, one that tunes in often and feels the hype. Congress in general and Ben Bernanke see some serious issues with what could happen, and tell us that something needs to be done. Congress is posturing itself, as is the President.

JP, I say you are right that to deal with the Fiscal Cliff, it is worth reminding us how we arrived at a high public debt. We got to this place primarily because W got us into two wars, and he robbed the government of the revenue that we received in the Clinton era. And W, as he was exiting stage right (make that Left) began a program of putting some money into the economy that Obama continued. Some of this was corporate support in the forms of TARP, bank assistance, auto company help, tax relief, small business relief, etc. All of this was meant to, and by most accounts succeeded at avoiding a fiscal disaster called a depression. The preceding paragraph largely has the support of facts that we can call reality. And both sides of the isle should agree on its content.

As an aside – and it is an aside – for years now, we have been admonished that entitlements are not on a sustainable track. Remember Al Gore’s Social Security Lock Box? The right would have us believe that this rail of politics leads to the Cliff. The left would have us believe that we’ve got many years ahead, and that train is to bypass any sort of abyss. And social security is healthier than Medicare and Medicaid, both agree. Ergo, I place entitlements in the realm of interpretive reality.

The talk is, shall we compromise? Whose principles are sacred, and which might bend for The Good of the Country? And why weren’t we talking about The Good of the Country a while back? Well, at any rate, Mr. President, I think your moment of leadership has arrived. You sent Hillary to negotiate peace in the Middle East, but you will have to be the prime diplomat in this little war. I believe Harry Truman was advised that he could only lead as fast as the public will be led. This was his problem with getting the Affordable Health Care Act passed. Now, one can hope public opinion will catch up with the visionary work it is. We know you have one principle: the key to maintaining a healthy economy is a healthy middle class. And the corollary principle is, if you make over $250K, that higher income should be taxed.

I call this tax restoration, and I’m right with you, sir. There are all sorts of studies and historical data that show your perspective is correct and just. So take advantage of reality here, Barack. You can’t change the laws of physics, captain, but Enterprise is where we are headed.

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About Jim

I've been leading outdoor environmental education in the YMCA since the 1970s. I love teaching nature, history, current events, being a dad, fixing stuff, groups, and general thinking.
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6 Responses to Reality: a concept, not a conjob

  1. Tyler Healey says:

    Corporations are comprised of people, just like unions.

  2. JP says:

    Well Tyler, you are correct in that, though it is far from clear what your point is. No one has made the claim that unions are people. They aren’t, just as corporations aren’t. There are also significant differences between corporations and unions. We allow corporations to buy other corporations. We don’t allow unions to buy other unions or people to buy other people. People live a normal life span and then die. Corporations did that in the 19th century until they used their power to purchase seats on the Supreme Court and got the law interpreted in a way that allowed them to essentially be immortal. People can speak with their own mouth. Corporations are nothing more than a legal entity. Money isn’t speech, it is property. Corporations cannot speak with their mouth, because they don’t have one. Our system has been warped to where we allow them to “speak” by spending money, thereby drowning out the voice of actual people. It is not a good system if you are, as I, and I presume you, are an actual flesh and blood person.

    • Tyler Healey says:

      My point is that progressives contradict themselves when they say corporate campaign spending should be limited, but union campaign spending should not.

      I have never heard Bernie Sanders say unions are not people. This is likely because he does not want union campaign spending to be limited. His concern is not the rule of law. His concern is the rule of leftism.

  3. JP says:

    Thanks for the conversation Tyler. To make your point, you will have to point to some specific examples of progressives claiming that unions should be able to spend unlimited money while corporations should not. Because neither Bernie Sanders or I have made that case that I know of. The progressives I know, including myself, think spending should be limited by corporations and by unions. Trying to equate them seems to be an attempt from the right to give a false equivalency, as they know that corporations far outspend unions, and if they can both spend unlimited funds then corporations will have the advantage.
    It is also true that people who work at corporations have no say over how the CEO spends the money (they may disagree with the political agenda and they have no say over it), whereas union members vote and do have a say in how the money is spent–at least they should; there are certainly cases of union corruption just as there are with corporate corruption, and that is why I favor limited or eliminating spending on political campaigns by both corporations and unions. I’m with Teddy Roosevelt on this one. We have to return the political process to the citizens of the country.

    • Tyler Healey says:

      The citizens of the country just democratically reelected a Democratic president.

      Sanders is leading the call for a constitutional amendment to end corporate spending in elections, but his ideas on “corporate personhood,” the treatment of corporations as people under the law, are drawing criticism from some amendment advocates. They say his approach unfairly favors unions and nonprofit corporations.

  4. JP says:

    Yes, we did. I think there may be a case that corporations are unique, at least in how they are treated by the law. I haven’t seen Bernie speak on this particular topic. I’ll look for that. I would personally be happy if we got rid of corporate spending and union spending.
    I think part of the difference is that unions have not been out there claiming personhood, as corporations have. So saying that we aren’t acting worried about union personhood may be true, just as it is true that we haven’t been worried about claims that the earth is flat. Still, I’m for getting all money out of politics that doesn’t come in limited amounts from individual people.
    Or, if we can’t get there, we at least need full transparent disclosure. Don’t let money be hidden by secret Super Pacs. And hey, while we’re on it, if Obama lets corporations fund his inaugural gala, let him wear a jacket naming his sponsors, like they do in NASCAR. Same in congress. When Senator Inhofe rails against climate change, let him wear a jacket emblazoned with the corporate logos of the oil companies that finance his campaigns.

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