The Amusing Notion Of “Fake News”

I must say that in regards to the “fake news” labels being used to call out news outlets that you don’t like is very amusing to me. Especially so when it now seems to fall upon presidents and other government officials to determine what is and is not “fake news”. It’s one thing for Facebook or twitter to screen out what they believe to be fake news, after all, beyond the social platforms they own, they don’t have much of an impact on your life. It is a different thing entirely to have your government decide what is and is not actual news.

The problem we now see can be put squarely on the shoulders of do-gooder progressives. The hypocrisy, arrogance and plain shortsightedness of these people and their ideology never ceases to amaze me. This is an ideology that, simply put, believes that the government is the best, most efficient way of spreading the most good to the most people. So, in this idea of ultimate altruism, they try to cede the most amount of power possible to the state (federal government). I really do think that these people are taking actions that they believe will help people. They are not villains in this story, which makes it doubly frustrating.

To combat those who do not share the notion that the government should be the giver of all things, progressives tend to, instead of debating in the arena of ideas, create a label to put on these people or groups. Labels like, homophobic, xenophobic, sexist, racist, bigoted, etc. In this case, they came up with “fake news”. They slapped this label onto any news site deemed to be biased toward the right politically. In the minds of the social media oligarchs, these dissenting news outlets cost Hillary Clinton the election, so must be stopped. This term was picked up by president Obama and he slung it towards places like Fox News, to the delight of progressives everywhere. Congress even got on board with the Countering Foreign Propaganda and Disinformation Act of 2016. Signed into law just before Christmas. This bill concentrates on foreign interventions in our news. It doesn’t take much of a leap to imagine the law spreading to domestic news sources and alternative media.

The arrogance of these progressives shows when they create these labels and pass these laws thinking that they know best what people should be exposed to. They also are as arrogant as to think that ceding all this power to their government will only help them and hurt the people who disagree with them.

Maybe the shortsightedness stems from the arrogance, but it is beyond me how many times I hear that once this progressive is in office it will be impossible for any other party to ever win the presidency. This position is just not rational. In fact, it is almost always the opposite. So, the power collected by your president, always gets transferred to the next president. Obama has been the most imperial president of my lifetime, largely because the congress let him. His end-arounds of congress have come to the delight of progressives everywhere because he championed their cause by and large. Do you really believe that President Trump will just give that power back to congress? To the people? You are diluted, you are irrational, you are arrogant and shortsighted. This happens Every. Single. Time.

Finally, my progressive friend, you are a hypocrite. You cannot cheer when President Obama calls Fox News fake, and cry when President Trump calls CNN fake. You gave him this power. Freely. Cheerfully, even. You constantly advocate for this huge, do everything for everyone government, against the wishes of literally half the people’s will who live in this country. You tell them to sit down and shut up because you are smarter and know what’s best. Now, when the other party is in power, you protest, riot, boycott, cry and whine like petulant children who don’t get their way.

The moral of this story is that you should not give so much power away to any government that you cannot live freely under a government you may oppose.

The Politics of “Rights”

In the coming election year we are going to be bombarded with promises of free stuff. It’s inevitable. Phrases like, “basic human right” are going to be bandied about like candy on Halloween. Let’s take a look at the most common things that are described as human rights, or natural rights to see if they would truly fit that description.

Before we begin, let’s talk a little about human rights. Not all rights are created equal. Rights fall into two camps, positive and negative. I know what you are thinking, “positive” sounds like a good word and “negative” sounds like a bad word, so positive rights must be better! Right? Well no, not exactly. Positive rights are things that, when exorcised, would require action from a 3rd party, whereas negative rights can be exercised in the absence of action from a 3rd party. To illustrate the difference, let’s say “I have a positive right to food”. If this were true and I could not feed myself for whatever reason, another person would be obligated or required to feed me. If I say “I have a negative right to food”, and for some reason I could not feed myself, no one would be required to work in order to feed me.

Hopefully, it is clear that rights that need no approval from anyone else to enjoy are superior to rights that require others in order to be enjoyed. This point is fairly well acknowledged by most philosophers and political scientists. Therefore, negative rights are the only true set of natural or human rights we have. Positive rights, in my opinion, are not rights at all. Positive rights are, however, very important aspects of living with each other, in communities, as human beings.

I should also point out that it is a much different thing when private companies use “rights” in their marketing campaigns than when governments do it. When you hear a commercial airline use the phrase, “passenger’s bill of rights”, they are marketing their services and not using the term literally. When advertisers tell you that you have a right to fast, friendly service, they are trying to get your business by insinuating that their competition does not give fast, friendly service. It’s a marketing ploy that I despise because it dilutes not only the word “rights”, but also the concept.

So what are the politicians going to tell you that you have a basic right to? Off the top of my head, I can remember hearing that I have a basic right to:

  • Food
  • Clothing
  • Shelter
  • Healthcare
  • employment
  • Living wage
  • Speech
  • Bear arms
  • Privacy
  • Life
  • Liberty
  • Property

The list is truly endless, so I’ll stop here. So are all these things rights? Which are positive and which are negative? Conveniently, I put the positive rights in the top half and negative rights at the bottom half.

  • If I have a right to food and cannot feed myself, you must feed me. Therefore you are my slave. You have no choice, it is my right.
  • If I have a right to clothing and cannot make my own clothes, you must cloth me. Therefore you are my slave. You have no choice, it is my right.
  • If I have a right to shelter and cannot build it myself, you must build it for me. Therefore you are my slave. You have no choice, it is my right.
  • If I have a right to healthcare and I am not a doctor, you must treat me. Therefore you are my slave. You have no choice, it is my right.
  • If I have a right to a job, you must hire me. Therefore you do not own your business. You have no choice, it is my right.
  • If I have a right to a living wage, you must give me that wage. Therefore you do not own the money your business makes. You have no choice, it is my right.

Let’s contrast these 6 rights with the next 6 rights on the list:

  • If I have a right to free speech, I may speak, but you have no obligation to listen to me. We are both free.
  • If I have a right to bear arms, I may purchase a gun, but you have no obligation to sell me one. We are both free.
  • If I have a right to privacy, I can protect that privacy, but you have no obligation to protect that privacy. We are both free.
  • If I have a right to life, I can defend my life, but you are not obligated to help me. We are both free.
  • If I have a right to liberty, I can defend my liberty, but you are not obligated to help me. We are both free.
  • If I have a right to property, I can buy whatever I want with the money I make, but you are not obligated to sell it to me. We are both free.

The dangers of empowering governments over positive rights are apparent. Positive rights are the main reason we are in $20 trillion in debt. The majority of the federal budget does not go to the military industrial complex or infrastructure (muh roads!). The majority of the federal budget goes to entitlements. Proving food, shelter, healthcare and a living wage to people who cannot or will not endeavor to provide it for themselves. The problem with this that government becomes the middle man between the people who endeavor to take care of themselves and the people who cannot or will not. Taking from one group and giving to the other, all the while telling them that they are “entitled” to what other people have earned through hard work.

In my opinion, only negative rights should be protected by the government. I say this because it costs nothing to exercise these rights. The proper role of government is to protect me if someone infringes on one of my negative rights. Positive rights are best left to the private sector, enforced through contract. Too much power has been taken away from private individuals and groups, and too much has just been given away freely. Churches and other social groups have given away almost all of the moral authority they once had to the government. Deciding what is moral and immoral used to be up to social groups and churches, now the government makes those decisions. The churches freely gave away that authority by lobbying for such things as marriage licenses and sin taxes. Charities used to be the ultimate decision makers as to who received their charity and who did not. Now the government decides who gets what. Charities don’t mind as long as they get their cut. Even charities with the best of intentions get government funding, but what hoops did they have to jump through to get it? Now that we have a government that has taken the power of moral authority and ultimate decider of what we need, we are all a slaves to the state. The recipient of the benefits because they need it to live and the citizen who gets their money taken because they no longer own what they produce.

As more and more people get into a situation where they are living paycheck to paycheck, the temptation to just let the government take care of certain things that they may not be able to afford gets stronger and stronger. Beware when a politician makes a positive right sound like a negative one. Beware when they demonize those who make more than you, stoking your envy. More than likely outside your own decisions in life, the politician is much more responsible for your financial situation than that rich person is. When you use the government to punish the wealthy, you do so at the risk of ceding your freedom. No matter what that politician tells you, you will not get richer by making a rich person poorer. But they will. I implore you to think about your own long term freedom over any short term comfort they might be promising you.

Post-Debate Butthurt

I watched the first republican nominee debate last night. I thought I would document my impressions of the debate, but I find that the 24 hours after the debate are much more interesting than the event itself. I mean, really, who cares about a debate on a friendly network over a year before the election? What I learned after watching the main card debate about the prospective candidates, if quantified into a number, would be hovering around zero. I mean, I did my civic duty. I downloaded the fox news app so I could score the debates in real time. I decided to hit thumbs up if the person gave an answer with actual substance, or a semi-specific plan of action, regardless of whether I agreed with the plan or not. I gave a thumbs down if they addressed the issue in generalities and platitudes. I scored a dodge if they couldn’t even muster that much and just spoke without even addressing the question at all. By this measure, my very unscientific scorecard only had 3 candidates in the positive at the end. Rand Paul, Marco Rubio and Scott Walker. I couldn’t tell you any specifics about what I scored them on, it doesn’t matter. I have learned a few things in the last 24 hours though. 1. I don’t have my thumb on the pulse of the American people, or republicans specifically. 2. Debates don’t matter. What a candidate says matters less than how he says it.

I have mentioned several times in the past that people look at politicians in a similar way that they view professional sports teams or professional wrestlers. The butthurt following this debate proves that point in no uncertain terms. I’ve read things that I can hardly believe. People are blaming the moderators for asking tough questions of the candidate they like, not giving their candidate enough talk time, giving some candidates preferential treatment and who knows what else. To be clear, I think the moderators did a pretty good job. I think they knew that being the first debate it had to be both fun and informative. They asked every person on the stage a hard question. People were even upset at the post-debate analysis because Debbie Wasserman Schultz was allowed to give the democrat response. As if Megyn Kelly was in charge of booking guests. When I say upset, I mean upset to the point of unfollowing her on social media. To be fair, they started hating her when she asked Donald Trump a question about his feelings on women after citing several quotes that make it apparent he does not respect them. At this point Trump threatens Megyn Kelly by saying something to the effect, I could be really mean to you if I wanted, but I won’t right now. Now, for some reason, she’s the bad guy! During the debate, Trump openly admits to bribing officials to get what he wants, both republicans and democrats, using the government as an enforcer to get out of debts and I kid you not, when asked about what he would do differently than the current administration with, blah, blah, blah… gave the answer “I would do it so differently!” You’re waiting for more, no, that was his answer, I swear…the whole answer. This is the guy that according to The Drudge Report, won the debate. By a landslide. On the other side, Rand Paul, who was the only one who gave several real answers, was the big loser, because people didn’t like his tone. I’m not defending Rand Paul, just pointing out that it is quite apparent that substance does not matter.

When I say that debates don’t matter, it’s not entirely true. I don’t know a whole lot about a bunch of candidates and maybe I could learn something about them from this format, but I doubt it. A debate a year before the elections however, literally does not matter. They could have answered the questions with mouths full of Fruit Loops and the outcome would have been the same. People tuned in by the millions to watch Donald Trump speak. In 8 months half the field will be gone. No one will remember any of the debates in a year and a half. There is never any new information to be discovered during a debate. Everything you need to know about anybody running is common knowledge well before they go on stage. What people react to during debates are things like likability, looks and a good speaking voice. They must seem “presidential”. A good example of this is Ben Carson’s closing address. He spoke of being the only candidate to separate conjoined twins, operate on a fetus in the womb but hoped he wasn’t the only one picking up the mantle of freedom. This was proclaimed to have been a brilliant close, a master stroke, saved his debate! I’m sorry, but what about any of that has to do with any semblance of a plan to reduce the size of government? Isn’t that a republican ideal? It made him likeable. It sounded great. It proves he is a good doctor. What does that have to do with being a good president? Campaign for Surgeon General! I’m not hating on Dr. Carson, I’m not. He seems like a really good guy. He actually cares, but results matter more than intentions.

Are we as a nation are we so far gone into reality TV, pop culture and celebrity game shows that we can’t separate real life from fiction? We can’t separate real answers from gibberish? We are judging presidential candidates by the same criteria that we judge a contestant on America’s Got Talent. It’s sickening. On the other hand, what do I know? I’m probably crazy.

I would hate to offend anyone, so if I didn’t mention your favorite candidate by name, I’m sorry. I wasn’t intentionally giving him/her less print time. I promise not to ask a democrat what he thinks. I don’t use focus groups. I shoot from the hip, say it like it is, not PC. Enter buzzword here.

Crony Capitalism:

Crony capitalism is a term describing an economy in which success in business depends on close relationships between business people and government officials. It may be exhibited by favoritism in the distribution of legal permits, government grants, special tax breaks, or other forms of state interventionism.

Fascism:

A system of government marked by centralization of authority under a dictator, a capitalist economy subject to stringent governmental controls, violent suppression of the opposition, and typically a policy of belligerent nationalism and racism.