Politicians and preachers

The Pew Research Group recently published a poll about Trust, Facts, and Democracy. (April 26, 2018) CNN published an editorial about the poll entitled, “1 poll number that should be a wake-up call for politicians“. The number they referred to was “3%”. This was the number of respondents who said they had a “Great Deal” of confidence in elected officials to act in the best interest of the public.

That question also revealed that 75% said they either had “not too much” or absolutely no confidence in their elected officials.

A few things…

CNN made the jump from “elected officials” to “politicians”. Those are not the same things. Granted, usually they are. But sometimes people get elected  specifically because they are *not* a politician. Politician has been a dirty word in America for a long time.

How long? I have no idea. You can do *that* research. I just know that Jimmy Carter was elected to the presidency in 1976 in large part because he was an “outsider”, which many people interpreted as “not a politician.” That was dumb, because he was very much a politician, having begun — as far as I can tell — as a school board member, then a member of the Georgia Senate, then governor of Georgia.  His father had even been a member of Georgia politics.

The point is, there has long been a feeling that we should “get rid of the politicians that run the country.”

Well. That led to Donald Trump. Love him, hate him, or ignore him (Is that even possible?) pretty much everyone agrees — Donald Trump is no politician.

But wait a minute. What *is* a politician? The dictionary says a politician is someone who is skilled and experienced in governing or in conducting the business of governing.

But is that what most people think of when they use that word? Mostly our politicians, those that run the business of government, are most skilled at being “politically correct.” That is, they don’t say things that are too far from the mindset of their constituency. They act and behave in ways of which most of society approves.

Is Donald Trump a politician? By definition, yes. He is running the business of the government. You can argue whether or not he’s running it well, but he is part of the business by virtue of office — even if he’s left the virtue out of it. The last part is why those who dislike him feel they way they do — he’s not politically correct. His lack of political correctness is a big reason why his supporters support him.

Anyway, back to the poll and the thing that caught CNN’s eye — the low trust in elected officials.

However, what caught my eye was this: although only 3% of people had a great deal of trust in elected officials, business leaders were only greatly trusted by 5% and the news media only gained 8%. Overall, no leadership group received a great deal of trust from over 40% of the people. The most trusted leaders? The military. Even military leaders received a great deal of trust from 39% of the people. (Another 41% gave them a “fair amount” of trust, which puts them in the solid trust of 80%.)

The scary part for me is that only 9% have a great deal of trust in one other group: religious leaders. That’s only 6% better than elected officials. And a full 50% say they have little or no trust in religious leaders. Contrast that against the 79% of people who solidly trust scientists.

It’s no wonder that people will believe the wild speculations of science, but tune out those who preach eternal truths from the Bible.

The DNC platform: a commentary. Summation.

Simply because I hate not to finish things, I’m counting this as my finish.

This began as an honest attempt to examine the Democratic Party Platform, to discover for myself the things with which I agreed, disagreed, and why. I fully expected to be surprised with how much I would agree, not because I am a Democrat, but because I’ve always believed the old line that “there is much more that unites us than divides us.”

Though I have not finished the commentary, I have read the entire document. I was wrong. There is much more that divides us than unites us. What both Democrats and Republicans and every other party usually agree on is they want the United States to be prosperous and fabulous. There is sharp disagreement on how to get there.

While I don’t agree with the Republican strategy of hiring Donald Trump, I don’t agree with the Democratic strategy of becoming a socialist nation, either. The Democratic solutions in many instances are dumb, and in some instances are morally repulsive.

But don’t take my word for it. (Please.) Read it for yourself.

The DNC platform: a commentary. Part 4b.

The Democratic Party Platform, was approved July, 2016. This is Part 4b of my page-by-page commentary, attempting to clarify the things with which I agree and the things with which I disagree. Each part covers one of the thirteen major sections of the DNC’s statement. However, after writing for several pages, I discovered that this section is especially long. So I have split this up into parts 4a and 4b. (Read Part 4a here.)

The process of writing these posts has been slow. On one hand, I wish this had been much quicker. I’m only 4/13 of the way in, and well over a year has passed since this platform was originally published.

On the other hand, the time between each post has given me opportunities to pause and reflect on what has been written and what will be written. Hopefully this will produce a more thoughtfully written whole. There is a tension between the commitment of thoughts to paper and the solidification of those thoughts to a point that you are unwilling for them to bend or change over time.  I continue to feel that tension.

Part 4b begins on page 18. 

Investing in Rural America

“Democrats will increase funding to support the next generation of farmers and ranchers…encourage programs…expand local food markets and regional food systems…promote clean energy leadership.”

Going back to their theme of The State as Savior, the DNC promises to save the local farmer by pouring more money into programs, while burdening the same farmers with costly regulations. Perhaps the farmers will plant unicorn orchards.

“The Democratic Party supports stronger agricultural worker protections including regulation of work hours, elimination of child labor, ensuring adequate housing for migrant workers, and sanitary facilities in the field.”

While the intentions to protect migrant workers are laudable, I wonder if one unintended consequence would be to make it illegal for the children of farmers to be able to help on the farm. And what about the farmer? Would there be a regulation of hours he/she can work?

Ending Poverty and Investing in Communities Left Behind

“We reaffirm our commitment to eliminate poverty.”

That would be good. However, their commitment isn’t as strong as their commitment to continuing the policies exacerbating poverty in the first place. Left unsaid in this statement is the reaffirmation of the DNC’s commitment to eliminate wealth as well.

“The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) program should be expanded…The Child Tax Credit (CTC) should be expanded…”

I’m pretty much always in favor of tax cuts and tax credits. (But what gets cut to offset this?)

[page 19]

Building Strong Cities and Metro Areas

“We will dramatically increase federal infrastructure funding for our cities—making significant new investments in roads and bridges, public transit, drinking and wastewater systems, broadband, schools, and more.”

Three words that always deserve skepticism when put together — “dramatically”, “increase”, “funding”.

I have no problem with most of the list of targets mentioned. Roads, bridges, public transit, drinking and wastewater systems…all are items that I believe should be high on the government’s to-do list. Unfortunately, these items often to take a backseat to other, less-necessary and less-deserving items. (See the next section for examples.)

But every dramatic increase in funding must be met by either a corresponding dramatic increase in income or a corresponding dramatic decrease in spending somewhere else.

In addition, the target list mentions schools (something with which the State has shown increasing incompetence) and the ever-dangerous “more”.

“Democrats also will revitalize communities being dragged down by physical decay by building on programs like the Neighborhood Stabilization Program and the Hardest Hit Fund.”

This is another example of the State getting into areas which should be left to private companies. Why is the State determined to be a real estate broker? This is the State’s Fixer Upper plan. We’ll buy ’em, then sell ’em back to poor people.

Once again, it’s not the intent I have a problem with. “Revitalizing communities” is a good thing. But it’s really not the State’s place to do this.

Just looking at some of the data from the State’s own website, you can see the inefficiencies at work. So much of the money that is put into these programs is spent to cover “administrative costs.” That’s the cost of putting it into the hands of the State. That same money is kept out of the hands of small businesses and entrepreneurs who all have more incentive to keep costs low and sell for fair prices.

This is also an example of one of the biggest dangers of State-run assistance programs. These programs were both established by President Obama in 2010 as a response to the housing crash in the late 2000’s. These were to be, supposedly, temporary programs to assist those in desperate need. But, of course, temporary means temporary just until we can make it permanent. Having addressed the “hardest hit”, Democrats want to continue to build on the foundation of free-money they began.

It’s not free. It’s coming out of my pocket, and yours, too.

“We will support entrepreneurship and small business growth in cities…”

The promise is that this will happen through State-sponsored training and tax credits (good) and State lending (not so good).

Promoting Arts and Culture

“Democrats are proud of our support for arts funding and education.”

I agree that arts and culture are important. However, it is not the State’s place to fund it. The private sector is more than capable of supporting whatever art or culture it demands. In fact, if the State is to fund the arts, there is no reason not to fund religion. (Now that I think about it, I’d be very much in favor of a separation of arts and state.)

Honoring Indigenous Tribal Nations

“We have a profound moral and legal responsibility to the Indian tribes…”

Do we?

It’s problematic, isn’t it? On the one hand, we want to grant dignity and respect the heritage and rights of those that originally owned this land. Dignity and respect for all people should be basic for every human.

On the other hand, why do Indian tribes deserve special treatment? The land might have belonged to them in the past, but it doesn’t now.

What’s the right thing to do? If the land belongs to the Indians, it seems like the right thing is evident. Give it all back. We should all leave and go back to England or Europe or wherever we came from.

That’s obviously not going to happen. So we try to placate our wounded consciences by “honoring” Indians and Indian nations and giving them “reservations” and land to call their own.

Or perhaps we don’t owe them anything. Were the Indian tribes the first ones here, or did they misplace some other people? Yes, where they were living was taken by others…but does that mean we owe them, even now, for what was lost hundreds of years ago? Is it up to us to keep their culture alive and protected? If so, why? Does the State also have the responsibility  to maintain the culture of my family for hundreds of years in the future?

It’s interesting to note that this is one of the longest sections, beginning on page 19, but continuing all the way to…

[page 21]

Fighting for the People of Puerto Rico

“[W]e are committed to addressing the extraordinary challenges faced by our fellow citizens in Puerto Rico…”

I don’t understand the whole concept of territories as it relates to the United States of America. I wrote that sentence, then I felt dumb for writing it, so I did some research — very little, in fact — which ended in me taking a 3+ month break from writing this post.

Puerto Rico. You’re such a trouble-maker.

Just kidding. Anyway, I don’t know much more about this issue now than I did before. So I asked my friend, Gary, who is of Puerto Rican descent, what he thought. He said…

“The Puerto Rican economy is in huge trouble. Unemployment is high and a lot of people are living on government aid. This is, unfortunately, a perfect example of the Democratic Party’s attempt to gain more votes by finding a population segment that they can bribe by offering free stuff. My family, all Puerto Rican’s, are hard working, educated people who feel that adults should earn their way, just as Scripture teaches us. Most of my family members are conservative Republicans…hmmm.”

Honoring the People of the Territories

“We also recognize and honor…”

This is very similar to the section on Puerto Rico. I’m curious why we should “fight” for Puerto Rico and “honor” the territories. Just choosing different words so it doesn’t sound redundant, or is there real meaning there?

Woot! Finally done with section four!