I remember the Fourth of July much the same as many of my readers. Fireworks used to be “firecrackers”. Dad would find one of those traveling Fireworks stands in front of the local supermarket and purchase a collection of pyrotechnical joy for us. I remember closing out an evening of picnics and fireworks with the lit up stick that we would parade around and sword fight. Then the night would be over and back to normal life, since dad usually had to work the next day. The Fourth isn’t much different today. The usual grill-side conversations are about the history of America and the gratefulness we feel toward our troops. While these are key to consider when celebrating our nation’s birthday, freedom as a treasured and delicate state need to be discussed with a sense of urgency.
Rush Limbaugh reincarnated Karl Marx’s use of the term “useful idiot” when he began discussing “low information voters” during the 2012 Presidential campaign. Strange bedfellows, Marx and Limbaugh. Rush points to a scary trend in today’s society. As a ditto head myself (for those of you in Rio Linda, that means I like Rush). You, however, can completely disagree with him and should still fear the growing power of the low information voter.
Low information “voter-itis” is a disease that slowly leads to Truth Decay and ultimately destroys freedom.
The low information voter believes everything he hears on TV, the radio, and especially the Internet. A Pencil is just a pencil to this person. It fell out of the sky and into his pocket as the shiny and completed lead tipped tool he now holds. It was never a tree that needed to be harvested, transported, and packaged as pencil. It never needed to be shipped to Staples with lights, air conditioning, plumbing (for when you run in haste to use their bathroom – please leave a quarter on the sink), and employees with mandated health benefits and a federally mandated minimum wage. The famous Milton Friedman reference to the pencil as an illustration of basic economics makes no sense to the low information voter. The low information voter wants the government to send him free pencils. Government pencils don’t involve feeding the corporate fat cats at Staples or chopping down innocent trees. Economics is much more than the 11th grade class taught by the football coach (he had to teach SOMETHING). Economics has consequences. Usually the unintended consequences become the political footballs tossed around by pundits and politicians. The thing is, politicians are smart. They know that forcing a fee (AKA tax) on grocery bags does nothing more than raise the cost of groceries. It doesn’t matter because the low information voter sees it as a noble act to save the environment. Since the useful idiot can’t see full picture, there is no downside. Free healthcare? Who needs to read the bill? Nancy Pelossi said it best when she said we will figure out what’s in it when we pass it. To the low information voter, there’s no downside to free healthcare. You may agree with taxing grocery bags or with Obama Care. That’s not the issue. The issue is the low information voter raises an image of the German voter checking a box of approval next to Hitler’s name. He told a popular story for the time and place, and the people were too naive to see the blurry edges around the consequences. Freedom comes from knowledge. True freedom comes the ability to critically think and form a true understanding of the total impact of decisions. With that freedom comes the courage to challenge ideas that contradict our values, and that is the core of American liberty.
If you are a recovering low information voter or suffer from its more deadly form of useful idiocy, take these few steps to begin your recovery.
1. Read a book. Start with anything. Gradually begin to read history and economics. Read about the concepts and theories (ie, how is Hayek different than Keynes?). Then read for yourself and discover the differences (upsides and downsides). Understand the politics of the authors and their agendas. Let the books inform you rather than form you.
2. Don’t watch junk:. Limit the Jersey Shore and Jerry Springer indulgences. They don’t add value. Enjoy if you must, but the 12 hour Jersey Shore marathon comes at a cost to your recovery.
3. Don’t stop at the headline: Read the entire article before you form an opinion.
4. Decide for yourself: Did you cringe at the name of Rush Limbaugh? Many people do. Another name that drives people crazy is Glen Beck. The thing is, most people who have a deep negative opinion about these guys have never listened to them. “Rush is addicted to pain killers, and Glen Beck was fired from Fox News for being crazy.” That’s all they know. You don’t have to agree with them to respect the level of developed thought and dedication to the facts. Give them a listen. They might just surprise you.
5. Pay taxes: For my young readers out there, wait until you pay taxes.
Wait until your $1,000 check comes in at just under $700 dollars. This is perhaps, the most valuable economics lesson of them all.
We pay taxes, as we should to maintain the basics. It’s of course the “basics” that we constantly argue over. Every “basic” has a cost.
America has asked for a special gift on her birthday. She wants to assure continued freedom for her people. The means to freedom is curing the disease of low information “voter-itis”. Unfortunately the treatment is not a covered benefit under Obama Care (it clearly states that in paragraph 1402.456 subsection A/C of document 1.24 in the revised new interpretation under Federal Law 5.44). In case any real low information voters are actually reading this far; that was a literary mechanism known as sarcasm. You are free! Happy Fourth of July.
Rocco De Leo