Punchinello’s Chronicles

April 26, 2009

Government is a Response, Not a Cause

Okay, I’m officially depressed. I cleaned my window fan today, which took a couple of hours (don’t ask), and listened to progressive talk radio. I don’t much care for TV and can’t afford it anyway, so I mostly listen to the radio and read books. For music, I listen online. But around the apartment, doing chores, I listen to talk radio. Lately, on the weekends, there’s not much on my regular stations, so today the strongest station was the local Air America affiliate.

Holy Guacamole! It’s like staring into a mirror!

I listened for a few hours, hearing some very good host on a show I think called, “Back to the Beat.” I believe it refers to the news beat, but it was all about a number of topics. The main one involved local Chicago government selling off (privatizing) the parking meters. The price for parking went through the roof, and people called in to talk about it. But there were also many references to other topics. All from a liberal perspective.

What struck me very powerfully was that I could’ve been listening to conservative talk radio in reverse! Around here, the Chicago greater metropolitan area, most of the main talk shows lean toward conservative ideology. I rarely listen to Air America, and indeed, after this show finished and the next one began, I simply couldn’t stand the sound of the host’s voice. I was too distracted to even listen to what he was saying.

Anyway, the callers totally believe what they’re saying. They’re polite, passionate, and fundamentally liberal. The host himself was reasonable, there wasn’t any screaming and shouting, and no name-calling. The values expressed were clear and articulate, and the commentary was intelligent, reasoned, and entirely sensible.

But ALL of it was exactly and perfectly opposite to everything I understand to be true about reality! And even that was the exact same view expressed by the host and callers on this show! Conservatives were labeled exactly the same way, with exactly the same words that “we” conservatives discuss liberals. It was stunning!

What it comes down to is the concept of facts.

There were some bizarre moments, one of which involved a conservative calling in to question the host’s apprehension of “the facts.” When asked for his source, the caller referenced Sean Hannity. The host then sort of smirked, let the caller go, and told the audience that of course “everyone” knows that as soon as Hannity’s name was mentioned, the call lost all credibility.

Exactly the same as when a liberal caller to a conservative show, references some notorious liberal source.

So we apparently have two entirely opposite yet totally comprehensive databases of facts! Which do we believe? Which is the truth? And how do we measure truth? We’re left with nothing.

Until and unless empiric evidence — that which we see with our own eyes — tells us about reality, we no longer have any way to analyze and assess reality. Facts have been sidelined as perfectly as values, ideals, and every other conceptual abstraction. At last, we’ve truly reached the point where the human mind and reason itself has been removed from everyday life.

One theme that came through loud and clear on the progressive (liberal) side is that government, apparently of any type, is the primary cause of social structure and behavior. As one caller said, we can’t trust people to take care of themselves without help. This was in reference to legal abortion, a hot-button issue between liberals and religious conservatives. Without government supported, medically safe abortions, people would just use coat hangers.

But there were other examples, including the bail-out plans, tax plans, budget proposals, and social programs. President Obama was consistently cited as doing an excellent job, and the news on the half hour and hour was sponsored by CNN. Conservative shows usually get their news from the AP wire or from Fox News.

Conservative values hold that government is an aftereffect. Government responds to various needs for oversight, management, and decision-making. But government causes nothing on its own. A society is formed primarily by citizens wanting to share space. A government then helps coordinate that sharing of space.

Liberal values hold that a society isn’t properly a civilized society until first forming a government. Presumably, people left to their own devices are brutal and greedy animals, destroying everything around themselves. A government forms (somehow), which then gently nudges the people toward doing the right thing. Whatever that means. If gentle nudging doesn’t work, then legal force and regulation are necessary.

Another bizarre statement that sounded almost like a slogan: “Keep the Faith.” Whether or not that’s becoming a liberal slogan, I don’t know. But if so, then faith in what? Faith is a belief system founded on nothing concrete at all. It’s just a feeling of truth. Faith is different from belief in that faith usually assigns to a theology; a religion of some sort. Liberalism supposedly disavows religion, but I don’t know about that for sure.

All in all, I reached a depressing conclusion. There’s no way in hell this country is ever going to “get back to the way it used to be.” That’s 100% ordained. We’re now perfectly split, characterizing “facts” in exactly opposing form.

Is the glass half full or half empty? We should be able to say that it’s a fact that a glass exists. We should be able to say that it’s a fact that liquid reaches precisely halfway to the length of the column. But now we have people arguing about the existence of the glass, and the meaning of “half.”

If we do happen to agree there’s a glass and some form of liquid, then all else is characterization and interpretation. If we say it’s “full” or “empty,” that’s an evaluation. All evaluation includes subjective analysis, interpretation, and perspective. Without absolute measures and a system of measures, we don’t have the objective word: “half.”

Is Mr. Obama doing a good job? The answer to that depends on one of two forms of reasoning. The one is how you feel about life and reality. The other is the system of measurement you apply to life and reality. Long ago, all of us had a sort of synthesis that used both forms of reason.

Today, we no longer have an objective set of measures. And as a result, we literally have lost our minds. No person, no society, and no civilization can continue when it no longer has a sane comprehension of existence. And that sanity requires some method of objective information. Facts. Without facts, our entire lives are just guessing games.



  1. You are correct. We are absorbed into our own propaganda! We tend to live in comfortable cocoons failing to understand that one day, we need to fly out! The more information that we deceive ourselves, the harder it is going to be when we ought to fly!

    Destination Infinity

    Comment by Destination Infinity — April 26, 2009 @ 2:17 pm | Reply

  2. That’s all well and good, but over and above our little everyday schemes, we have a country and we live in a world. If we decide to ignore that larger context, we’re left to the forces of history and events. We react instead of acting. We passively respond instead of actively create.

    All this arguing and yelling may feel good in the moment, but when the overall system collapses, then were will we be? Will we feel good and self-satisfied that at least we “won?” It reminds me of 1950s movies about nuclear war. The survivors in the US feel good that they won the war, but they now live in a primitive world similar to that of the cave man. Terrific!

    Comment by Punchinello — April 26, 2009 @ 2:35 pm | Reply

  3. […] Punchinello placed an interesting blog post on Government is a Response, Not a Cause « Punchinello's ChroniclesHere’s a brief overviewWhat struck me very powerfully was that I could’ve been listening to conservative talk radio in reverse! Around here, the Chicago greater metropolitan area, most of the main talk shows lean toward conservative ideology. … […]

    Pingback by Topics about Oprah » Archive » Government is a Response, Not a Cause « Punchinello's Chronicles — April 26, 2009 @ 5:24 pm | Reply

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