The American news media has a good business model. Suffering, sex, violence, and so forth attracts viewers, but is the news media’s business model good for us? When they show us suffering, what is the first thought of the news media and its too often mindless admirers? It is a crisis! The government has to do something!
Why the government? Well, it makes for a good story. The reporters can point their cameras at somebody and tell us what he is doing or not doing.
Is our government always supposed to do something? Why? When there is a problem, how far ahead does the news media look? Doesn’t the news media always gravitate to the next crisis? Do they actually give much thought to anything?
Consider‘s observation on the importance of foresight.
In the department of economy, an act, a habit, an institution, a law, gives birth not only to an effect, but to a series of effects. Of these effects, the first only is immediate; it manifests itself simultaneously with its cause–it is seen. The others unfold in succession–they are not seen: it is well for us if they are foreseen. Between a good and a bad economist this constitutes the whole difference–the one takes account of the visible effect; the other takes account both of the effects which are seen and also of those which it is necessary to foresee. Now this difference is enormous, for it almost always happens that when the immediate consequence is favourable, the ultimate consequences are fatal, and the converse. Hence it follows that the bad economist pursues a small present good, which will be followed by a great evil to come, while the true economist pursues a great good to come, at the risk of a small present evil.
In fact, it is the same in the science of health, arts, and in that of morals. If often happens, that the sweeter the first fruit of a habit is, the more bitter are the consequences. Take, for example, debauchery, idleness, prodigality. When, therefore, a man, absorbed in the effect which is seen, has not yet learned to discern those which are not seen, he gives way to fatal habits, not only by inclination, but by calculation.
This explains the fatally grievous condition of mankind. Ignorance surrounds its cradle: then its actions are determined by their first consequences, the only ones which, in its first stage, it can see. It is only in the long run that it learns to take account of the others. It has to learn this lesson from two very different masters–experience and foresight. Experience teaches effectually, but brutally. It makes us acquainted with all the effects of an action, by causing us to feel them; and we cannot fail to finish by knowing that fire burns, if we have burned ourselves. For this rough teacher, I should like, if possible, to substitute a more gentle one. I mean Foresight. (from here)
Over the last couple of centuries, our nation has accumulated many unjust laws. In each instance a large segment of the population conspired together to make “other people do the right thing”. In others words, some busybodies insisted upon making everyone else do things their way.
What has been the result? Here are some examples.
- We have a public education system that worked at first. Then our leaders slowly stripped it of any religious content. Our knowledge of civics is also abysmal. Man on the street interviews have become a national joke.
- Some time back too many of us started letting our leaders ignore the Constitution whenever we wanted what they promised. Now our president routinely issues executive orders everyone knows are unconstitutional.
- We created the Fed to prevent bank runs. Now we have a fiat currency that steadily loses value, and our banking system gives everyone the shivers.
- We passed the 16th Amendment to the Constitution. The income taxes that that amendment allowed were only supposed to affect the top one percent.
- To allow the direct election of senators, we passed the 17th Amendment to the Constitution. Now the Federal Government has more raw power than all the state governments combined. Perhaps a Convention of the States could change that. Perhaps.
- Social Security once looked like a humane way to save the elderly from poverty. Now that costly system threatens to go bankrupt.
- More and more our healthcare system, responsible for prolonging so many lives, is government-run. Such a system will almost certainly lead to rationing. Then we will die waiting in line to be treated.
- We created a great safety-net to prevent the effects of poverty. Who anticipated those generous welfare programs would encourage greater social ills such as unwed motherhood?
- In the name of civil rights, our great and glorious leaders decided to protect everyone’s “rights”. Now many think their “rights” are something “the man” owes them.
Earlier this year I wrote PART 4 FOR BOTH “HOW A POOR WIDOW ANSWERED HER CALLING” AND “GOVERNMENT-GIVEN RIGHTS VERSUS GOD-GIVEN RIGHTS”. That post included a section on The Seven Christian Virtues. That section describes how and why those who believe in government have worked to pervert the virtues of our people.
To have foresight is to be wise, and it is worth remembering that wisdom is something we each must learn. Our government cannot give us wisdom. It is also worth remembering that virtue is something we each must practice. Our government cannot be virtuous for us.