Last Friday the The United States House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI) released a memo that shows alleged government surveillance abuse during the 2016 presidential campaign. If anyone thinks that memo was not a big deal deal, they should check around the Internet. Even the post on my little website, THE HOUSE PERMANENT SELECT COMMITTEE ON INTELLIGENCE’S FOUR-PAGE MEMO ON ABUSES OF THE FOREIGN INTELLIGENCE SURVEILLANCE ACT, got plenty of hits and lots of comments.
What is most disturbing about that memo? Republicans and Democrats are completely divided, but why? The truth can be known. At least we ought to be able to discern much of what actually happened, but there is this ideological divide. So instead getting the truth, we get spun.
In public relations and politics, spin is a form of propaganda, achieved through providing a biased interpretation of an event or campaigning to persuade public opinion in favor or against some organization or public figure. While traditional public relations and advertising may also rely on altering the presentation of the facts, “spin” often implies the use of disingenuous, deceptive, and highly manipulative tactics. (continued here)
Which side is most guilty of deception? Each of us will to have to sort that out on our own, I suppose. The subject here is the nature of that ideological divide. What is causing us to refuse to see the obvious and spin, spin, spin,…..
Consider a portion of a comment I left on that post about the HPSCI memo.
What is tearing our nation apart? What once almost destroyed it? What was the American Civil War about? At this point I think most would agree that our country fought over the institution of slavery.
Why did we have to fight over slavery? The North wanted no part of it. The South, on the other hand, insisted upon spreading slavery into the territories and even making northern States hunt down and return escaped slaves. That is, the South insisted that the entire country affirm the righteousness of slavery, or else they would quit the Union.
We have a similar problem today. We have one party that insists upon making the rest of the country adopt its views on long string of issues. What that party has done is turn their politics into a religion. That party is not tolerant of those who disagree.
1. Abortion is okay up until the moment of birth, and government has to pay for it. This is supposed to be an indisputable “right”.
2. Immigration is an indisputable “right”, not a privilege.
3. We have indisputable “rights” to a bunch of different things (entitlements) government is supposed to give us: an education, a job, healthcare, housing, food, a retirement, welfare/unemployment benefits, public transportation, and so forth.
4. Every cotton-picking identity group we can think of, except old white guys, is entitled to claim certain indisputable “rights”. Minority racial groups get affirmative action. Homosexuals get marriage. Women, when they charge men with sexual harassment, get to be automatically believed. Minority religions, (not Christians, of course) get inordinate respect from government officials. The disabled get others to pay to adapt their facilities so that the disabled have access and can work in those facilities. And so forth.
5. And so forth.
Just as slavery was an abuse of the power of government, so is allowing one political party to impose to impose its vision of Utopia on people who don’t want it. Because we each have the right to pursue our own version of happiness, no one has the right to impose their version of happiness on anyone else.
You want to better understand the issue? Look up the difference between positive and negative rights. The academics have defined as “negative” those rights which allow us to be left in peace to go about our own business. On the other hand, the academics have defined as “positive” those “rights” that they think our government should give us. (from here)
Consider what positive rights involve. That is, when we use government to give people things that they are supposedly entitled to, what are we trying to do? Are we not trying to use government to fulfill certain basic human needs? Doesn’t everyone need food, clothing, shelter, an education, a job, a country, the ability to make decisions about their own body, respect from others, and so forth? Since government has all this power and money, doesn’t seem like a great idea to use it to help the needy? What could possibly go wrong?
What could go wrong? Consider this question.
What is the difference between the “right” to whatever I need and the “right” to whatever I want?
The answer is contentment.
Philippians 4:11-13 New King James Version (NKJV)
11 Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: 12 I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. 13 I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
Very few of us are content with our circumstances. Few of us will ever say this and be taken seriously.
I have what I need. This is enough. ― Lailah Gifty Akita (from here)
Most of us are are inclined to say something like this.
If all you do is think about what you need, you’re no better than an animal in the woods, and no smarter either. To be human, you’ve got to want. It makes you smarter and stronger. ― Dan Groat, Monarchs and Mendicants (from here)
Therefore, when we start using government to fulfill certain basic human needs as a practical matter the difference between what people need and what people want quickly evaporates. That is, when we can vote to have government give us what we need, it is just a matter of time until we start voting for the government to give us what we want. Therefore, while it may sound like a wonderful idea to have our government dispense charity through health, education, and welfare programs, in practice we cannot make it work. None of us have the moral integrity. If we did, we would not even consider using the government to take from some people and give their property to other people. That is just stealing. Instead, we would expect people to love and aid each other without compulsion.
So what is the solution for poverty? There is this one.
If you work you will never go hungry. ― Lailah Gifty Akita
Obviously, some people cannot work, but government does not have a solution for poverty. We are the solution. We each have to learn to love our neighbors. Otherwise, we will just confuse our wants with our needs and bite and devour one another.
Galatians 5:13-15 New King James Version (NKJV)
13 For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. 14 For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 15 But if you bite and devour one another, beware lest you be consumed by one another!