Sunday, February 13, 2005

Leave it to the experts

It’s been my experience that most people defer to so-called “experts” in most areas of their lives. For medical issues, we defer to doctors and other professionals, whose track records are dubious at best. For our finances, we rely upon the expertise and professional prowess that at times appears more like a Ponzi scheme than actual investment guidance. For information about the important matters concerning politics, policy and foreign relations, our trust in the media in its various forms; the papers, pontificating talk show hosts and nightly Fox News broadcasts, is legendary and somewhat unnerving.

The current administration has relied on this cult of gullibility and trust in the experts, to push war, tax cuts, and a rush to privatize anything and everything, down the throats of the American populace.

Take Social Security. The experts in Washington, particularly those of a right-leaning political ideology, have been able to take misinformation about Social Security—the fund is in trouble and going broke, which makes it highly likely it won’t be there when I retire—to push a plan resting on a smoke and mirrors approach to center stage. Journalists, who I assume were trained at their highfalutin schools of higher learning to do a bit of research on the people and subjects they write about, have graciously turned into transcriptionists, warmly taking the Bush Administration's press releases and turning them into their daily posts, masquerading as investigative reporting.

The best that could be said about much of what passes for privatization coming from Washington, is that it is a vague plan, short on specifics and details. Rather than question the Bush track record of failure, the timidly doting press corps obediently bleat their obeisance, without a whimper of contrariness toward the ruling junta.

While the war in Iraq was waged with very little preparation and almost no long-term strategic plan for an exit, little scrutiny has been given to this ill-fated plan. Once again, the same lack of scrutiny was turned upon the Bush tax cuts and the long-term economic ramifications (record deficits and a dangerously depleted federal treasury). Now, we are looking at a Bush plan for Social Security dismantling, and once more, this is again going forth without any real across-the-board investigation by the co-opted American press.

Needless to say, the slumbering masses hear rumblings coming from some quarters (namely the internet and the tireless work of policy wonks, think tanks and other bloggers, plus a handful of writers, like Paul Krugman and others who still practice journalism in its traditional definition), but its easier and less unsettling to heed any bad news—much easier to repeat the mantra; "war is peace, freedom is slavery, and ignorance is strength." We’ll just let the “experts” take care of us, trusting them to, like they always have.

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