Readers need some education
November 12, 2010 · Updated 1:15 PM
As I follow your newspaper and the letter writers and posters on it, it seems to me you could provide a very important public service to your readers by simply providing them with some basic understanding of the purpose and function of government. Starting with such basic concepts as:
1. Why does government exist? What is its function?
2. How is government paid for and why is the tax burden distributed unevenly?
3. How come government has increased in size and complexity and why haven’t we been able to keep is small and simple?
4. Why was religion separated from politics and should it remain that way?
5. Why has there been a decline in personal freedom and can anything be done to reverse that trend?
6. Is government inefficient and wasteful by design, function or social neglect?
It is impossible to have intelligent discussions with many of those in your readership about taxes, government, regulation, religion, person freedom or responsibility in the absence of a sound foundation in basic civics. Positions like, “government is too big”; “government just taxes and spends”; “government wants to regulate our lives”; “we need to have more religion in our educational system”; “we need to do more for ourselves and depend less on government”; etc. become the refrain in place of articulate discourse.
As you may have noticed from the discussion boards they often end with people not really understanding anything but labels. If you are a liberal or progressive you are a socialist and you want to destroy our freedoms and democracy. The discussion soon deteriorates into fear mongering hyperbole. Thought provoking discussions of the issues are dismissed in favor of extremist views and labels.
More important, without a basic understanding of government, your readers are likely to vote in ways that harm instead of help them. They are more easily misled, manipulated and outright lied to by the very people they elect to local, state and national offices and become disenfranchised because of their poor understanding of how to change it. Their lack of understanding feeds the hate, anger and fear they feel toward politics and the helplessness they embrace because they don’t know what to do about it or how to change it.
Anyway, I hope you will give this some thought. I think you would be doing a great public service and providing a very needed perspective to your readership.