Friday, July 16, 2004

True/Not True

By Mark Connolly
Editor, Dallas Bureau

Lots of "facts" get posted on the internet, and lots of them are just read and responded to as if they are the real deal. Mostly because the poster uses the psychological tactic of adding scientific sounding statistics to foster uncritical acceptance of what is being said.

The following post starts with an appeal to authority and antiquity, with flavor notes of patriotism (the founding of the USA) and then goes into a bunch of stats which are probably verifiable, but which I have not bothered to verify. Then it leads to a conclusion without stating it, an insidious tactic.

But, since I like what is being said, I forthwith post without any attempt to verify!

I don't remember where I got this, and am unable to attribute it appropriately, beyond what is in the letter itself.


Subject: A History Lesson

At about the time our original 13 states adopted their new constitution, in the year 1787, Alexander Tyler (a Scottish history professor at The University of Edinborough) had this to say about "The Fall of The Athenian Republic" some 2,000 years prior.

"A democracy is always temporary in nature; it simply cannot exist as a permanent form of government. A democracy will continue to exist up until the time that voters discover that they can vote themselves generous gifts from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates who promise the most benefits from the public treasury, with the result that every democracy will finally collapse due to loose fiscal policy, (which is) always followed by a dictatorship."

"The average age of the worlds greatest civilizations from the beginning of history, has been about 200 years. During those 200 years, these nations always progressed through the following sequence:

From Bondage to spiritual faith;

From spiritual faith to great courage;

From courage to liberty;

From liberty to abundance;

From abundance to complacency;

From complacency to apathy;

From apathy to dependence;

From dependence back into bondage."

Professor Joseph Olson of Hamline University School of Law, St. Paul, Minnesota, points out some interesting facts concerning the most recent Presidential election:

Population of counties won by:

Gore=127 million (Note from editor, this post conveniently ignores the popular vote count, implying as it does that these are the numbers of people that voted for each candidate...)

Bush=143 million

Square miles of land won by:

Gore=580,000

Bush=2,2427,000

States won by:

Gore=19

Bush=29

Murder rate per 100,000 residents in counties won by:

Gore=13.2

Bush=2.1

Professor Olson adds:

"In aggregate, the map of the territory Bush won was mostly the land owned by the tax-paying citizens of this great country. Gore's territory encompassed those citizens living in government-owned tenements and living off government welfare..."

Olson believes the U.S. is now somewhere between the "apathy" and "complacency" phase of Professor Tyler's definition of democracy; with some 40 percent of the nation's population already having reached the "governmental dependency" phase.

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Ignore all the above non-verified stats if you like. The progression reportedly listed by Alexander Tyler seems plausible to me. Which can kind of lead to a discussion of fiscal policy and responsibility, and one, possibly two future articles: The Haves and the Have-nots, the only barrier/stereotype that will not be overcome, and Democrats vs Republicans, who really believes in Human Potential?

1 comment:

Uncle Buck said...

I have a theory is based on the assertion that “the stock market/economy does better under democratic presidents”. Now I don’t know if this is true, but it seems to be widely believed and reported (I’m struck by what I see as an apparent inconsistency in this belief!). None-the-less, for my purposes if it’s believed to be true, it’s the same effect as being true.

Take this to a logical conclusion…Republicans are about foreign policy and defending the nation and such. Worthy goals to be sure, but what about MY JOB? What about MY 401K? What about MY MUTUAL FUNDS? Do intangibles like national security mean anything if my standard of living has to suffer? With all the pretense and rhetoric stripped away these ideals sound greedier than republican ones (this is all weird backwards-land stuff).

Practical working folk can sign up for this. Forget about all the rest: Republican morality or Democratic social reform…who cares? All I care about is MY STUFF…which will fare better with a democratic prez in charge than the other. It is a solution unto itself, no plan or justification is needed beyond this simple cause-and-effect.

Keep in mind I’m not talking about what’s best, or the value of right-and-wrong. I’m just talking about ME. I think this shameful little secret is how the “left wing whackos” have taken over the voice of the Democratic party. In their own self-importance they don’t realize they don’t matter. What matters is that on Election Day millions of individuals quietly vote for themselves, and they don’t have to admit it. They can keep their mouths shut, or hide behind some smokescreen issue.

What stronger motivation to vote is there than a vote for yourself?