When Words Become Fact

Facts in Speech Bubble

To start this post, I need to begin by apologizing for focusing on politics. That is not the focus I want to have, but the current federal government “shutdown” dominates the news and, therefore, is hard to ignore.

For a little perspective, the government “shutdown” effects about 17% of the federal government operations. No, I did not take the time to fact check that statistic. (“Fact check” is the proper verb, isn’t it?) Please be my guest to correct me if you determine I am wrong. In fact, I have spent an enormous amount of my time trying to fact check many things that are being bandied about by the pundits, commentators, politicians and just about anyone who can post to Facebook, but fact checking in the whirlwind of the swirling and diametrically opposed assertions can be difficult.

It doesn’t seem to matter much anyway. I don’t see many people changing their minds when “facts” are tossed out that, if true, ought to make a reasonable person stand up and take notice. Maybe that is due to the fact that everyone makes statements that they assume are facts, without spending the time to vet (to use a cool political term) those assumptions; and, therefore, we all know that the “facts” tossed wildly about by our political opposites are only as reliable as the “facts” we our selves have carelessly stated. No one is to be taken at face value.

It seems like most discussions are no more than hot air. I am not sure people even connect with each other any more. Maybe we never did.

Facts become words and words become facts, and it all becomes just another point of view. Its hard to determine where facts end (if they ever started) and opinions take over.

Words do have meanings though, and the manipulation of words can have a real effect on the law, on health care and on real people. Take the recent article in Forbes published on September 29, 2013: “Why The Federal Government Wants To Redefine The Word ‘Cancer’” This article demonstrates how changing the definition of a word, can change the law, changing whether someone may be covered by health care insurance and whether someone gets treatment that might save a life. When “the government” can manipulate a word like “cancer” to change how a law applies, we should take notice.

When words are disconnected from their meanings like that, we all have reason to be concerned. In fact, maybe there is more to the debate than I skeptically thought.

Regardless of the veracity of the facts that are being leveraged by both sides of the political equation in the current battle over health care, government shutdowns, spending and debt ceilings, the truth of those assertions will eventually give way to words that are passed into law. Those words will become our reality, regardless of any other facts (unless the meanings of those words are changed).

Shutdown the Political Game

Disillusioned PoliticianSomeone is lying. At least someone is not telling the truth, not all of it anyway. Maybe no one is being honest.

When I listen to CNN, I hear senators and commentators talking about John Boehner, and his cronies, and the Senate and how they refuse to compromise. When I  listen to Fox News, I hear representatives and commentators talking about President Obama, and Harry Reid and the Senate and how they refuse to compromise.

Both sides blame the government shutdown on the other. The last comments I heard on CNN were about how federal parks are closed, people are out of work and barricades are shutting the public out, as if barricades put themselves up. Do these people think we are stupid?! Someone gave the orders to put the barricades up. Someone was paid to put them up. Someone is being paid to keep people out.

The conservative sources I read say the orders are being given to “make people feel” feel the impact of the shutdown because they think “the people” will blame the Republicans. It certainly seems that way. People are being paid to keep the lid on the shutdown. The liberal sources I listen to reflect a sort of confidence in the perception that the Republicans are at fault. From my perspective, the Emperor has no clothes!

That does not mean the Republicans get a free pass. Both sides are playing against the middle. This game of chicken is a car wreck, and the car getting wrecked is “the people”. Real people are out of work, can’t pay the mortgage, can’t buy groceries. Real people spending money on vacations can’t get into parks. Real people living on federal land are being dispossessed. Real soldiers’ families are no longer getting their death benefits. They have to rely on the generosity of “the people” to provide money for burial.

There is no generosity in our politicians. There is no civility left in politics. I have never been more repulsed by political gamesmanship. Politics has never been a dirtier word.

Both sides seem to think that the shutdown will be solidly pinned on the other side. Both sides may be wrong. They seem to think they are playing with Monopoly money and pawns. It is time to shutdown the political game and turn up the heat on our politicians.