Wednesday, June 26, 2019

The Depths of Ignorance

The Depths of Ignorance

In 2013, Ilya Somin published his book “Democracy and Political Ignorance:  Why Smaller Government is Smarter.”  I have not yet read the book (I plan on doing so) but its premise as summed up on the Amazon website from which it can be purchased seems clear.  But for now, here’s a quote from that website:

“One of the biggest problems with modern democracy is that most of the public is usually ignorant of politics and government. Often, many people understand that their votes are unlikely to change the outcome of an election and don't see the point in learning much about politics. This may be rational, but it creates a nation of people with little political knowledge and little ability to objectively evaluate what they do know.

In Democracy and Political Ignorance, Ilya Somin mines the depths of ignorance in America and reveals the extent to which it is a major problem for democracy. Somin weighs various options for solving this problem, arguing that political ignorance is best mitigated and its effects lessened by decentralizing and limiting government.” 

From this starting point, it is easy to see
1.    How Donald Trump became President of the United States,
2.   Why so many people vote for candidates whose positions are clearly not in their interest, and finally,
3.    Why the Mueller Report (which tells the truth about how the Trump   campaign “winked at” the assistance the Russians were providing to them in the 2016 presidential election and also contained unequivocal evidence that the President obstructed justice in dealing with that Report and the Special Counsel’s Office) is being largely ignored by the public. 

James Madison, one of the Founding Fathers of our nation, was aware of this problem. He ultimately concluded that increasing political knowledge was an important objective for making representative democracy work effectively. As Madison explained in an 1822 letter advocating the use of publicly financed education to increase political knowledge (quoted in Somin’s book):

“A popular government without popular information, or the means of acquiring it, is but a Prologue to a Farce or a Tragedy; or perhaps both. Knowledge will forever govern ignorance. And a people who mean to be their own Governors must arm themselves with the Power that knowledge gives.

From what I’ve read, I don’t think Somin’s libertarian solution (limiting and decentralizing government) is compatible with our nation remaining a democracy. But certainly, in regard to “knowledge” and “ignorance,” Madison was right.  The Trump presidency indeed is a farce.  Let’s hope it doesn’t turn into a tragedy. 
Jack Lippman

                                  *   *   *   *   *
 A Choice for Women

We have a president who supports legislation which denies women the right to make their own decisions in regard to their own bodies and who supports legislators who vote for such measures. 
Remember his boast caught on this video?
We have a president who has a lengthy well-documented history of adultery, sexually harassing women and even accusations of rape. His vague responses to these charges are often, as is almost everything Trumpian, mired in a sea of equivocation and shunting blame elsewhere.  

Any woman who votes for presidential electors pledged to vote for Donald Trump or who votes for legislators who support him is either gullible, stupid or out of her mind.  Yet millions of women have voted that way and will continue to do so for one of these reasons.  That’s why the words of James Madison, quoted above, are so important.  (They also apply to men, but the bad legislation and behavior mentioned above are specifically directed at women.)

“A people who mean to be their own Governors must arm themselves with the Power that knowledge gives.”


Four Facts

Tragically, sometimes they don't make it
Fact One:  It is perfectly legal for immigrants to apply for asylum in the United States if conditions in the place they are coming from warrant their doing so.  They are breaking no law when they come here through official checkpoints, or otherwise once they are apprehended and claim that they are seeking asylum as the basis for their action.   
(Usually such illegal entry followed by a request for asylum when apprehended is the result of extremely long waits at official checkpoints.)  Seeking asylum is legal. That's the law.

Fact Two:  Whether their request for asylum should be granted is a matter for judges to determine.  That's the law.

Fact Three: Somethimes such immigrants are admitted with the judicial determination of their request for asylum scheduled for a later date.  Sometimes they are held in a "detention-type facility" waiting for their request for asylum to be processed, or for a judge to be available to rule upon it.

Fact Four:  The number of judges available, the number of "detention-type facilities" and the number of Border Patrol personnel to manage these activities are grossly inadequate for the number of immigrants seeking asylum.  That is the problem which the administration and Congress must agree to remedy without delay. This is apart from the administration's henious practice of separating children from families as a way of discouraging immigrants from coming here seeking asylum.

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