Ad-Express and Daily Iowegian, Centerville, IA

Z_CNHI News Service

July 3, 2014

Declare your independence from empty slogans

Editor's Note: If you're not a weekly subscriber to Taylor Armerding's column, you can publish this one if you notify him at t.armerding@verizon.net

Welcome to an exhortation to embrace a small shred of independence.

I’ll get to that momentarily because I should first acknowledge the reality of our post-modern society. I hope you had - or are having - a nice, safe, environmentally conscious Fourth of July weekend.

I’m pretty much done calling it “Independence Day," since not only are we voluntarily surrendering our independence, we’re growing increasingly hostile to the concept. It’s so old-dead-white-men. So last century.

Our president chides the few remaining voices that call for personal accountability and responsibility as uncompassionate and anti-community. He contends that they simply want to tell everybody in need that, “you’re on your own.”

Instead, we celebrate “Julia,” the individually fictitious but collectively very real young woman who’s every stage of life is supported by central government programs, and whose primary relationship is with that government. Even when she decides to have a child at age 31, there is no mention of a husband. Better to depend on government than on a man.

The “Julia” ad, produced by the Obama campaign, came out in May 2012. We all know what happened over the next few months. Republican Mitt Romney was eviscerated for suggesting there was a problem with 47 percent of Americans being dependent on government. Romney told voters that if they wanted more “free stuff,” they shouldn’t vote for him. Sure enough, a majority of them didn’t.

So, the debate over independence is over. That phrase in the preamble to the Constitution about government's duty to “provide” for the common defense and simply “promote” the general welfare has been flipped. It's now seen as the government's duty to provide everyone with their “right” to an education, health care, a good job, a secure retirement and more.

I’m not proposing to take us back 80 years to those dark days before Social Security. (Did you know that the United States survived for more than 150 years without Social Security?) This is just tinkering around the edges – mostly symbolic.

I’m proposing a Declaration of Independence from bumper-sticker political slogans. I think it would be good for all of us, no matter which side of the partisan divide we inhabit, since it would require us to think a bit longer than the length of a “Sesame Street” skit about what we claim are the important issues in our nation.

For the media, that means no more “sound bites.” You have to present a “sound full-course meal” or we change the channel and look for somebody who will.

I was introduced to this pernicious trend as a green reporter way back in the 1970s when Michael S. Dukakis was governor of Massachusetts. A soft drink truck pulled up in front of our building, with a huge sign plastered on the side that said, “Gov. Dukakis wants me to lose my job!”

Big story, I thought. I grabbed my notebook and ran out to interview the driver. I was especially curious to know how he’d gotten inside the governor’s mind.

Of course he hadn’t. It was that the governor was in favor of a proposed “Bottle Bill” that would encourage recycling of containers instead of dumping them in landfills. And, if you re-use a product, that means not making so many new ones. Hence, the governor “wanted” the makers of bottles to lose their jobs.

You know, just like Al Gore and the president, who advocate for alternative energy, “want” coal miners and pipeline construction workers to lose their jobs.

There are substantive things to debate about the wisdom of both recycling programs and alternative energy, but issuing a blanket accusation that a political leader is hoping to put people in an unemployment line is absurd and an attempt to duck a real argument.

Unfortunately, this sort of thing has become standard in political campaigns. Instead of having a sober discussion about whether taxes are progressive enough, we simply hear that the wealthy aren’t paying their “fair share" and that the only “patriotic millionaires” are those in favor of higher taxes.

Instead of a substantive debate about the wisdom of armed conflicts, we hear that Candidate A doesn’t “support the troops,” as if that had anything to do with the question of going to war.

And, of course, we are witnessing it today in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling that the owners of Hobby Lobby cannot be forced to pay for several contraceptives that, in their religious views, amount to early abortion.

This has produced the absurd charge that the court majority, in this case all-male, declared a “war on women.” Another “men controlling women’s bodies” outrage.

It’s bad enough that this trivializes the real war on women in parts of the world where females undergo genital mutilation, are forbidden to be educated, are forced to cover their faces in public and are essentially slaves to their husbands.

It also ignores the fact that this company’s insurance covers 16 other contraceptives, plus the fact that an all-male court handed down Roe v. Wade, the ruling that made abortion legal.

People moan about the “divisiveness” in politics, and with good reason. We don’t discuss things, we just hurl slogans back and forth.

Let’s declare our independence from that, at the least.

Taylor Armerding is an independent columnist. Contact him at t.armerding@verizon.net

1
Text Only
Z_CNHI News Service
  • Lindley, Tom.jpg Expectations too high for a rehabbing Woods

    Tiger Woods finished near bottom last weekend at Royal Liverpool, drawing out his drought of major tournament wins. Despite the disappointing showing, Woods' return to form remains a matter of when, not if.

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • 072214 Diamond Llama 1.jpg Llama on the loose corralled in Missouri town

    A llama on the lam cruised Main Street Tuesday before it mistook a resident’s fenced backyard for a place to grab a meal and freshen up.

    July 22, 2014 2 Photos

  • An oncologist uses scorpion venom to locate cancer cells

    Olson, a pediatric oncologist and research scientist in Seattle, has developed a compound he calls Tumor Paint. When injected into a cancer patient, it seems to light up all the malignant cells so surgeons can easily locate and excise them.

    July 22, 2014

  • Screen Shot 2014-07-22 at 2.00.42 PM.png VIDEO: Train collides with semi truck carrying lighter fluid

    A truck driver from Washington is fortunate to be alive after driving his semi onto a set of tracks near Somerset, Ky., and being struck by a locomotive, which ignited his load of charcoal lighter fluid.

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • mama.jpg What we get wrong about millennials living at home

    If the media is to be believed, America is facing a major crisis. "Kids," some age 25, 26, or even 30 years old, are living out of their childhood bedrooms and basements at alarmingly high numbers. The hand-wringing overlooks one problem: It's all overblown.

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Wal-Mart to cut prices more aggressively in back-to-school push

    Wal-Mart Stores plans to cut prices more aggressively during this year's back-to-school season and will add inventory to its online store as the chain battles retailers for student spending.

    July 21, 2014

  • Hospitals let patients schedule ER visits

    Three times within a week, 34-year-old Michael Granillo went to the emergency room at Northridge Hospital Medical Center in Los Angeles because of intense back pain. Each time, Granillo, who didn't have insurance, stayed for less than an hour before leaving without being seen by a doctor.

    July 21, 2014

  • Starved Pennsylvania 7-year-old weighed only 25 pounds

    A 7-year-old Pennsylvania boy authorities described as being so underweight he looked like a human skeleton has been released from the hospital.

    July 21, 2014

  • Sparring justices find little disagreement at the opera

    Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg revealed a different view of U.S. Supreme Court on Saturday when she described about her passion for opera, one she shares with Justice Antonin Scalia.

    July 21, 2014

  • Malaysians wonder 'Why us?' after second loss of airline jet

    It was all too familiar. Grieving families rushing to airport. The flashing television graphics of a plane's last radar appearance. The uncomfortable officials before a heavy thicket of microphones.
    For many Malaysians, the disappearance of Flight 370 in March has been a long trauma from which the nation has not yet recovered.

    July 18, 2014

  • A quarter of the world's most educated people live in the 100 largest cities

    College graduates are increasingly sorting themselves into high-cost, high-amenity cities such as Washington, New York, Boston and San Francisco, a phenomenon that threatens to segregate us across the country by education.

    July 18, 2014

  • Your chocolate addiction is only going to get more expensive

    For nearly two years, cocoa prices have been on the rise. Finally, that's affecting the price you pay for a bar of chocolate - and there's reason to believe it's only the beginning.

    July 18, 2014

  • taylor.armerding.jpg Zamperini, the Olympian and POW, was a hero because of his faith

    Louis Zamperini collected many accolades as an Olympic distance runner and brave bombardier who spent a month adrift at sea and two years in a Japanese prisoner of war camp. But faith and forgiveness are what truly distinguished him.

    July 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • Facebook tests button to let people shop from its website

    Members on desktop computers or mobile devices can click a "buy" button to make purchases through advertisements or other posts on the world's largest social network, the Menlo Park, California-based company said Thursday in a blog post.

    July 17, 2014

  • The terrible history of passenger planes getting shot out of the sky

    What is more clear is that, if initial reports are true, this would be the deadliest incident of a civilian passenger plane being shot down in modern memory. In some instances, the causes of the disaster are still shrouded in mystery. Here are some of the worst events.

    July 17, 2014

Obituaries
Featured Ads
Poll

The Iowegian wants readers to think about the 2014 Appanoose County Fair. It starts Monday and wraps up on Saturday with a demolition derby at 8 p.m. So, the question of the week is, "How many days do you plan to go to the Appanoose County Fair?

A. I plan to attend all six days.
B. I plan to attend five days.
C. I plan to attend four days.
D. I plan to attend three days.
E. I plan to attend two days.
F. I plan to attend one day.
G. I do not plan to go to the fair this year.
     View Results
Iowegian on Facebook