What would life be like if your eyes deceived you? Would you know yourself in a mirror? Or friends or family? Would it be worse than having no sight at all? As a matter of fact you couldn’t function because once you discovered that your eyes lied you might become suspicious of your other senses. Would your cat be barking or your dog sounding the cat’s meow? The mirror on the passenger’s side of the car fakes out the driver because the car behind is really closer than you see it. Is it the mirror or your eyes that betray you? The right sided mirror is somewhat convex so it disturbs reality. If peering into the right mirror you saw the truth your eyes would be the problem. I suspect that squirrels have that kind of problem—the cars always seem to be further away or else why would they get hit so often? A problem to die for. Poor judgment? Perhaps. They don’t say.
So, give or take a few occasional white lies, life depends on trust. Biological life is a function of signals. If those signals lie you are either sick or disabled. Is “trusting” a good trait or is it better to be somewhat dubious, suspicious or overly careful.
Check out the last 8 years. Was President Bush too “trustful” of the “unanimous assertion of other governments” that Saddam Hussein had Weapons of Mass Destruction? Did he depend too much on the diligence of his subordinates? Did he shade the truth when he scared us with images of Mushroom Clouds? Some mushrooms are poisonous. Can you tell the difference? Some politicians are dangerous. Do they lie to you or do you hear it wrong?
If President Bush believed everything he told us he must be a bad actor because too many of us were not convinced.
President Regan was unquestionably a good actor
because somehow he conveyed “truth” when he spoke. If there were times when he
lied inferentially it was hard to detect. Of course there was
President Roosevelt promised never to take us into war,
and that proved to be true because before he could take us to war the Japanese
attacked us at
President Hoover promised “two cars in every garage
and a chicken in every pot”. How easily we were mollified in those innocent
During the past years faith in the probity of our leadership was reinforced by a kind of innocent trust displayed by most Americans; that this is the best of all possible worlds, and if we keep out of other peoples’ business everybody will do the right thing. We like to guard these freedoms with armies and police, but that’s only for the riffraff. Okay once in a while we jail a Martha Stewart—not because she stole anything but because she lied to the FBI. It turned out that lying to the FBI is a crime—the FBI doesn’t have to read you your rights or swear you in to make lying to them a crime. Generally the higher our leaders are on the totem pole the more freedom we are happy to grant them because the brightest and wealthiest and most beautiful people would never lead us astray, would they Bernie? Did Madoff hate his friends? You don’t have to hate the people you rob. People in high places knew that he was skating on thin ice—but hey, Bernie is one of us. He wouldn’t do what We wouldn’t do. Martha Stewart was just a brainy gal beloved by housewives and cynically referenced by at least one First Lady to garner votes. But she was never “one of us”.
But it was Bernie’s friends and colleagues that did us in and are still doing us. Does anyone with his or her head screwed on believe that the tricks played with leverage (aka debt), derivatives (aka gambling) were sound financing—or more akin to manipulating numbers in and creating cleverly undecipherable hedges to cover up possible losses. Was seducing American workers to bet their life and retirement on the mutual funds in their 401 K plans misplaced faith in the unlikely proposition that the stock market was the safest place for your money, or was it scam, or just a scheme to use sucker money to enrich mutual funds?
That we as individuals were seduced into debt to buy things we couldn’t afford was nobody’s fault but ours own. To see someone at the checkout shuffling credit cards to pick one with least debt in order to buy groceries was a travesty. We thought we could get away with it because we were secure in the feeling that our leaders had everything under control. Shame on us. And shame on them because they were ours eyes and ears and they failed to see and failed to hear. Or did they? And we failed to question them, but they only hear us when there is an election.
And now we read that Banks want to return the TARP money that taxpayers used to rescue them because they want their bonuses back!! How many employees must lose their jobs to protect a bonus?
The Navy is protecting us against the pirates off the coast of Somalia.