FACT, FICTION OR KA-KA? OUR FRACTURED POLITICS

7 Nov

I COULD BE WRONG: Separating Fact From Fiction

Paul Ryan cropped BLOG

FACT: Paul Ryan is in as Speaker of the House and John Boehner is out
FACT: Ryan said the House has no intention of considering immigration overhaul as long as Obama is in office.
OPINION: This attitude is unworthy of the new Speaker (USA TODAY)
FACT: Donald Trump says it would be easy and humane to deport the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants in the United States.
MYTH: it would be easy and humane to deport the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants in the United States.

WHAT’S NEWS vs. WHAT’S NEWS-WORTHY?

A benevolent and outspoken CEO I used to work for had a favorite reminder for us at management meetings. “Opinions are like A-holes. Everybody has one.” Well, yes and no because each “A-hole” on the planet is bound to have more than one opinion. This brings me to the busy-ness of broadcast and Net “news” which is laden with opinion.

By my calculated estimate, today’s TV and Internet “news reporting” is 30% factual, 10% myth, and 40% opinion or sheer ka-ka. That dangling 20 percent is “Je na sais quoi”–the alleged data that you accept as partially true either because you know and trust the writer/sender, or because you want to believe it, or you can verify it by watching the available video. But even that is usually an edited clip, and/or out of context.

Photo by nationofchange.org
Warren Buffett Photo by nationofchange.org

To avoid wasting time on ka-ka,believe half of what you see and none of what you hear. And always trust, but claireify.

Case in fact: I received an e-mail recently with Warren Buffett’s name in the subject line and a message from Buffet about our country’s budget deficit. I knew the sender, but I was reluctant to open it. I do admire Buffet’s philosophy on economic disparity (even though I think he could do more with the obscene amount of money he has) so my curiosity over-rode resistance.

It read like a chain letter, thankfully without the usual caveat of “Send this to 20 people within the next twenty minutes or you will die and go to Hell.” I was ready to hit the reply button to tell the sender “You know I don’t do these.” But I was curious. How much was fact and how much ka-ka?

Claireified: In an interview with CNBC, Buffett did express the following about “fixing” the deficit. “I could end the deficit in five minutes,” he told CNBC. (See, already it sounds shaky.) But OK, let’s give the man the benefit of the debt.(sic)

Buffett’s simple plan: “You just pass a law that says that any time there’s a deficit of more than 3 percent of GDP, all sitting members of Congress are ineligible for re-election. …if you guys can’t get it done, we’ll get some other guys…”

The only problem is it will never work. The use of the “universal you” as in “you just pass a law” is not “We the people. It refers to the Congress, the very people who would lose those jobs if they passed such a bill.

The e-mail also contains an alleged Congressional Reform Act of 2015. It starts with the proposal that Congressmen/women may collect a salary while in office but receive no pay when they’re out of office. OK, that makes sense to me. Their schedule for 2016 puts them in their seats for 110 days–less than 1/3 of the entire year. Whoa, what a cush job. Among its other demands: Congress must participate in Social Security and Congress will no longer vote itself a pay raise.

It sounds good on paper but the fact is, there is no such bill. This fictional manifesto has been circulating through the web for years and it’s misleading and flawed. For in depth info, read http://usgovinfo.about.com/od/uscongress/a/Why-The-Congressional-Reform-Act-Will-Never-Pass.htm

Congress photo by Flickr

For example, while it is true that members of Congress did not pay into Social Security prior to 1984, they couldn’t claim Social Security benefits anyway. Amendments to the Social Security Act made it mandatory for all members of Congress to participate in Social Security effective January 1, 1984, regardless of when they first entered Congress.

If you get this e-mail, or anything that sounds too good to be true, read it carefully and check it against the 30% of factual info available through reliable, mainstream sources before sending it to others. As for that leftover twenty percent? It’s probably “factional.”

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