"[T]he burden of government is not measured by how much it taxes, but by how much it spends." ~ Milton Friedman
Ten Lies We Believe
Exclusive to STR
November 7, 2006
The System is not maintained by reason and facts, because these do not support any system based on power and fear. It keeps going by perpetuating myths. These are never really questioned, and become as immutable as the laws of physics. We can break free from the control of the system when we see the lies for what they are. Here are ten of the best lies:
1) That we are free, not slaves of the government
A free person can come and go as they wish, they can use their money and wealth as they see fit, and they are not monitored and can live a private life and choose to think what they will. A slave is told when and where they will go, what they will do, how they will think, what they can say, and everything they produce is taken off them and given directly to the Master.
We all agree that slavery is an abomination, and that everyone has certain 'inalienable rights,' but we appear to be less and less free. A substantial amount of what we earn is taken from us; if we freely express ourselves, we may be regarded as a 'terrorist'; movement is restricted and our private lives, our emails and telephone conversations are intrusively monitored and recorded, perhaps for later use.
So where are you on the continuum between free person and slave? I expect now closer to the slave end.
2) That tax is a way of 'paying our way' and our moral obligation and safety net
Look at the 2006 US Federal Budget, and try to find the expenditure categories that will help you. You probably won't be able to see a connection, and that is because there isn't one. If you are working, 'welfare' certainly doesn't help. 'Defence' doesn't really seem to make your life safer. 'Health' doesn't mean that you don't need private medical insurance to get any semblance of acceptable health care. 'Education' won't get your children over the line, either.
Roads ' well they aren't as well maintained as you would think for the amount you are paying, and check out the deteriorating infrastructure. By any measure, it is not really a good deal. Do you seriously think that you get anywhere near the amount you pay in taxes in the form of 'government services'?
Also, if times become bad, don't think there is any safety net for you if you are a middle class person who has been productive. If you are out of work, the State will tax your severance pay, but there's nothing there for you.
In terms of 'moral obligation,' isn't your obligation to provide as well as possible for your own family, rather than someone else's? And how does having a lot of your income taken away do that?
I'm not saying to evade your taxes, just don't believe the lies that justify confiscation of earnings.
3) That people from different cultures are our enemies
In World War II, American citizens of Japanese descent were incarcerated in prison camps. With 20/20 hindsight, we see that was unjust. However, the current vilification is of Muslims and those of Middle Eastern descent. The media is quick to apply stereotypes, so the average person on the street doesn't see a Muslim as a person of different beliefs who loves his family and peacefully goes about his business, but as a rabid potential terrorist.
At present, this view appears to be encouraged by governments in several Western countries. It is often convenient to create a scapegoat. If they can make us believe that everyone in a particular group is our enemy, then it makes it seem perfectly justified to invade their country, flatten their hospitals and schools and kill their young men.
The word 'prejudice' means judging before knowing the facts. The antidote to prejudice is evidence-based reasoning, which means getting the facts. One way of getting facts is by reaching out to those of different backgrounds and building bridges rather than walls. When we spend time with people of other backgrounds, we appreciate their differences, and the reason for those differences, but also the similarities. When they are victimised, we understand that but by an accident of birth, it could as easily be us.
4) That individual expression and creativity are available only to a few 'talented' persons
The purpose of this myth is to disempower people and make them good consumers rather than self-sufficient producers. So we get bland, regurgitated music and mind-numbing reality television, and prepackaged software that is broken and buggy.
In traditional cultures, most people have a form of creative expression. This was the case in western countries until recently ' check out reprinted 1910 issues of 'Boy Mechanic' to see some creativity in action.
I'm reassured to see many people pushing back against this ' they write their own music, work on their own cars and write open source software. But the masses only know how to keep buying the same old stuff.
5) That news is information rather than propaganda and entertainment
'News' is mainly entertainment. It is supplied so that you watch paying advertisements. That's why they have 'human interest' stories. The trick is that people think it is information. If it was just another sitcom, they might turn off the TV and talk to their families or something equally undesirable.
Since a lot of news is supplied by the government, it also contains a subtle, sometimes not so subtle twist. It presents what 'They' want you to think, and over time this moulds people's perceptions. We do owe a debt to those journalists who diligently uncover truth, but most news is only of entertainment value. To counteract this, get your own sources of news, and don't accept anything at face value.
6) That we have no right to privacy
The system is interested in prying into the lives of individuals in order to perpetuate its control. Systems based on power structures are inherently brittle, and those in power know that.
The flawed argument that they put out is that if you have done nothing wrong, then you have nothing to hide. Therefore, you have no right to privacy.
This assumes that those monitoring are able to use discretion with personal information ' so it just is used on 'the bad guys' rather than against anyone who those in power don't like.
History has shown that this is never the case. Just one example is how Martin Luther King was monitored by the FBI, and they attempted to use personal information gathered to undermine him publicly. When you take away the right to privacy, it is all too tempting to misuse the information. Who watches the watchers? Usually no one.
7) That the end justifies the means
When a criminal acts with an end in mind without being concerned about the consequences, or feeling any empathy for those hurt along the way, we call that person a psychopath, or sociopath. When this occurs in business, government or foreign policy, we call it 'strong leadership.'
In intelligence terminology, an action that is taken with the view that the end justifies the means generally results in 'blowback.' This means that it causes unexpected consequences, sooner or later. Let's recall some examples of ends: backing the Shah of Iran, invading Iraq , supplying Osama bin Laden. Think of the resultant 'blowback.' What you sow is what you reap.
The consequences of these actions are decoupled from the original ends by the spin masters. Put them together, and you'll see that the answer is to consider both the means and the ends ' be guided by morality rather than expediency.
8) That education helps us to think clearly and be successful
The purpose of education is two-fold: to inculcate government-approved core values and provide children with the basic skills needed to become malleable corporate drones and consumers.
The education system does not appear to promote clear thinking. Discussion of the lyrics of rap songs in English classes doesn't help that, or build literacy. A large number of young people finish their education without the ability to critically analyse an issue, or think for themselves. Fresh young minds with potential to do amazing things, well trained performing monkeys out the other end of the process.
9) That a good job is the answer to prosperity
That you have a good job is important to the government in the same way that a house full of valuables is important to a burglar. It sets you up as a nice fat cash cow. They will be able to skim off your money before you even see it, and you have extremely limited tax deductions.
Prosperity comes from sources outside of a job, such as investments or business. Not many people get rich on their salary, unless they are corporate officers who loot shareholder funds.
10) That we can trust those in power, in government and large corporations, and they have the answers
Most people in power are not evil, and most governments in first world countries are generally somewhat less despotic than those found elsewhere due to safeguards that are in place.
Nevertheless, power means imposing the will of one person on another. This is generally to the benefit of one person, and the detriment of another. In financial terminology, this is called a conflict of interest. There is a mismatch in the interests of those in power and the ruled. Generally, mainstream political parties have a vested interest in maintaining this system. In the same way, corporations actively maintain the status quo to their own benefit.
Competence is different from position. Generally the two don't fit too well together. Think about where you work ' is the smartest, most capable person in charge? No, you have the Pointy Haired Boss instead.
In summary, don't assume that anyone in power will act in your interests. Think for yourself, and don't accept answers at face value.