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ROSE NOLEN: Democracy doesn't mean stooping to make a buck

Tuesday, July 19, 2011 | 12:01 a.m. CDT

In light of the Rupert Murdoch scandal, it has finally come down to a basic question for each American: How big a role does money play in our lives? 

In our society, money matters a lot. We may be fond of saying that money isn’t everything, but is it?

Obviously, most of us will do everything we can to take care of the needs of our families. In a land of plenty, it would be difficult to sit by and watch family members go without food or medicine.

But beyond human needs, we need to really look ourselves in the mirror and determine how far we are willing to go to feather our nests.

We pride ourselves on being a law-abiding nation. We say publicly that we believe in honoring the laws of this country, but occasionally those laws can be tweaked to someone's advantage.

How much is our curiosity and desire to know driving the Big Media to make millions by invading the privacy of others?

Every day, friends tell me that they no longer watch cable news. They no longer want to hear how low the networks have stooped to get a bigger scoop.

To be sure, informed and better-educated viewers tend to gravitate to substantive news stories. But many Americans remain interested only in the garbage that piles up around the edges of major news stories.

In the old days, "peeping Toms” peered inside windows to satisfy their secret desires. Today, members of the media hack into private telephone lines.

They invade privacy simply to satisfy the entertainment appetites of viewers who lack the inner resources to entertain themselves. These viewers can satisfy their rabid curiosities for a few minute while the networks, of course, rake in big bucks for their efforts.

We have come to the point of thinking that anything goes. But is it really OK to hack into the lives of 9/11 victims? Do we want to teach this kind of behavior to the nation’s children?

Maybe it's time to ask ourselves if this is what democracy is all about: making as much money as we can, any way we can.

I admit, I’m disappointed that people have not displayed more outrage in this matter.

Unfortunately, I believe that television has taught some of us to become so beguiled with the lifestyles of the rich and famous that we no longer care about ethics or morals.

Frankly, I think a lot of the problem stems from the fact that we don’t hear much about civics and what it means to live in a democracy these days. We concentrate too much on the privileges and too little on the responsibilities of citizenship.

Is the primary advantage of living in a democracy the ability to make a million dollars?

I don’t know. Ask yourself.


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Comments

Gary Straub July 19, 2011 | 10:02 a.m.

Unfortunately we live in a capitalist society which demands that accumulation of capital is the primary goal. Democracy is not to blame but the type of democracy.Republicanism can and has been perversely distorted because of our capitalist ideals. Our representatives do not listen to the will of the people but to the size of the donations, and the job offers to come. The sad part is that capitalism is nothing more than a huge pyramid scheme, and as all such schemes go, so will this one, as is already happening. Unless we can become a truly democratic society, where the needs of the people are determined by the people, instead of by those at the top of the pyramid, we are destined to collapse.

(Report Comment)
Charles leverett July 19, 2011 | 11:03 a.m.

Yes yes, we've all heard it, capitalism is evil, so evil it created our wealth, where even the poorest among us has it much better than the well to do in many other countries. Our country was (and still is, though in decline) prosperous until we forgot one of the things that made our country great. The greatest thing we can do is to empower people to better themselves. But sadly we have strayed from this, and now to "empower" people means giving free handouts and enslaving them to the government. Instead of telling them that we will help them better themselves, helping get a better education and EARN a better job, we tell them that it isn't their fault, that they don't need to try, that everyone else who earned an education and/or got a decent job owes them.
I, like most Americans, are more than happy to help those who have fallen on hard times, like most Americans I believe the government should help those who have hit hard times, but the government shouldn't support a life style of poverty, it should help end it, and the only way you can do that is by empowering those in poverty to rise above it. In helping those less fortunate, I’ve seen those truly thankful, and I’ve also seen over and over again those who have taken on a culture of poverty and attitude of entitlement (Every see someone get angry because their box of food from the food pantry didn’t have what the person’s before them did, or get offended because they didn’t have the type of food they thought they should have had?).
So to sum this up, the greatest social injustice is to take a significant portion of the populace and make them dependant on the government so our politicians can simply buy votes. True social justice is giving these people the opportunity to better themselves.

So for once, how about we try a different flavor of Kool-aid?

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams July 19, 2011 | 11:18 a.m.

Gary says, "Unless we can become a truly democratic society, where the needs of the people are determined by the people, instead of by those at the top of the pyramid,..."
______________________

Be careful what you wish for. Do you REALLY believe the needs of the people are determined by a majority of the people?

Hey, I'm ok if you want to believe that. But...a bit of advice: Make sure you are NEVER a voting minority of any type...financial, political, racial, sexual, whatever. Because, if the needs of the people are truly determined by a majority of the people (i.e., a democracy), then the majority of the people are gonna TELL you what your needs are...not what YOU think they are.

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams July 19, 2011 | 11:48 a.m.

This is generally a good article with good thoughts, but I quibble on two points:

(1) This is NOT a democracy we live in. It is a constitutional republic of constitutional democracies. The last thing we citizens want is a true democracy where majority rules....every time. A true democracy DOES NOT protect those who find themselves in a minority on some topic.

That's why our Constitution (and the various states' Constitutions) are so important. All of these documents consist of a set of rules we all have decided to live by. Those rules give rights and protections NOT at the whims of a majority or minority. They are protective.

Gawd help us if a true democracy reigns in the US. Such a thing is simply a group dictatorship by the majority in power at any one time.

(2) My old English teachers would not be happy with the single sentence paragraphs of this article. They would say, "State the paragraph's purpose in the first sentence, develop the purpose, summarize the purpose, then start a new paragraph.

This article is a disjointed collection of undeveloped one-line sound bites.

(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith July 19, 2011 | 12:07 p.m.

Don't like Capitalism? Let's revive Soviet-style Communism.
Just think of the enjoyment and camaraderie we can experience while we're liquidating those kulaks.

"Ku Ku Kulak, The pause that rededicates." -From the comic strip "Pogo" (c. 1950s). (Obviously a takeoff on "Coca-Cola, the pause that refreshes.")

(Report Comment)
Paul Allaire July 19, 2011 | 12:14 p.m.

Royalty IS almost starting to look like a good option.

The individual would essentially know that short of a disaster of the worst proportions, that they would occupy a stately estate and that they would state the statements of their state. This would end the need for political organizations to distort once innocuous thoughts beyond the boundaries of reality. It would end all campaign promises and all campaigning. Initiatives undertaken would be allowed to be scaled onto a space of time that is longer than what takes place where career politicians think constantly of the next election cycle. The individual would be more cautious with the money because he or she would know who it actually belonged to since his or her portrait would be on it. I'm guessing that, barring some severe mental deficit, that person would more correctly adjudicate the amounts which should be diverted to things such as prolonged formalized hostilities and social programs. To make a decision there would be no need to deceive anyone. There would be no need to consult popularity polls.
The motivating factor would simply be that any ruler would vastly prefer to rule a country that is prosperous, healthy, and content than one who is not. Essentially, the wealth of a country IS the wealth of it's ruler.
Mike sort of produced, indirectly, a point. If I liked chocolate and there was one despot who decided that I can't enjoy a chocolate bar this Christmas, would it really be any better if a hundred idiots, including many who had some sort of a problem with chocolate and chocolate eating people, had voted on it and the result was the same?
Do I feel that one single individual could do a worse job than the resulting collective "thought process" that is the basis for our national politics? My short experience and many of the comments that I read tell me "No."
And with a monarch I wouldn't have to ponder why some of the people who write some of the comments that I read are allowed to vote on anything that affects other people. I wouldn't need to worry about who they might collectively choose to put in office. Their comments would then be exactly as important as they actually should be! And that IS good, because while I really understand the good points regarding self determination, some of your comments really scare me. They really make me want to consider the individual writing them.

(Report Comment)
Paul Allaire July 19, 2011 | 12:22 p.m.

"This article is a disjointed collection of undeveloped one-line sound bites."

And Mike, quit criticizing the writing style of the author. You should know exactly what to expect after reading at least fifty other articles by the same.

(Report Comment)
Paul Allaire July 19, 2011 | 12:31 p.m.

"In light of the Rupert Murdoch scandal, it has finally come down to a basic question for each American: How big a role does money play in our lives?"

This is the best sentence in the article and it frames the point I made above. In a monarchy, money has less possibility to be a bad influence because the monarch has such an inestimably disproportionate share of such that it borders on inconceivable that they would undertake any malicious action in order to obtain more of the same.

Now obviously, the answer for Rose's question can be found here...

"Yes yes, we've all heard it, capitalism is evil, so evil it >>>>>created our wealth<<<<<, where even the poorest among us has it much better than the well to do in many other countries."

It must be very important...

(Report Comment)
Jimmy Bearfield July 19, 2011 | 1:00 p.m.

"My old English teachers would not be happy with the single sentence paragraphs of this article. They would say, 'State the paragraph's purpose in the first sentence, develop the purpose, summarize the purpose, then start a new paragraph.'"

This is a newspaper, where single-sentence paragraphs are common because in the print edition, the column format can make even a single sentence look longer than what a lot of people are willing to read -- or so the consultants and academics would have us believe. The same effect applies to newspapers (and magazines) read on a smartphone or even a tablet because of the way they typically force the text into a column.

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Michael Williams July 19, 2011 | 1:50 p.m.

Jimmy:

'Tis true, single sentence paragraphs highlight individual thoughts by isolating them from other themes.

And newspapers are in the business of making readers think each and every word/sentence is absolutely the most profound thing you've ever read.

It's effective.

I can do it, too.

As I just did.
______________________

Rose has good points in the article about how we, the people, demand titillating information from those willing to sell it for money. As for me, I'm astounded that news folks would resort to hacking phones, etc., for the purpose of mining news. It comes under the category of "Whatever were you thinking? Who taught you that?" I guess it's us that did it.

(PS: However, linking such activities to "democracy" sure seems a stretch.)

(Report Comment)
Gary Straub July 19, 2011 | 3:26 p.m.

Sheez, Many of these comments remind me of watching the weather person telling us that there is a 50% chance of rain while it is raining outside. Try looking out the window, or better yet opening the door and going outside. The word communism was never mentioned except by those that believe you are either "with us or against us". WE have 20,000,000 official citizens out of work, an undetermined number, in the millions, of homeless citizens, who consist of predominately women and children in this country. The people who work the hardest generally make the least, in this country. We are trillions in debt to China, Japan, Saudi Arabia, etc. Yet, I am to believe this is all the fault of a few unfortunate souls who take welfare, which doesn't even come close to the amount of welfare given to those fortunate souls who purportedly make this system so great. Sorry, can't do that.
Enjoy!

(Report Comment)
Jimmy Bearfield July 19, 2011 | 10:37 p.m.

"Yet, I am to believe this is all the fault of a few unfortunate souls who take welfare, which doesn't even come close to the amount of welfare given to those fortunate souls who purportedly make this system so great."

One set of freeloaders does not excuse another set.

(Report Comment)

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