A Thomas Jefferson quote that is all too rare is the one in which he said that newspapers – the media of his time – should be divided into four sections – 1. Truths 2. Probabilities 3. Possibilities and 4. Lies. He contended that the fourth section would be the biggest. Are we believing what we hear on the car radio as we drive or what we quickly take in via our TV and computer screens? How many of us spend the time to examine the real story?
How deep was our understanding of the recent government shutdown? Did we understand for example, that only about 17% of the government was actually closed? Are we aware that through the years most government programs such as Social Security and Medicaid have been put on auto-pilot? Federal entitlements grow on their own annually without congressional action. When politicians discuss cuts in these programs they are referring to reductions in the automatic increases, not cuts to what recipients are currently getting. The federal workers who were furloughed during Shutdown! XVIII will receive their pay for the days they missed. So why weren’t they simply kept working? Do we know that the federal government hasn’t operated on a real budget passed by both houses of Congress and signed by the President in years? These are just a few fun facts that many people may have missed while the media was doing its best to keep the public emotionally amped. A Jefferson quote we encounter more often – although there is disagreement about whether he actually said it – is that the price of liberty is eternal vigilance. Think skepticism.
As we consider all we’ve seen and heard lately in the media spectacular entitled – at least here – Shutdown! XVIII, a classic Ira Gershwin lyric comes to mind: “it ain’t necessarily so.”