Two Pieces and a Smidgen More


Reading time – 1:55  .  .  .

I was struck by the juxtaposition of a couple of pieces I reviewed this past week.

Nick Kristoff wrote a disturbing piece in the Sunday Times about a customer with a problem which U.S. Bank had created for him and its shoddy treatment of an employee who helped that customer. Near the end of the piece Kristoff wrote,

“I’ve often noted that companies have enormous capacity to help their communities. But too often they act like American tobacco companies, which killed more people than Stalin did [over 20 million], or pharma companies peddling opioids, or McKinsey & Company advising a business to ‘get more patients on higher doses of opioids,’ or Boeing mocking regulators.”

If you want to know why Millennials aren’t exactly in love with capitalism, those are some good data points. Be clear, though, that this post isn’t about advocating socialism. It is about advocating caring.

Before anyone starts vilifying Kristoff or me as tree hugging, lily-liver, crocodile tears, whining liberals, consider that we all care. Some care about their families. Some care about people who have suffered, like Mothers Against Drunk Driving, Never Again and more. Some care about our country. Some, of course, care only about themselves, which brings us to the other (juxtaposed) piece I reviewed this morning.

The local hospice organization publishes a monthly bulletin and this month it included a couple of quotes.

“I don’t know what your destiny will be, but one thing I do know: the only ones among you who will be really happy are those who have sought and found how to serve.”  Albert Schweitzer

“I am of the opinion that my life belongs to the community, and as long as I live, it is my privilege to do for it whatever I can. I want to be thoroughly used up when I die, for the harder I work, the more I live. Life is no ‘brief candle’ to me. It is a sort of splendid torch which I have got hold of for a moment, and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it on to future generations.”  George Bernard Shaw

Each of us can be clear regarding what we care about by doing a simple inventory of how we use our time. Where and how we invest our time tells us what we care about.

Applying that reasoning to the political world I cover, it’s clear that many thousands of staffers and volunteers and caucusers in Iowa care deeply about the direction of our country and the nation they will be handing off to their children and grandchildren. That’s true even in the face of the counting mess that was made.

In contrast, with their votes to acquit our cheating, criminal, Constitution flaunting President, our Republican senators made their own statement. They made it plain for all to see that they care about themselves and their short term political future far more than they do about our country and the kind of place their grandchildren will inherit.

If our goal is to produce the most cynical citizens we can, then the likes of U.S. Bank, the American tobacco companies, McKinsey and Boeing are leading the way in exemplary fashion. Yet it’s far more ominous that our own government is America’s best cynicism generator and the most flagrant offender of what we care about.


Here’s the Smidgen More

Do you like horror films? Many do, so to get your freak-out fix, you have to read McKay Coppins’ piece in the March edition of The Atlantic. Actually, it’s a must-read even if you’re not a terror lover, because you care – about democracy. The piece is entitled,

The Billion-Dollar Disinformation Campaign to Reelect the President

How new technologies and techniques pioneered by dictators will shape the 2020 election

It is frightening in the extreme how easy it is for political operatives and creeps with a laptop to manipulate people and elections. You need to know about this, so settle in with your favorite mug o’ joe and dig into Coppin’s reporting.

Note that I’m reading Rick Wilson’s new book Running Against the Devil. It’s tough love in the extreme for Democrats and for all who want to evict the present occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Report to follow.

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JA


Copyright 2020 by Jack Altschuler
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One Response to Two Pieces and a Smidgen More
  1. Jim Altschuler Reply

    I’m sick of feeling sick about society and life in these United States.

    I’m sick of the cynicism. I’m sick to death (and it may be the death of me) of the lying and cheating, not just in Washington, D. C., but in the world in which we live. Just a few examples:
    Promising to do something and then not doing it (or vice versa) is cheating.
    Lying on one’s taxes (“Oh, they’ll never know and I need the money more than they do”) is a seemingly minor form of cheating … but the nation is TRILLIONS OF DOLLARS IN DEBT, so maybe it does make a difference.
    I’m sick of the stores raising prices this week so it looks like a big sale when they “cut them” the following week.
    I’m sick of something at or near half of our adult citizens being caught up in deceit and corruption of the form of government that is supposed to be “… of the People, by the People and for the People”. Most of the people who are supposed to be representing, protecting, et al, are self-serving buffoons and clowns who were once smart enough to get a law degree (most of them are or were lawyers) but have slithered into the muck and mire of the Federal government (and, for my money, this applies to state and m unicipal governance as well) and only respond to the Big Bucks and corporate bribery.

    I really am sick to death of it all, the big lies and cheating and the little lies and cheating. FOR THAT REASON I implore each and every citizen of majority who is legally entitled to do so to get involved in the upcoming elections … VOTE!
    VOTE for the persons of your choice but VOTE. VOTE to change what’s been going on. VOTE to improve the lots and lives of ALL of the people who live in this country, but VOTE!