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The recent post about the NY Times really pressed my hot button, as have a number of other events that have coalesced to form the rant I now dispense at risk to whatever reputation I might have on this board.

Most of you are pre-occupied with FIRE thoughts, as am I, but lest we all become complacent, there is---if not an active conspiracy---at least a conspiracy of thought and ideology afoot that I believe is taking America slowly down the tubes toward collectivism. I'm not obsessed with this, so don't get the impression I'm not hinged together right, but in my weaker moments I do fear for the future and for my kids. And I do believe this may impact my ability to RE, even though I made this OT.

The pattern / trend I see emerging has been getting clearer now for many years, and has quite a few elements to it. To wit, I reveal to you what I see:

1) Political Correctness. This is nothing more than a euphemism for the new fascism that is not so subtly sweeping across the country. Examples abound of people who are being forced to think a certain way; to disagree is to commit a crime. Non-conformers are to be attacked, harassed, ostracized. Hate crimes, the boy scouts, zero tolerance policies, sensitivity classes are just a few examples of fascism in the form of political correctness that come to mind, they are far from the best examples.

2) Media Convergence. Symbolized by the merger of AOL with Time Warner, the media today is a vital part of the dumbing down of America in order to help bring about utopian collectivism, whether it be socialism, communism or fascism (the media doesn't seem to care). I can't speak badly enough of the media, which has completely abdicated its role in a democratic society—a watchdog over government. Instead, the media has gotten in bed with government. The media is fast becoming an oligopoly, controlling every element of mass communication: tv, radio, newspapers, magazines, cable, movies, news, entertainment, the Internet. The result is objective news is today almost non-existent, but there is a lot of pop culture babble, info-tainment, consumer reports, trivia, and politically correct issues masquerading as news. News has nearly disappeared. The replacement is at once homogenize and monolithic. Don't like what's on tv? Switch to radio, switch to newspaper, the Internet, it doesn't matter. All the choices are owned by the same corporations, and the viewpoint is the same, the news is the same, the entertainment is the same. The recent hype of Disney's Pearl Harbor is but a hint of what's to come. As this kind of dumbed-down "news" is presented to the public, real news will go unreported, giving the government more flexibility to do what it wants without the public having a clue to what's going on.

3) Huge government. With the help of a media that provides garbage instead of news, the government has free reign to do almost anything, with the confidence that most people won't find out, and if they do, won't understand what is happening. People tune in the news, and see stories about whether or not Tom Cruise is gay, or whether minimum wage jobs are good for children. To understate the case: this crap isn't news. People are not told what is going on, or what their government may be doing behind their backs. Seven members of the Supreme Court recently ruled the central government of a nation of 280 million people has the right to tell a private sports association (the PGA) to change its playing rules. If national government can rationalize intruding here, it can micro-manage every element of our lives, no matter how trivial or basic. There is simply no logical way one can read the Constitution and get to that kind of a Supreme Court decision from there. Government is so damn big and getting bigger so fast, even dedicated opponents of big government cannot track all the fronts government is moving on.

4) Courts. The courts assist by systematically stripping away our freedom and liberty. Constitutionally guaranteed rights are now trumped by government and court-created rights. Hence, the right of free speech is trumped by the "right" of others not to be offended (hate speech, sexual harassment laws). The right to self-expression is trumped by "zero tolerance" policies (usually found in public schools and colleges), the right to free association is trumped by the "rights" of homosexuals to inject themselves anywhere (boy scouts, the clergy), the rights to private property are trumped by a myriad of health, safety, environmental and discrimination laws. Targeted industries rights to sell legal products are trumped by the state's opinion that what they do is evil. Hence, Phillip Morris can win countless lawsuits regarding smokers deaths, but the courts continue to allow identical lawsuits to be filed. The lawsuits will continue until the outcome desired by the state is produced, which is not the reduction of smoking. The aim as we all know, is the confiscation of profits and the nationalization of private corporations. Separation of church and state has become perhaps the most widely regarded inaccuracy to ever be perpetuated, but even that is bastardized to the point where nearly all references to Christian religion can be expunged in the public sector, but every child learns about Kwanza, and the President of the US can deliver the nation a Kwanza message. The irony is particularly acute because Kwanza is neither religious nor a holiday. The shrinking portion of America that still knows this can't say anything, though, because to do so would offend a protected class and get themselves branded as racists. (That takes us back to #1 above.)

5) Dependence. Perhaps the most insidious propaganda endeavor being undertaken, the government / media complex is conditioning people to become dependent for everything at every level. We are being taught to be helpless. The owner of a nightclub calls 911 to report Jenna Bush using a phony ID. Forget the politics. This is not an emergency. Over two-thirds of the calls to 911 do not constitute emergencies, yet no one is fined for such mis-use. The Emergency Broadcasting System is now routinely used to announce thunderstorms. Yes, thunderstorms can be dangerous, but do they constitute an emergency the likes of which was envisioned by the EBS? Could not a simple local news bulletin do the same job? Yes, but that would take the matter out of the hands of the National Weather Service. The Americans With Disabilities Act, one of the worst pieces of law to come out since the sexual harassment laws, encourages everyone to think of themselves as disabled or handicapped in some way, to the point where it is now becoming common to hear so-called "experts" announce with authority that up to 80% of the country "suffers" from some disability. And Americans are lapping it up, using any excuse to avoid taking responsibility for any act of self-indulgence or laziness they or their children undertake. Witness the increasingly prolific news magazine and reality-based tv shows highlighting "heroic" people "overcoming super-human challenges" in dealing with ordinary problems dealt with by countless generations before them. Look at the apocalyptic way the news media reports on hurricanes, fires, floods, school shootings, random acts of violence, etc. You would think the end of life as we know it has occurred, yet these tragedies have been going on for centuries, and people have been surviving them just fine. The press reports are truly monolithic here, zeroing in on some blubbering woman who DEMANDS to know where FEMA is. The message, as subtle as a brick, is we must all be totally helpless until the government comes to our rescue; and, of course, the only entities on earth who might even begin to address the situation are A) the government and B) grief counselors. Grief counselors and psychologists are now ubiquitous figures in public schools, yet kids today are more screwed up than they've ever been, and no one asks why.

6) Public Schools. Have become little more than expensive day care centers, and places of inculcation. The schools are rapidly becoming homogenized and monolithic. In kindergarten children will learn more about Martin Luther King Jr and Harriot Tubman than they will George Washington by the fourth grade. Environmentalism has become the fourth "R." Gay and reproductive "rights" are understood by the eighth grade, even by the 50% of students who still cannot adequately read by that time. The government has found the public schools a useful tool for politics, and the captive audience that is our children is simply too irresistible. This genie will never go back into the bottle, and the public schools will continue to become more monolithic, more political and less academic than today—which is scary to imagine because they are pretty bad now. Many of you have no doubt seen stories about "zero tolerance" violence policies, which is the most naked form of fascism I've seen in this country in a long time. Perfectly innocent kids get punished for perfectly innocent acts by clueless administrators who haven't the vaguest idea how to stop violence in the schools. When adults cannot or will not discern innocuous behavior from truly threatening behavior, how can they be expected to do anything rational at all? That is but one reason why the schools are becoming increasingly chaotic. Politics has superceded common sense.

These main elements are combining to produce an irresistible lurch to the left that I don't believe will be reversible. We have become the French, with entrenched bureaucratic constituencies whose self-interest is at odds with our Constitutionally protected rights to freedom, liberty and limited government. Self-proclaimed victim groups, increasingly agitating for greater handouts, are at odds with the right to private property and the right of the individual to keep the fruits of one's labor.

This erosion into collectivism won't happen overnight; it never does. It may take scores of years, but if history is a guide, it will eventually happen, and I suppose this rant is because I can't think of anything I can do to oppose it, and I hate feeling helpless. I've often told the DW, we need to make our money and get out before the whole damn thing implodes, but of course, one cannot hide from it.

This has been a long rant, and I feel better, and I've probably self-indulged at your expense. Perhaps I'm a non-conformist who bristles when I find a pattern of conformity rearing up at me, but I wonder if any of you see the things I see. I'm also a realist, I'm not going to despair just because I see something coming I don't like. I intend to enjoy life as much as possible, and to provide as best I can for my kids. But it would be nice to see the big picture looking a bit brighter.

For those of you who despise political rants and think mine has nothing to do with FIRE, think again. There is no way these trends will not directly impact your ability to retire, if they move quickly enough. FIRE, after all, is about independence.
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