Truisms are obvious truths, claims that are so self-evident that they’re not worth mentioning except in the rhetorical sense. However, “self-evident” is a relative term, not an absolute. Consequently, so often what people THINK they’re paying for ISN’T what they’re ACTUALLY paying for.
On the other hand, people PAYING for what they GOT is ALWAYS an after-the-fact absolute. And worse is that the payment is usually very expensive relative to WHAT they got! Here’s an example.
I’m a long-retired technical researcher who stopped buying desktop computers 6-years ago. Laptops, provided you know what in the hell you’re buying, are now just as powerful; they take up far less space—even using, as I do, a wireless keyboard and mouse—and, whenever necessary, they provide the added convenience of being able to take them on the road inside of a standard size briefcase.
About a month ago, a lifelong friend and former colleague decided to do likewise. He wanted a laptop JUST LIKE MINE, which is a Dell Inspiron N7010, 17.3” LCD, i5 Core, 4 GB RAM, 500 GB HD. I paid $659 for it but ONLY because another lifelong friend built it for me.
The unit usually sells for between $800 and $900. As well, he offered to do the same for this friend. So, I gave him the telephone number. He called and received the SAME price for the SAME model laptop.
But, instead of buying it, he made some excuse to put the purchase off about two weeks. He then went to a local retailer (Staples), where a sales associate introduced him to a Dell that “LOOKED” just like mine, including the same RAM memory, hard drive size, and LCD display. And, it was ONLY $619.00.
So, thinking he saved $40 while gaining some bragging rights over what I paid for mine, he bought it. But, here’s the problem. Other than his purchase being a Dell, it was NOT just like mine. The unit he bought from Staples is an Inspiron R17, i3 Core processor.
The i3 Core is the economy end processor. He could have bought the laptop directly from Dell for about $480, including shipping. So, he did get what he paid for. But, since he had no clue WHAT he was paying for, he paid… BIG TIME for what he GOT.
This incident demonstrates ONLY a PERSONAL consequence of not knowing what one is paying for. But, let’s look at the more serious consequences resulting whenever NATIONAL ignorance is in the preponderance relative to WHAT we’re paying for.
The average person in this country has no idea what our national budget looks like. Yes, all of us know from our own experiences that we can’t spend more money than we have. Even with a great credit score, we still must have enough income to pay the debt service (amortized principal and interest payments).
And, we know that when paying the debt service absorbs all of our discretionary income (income we use to buy things on our perpetual wish list), things get very uncomfortable.
Average people in this country are no more adept at understanding the details of our national budget than they are at performing intricate brain surgery. What’s more, it would take an Ivy League MBA-level grasp of finance just to begin understanding any of it.
Congress has so obfuscated the process to the benefit of the haves that they’ll always be the haves and the have-nots will always be the have-nots and, even worse, the former class is shrinking while the latter class is growing… almost exponentially.
This country has been bought and paid for by the fat cats; and they have the wherewithal to keep their allies (Democrat, Republican, or whatever) safely and snugly in the Halls of Congress. Nowadays, you have to be a multimillionaire or have access to multiple millions just to run for a national office in this country.
And the fat cats that can provide that level of financial access didn't get to be fat cats by giving their money away. They've become, to the greatest extent, legal loan sharks and extortionist. Trust me, there is interest due—and tons of it—on every dollar the support-ERS provide to the support-EES!
The latter simply barter the interest due by ensuring that a generous supply of high-quality fat-cat food flows, NONSTOP, to the former. Google Glass-Steagall Act of 1933 and Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act of 1999.
All the while, like lemmings going over a cliff, legions of working class people tune into issue-oriented talk radio/TV, or whatever, in eager anticipation of hearing whatever their respective gurus have to say about things.
But it never occurs to any of them that the ONLY objective of these talking heads is to keep their respective demographic spellbound enough to remain tuned in to hear about 5-minutes of commercials out of every 15-minutes of each broadcast hour.
It's not about the “good” guys looking out for the “little” guys and it never has been. It’s about RATINGS and commissions by choosing-up sides.
Choosing up political sides has become a national obsession. TRUTH no longer seems to be objective based on verifiable facts. Politicians, with the complete cooperation of the 24-hour cable news cycle, have redefined truth as whatever most people believe based on their “gut” feelings.
Adolph Hitler said “How fortunate for those in power that people do not think.” And, he was correct. Just look at the growing number of clueless drones that now believe we can solve all of our problems simply by targeting small–game malingerers and system-cheats while the big game destroys everything in sight.
Ban the unions, blame legions of hard working government stiffs, minimum wage private sector stiffs, and every other working class member struggling with all they have just to pay their mortgage payments and put food on the table. Yep, we have to stop harassing those poor, misunderstood bankers and billionaire lobbyists.
Forget the fact that none of these working class groups of people has destroyed the nation’s pensions and 401-k's. And none of them has farmed the nation’s jobs out to foreign lands.
Get real! It would take a minimum of 20-years of concerted effort by the nation’s working class to create ONE ONE-HUNDREDTH OF ONE PERCENT of the financial harm to this country that the K Street lobbyists and the Barons of Wall Street HAVE DONE, and still CAN DO, in less than ten minutes.
But, the plunder continues. Again, “How fortunate for those in power that people do not think.” Otherwise, Congress AND the partisan media would be running for their lives from mobs of pitchfork and torch-carrying citizens all yelling, “WE’RE MAD AS HELL AND WE’RE NOT GOING TO TAKE IT ANYMORE!”
Instead, we let them give the nation's conglomerate corporations a free hand of generous tax breaks so they’ll create jobs. We've been doing it since the days of Ronald Reagan and they've done everything with the money except create jobs here; they just send them overseas.
Our largest companies never seem to have enough money to pay its workers a decent wage of $15-$25 an hour with basic medical benefits and a small percent of profits to a retirement fund, but they have boatloads of money to pay their executives tens of thousands of dollars an hour to run the companies into bankruptcy.
It's what happens when the incentives for company management to align their organizational activities with stakeholder expectations trump the incentives to manage productive issues.
If you think for one second that this country can't go down the tube, you had better wake up. If you think for even one additional second that multimillionaire Congressional Representatives and Senators give a crap about working class people, you're living in a fantasy world.
Yes, a few of them do; but in the aggregate, their prime concern is just-in-time appeasement of the masses every two years at election time.
Joe Walther is a freelance writer and publisher of The True Facts. You may comment on his column by clicking here.