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Searching for Thinkers

Howell Hurst People, Uncategorized


Nine years ago our top American business leaders forced the entire world into a recession. They did this by selling American subprime mortgages to Americans they knew could not afford them.

They were aided and abetted in this by collaborating politicians, who had for years, tangentially, supported laws for full health care programs for themselves, but nothing for all of the rest of us.

To this day, most of the same corporate people who created the recession remain in business, running similar deals to new subprime mortgage buyers. The same politicians still have comprehensive medical programs, while they fight about providing us any rational health care program at all.

What is wrong with the American public? Why do we continue to battle one another from the Left and the Right as our fake financial and political leaders financially protect themselves while ignoring our needs?

It is very plain. It is our fault. We have abandoned the ability to think. The politicians and business leaders have successfully divided us into two irrational camps, and we collectively are incapable of seeing through their totally self-serving ruse.

We are the problem. All 330 million of us. We have let ourselves be dumbed down by the corporate leaders and their hired politicians. It would take an awful lot of increased stupidity to be acting dumber than we already are.

I wrote about this lately, and asked a cousin of mine who reads my commentaries what he thought of my assessment of the situation. His answer was: “I am a fiscal conservative and a social moderate.”

What a simplistic answer! What does it mean? Did he mean by “fiscal conservative,” he was for a balanced budget? Did he mean, we should spend less than we earn? Did he mean, we should all be responsible for our own financial affairs? Did he mean, government should not interfere in private affairs? What did he mean?

Who knows? I don’t. And obviously, he doesn’t either. He, like most Americans, has become utterly inarticulate. He does not know English, his native language. He appears incapable of putting into words what he really means.

I asked him, what about my writing do you agree with? What about it do you disagree with? No answer ever came from him. Total silence. No ability to analyze what he thinks and answer in literate English.

It is, I contend, this illiteracy that has given us the utter lack of rational leadership we experience today. Americans are stuck in a self-created crisis of ignorance. From both Left and Right, we have decayed into simplistic sound bites of what we believe.

An acquaintance of mine, a self-described professor of media, recently justified to me the media sound-bite practice of pop culture writing that dominates current news reporting. He apparently prefers entertainment-style mainstream news writing over accurately-articulated English more precisely expressing substantial meaning.

From top to bottom, intellectually speaking, we are in the age of bullshit over meaning. Lies are acceptable in place of real communication. Instead of articulate speech, it is adequate instead to bluff, to boast, to brag, to bluster, to blunder, to backtrack, to mislead with unrestrained overconfidence.

What has happened to thinking? It has just been tossed into the garbage bin. Thinking is no longer valued. We no longer have the ability to think. We have become a nation of simple bull-shitters.

Are there any out there still interested in thinking? Does anyone understand that thinking precedes writing? That it requires thinking to produce rational writing?

That rational writing is proof of one’s ability to first sift through facts and produce cognitively sound conclusions?

I ask the question. I seek the answer. I do not pretend to have the solution. But, I am actively seeking it. Does it exist anymore? Or have we all just given up on thinking? Are we content living in ambiguity? In indecisiveness? In a land of blah? In intellectual limbo?

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4 thoughts on “Searching for Thinkers

  1. Justice Souter said that democracy cannot survive civic ignorance. I would hazard an opinion that we are certainly at that point. Our forefathers pledged “Our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor.” I don’t believe “fortunes” referred to money, but to what was going to happen. It is a fact that “sacred honor ” died long ago. I doubt that anyone in Washington can even spell it!

  2. Howell:

    Your lament about the American complacency in our political plight is a very serious issue. Like all serious issues, solutions can only be drastic, often painful, before unfolding into a brighter light by which we can all see the way to our ultimate goals, which are, for Americans, “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

    If you conducted a scientific, cross section sample of Americans, most would say that they enjoy life, except for those dying in hospitals and convalescent homes, and those in prison. Most would affirm that they enjoy their liberties, like the freedom to chose one’s own destiny, although many would say they are stuck by an oppressive economic system that makes it overwhelmingly difficult to live the life they can only dream of. Most would say they have the freedom to pursuit their happiness, even if most are not pursuing the things that make them happy.

    The dumbing down of news media and public discourse in all forms is, obviously, a symptom of a society in decline. In the rise and fall of America, we have been falling since 9/11. The media and political rhetoric of stupidity that is so popular now is mostly a retreat from facing the daunting challenges that are defeating us.

    Back in 1961, when President John Kennedy lead us to put a man on the moon, every level of our society was oriented towards achievement, knowledge and exploring new ideas. Over a half century later, there is nothing left of that spirit. The pendulum has swung the other way. We are resigned to letting China lead the world in achievement. We are resigned to letting Europe, India and an assortment of other nations lead the world developing new knowledge. We are so fearful of the rest of the world, we don’t want to explore any more.

    What can an individual American do about this? What can our leaders in government, industry, education and service organizations do about this? There are two positive answers, besides do nothing and accept it. They are: 1) do something on a personal level, and 2) do something through organizations with power and influence.

    The reason that complacency and ignorance are dominant right now is because it is becoming more an more evident that gradual steps towards improvement, in the liberal political style, are doomed to minimal, marginalized gains. In order to truly change the dynamics of our situation, much more comprehensive and fundamental shifts are necessary. This is where the American people are afraid to go, because radical change means upheaval, and when the entrenched power holders of our world are threatened with losing their power, they always respond with over powering violence, in the form of armed law enforcement and armed military force. Even though the American people are armed with guns, the authorities and military forces have overwhelmingly superior fire power. Any form or rebellion, even if non violent, or any threat towards mass civil disobedience, or any trend towards civil war cannot be tolerated by the power elite of this country. Hardly anyone who knows what the stakes really are would argue the opposite of this conclusion.

    Given that, the fact remains that nobody can do anything about wrenching the control of our society from those in control. So we can do things on a personal level, and we can do things on an organizational level, but we cannot stop the ruling class from ruling us. So, why think about it? Why torment ourselves with the effort of understanding what is really going on? It’s futile.

    1. Your comment here may hit the mark. But, if so, it is a pessimistic outlook, is it not? I suspect we are all starting to sense fear of our President and his government. He and it are decidedly very strange indeed. Worthy of fear, I am guessing. We may need to tread lightly for self protection.

      1. I am not afraid to treat heavily for things I believe in, but only if I think there is at least some chance of succeeding. As of today, I don’t see that possibility. However, if there was a national movement, such as a national strike that was widely effective, or a mass march on Washington with literally 5-10 million people, or anything of that magnitude that could realistically affect the balance of power, I would be willing to risk and sacrifice significantly to participate, or even lead, at whatever level I could.

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