We’ve all experienced pointing out a new fact to someone and seeing them acknowledge it, and even incorporate it into their thinking. I’ve even had this experience with public petitions pushed on powerful people. But I’ve also had a different experience. There are some facts that some people just won’t accept, and I have a very hard time understanding why.
For example, I recently received an appeal from the March for Our Lives people upset and outraged that teachers were going to be allowed to bring guns into their school in Florida. They don’t want any guns at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, they said. But—and this they didn’t say—their school already has gun training through Junior ROTC (Reserve Officers’ Training Corps). Their school already has guns in it. Their classmate who killed many other classmates was trained to shoot guns at their school by the US Army. So, do they want guns in their school or not? They’re 100 percent dedicated to pretending that the Junior ROTC doesn’t exist but also outraged by the idea of guns being brought into the school that they’re pretending is gun-free. Why can they not incorporate into their consciousness the existence of the program whose t-shirt the murderer was wearing? What prevents it? I really want to know.
The same day I got that appeal I received an email from Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA) who remains outraged that a president might start an “unnecessary” and “unconstitutional” war. A president cannot legally attack Iran without congressional approval, Kaine announced for the billionth time. But a president also cannot legally attack Iran with congressional approval. Violating various laws, including the United Nations Charter, is a crime regardless of whether Congress is in on it. There’s no waiver for the US Congress or any branch of any other government. I questioned Kaine about this a long time ago and posted it on my YouTube page. He readily admitted I was right, but in the next breath went right back to talking the way he has continued talking to this day—just like every single one of his colleagues and every single media outlet he ever encounters. Why is Kaine incapable of grabbing hold of a fact that he readily comprehended? I’d seriously like an answer.
Most political discourse in the United States seems to me perverted by the stubborn universal refusal to incorporate basic acknowledged facts into general understanding. I recently saw a report claiming that the US government has been spending more on fossil fuel subsidies than on “defense.” Of course the US government spends little or nothing on anything designed to be defensive, so we have to translate that to “military.” But over half the military budget isn’t counted this way because it’s spread across numerous departments and agencies. At $1.25 trillion a year, it dwarfs fossil fuel subsidies, but the fact that those subsidies outpace the fraction of military spending that goes to the Pentagon is still staggering. Or it would be if most people would incorporate into their worldview the fact that militarism costs anything at all, let alone about two-thirds of federal discretionary spending.
What costs money and what doesn’t really seems to be up to personal preference. For example, does the collapse of the climate—all the storms and droughts and floods to come—cost anything? On the one hand, you would think so. Young people are already suing governments for imposing enormous costs on young and future generations. There have been studies on the cost of converting the world to sustainable green energy, and the cost is in the negative tens of trillions of dollars. In other words, it would save money, yet it’s understood to be far too expensive to even dream about.
In my city we’re asking our local government to divest public dollars from weapons and fossil fuels, and city officials are concerned about their responsibility to benefit investors. But if the earth and our city with it remain habitable, doesn’t that benefit even city employees? Wouldn’t the city leap at a guaranteed financial savings over a year or a month that was susceptible to temporary losses over hours or days? Why, when the same situation involves a decade rather than a year, does it become incomprehensible? I really want to know.
Good, government-funded healthcare, too, is something people are sure we can’t afford, even though countries that have it pay less for it than we pay to not have it. This doesn’t seem to make any sense as long as we refuse to mention the parasitical insurance companies that are actually what we cannot afford, what we have no use for, and what (in thousands of cases every year) we die at the hands of.
What about all the health savings from green energy that would cost a fraction of either military spending or fossil fuel subsidies, and would lower the cost of healthcare to a fraction of what we pay to not get healthcare? How can people be made to understand such incomprehensible realities as long as key facts are forbidden? I think we absolutely have to find out.