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home : opinions : opinions May 24, 2016

4/27/2013 1:01:00 PM
Letter: The facts will set us free


Politicians know that inconvenient facts can threaten their political agenda. So instead of seeking facts and making legislation which is based on facts, many politicians suppress facts or even the discovery of facts which might lead to legislation contrary to their agenda. Actually, this is fairly typical human behavior and since politicians are mostly human we have come to expect this behavior from them.

In February, our House majority leader, Eric Cantor delivered what was billed as a “major policy speech.” In it he praised federal funding for medical research. He’s in favor of developing new treatments (who isn’t). However, he and his colleagues have adamantly opposed “comparative effectiveness research.”

Scientists conduct effectiveness research to determine which treatments are in fact working best. Apparently this research could somehow threaten Eric’s agenda. But most of us would like the scientific facts, thank you very much.

In his home state of Virginia (within which Norfolk is among the American cities most vulnerable to climate change), Mr. Cantor’s colleagues in the State Legislature have engaged in campaigns against scientists who discover climate evidence they don’t like. The Legislature’s solution is to prohibit the use of the words “sea level rise.” This satisfies the deniers ... but what about Norfolk?

Some members of our House of Representatives have tried to suppress a Congressional Research Service report which cast doubt on the effectiveness of the policy of cutting taxes for the wealthiest. Since they have already backed this policy the facts are unwanted.

Improving gun policy and regulation in the aftermath of the Newtown massacre requires facts about firearm violence. But the facts don’t exist because in the 1990s politicians acting on behalf of the NRA bullied federal agencies into cutting practically all research into gun violence. We now require facts we don’t have because lobbyists and their expeditious Congressfolk have been obstructing important research.

Last year, Texas politicians condemned efforts to teach “critical thinking skills” because such efforts, “have the purpose of challenging the student’s fixed beliefs and undermining parental authority.” This was strange since critical thinking has never been an problem in Texas.

But seriously, do these politicians really believe America’s future leaders should avoid critical thinking? Perhaps they need to think about this issue more, umm...critically.

The expensive wars of choice in Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan happened because leaders ignored or suppressed or invented facts and failed to engage in critical thinking or factual debate with anti war advocates or weapons inspectors.

Their war agenda was pushed for mostly political reasons. (Interestingly, the presidents who originally championed these wars were both Texan politicians.)

Most of us are not wise enough to know the answers to these important issues but many of us are interested in learning the facts and discussing them with our fellow voters. We need our Representatives to refrain from protecting us from facts, regardless of their agendas.

We all have our personal beliefs and agendas but American freedom and prosperity has always been driven by facts and free critical discourse.

Peter Nelson

Yavapai County

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Reader Comments

Posted: Sunday, April 28, 2013
Article comment by: P F

Given the current status of Science in the US, I say the people of the US are not interested in facts.

Rather, most look for leadership from those who validate religious prejudice, share an ignorance and disdain of Science, have the same ethnic biases, or promise imaginary economic benefits.

While decrying the lack of Honesty and Integrity in our culture, we elect and reelect those who look us in the eye and lie.

Then cheat.

Then steal.

Like the current Congress.

In private life, most avoid the dishonest person and do not tolerate such behavior from friends.

For reasons obscure, we expect, allow and reward such behavior in our public 'servants."

Posted: Sunday, April 28, 2013
Article comment by: Number of facts conveniently omitted

Mr. Nelson's cherry picked "facts" expose his usual leftist liberal bias.

For instance, he is blind to these facts:

The Obama administration considers food stamps to be a form of economic stimulus. The USDA therefore pushes to sign up as many as possible, including illegal aliens (aka the more politically correct term "undocumented Democrats").

With that absurd logic, why aren't we all on food stamps?

Liberals think the best way to promote economic growth is more government taxing and spending.

Yet the evidence shows more taxing suppresses rather than stimulates economic growth. Reducing capital gains taxes, for instance, produces increased government revenue.

Obama Democrats ignore this fact, and instead increase cap gains taxes anyway because in their minds revenue is less important than "fairness". That's what the President said.

Democrats practice crony capitalism, spending billions on favored private green businesses. Solyndra and Fisker are just two examples with failed business plans that cost taxpayers hundreds of millions.

Liberal Democrats are beholden to teacher unions and trial lawyers, which keep a stranglehold on school reform and healthcare reform.

I could go on, but you get the idea.

Yes, facts will set you free. But only if you take off your liberal blinders.

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