Faith in party misled voters

Presidential elections generally end with only half of the country satisfied. The discord comes from the elected officials rarely get more than 53 percent of the popular vote. After an election, social media are lit up with all kinds of opinions. Just after the presidential election was called last week, my Facebook page was overloaded with many statuses bemoaning the reelection of Barack Obama, and others predicting the end of America and the birth of our new socialist state. Several of my friends alluded that voting for Obama was unethical. One even went so far as to say that the Americans who voted for Obama had forsaken God. That person is wrong. They perpetuated a misplaced belief that only Republicans can uphold Christian values. In the 1980s, a movement known as the moral majority gained substantial popularity in the U.S. It was led by Rev. Jerry Falwell, who endorsed Ronald Reagan in his first campaign. The moral majority was made up of conservative Christians. Though the organization has all but disbanded, the trend of conservative Christians exclusively supporting Republican candidates continues. Virtually all of Congress is religious, and 86 percent identify as Christian. There is vocal movement from religious leaders that Christians should support Republicans mainly due to their perceived pro-life stance. However, most Republican politicians have little to show for it. Christianity has been yoked with politics since it was made the state religion of the Roman Empire. Church leaders used religion as a tool during the Middle Ages to sustain political power. With the intention of directing America toward God, Christians now participate in the political process. They have the best intentions, but they are sometime used by politicians. The moral majority was right to recognize the brokenness of America, but they placed their hope in the false idols of political candidates when they should have looked to God for change. The life of Jesus is the antithesis of what is expected of politicians. Jesus called his followers to be meek and to be servant leaders. Look to our politicians, and you will not find these attributes. Politics is the only realm where words speak louder than actions, and this is the fault of voters. Never elect politicians based on what they say. Instead, choose them for what they do. Do not let anyone fool you into believing that there is one political candidate who is the Christian choice. All congressmen are up for reelection in two years. If you want to vote in a Christian fashion, then measure men by their action, not which party they are a part of. Above all else, do not place...

Read More
Media: Catering to public or conveying trustworthy facts?
Oct30

Media: Catering to public or conveying trustworthy facts?

In 1972 two Washington Post journalists followed a story about a burglary which led them down a path of corruption and lies. The ensuing scandal involved the president and caused his eventual resignation. The Watergate scandal and the investigative work of Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein is an example of the power of the media and its role of protecting society and democratic processes. The freedom of the press has been an essential part of American society since the Revolution. Because the role of the media is providing the public with reliable information, their most valuable asset is credibility. Journalists are expected to adhere to a strict set of ethics. Plagiarism and using false sources are often career-ending offences. In spite of this, the media have been losing much of their trustworthiness over the last decade. According to a recent Gallup poll, 60 percent of Americans have little or no trust in the mass media. This is the highest level of mistrust ever recorded in America and is a sobering fact in an election year. The study showed that distrust was highest among Independents and Republicans. The suspicion is certainly deserved. Many Americans consider the media to be strongly biased or sometimes even false. The main reason to distrust the media is that they have more incentive to minister what the public wants to hear than the actual truth. The news media are businesses that essentially give away information. Newspapers are relatively cheap, and most of the large dailies publish online. Much of their revenue comes from advertising. To hook lucrative advertisements, media outlets need high ratings and subscribers. There is normally a direct correlation between revenue from advertisements and the size of the audience. Instead of providing the truth, the media will provide the public with what they want because it pays. If people care more about the lives of celebrities than they do about local politics or domestic and foreign crises, then news media will provide it. What is frightening is how the media have taken the public’s obsession with celebrities and used it in the way they paint politicians. Likability and charisma have always been important for politicians. The news media generally report superficial things about politicians rather than trying to analyze policy and procedure. In spite of the fact that our culture promotes instant gratification, the truth is actually difficult to find. With the sheer amount of information that is out there, the public is overloaded with data. Most of the news on television consists of sound bites that are taken out of context and slanted to promote media bias. Generally, finding the actual truth...

Read More

Sketchy sales prove useful

The words black market are associated with shady and illegal practices. One image that comes to mind is the stereotypical man selling watches from his trench coat. The black market has a reputation of being unsafe and unproductive. Many do not realize the scope of the shadow economy. The pharmaceutical sector of the U.S. is valued around $252 billion while the illegal drug trade is around $215 billion. What is more surprising is that the illegal drug trade in the U.S. is worth $89 billion, more than the fast food industry in America. Globally the black market is massive. It has an estimated worth of $10 trillion. The shadow economy encompasses a whole slew of business practices. These ventures range from violent enterprises like drug trafficking and prostitution to unlicensed selling of goods like working as a street vendor. One reason for the sheer size of the shadow economy is because of the large quantity of workers employed under the system, which is 1.8 billion people. The widespread nature of the phenomenon has allowed for a good deal of international trade, which in turn has also contributed to the rapid growth of the underground economy. Much of the business that makes up the shadow economy is in the developing world. Illegitimate businesses in these countries are often able to circumvent their inefficient and often corrupt governments by dodging import regulations and taxes. In essence, they practice an extreme form of free trade. One of the largest suppliers in the international shadow economy is China. Sellers provide many different forms of electronics and machinery under the radar and off the books to African countries like Nigeria. While this is illegal because it violates international trade laws, it has actually benefited workers in countries like Nigeria. Companies in developing countries often do not have the budget to buy legal software and operating systems for their computers and have been known to pirate the software they need. There have always been those who have disregarded the rules and benefited. With the staggering number of those involved in the shadow and its success brings to question how flawed the shadow economy actually is. Prostitution and drug trafficking are illegal and have very negative consequences. Copyright infringement and breaking international trade laws are also illegal, but they can have positive consequences. For those in the developing world where the odds are stacked against them it would seem that participating in the shadow economy is their only option for economic success. The underground economy has had better success at uplifting the economic level of developing countries than all the international aid and work programs. Aid...

Read More
Muslim film plays key role in world riots
Oct02

Muslim film plays key role in world riots

There is an old English proverb; “The mob has many heads but no brains.” In the last two weeks there have been a series of brainless mobs in the Muslim world protesting a blasphemous film. Many of these protests have turned violent and resulted in several deaths The film is called the Innocence of Muslims. Along with being offensive to Muslims for referring to Muhammad as a pervert and many other blasphemous things, the movie is also an affront to anyone who has any respect for the art of cinema. The film appears to have been shot entirely on green screen, ad-libbed and done all in one take. It seems ridiculous for anyone to protest such a frivolous movie. But once you consider the power of an unruly crowd, then you realize how easily rational people can be driven to do irrational things. Most people have been involved in the social phenomena of a crowd. Whether it is in a school cafeteria or a sporting event, the herd mentality is visible in the crowd. Even though groups consist of different individuals often with different motives, they tend to move in the same direction. In order to fit into a crowd or group, people may choose to do things that go against their better judgment. This is fine as long as a crowd is coerced into doing something silly, but when a group is persuaded to do something dangerous, the outcome can be scary. The 2011 riots in the U.K. are a prime example of a crowd turning into a chaotic and violent mob. This tragedy began with an angry protest over a perceived injustice. A crowd in Tottenham gathered around a police department and demanded answers for the shooting of a suspect. The relatively peaceful protest became more unruly. The police were heavily outnumbered and completely unprepared for the crowd. As soon as the crowds realized this, they slipped into unfettered chaos. The looting and general violence that took place was senseless and irrational. It had nothing to do with the protest and only existed because of the irrational behavior that was masked by the herd instinct. The Tottenham riots were leaderless and random. The riots in the Middle East were organized by political leaders. In Egypt, the film was heavily publicized on two Islamic TV stations, and in other countries, Islamic clerics publicly denounced the movie. For the leaders of Pakistan, it is politically profitable to defend the honor of Islam so the government of Pakistan organized a national holiday and a protest. When the protest got out of control, it caused the death of 19 people. Under...

Read More
Solemn remembrance for 9/11
Sep11

Solemn remembrance for 9/11

It seems that most Americans have their own 9/11 story. There are those who had their flights delayed, those who found out from their sobbing teachers and those whose parents tried to shield their children from the tragedy. Some stories from overseas were not so different. I found out just as I was riding home from school in Germany where my family was living at the time. Since I was only nine, I certainly did not appreciate the gravity of the situation. All I knew was that my friends who knew people in New York were very concerned. My father’s story was different from the typical story. He was at the gate of a refugee center in Frankfurt, Germany, when he heard the news. His first reaction was not one of shock. He assumed that some small two-seater aircraft had run into one of the towers. When he entered the complex, he saw that the usually busy area was all but deserted. The refugee center was home to mostly Kurds, Turks and other Middle Easterners. It was uncharacteristic of them to stay inside and not be hospitable. One of my dad’s acquaintances invited him inside where four other men were watching the TV. No one in the room said a word. They all just stared at the TV. A Kurdish man stopped my father as he left the complex and told him in Turkish, “This shows that you can’t trust anyone–these were men of God who did this.” During the days following the tragedy, the world rallied around America. The German schools in our area closed their doors on Sept. 12. Non-Americans all over the world showed solidarity by holding mass vigils and grieving America’s loss. Some of my father’s Muslim friends even wrote him and apologized for a despicable act committed by their fellow Muslims. The tragedy had brought out the best of people, but it did not last. All the sympathy was soon lost as conspiracy and prejudice took hold. The United States invaded Afghanistan about one month after 9/11. Two years after that they invaded Iraq. International support soon began to fade. It started with Middle Eastern countries condemning the U.S. then continued with the populations of European countries as they removed support. Eventually, the initially ardent American public began to question the United States’ presence. More than 10 years later, we still have soldiers in Afghanistan, and Osama Bin Laden is dead. No doubt some good may have come out of sending soldiers to Afghanistan. However, once our soldiers leave, then all the good that was done will likely be undone. Was it really the...

Read More