User fees—such as state park entrance fees and garbage fees, where the user pays for the cost of a specific service or program.
Regulatory fees—such as fees on restaurants to pay for health inspections and fees on the purchase of beverage containers to support recycling programs. Regulatory fees pay for programs that place requirements on the activities of businesses or people to achieve particular public goals or help offset the public or environmental impact of certain activities.
Property charges—such as charges imposed on property developers to improve roads leading to new subdivisions and assessments that pay for improvements and services that benefit the property owner.1
According to the Founders of this country, we are to be an informed electorate so that we may chose the leaders that we want to take us in the direction the people desire. This is the basis for the First Amendment principle of a free and vigorous press and frank discussion of ideas. But many people question if we are being served as the Founders intended in this current era.
This may seem to be a simple and inane discussion but much of what is regarded as reliable information is based on inaccurate or inadequate information. Most people don’t have time to research each and every bit of information in this technically complex society and they are rarely eye witnesses to history so they are usually reliant upon on some kind of instrument to convey information to them. We are able to see events occurring via television or hear them on a radio. We may read about them in books or newspapers. You may look at one or two of these media reports on an issue and feel you have the whole story. Probably not. A great deal of what the public perceives as “news” is not so much information as it is hearsay or “conventional wisdom”.
In general, people accept the "mainstream" media version of an event or issue as fact without question and since most of the time our individual perspective of a situation does not affect much of anything we can survive quite well even if we are misinformed or do not adequately know or understand a certain situation. However, if on a cumulative scale, most or all of the public is given a skewed or inaccurate picture of what is actually occurring, it begins to affect their ability to determine what their true intentions for our nation and society are or should be. It is therefore, imperative that people receive all of the information that they can about an event or issue placed before them in order to make a correct decision as to how to guide themselves.
A worse scenario, as is the case in the world we live in today, is the situation where there are those who have billed themselves as impartial news providers but in reality are interested in manipulating information to fit into their particular ideological beliefs. It seems this practice has become more common these days. I am not speaking of those who consider and advertise themselves as commentators. I am referring to those who claim they are straight news organizations. Many of these news sources started out as impartial a long time ago but have changed over time to become biased because of institutional practices. Many may have been co-opted simply because they are or were respected as an impartial source of news and are now serving another agenda. . Some news outlets may not even realize that they have become biased. They have over many decades built up a journalistic laziness and a reliance on the sources they have used over the years that perpetuate their own conventional wisdom rather than research anew much of the information they report. Inaccurate reporting has also come in the form of reinforcement of bias in journalism schools
I first began to truly realize the news I was given was not even handed in the 1992 election. During the Presidential debates that year the moderator referred to then candidate Bill Clinton as “Governor Clinton" and used a smiley faced happy tone when asking him questions and referred to the President as " Mr. Bush" with an obvious snarl in her voice. This may seem trivial and petty but words paint vivid pictures and create lasting perceptions. Additionally, that year the news outlets reported the usual back and forth of the political campaign differently. Almost uniformly it was reported that George Bush "attacked" Bill Clinton while Bill Clinton merely "stated" and "asserted" certain talking points.
I believe that that first and foremost, the problem seems to be trust. It has become very difficult to trust the sources we used rely upon as straight unbiased accurate reporting. In this age, the idea of "fair and balanced” reporting is not to be expected as almost everyone has an angle or a spin of some sort.
So the best I believe we can expect is to know our sources. The first thing we can do is regard every report we see as a hostile witness and presuppose every report to have a bias. Know what their biases are and know of what authority from which they speak or from whom they cite as sources. Then research the sources they cite. Ask questions about what you see and read. We can ask ourselves crucial questions like:
- Do I believe the facts of this report based on the bias of the reporter? Usually there has to be some basis for a story in fact so some things may be true. Don’t throw out a report whole cloth.
- What is the reporter omitting that may be crucial? Many biased reports simply omit pertinent facts that don’t fit their view
- Is this event they are reporting truly unusual or newsworthy? Many times biased news outlets take you through the “how sausage is made” process to create the illusion that something illicit or irregular is occurring when in fact the process is standard operating procedure, which by its very nature is messy.
- Can I see something different than the reporter is reporting? Look through the story think about it logically and see if it makes sense.
- Does this fit to what you know to be true? All of us have life experiences. What does our gut tell us?
- Are the people that are guests experts on a show being respected? This also would be true for debates and interviews with newsmakers.
I’m sure you could ask a whole slew more questions of this nature.
Many people also discount pundits and those who are opinion based commentators as bad sources for news. I disagree. The most effective pundits cite where they get their information and then begin to build their case. There is merit in looking at their sources even if you disagree with the conclusion they reach. I find it much more delightful and informative listening to someone I disagree with pointing out opinions based on facts and sourcing them than someone I agree with preaching to the choir.
And by the way, comedic parody is not a refutation for facts and cites. So please no more silly Glenn Beck crying parodies, Rush Limbaugh is fat parodies or for that matter, Keith Olberman being overly theatric in his delivery parodies to try and prove they are wrong factually. They may be goofy but that is beside the point and probably what makes them interesting to watch. So if you can prove that sound bites from those who deliver quotes are doctored or false that is fine but please, Saturday Night Live is not a reliable source… Nor is John Stewart or Steven Colbert for that matter.
Also, all this bull about "can’t we all get along and be neutral and centered" is just a tactic to neutralize the opposition. We live in an adversarial world. Our country is based on adversarial factions. Iron sharpens iron. I say let the both sides argue as they see fit. Radio may be dominated by the right side of the aisle but TV and the education system is dominated by the left (Fox News excepted). Let both sides use the mediums that best suits them so we hear everything. Then we get to decide who’s’ goods to buy. Left and right clashing is the path to moderation as long as both sides have the good intentions of the people at heart.
The most egregious folks on new outlets are the ones who merely parrot the same old tired lines spewed over the wire time and again. A famous example of this is that Dick Cheney gave then candidate George W. Bush "gravitas". The word gravitas was repeated over and over again by every news outlet, giving the impression that this word was invented and then disseminated to the press from a single source for them to use ad nauseum. Great illustrations of this behavior is chronicled occasionally on right wing talk shows such as Rush Limbaugh or Roger Hedgecock who play a buzzword repeated by the "mainstream" media over and over in the news cycle. I could open up a webpage for people to deposit tired phrases the "news readers" use that becomes the foundation of much of the "conventional wisdom" people believe.
As we research and check facts as best we can in the time we have to do so we can start build a toolbox of reliable sources or people. Then we can rebuild the trust bond we have with the media. This time it can be built upon a more stable foundation because there will be no pretense or deception. That is because WE ARE the fair and balanced source…as we all should be in order to be responsible citizens
In some cases we are able to experience history firsthand but even then it may still be necessary to obtain another perspective or the vital background information to fully understand what we are witnessing. I literally felt history being made one recent Sunday in the form of the Easter earthquake we had here in Southern California. Even though I experienced it, I had very little information about the earthquake and the aftershocks that accompanied it. I had no idea what magnitude the quake was or where the epicenter was located. I had no idea if people or buildings were effected by the earthquake. I didn’t know if the damage was so bad that we were going to lose infrastructure here in San Diego. I could look around and see all of the buildings still standing, but I had no idea if the quake was centered upstate and would effect our water aqueducts or the San Onofre Nuclear plant, both of which would have an adverse effect on my quality of life.
It is a good thing I knew through years of research that I could rely on the USGS earthquake center internet site for magnitude and location information and could consult several cable news sources for pictures and information. (I would not have relied on the news for geological information …unless they sourced a reliable source. They have taken things as fact without research in the past) I later read news accounts online and in the local paper. Taken together with what I know and the opinion of those I trust, I feel that I have informed myself in a fair and balanced way.
P.S. I would love to discuss instances of bias and inaccuracy in length if anyone wants to do so
Up until now I have very sparingly wrote on this blog for a few reasons. Firstly, I spend a great portion of my day sitting in front of a computer and keyboard and to be quite honest, I am not one of the best typists the world has ever produced. What my short, fat stubby fingers lack in accuracy and speed, my love of technology and knowledge exceeds in desire and spirit and so I excel in pressing on in this electronic media.
Secondly, I am lazy and much the way the founders stated accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. Well things have gotten pretty unsufferable not so much for me yet but for my country. I swore an oath to defend the Constitution several times in my life and now it is time for me to do so.
I hope to not always be so deep and dreary but light and optomistic as well. After all I perceive myself as a pessimistic optomist… Things aren’t great right now but they will spectacular in the future!
SO I will endeavour to write my thoughts and share them with those who wish to read my words and hope that I can convince a few people to see things in a different way. I will also add my own observations/perspectives of life and society and hopefully we will have some fun along the way……
However in the case of this President we now see a pattern emerging. He has always claimed to be a progressive which is a methodical approach to socialism.
Glenn Beck points out that if you are a progressive, then what are you progressing to? (Glenn Beck effectively teaches on his show. He uses these peoples own quotes and book learning the point out his point of view. That is why he is the only right wing pundit I watch on a regular basis. Try watching for a while before judging him)…
Obama, was fathered by a socialist, mothered by a socialist sat at the foot of a socialist (Frank Marshall Davis) at the behest of his grandparents. Sought out socialists while in college (source: his own book)
In fact a socialist arguably ghost wrote his first book (Bill Ayers ..very similar writing patterns) and now we are supposed to believe he is a capitalist moderate who just happens to want the best for us by seizing car companies and 1/6th of the US economy before he moves on to using environmental policy to regulate/control all industries?
Think I am just being opinionated? The committee that will ultimately do that was created in the stimulus bill.
Also another commission is trying to calculate just what the average person need to get by day to day in this world and of course the next step would NEVER be to tax the so called rich until everyone has that amount. The politicians care too much for that.…
Forget the extra car or boat you have… This "progress" has been in the works for over 100 years way back before the time of our first progressive president Theodore Roosevelt, Republican.
We could further discuss the other points about Dems and Reps but please dig a little deeper on this one.