Letters to the Editor

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October 10, 2011

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To the editor:

George Will mischaracterized Ms. Warren’s comment about rich folks owing something to society (Journal-World, Oct. 6).  She said a successful person should get to keep a “big hunk” of their wealth and that they should part with “a hunk” to reimburse society for its role in their success. She did not say that “any individual’s achievements should be considered entirely derivative from society,” as Mr. Will put it.

Mr. Will also overstates the liberal view that people can be manipulated by advertising. I am a liberal, and I believe in free speech and individual responsibility. I do not think of “other Americans” as a bovine herd. I do believe that, in our free market economy, unscrupulous people sometimes lie and mislead others to make a buck, and busy people needing to operate in an extremely complex economic environment do not have the time or resources to research every economic move they make. “Let the buyer beware” is neither fair nor realistic in this day and age. 

I wish Mr. Will would stop exaggerating the liberal perspective. He is just knocking down a straw man when he does.

Comments

Ron Holzwarth 3 years, 9 months ago

I am staying out of the first issue mentioned, that is, the tax debate. But, as for the second issue, wow.

"Mr. Will also overstates the liberal view that people can be manipulated by advertising."

It's a fact that many people are easily manipulated by advertising. I can hardly believe that anyone would think otherwise. If that were not so, it would not be a such a huge industry. The estimated budget for advertising and marketing in the USA in 2008 was $412,400,000,000 (yes, 412.4 billion dollars).
http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20090805095200AAhL2K1 which was sourced from:
http://www.outsellinc.com/

"unscrupulous people sometimes lie and mislead others to make a buck,"

That was old when the pyramids were being built.

"people,,, do not have the time or resources to research every economic move they make."

This is the internet age! Information, which is the only thing you need for research, is only a few mouse moves and key clicks away. It's infinitely easier to do any kind of research today than it ever was before.

I really don't understand the problem. Do people need help to do grocery shopping?

voevoda 3 years, 9 months ago

Actually, it's not very quick or easy to get reliable information about products off the internet. I've spent hours researching a major purchase; I don't have the time to check into the reliability of every grocery product I buy. Is that cantaloupe going to make me sick? What about that bag of spinach? That carton of eggs? Is the "natural" peanut butter really pure? It takes quite a while just to separate the company propaganda from the wacko bloggers and the self-promoting "health" sites. A lot of ordinary people don't have the education to distinguish reliable from unreliable information. "Buyer beware" is certainly not a real option for those of us who have to earn a living. But I agree with you about the power to advertising. It's a form of propaganda, like political advertising, and there is a lot of psychological research that goes into crafting it to be effective. Can people overcome its effects? Yes, of course. But once again it depends upon people having sufficient education to challenge the messages they are being given, especially if the messages coincide with what they want to think already.

jafs 3 years, 9 months ago

The simplest thing we've done that helps immensely with advertising is simply to mute the sound when it comes on.

That's something everybody could do pretty easily.

Also, just think of this - companies are paying for advertising costs. It has to be effective enough that enough people buy their products at a price high enough to pay for all of their costs, including advertising.

Ron Holzwarth 3 years, 9 months ago

That's why generic products are so much cheaper!

jafs 3 years, 9 months ago

Yep.

I'm astonished at how many people willingly pay 3-4x the cost for a name brand product sitting on the shelf next to an identical generic one.

verity 3 years, 9 months ago

What Voevoda said.

It takes a lot of time to do adequate research and it can be difficult to separate facts from opinion stated as fact (we know from these boards how often the two are confused).

Ron Holzwarth 3 years, 9 months ago

I am very frustrated! I wrote a whole lot just now, and then I accidentally deleted it!

But the essence of it was that you need to: 1) Consider the source. That is, look at what you are reading. It should not be difficult to distinguish scholarly viewpoints from opinion. If you are unable to do that, you should have a friend direct you towards a reliable source, such as 'Consumer Reports'.

2) Follow the money. That is, consider what the writer's agenda is. Is he/she trying to direct you towards a certain decision, without presenting other options? In that case, you should read a directly opposing viewpoint.

"a lot of time to do adequate research".

Thanks to the Internet and search engines, we can do research infinitely faster than ever before! We live in the Information Age, and yet the basics of any financial decision have not changed at all. It was much more difficult in the past, when it was necessary to either go to the library or subscribe to multiple publications in order to do any meaningful research.

And for sure, on this forum there is a lot of confusion between fact and opinion! But, when you read some of the ridiculous claims made here that have no basis in fact, it's quite obvious which posters are more highly educated on the subjects that they are attempting to discuss.

It's all about what you use for a source. If you don't have a lot of time, you should in some way find somewhere that you can quickly read up on the subjects that you need to be informed upon before you make any decision.

grammaddy 3 years, 9 months ago

That's what George Will does..and is paid VERY WELL for it.

Getaroom 3 years, 9 months ago

George Will needs to get out of his pressed jeans and intellectual tower and hit the streets. Don't ever expect him to do an article with a positive slant for a Democrat, that would not do now would it? Do you think for instance, he might delve into Brownbackwards true religious beliefs to uncover how he is arriving at his current political activities and why he is dismantling state government to mold it into his own image? Nope. I would challenge the LJW to subscribe to a syndicated columnist who is willing to take on any side. Since we know the one sided slant of the current characters on this blog, how about mixing it up so they have something else to bounce up against. I mean really - given the bulk of blather we read on this blog, you might as well rebroadcast everything FOX NEWS puts out. I suppose the LJW bosses feel that the "anonymous" aspect of this blog puts more eyes on the source, but it also encourages people to say things they otherwise might not. How about upping the quality of this blog and make all of us put our real names up front just like in the letters to the editor. Until it is required by all - it will not happen.

voevoda 3 years, 9 months ago

I'm afraid, Getaroom, that requiring posters to provide their names will not guaranee civility. Remember Tom Shewmon, now (apparently) banned from these forums, who had no compunction about calling others vile names. At the same time, if posters are required to give their names, what is to protect them from being accosted (or worse) at home or on the job by people who are irate about what they said? Authors who voice controversial views have taken cover under the moniker "Anonymous" for centuries for just that reason. That said, Getaroom, I think that it is quite proper for those of us who prefer civility to remind uncivil posters that calling names is inappropriate. So is misrepresenting what other people said. I'm convinced that when posters become offensive (in both senses of the word), it's because they don't have evidence and reason on their side and at some level they know it.

Joe Blackford II 3 years, 9 months ago

I often use the following comment when it is evident minds have been sealed for some timeI. I suspect that "evidence & reason" have never crossed the threshold of some posters' minds. The results of the Kansas electoral process are evidence for reaching that judgement.

"Catsap's comment has not been posted due to restrictions on rational thought & civil discourse in the shallow end of the gene pool."

verity 3 years, 9 months ago

"George Will needs to get out of his pressed jeans . . ."

While I appreciate the sentiment, Mr Will doesn't wear jeans---he wrote a column some time ago excoriating the unwashed and boorish masses who wore them. By doing so he managed to unite everybody except one person on these boards against him. It was one of his greatest accomplishments.

He had to buy a pair once to go to a themed party. Apparently he never got over it.

voevoda 3 years, 9 months ago

Why should you interpret a call for wealthier citizens to share a little with those who are not so well-to-do as a "collectivist political agenda"? That proposition say a lot more about your point of view than about Elizabeth Warren's. And, I'm afraid, it casts you as a greedy person who lacks compassion for the less fortunate. I hardly think that that is the way you'd care to come across.

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