Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Kicking My News Addiction

Tibor R. Machan

Many moons ago I was a news addict. I had it coming from TV, radio, via the papers and magazines, and wherever else I could get it. I was a news junkie but I am no more.

First, I am older and don’t want to get all the news, especially since I usually can’t do anything about it. Second, it seems like every news source has adopted the CNN—“crisis news network”—formula. Nearly every item is aimed to put the fear of God in us.

Recently I started to use a treadmill in my garage and while doing so I have experimented with watching CNN, Fox, or some other news channel and the couple or three times I have done so have confirmed to me that there is not so much any news being communicated but mostly scary stories, ones happening someplace where people may be a bit panicked about this or that but there isn’t anything worth watching for you.

Take, for example, Fox’s story about the plastic baby bottles that may, if you heat them to above 100 degrees Fahrenheit, might produce some harmful materials to little children. This took up five minutes and concluded with some doctor saying she would be careful but not alarmed. Then there was the story from London, reporting how the Brits are deploying talking TV cameras that supervise and reprimand people in public places for all kinds of alleged misdeeds. This took up nearly ten minutes with comments from people who liked it and others who thought it couldn’t happen in America where civil liberties are prized far more than in England.

No mention was made at all of the fact that this phenomenon is mostly the result of the expanding public sphere both in England and here, where the government deems itself fully authorized to become everyone’s Nanny and totalitarian police. Within the private sector, in contrast, such measures would be left to those who own the realm and there would be competition between those who deploy the supervisory mode and those who do so minimally or not at all.

Then there was that story from Colorado where a fallen Iraqi war hero was supposed to be getting a memorial, depicting him in full military gear, and some of those who recall the Columbine massacre are protesting this. Once again, no one said anything about how this is an issue because there is once again a public realm in which the controversy arose—were the memorial being planned for a private area, this would be a matter of whoever owns it, not everyone’s business.

But then we are now living not in a free society but in one that adheres to the principles of so called democratic socialism—everything is a matter of public concern and which side has the greater numbers tends to win. Which pretty much shows that the worry about bringing the Brits’ ways over here can be valid because civil liberties have no impact without private property rights. You cannot be free of government meddling when the government has been legally authorized to be in charge of everything. And by now there is very little respect for private property rights in our legal system—the sole effort to establish such respect lies with libertarian organizations such as the Washington, D.C. based Institute of Justice and the Sacramento, CA, based Pacific Legal Foundation. While they have scored some victories both in the court and at the ballot box, the trend isn’t going their way and the country is slowly but surely being socialized in virtually all areas.

If the news had some brains behind it, instead of simply presenting stories that seem to have no other purpose than to scare us out of our wits, we could have some intelligent commentators and analysts who could show us why these scary things are happening. They might communicate to the public that whenever everything in society comes under government jurisdiction, there is no liberty left, no way to escape the Nanny state, no way to dodge the regulators (for which read: regimentors).

No comments: