Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty

Reading the morning news over two plus hours has burdened me on a day I was hoping to shove away some paperwork to more narowly focus on 1. planning a trip to France. 2. start writing a book (an idea I’ve had for about twenty years now) 3. Studying my French. But first, I took a quick break to buy some coffee and breakfast sandwich from McDonalds where I discovered poor Batman’s head had tumbled into the street. After the news I’m now worried about losing mine.

The morning news from NPR, the New York Times and the Duluth Trib put me in mind of the famous quote headlining this post. Its variously attributed to Thomas Jefferson and a famed abolitionist among others. I agree with Wendell Phillips, the Abolutionists, thesis which reads more fully:

“Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty; power is ever stealing from the many to the few. The manna of popular liberty must be gathered each day or it is rotten. The living sap of today outgrows the dead rind of yesterday. The hand entrusted with power becomes, either from human depravity or esprit de corps, the necessary enemy of the people. Only by continued oversight can the democrat in office be prevented from hardening into a despot; only by unintermitted agitation can a people be sufficiently awake to principle not to let liberty be smothered in material prosperity.”

So, daily objectives 1, 2, and 3 must be placed on hold until I lecture my poor eight loyal readers about those news stories.

I’ll start local:

Poor old Duluth City Councilor Jay Fosle is once again the butt of condemnation for his ham handed reply to a woman who told the council of her miscarriage 30 years ago that she thinks could have been avoided if Duluth required local business to pay their employees during times of illness. Fosle turned a vulnerable disclosure into an inept lecture on personal responsibility. As the only old woman left on a council brimming with colleagues who want to build barricades in the streets of Paris I feel badly for the moderate/conservative position he single-handedly maintains. The question he could have asked was simple in retrospect. Did the speaker really believe it was the responsibility of the store owner who employed her to pay her to stay home for the next 24 weeks of a pregnancy? The answer is pretty obvious – No. Was it fair that she had to work? The answer to that is also – No. Obviously her Doctors at the time who advised against work knew what they were talking about.

I see only one logical solution but its not one that can be implemented locally in isolation. Small business owners should not be put in a position to shut down when confronted with the medical costs of a single employee. The solution is to adopt national health care or what used to be panned as Socialized medicine. Ah, but that would require a national solution which is beyond the reach of local health care advocates.

Once again Councilor Fosle will come under attack by his critics some of whom have not been all that nice as they pursue noble aims. The first salvo came from “Twin Ports Feminist Action Collective.”

This organization attacked me semi-anonymously and never offered a correction or an apology for their dirty work. They weren’t alone. A website ostensibly organized to support western Duluth beat me up too. I recently discovered that one of the Western Duluth Lens’s chief organizers is the fellow who single-handedly convinced our school Administration to fire a black Duluth principal. Good bedfellows on Facebook perhaps?

I remember coming back from Australia about six years ago on a long flight and watching a movie I had skipped in the theaters. It was all about the brash Harvard student, Mark Zukerberg, who created Facebook. Ironically, he fully understands the hurt an unfair attack can cause. In this Guardian story Mark complains that the movie “made up stuff” about him.

Its ironic because what Mark says happened to him has been repeated tens of thousands of times for every one of the hundreds of millions of people who are on Facebook. It made him another mega billionaire and some part of his mega billions has come from the massive spreading of lies his invention has made possible.

Now to those other “eternal vigilance” stories:

From NPR about Lyudmila Savchuck a Russian Journalist who worked undercover to discover how the Russians (financed by a Russian billionaire) trolled Facebook and the Internet to enhance world ignorance.

From the New York Times about Cambridge Analytica hired at the urging of Stephen K. Branson to mine Facebook for data to elect Donald Trump when Ted Cruz fell by the wayside.

The billionaire who financed this plan is an American Robert Mercer.

Upon reading this story I ran to retrieve Jane Mayer’s book Dark Money which I’ve only managed to get half way through and discovered that Mercer only got four brief mentions in the book about the Kochs, DeVos’s and other mega-billionaires trying to reshape America into a version of Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World for Billionaires.

Mercer’s four mentions? Fighting off Government charges that he failed to pay 6 billion dollars of unpaid taxes. His signing on with the Koch Cabal. Spending a million dollars to prevent a mosque from being built in New York City. Turning “primaries” into a sure fire way to defeat any Republican congressman daring to speak moderately or rationally about issues contrary to the red flag wavers of the party and finally spending 2 million for the toy trains in his house.

I wish Mercer would stick to his toy trains. Mercer’s and Putin’s playing with Democracy obligates me to be vigilant when I getting a little tired of it. Which brings up Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World again. There is an interesting review of his work compared to Orwell’s similarly dystopian novel 1984. Huxley once wrote to Orwell and explained that he thought his (Huxley’s) anti-utopia of growing people in test tubes, which stunted the working class foeteses by giving them less oxygen, was more likely to happen than Orwell’s vision of a jackbooted dystopia. He explained; All you need to do is teach people to love their servitude.

There now – just needs a little proof reading and then I return to my top three goals for the day.