Comments about ‘Letter: Opiate of the masses’

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Published: Wednesday, April 30 2014 12:00 a.m. MDT

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On this topic I recently watched a cartoon on Youtube depicting Plato's Allegory of the Cave. I didn't understand it entirely when I viewed it in the 8th grade. Now when I saw it it really opened my eyes and I saw it clearly. The letter writer describes the same thing, albeit I like Plato's version a bit better :)

one old man
Ogden, UT

In other words: Money in politics is poisoning democracy.

Cleveland , OH

Part of our political theater is the illusion the two political parties are different. In reality, they are as different as Burger King and McDonalds. Slight variations in formula, menu and advertising but both serve processed hamburger, greasy fries, and high-fat milkshakes designed to look like food but having little nutritional value.

Of 537 elected officials in Washington I can think of one - Bernie Sanders of Vermont - who is probably not be owned by big corporations and a very small handful of others who might not be.

The actual political debates, campaigns and legislative fights are as scripted as a season of Professional Wrestling, right down to the kooky characters who deliver fire-breathing threats and dire warnings in a display so formulaic it could be presented by the clockwork automatons of a ride at Disney World.

The left claims to protect the poor, the right to promote the middle-class. Both serve the 1% with total devotion.

Meanwhile, our votes and demands have as much effect on the process as those folks who yell advice to to the characters on a movie screen.

Durham, NC

Being a numbers guy.... lets put the problem this way. In 1800, each Senator represented about 53,000 citizens each. By 1900, that number had risen to 762,000 per senator. At the turn of the century, each senator now has over 3,000,000 constituents they represent. There is like math for the House side.

It is no wonder there is some level of disenfranchisement by the electorate. If you live in a town of 53,000.... the degrees of separation between you and someone else is only so much.... you probably know somebody who knows of another person in question. But when you get to ratios like 1 of 3 million... you can easily see why people feel disconnected from whom they are voting for.

In small states like Utah.... the ration is much lower - one senator per about 1.4 million or so. But in larger states, even mid-sized like North Carolina, that number jumps to 1 senator per 4.2 million. In California, Texas, New York and Florida - the gap is even much larger.

We feel more disconnected because we are far more disconnected now....

2 bits
Cottonwood Heights, UT

I think he's got a point here... but no solution proposed...

And before the usual people go there... just preventing people with money or corporations with money from funding commercials... will not solve it.

Even before that (and today) we have the network news agencies setting themselves up as "King Makers". They promote some candidates with their selective good coverage... and they doom some candidates with their selectively bad coverage. They have an obvious bias and an agenda (IMO).

I don't think they even realize they have a bias... it's just a natural byproduct of the cloistered culture they live in (as NYC media elites)...

Elections have ALWAYS been controlled by the Media.... and they always will...

Hank Pym

re: Stormwalker

"Part of our political theater is the illusion the two political parties are different. In reality, they are as different as Burger King and McDonalds."

Agreed. Love the analogy.

to 2 bits

"I think he's got a point here... but no solution proposed..."

Possible solutions... start voting for more 3rd party candidates, repeal Citizens United & recent SCOTUS on donations by corporations.

Sandy, UT

2 bits: I offered no solution because there is none that can be effectively implemented at this stage. We just have to wait for the current regime to implode. Any changes you can suggest will be purely cosmetic and futile.

Durham, NC

"We just have to wait for the current regime to implode. "

What? Current Regime? And you expect it t be replaced with what? My head is spinning here..... are you proposing there is something other than a republican based system (not the party - but system) that will work better?

What are you saying you are waiting for.... a Syrian style solution? Like what is going on in the Ukraine right now? What solution or event are you predicting?

2 bits
Cottonwood Heights, UT

Don't always go straight for the, "They want Nazi or Syria or North Korea"... That's totally bogus. It may make you feel good to say it... but everybody knows it's not true.

I wonder if the system he's waiting for is NOT Syria.... Hold onto your head...
I wonder if it's a less corrupt national constitutional republic! He can dream...

I don't know if he's a religious person, but if he is... he could be thinking of when governments of men colapse, and Christ returns and is the head of the government and we live in peace for 1000 years...

There's LOTS of possibilities short of Syria. I think him wanting Syria in America is a LONG shot at best.

Bountiful, UT

We see this effect in Utah, as well.

A prime example is the school vouchers issue of a few years back. The Legislature passed a school vouchers bill. The public, through direct referendum, repealed the bill. In response the Legislature made it more difficult for voters to bring up referendums in the future.

People aren't stupid - this is why voting participating in Utah is dismal. It's viewed by many as a charade.

Ultra Bob
Cottonwood Heights, UT

The reason governments fail is because of the corruption of the people who control the government. The corruption comes from the natural greed that every human being has as a result of the survival instinct. We can't change that. If we would have good government that protected and promoted the general welfare of all citizens, we must remove the influence of money in the choices of people we choose to govern us.

Stop, do away with, political campaigns. Allow all to apply for jobs and post their qualifications by resume. Prohibit business from providing any financial aid to candidates.

Allow and demand that every citizen vote. Remove obstacles and use government recourses to go out to the voters when necessary. Voting should never have any cost to the voter. Void any election where less than 98% of the voters participate.

2 bits
Cottonwood Heights, UT

Part of the problem is that our politicians have kinda stopped responding to the people...

They no longer fear the people (or their vote). Because they know they have us where they want us... and we can't AFFORD to not re-elect them.

And they know they can work hard for every individual vote... OR... they can trust their party and their fund-raisers to insure that they get re-elected... but they don't have to dirty their hands or sully themselvs with meeting the people they represent, and think they have power with their tiny little vote... just the people at the $2000/plate fund raisers (who represent thousands of votes)...

Times have changed.

Cleveland , OH

Only citizens can vote.

The only way to become a citizen is to prove you would give your life for your country. "A soldier accepts personal responsibility for the safety of the body politic of which he is a member, defending it, if need be, with his life. The civilian does not." (Heinlein)

So you demonstrate your willingness by joining the military and serving a term - four years, unless you are wounded and honorably discharged. Citizenship cannot be passed on - a parent's service does not confer citizenship to a child or spouse.

Only those who have shown selfless dedication you the country can hold elected office, from dog catcher to president.

You show that dedication by serving in the military at least 20 years and then retiring and then running for public office.


Campaign spending limits fail because they address a symptom rather than the root cause. Ultra Bob got started on the right track, but then veered off the track to make the assertion that coercion will solve our problems. But when the wrong guy is doing the coercing it tends to get really ugly. And there is no better way to guarantee that the wrong guy will end up in charge than by setting up such a system.

Look, people wouldn't spend bazillions of dollars getting their cronies elected if the didn't expect to get some kind of return on their investment. The problem is that politicians have something to sell. The only solution that works is to strip politicians / government of the ability to sell anything, whether it be unfair market advantage or flat out theft from taxpayers. That was the point of the American Revolution that we seem to have forgotten. Power corrupts, they said, so let's not copy England centralize all power in one body, because the inevitable outcome will be corruption.

Durham, NC

@2 bits.... I surely hope were not waiting on the second coming before we start trying to fix these problems. I am surely one who is not willing to just throw my hands up and hope God is going to make a regime change. And lets be honest here... there have been more than a few that have suggested we need to go to armed confrontation "to take our country back".

So yes, I agree, Syria is a draconian idea that I don't think many sane people want. I am also pretty sure I didn't mention anything about Nazi's or North Korea.... nor communism or even any form of dictatorship.... for that fact. I am interested in what was meant by regime implosion. I am not getting any religious context out of that statement... but I may be missing some nuance somewhere.

What do Nazi's or North Korea have to do with that?

@Pops... I agree with you that power corrupts, but as we have seen lately it also corrupts on the local and state levels too. Not sure gong local changes that equation much. And thanks for the CO2 answer.... made sense.

Sandy, UT

Utah Blue Devil: I used the term "regime" in the sense of a time period of our current economic system. I wasn't referring to an apocalyptic or other doomsday event. I simply mean that I don't see the possibility of any significant deviation from the current trajectory because those in power have no intention of loosening their grip on the status quo. I believe that this regime is unsustainable, so it faces an inevitable collapse or implosion. I have no clue what's on the other side of that.



Yes, I agree that power can corrupt at the local level. Perhaps we expect too much of local government as well, and thus endow it with excessive power. And perhaps we as a people are more inclined to corruption.

Freedom is difficult to maintain, as it requires a great deal of personal discipline along with a supportive government framework. I attribute a large part of America's success in years gone by to the fact that the people who came here not only escaped the trap of state-sponsored religion, which engenders a great deal of corruption, and tyrannical governments, but at the same time were highly religious in that they believed it was one's personal responsibility to be morally upright. Today? Not so much. It is astonishing to me how many people apparently believe, for example, that recreational drug use is their purpose in life. I fear that problems of corruption will only get worse unless we can get back on the track that worked in the past. We know how to do it, but it isn't fashionable.

(You're welcome on the CO2. )

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