It was interesting to view the Ken Burns documentary about Benjamin Franklin. Once can learn quite a bit about liberty and freedom and the responsibility it takes to achieve and attain such liberty and freedom. One can also learn about dealing with what the truth is and differentiating lies from the truth, which is what is polarizing America today in quite large numbers. Newspapers and news people have abandoned local news and correctly portraying any local candidates, from local level, to state level, to Federal level. Learn from Ben Franklin regarding common sense, but it is all being tossed out the window by people who no longer have a moral sensitivity to workers and community. This ignores what Scottish theologian and philosopher, Adam Smith, said during the “Enlightenment” period of the late 1800s. In this Burns documentary, one can learn about the time Franklin spent with Adam Smith and Scottish philosopher, David Hume, as well. In the end, Franklin demonstrates his acceptance of the two Scottish men and ultimately, after spending a great deal of time in London, rejected the English king. You know. The one who was mentally crazed and ended up sending troops to America?
Here are some quotes pertinent to my discussion, from Ben Franklin:
“We are all born ignorant, but one must work hard to remain stupid.” As educators, we all have believed that, to become humble, one can overturn ignorance, learn and gain wisdom. Humility. Someone once told Franklin that, in his list of pertinent characteristics, he forgot to include the word, humility. Franklin came to terms with this projection and changed his positions on issues, after recognizing he needed to maintain humility and learn. He did learn. This thought helps differentiate between “stupidity” and “ignorance” for which too many Americans today have no sense about that differentiation. I was glad to learn Ben Franklin outlined this differentiation. I had not idea that my expressions to do such differentiation was once defined by Franklin, as exemplified in this quote.
A side note. I did have to wonder, when Sixty Minutes ran the report about the people at NPR who were doing the story telling project were also doing the project to stop polarization in America between ‘conservative and liberal,” some project about “One small first step…” were mocking me when they proclaimed they had to “stop those who were calling others stupid and idiotic.” I confess. I have written to Sixty Minutes and other sources and have used such exclamations about “stupid and idiotic Americans.” I am not going to hide it. Perhaps I should simply revert to the fact that Sixty Minutes and other people in the media really take no interest in my writing and tend to simply mock me about the things not liked by me? I don’t know. Only my conjecture.
At the end of the day, I always need to reiterate that my first concern, as exemplified by Franklin, is about humanity, not money. That was the sense of Adam Smith, too, and I have repeated this over and over again. There have been, since Franklin’s time, too many times when individualist egotistical money lovers have tried to blow holes in what Adam Smith really intended in his treatise on economics and a sense of morality because they simply want to keep putting the King George type of people up on pedestals as the oligarchs they are. Over time, there have been people like Teddy Roosevelt, another Scottish man in America, Andrew Carnegie, and several others who have made attempt to counter the ruthless money loving selfish purveyors of individualism as being what capitalism is all about. They have done a good job because too many Americans miss the point about what capitalism was intended to be: a notion of balance in the universe that anti-puritanical Ben Franklin and others in the Founding Fathers (Deists) intended. The examples are in the “checks and balances” in democratic form of government which are being corrupted by money-loving individualists in business today, in their quest, by way of Citizens United, PACs, and lobbyists, corrupt this government today, just as Putin is doing in Russia.
Hitler, like Trump, DeSantis, Rick Scott, and others, never repents from the wrongs he did in his murder and executions of many people in Europe. Purportedly, some of the last words of Hitler were that “the German people never understood what a great man he [Hitler] is.” To repent would have been to say something different than that. But the reader of Meine Kampf, Donald Trump, has yet to acknowledge that Biden won the election of 2020, when the facts prove otherwise, and the facts speak out, over and over again. Trump will never repent for what he had done. Perhaps King George never did, either? The net result is the damage Trump and the others guys do to America. In this documentary, we learn that Ben Franklin DID acknowledge some of his wrongs, which is a form of humility.
Can you differentiate fact from fiction? Why not? Do you understand that this idea about inflation and gasoline prices, as with the election of 2020, is not the fault of Democrats? In fact, the ideas about “anything goes” in the economics of free markets, one can see it is the Libertarians (anarchists) who COULD be blamed more than anyone else. Where are these people? Situated in the Republican Party and unwilling to be held accountable for the net results brought upon people in a bad and malicious way, as with Putin going into the Ukraine. The Libertarians can LOOK good because the other side of their argument is being “socially progressive.” But even with being “socially progressive,” as I learned it in the days I was a Republican and heard this idea expressed, it never meant to be represented by, “anything goes.” Adam Smith discusses this, as he talks about the moral sense of having self-control with human passions. Not that Franklin did his best in achieving this, the womanizer he was.
You ask, “what’s the point to all of this?” You might call this a diatribe. It’s not, unless you refuse to be humble and learn, as Franklin was able to achieve, but was not perfect in doing so. The point to all of this is I am getting fed up with Democrats being smeared through the use of lies, over and over again. In his State of the Union Address, President Biden identified his support of funding law and order and police forces, not defunding it. I can prove that there are both Republicans and Democrats who have endorsed defunding. Our leader put out the facts. One should not be stereotyping all Democrats as being supportive of such a notion, just as I should not be stereotyping all Republicans as endorsing defunding. Yet, the Republican response to the president, from some lady in Iowa who sits in Congress, was to claim “that Democrats support defunding police.” Just the facts, ma’am and boy did you miss the boat on that one.
Then there are the congressional Republicans who did NOT support President Biden and the Democrats in the infrastructure bills then they go home and prey upon the stupidity of their constituents by taking credit for the parts of the infrastructure bill which impact the constituents. Yeah. Go ahead and blow holes in what I just said by making a claim that “the Democrats were unfair and did not listen to ONLY what we Republicans wanted.” Such perverts in the Republican Party miss the point about what it takes to live in a democracy. They want their cake and eat it too. They don’t want to have included what some others want, so they falsely take credit for the passage of some bill which they did not support because the net result was: “I can’t have my cake and eat it, too.” The little snotty bratty bullies then, like kids in a sandbox, kick sand int he face of otehrs and leave the sandbox. “I don’t get my way 100%, so go screw you Democrats,” inventing all kinds of tarnishing, like little snotty kids who lack maturity. I call this “stupid and ignorant” immature people because they are.
Another issue. Gasoline prices. Reading in the media about how bad it is. It is bad. No doubt about it. It is refreshing when there is one newspapers which presents ideas for how to get around such an issue and deal with high cost of gasoline AND food, too. They also address issues about President Biden is proposing to tap America’s oil reserves, too. Snotty immature little bratty kids want instant gratification and that notion has also been the undoing of America which I could outline in another essay. Polarization by newspapers and media presenting only national news and never getting to the depth of local politics and local issues. The exceptions to this can be found in some newspapers, so don’t bother to yell at me for “stereotyping.” There I go again. Reiterating what I already said.
For me, this notion of high gasoline prices brings back a memory of the 1973 oil embargo and high gasoline prices at that time. What I failed to do was to also speak about the impact of inflation, since 1973, on the prices of gasoline in 1973 when they reached $4.00 or $5.00 per gallon. Because when they reached that price level back then, one can consider that having $5.00 per gallon today is actually a wonderful thing, when considering how much higher the actual price of $5.00 per gallon was back in the 1970s. I would wager that, in today’s dollars, $5.00 in 1973 would be far higher than $5.00.
Then I read Marilyn vos Savant in Parade Magazine this past Sunday (3 April 2022). Let me quote her. She added another dimension to what I am saying. She does a comparison of gasoline in a time of very good economic growth, 1950, to today “Adjusted for inflation, the purchasing power of 27 cents in 1950 dollars is $2.97 now. But here’s a big difference: The average gas mileage for passenger cars in 1950 was 15 mpg, but it’s about 25 mpg now. So what grandpa experienced in 1950 was what we experience when gasoline is $5.00 per gallon today. In short, it was even worse for him [grandpa].” Add to that, the fact that “average” today is figured also on the existence of hybrid cars and electric cars. Imagine how much better it will likely get in the future with electric cars. Yes, invent anything you wish about the shortfalls of electric cars and batteries. But based on what I am optimistic about, due to AMERICAN INGENUITY, we CAN overcome such obstacles. But we won’t overcome obstacles when there are those who are pessimistic (pissimistic) about this and hand out gloom and doom statements which simply are lies being told over and over again and they become self-fulfilling prophesies. Yes, it has been a long haul to get to these days with regard to electric cars. But let’s be glad that some of the car companies involved in throwing the monkey wrench into it all, from many years ago (1980s upstate NY and an upstart car company in which a certain big car manufacturer bought up all the battery supplies, patents, or what ever, and put the company out of business, are now involved with the development of electric cars.
American ingenuity. My dad told me about American ingenuity when that he observed when he was in the occupying forces in Japan, when peace was declared at the end of World War II. You see, there was a shortage of gasoline for the convoy in which he was involved in moving from Tokyo to the northern reaches of Japan (so as to block Soviet forces from coming in to take over that northern portion). That gasoline shortage did not stop the troops with their jeeps and equipment. My dad told me about using alternative fuels at a time of need. He mentioned one such fuel was charcoal. Have no idea how it was done. Perhaps I should have questioned my dad more. American ingenuity in time of need. In other words, “when times get tough, the tough get going.” And I am not referencing thugs like QAnon or MAGA with insurrectionists. They are pessimistic stupid idiots. No I am talking about those Americans who see a need to DO SOMETHING and DO IT, for the good of community and nation. They don’t do it just for their own individualistic egos which are like snotty immature egos. Why does it seem as if there are people in other nations who are doing this better than America is doing, as we hear the wealthy oligarch autocrats of America who line of pockets of Congress with PACs and lobbyists, are out there with such power and control.
Other Ben Franklin quotes:
“Tricks and treachery are the practice of fools, that don’t have brains enough to be honest.”
“Little minds [like Republicans tarnishing other people because they disagree and provide only false ideas about why they disagree] think and talk about people.
Average minds think and talk about things and actions.
Great minds think and talk about ideas.”
“Common sense is something that everyone needs, few have, and none think they lack.”
“Thirteen virtues necessary for true success: temperance, silence, order, resolution, frugality, industry, sincerity, justice, moderation, cleanliness, tranquility, chastity, and humility.” Notice that good old Ben does not include the thing from Ayn Rand in the mid-20th Century in which the snotty immature ones of America (like Trump and many Republicans and Libertarians) have grabbed at: “virtue of selfishness.”
“If everyone is thinking alike, then no one is thinking.” … As is pushed by puritanical dimwits and despotic autocratic government led by plutocrats such as Putin, Trump, DeSantis, Rick Scott, and others.
“What you seem to be, be really.”
“A true Friend is the best Possession.”
“No gains without pains.”
“When you’re good to others, you’re best to yourself.”
“It is better to take many Injuries than to give one.”
“He that falls in love with himself will have no rivals.”
“In free governments [and business, commerce, economics] the rulers are the servants, and the people their superiors and sovereigns.”
“Justice will not be served until those who are unaffected are as outraged as those who are” Not gay? Not black? Then be as outraged about the treatment of such people in the past and don’t take for granted what has been achieved to overturn such lousy bigoted treatment.
“He that can have patience can have what he will.”
“Honesty is the best policy.”
“Do not anticipate trouble, or worry about what may never happen. Keep in the sunlight.”
“Without continual growth and progress, such words as improvement, achievement, and success have no meaning.”
“Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.”
“An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.”
“Being ignorant is not so much a shame, as being unwilling to learn.”
“The only thing that is more expensive than education is ignorance.”
“Happiness depends more on the inward disposition of mind than on outward circumstances.”
“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”…… Being proactive, not reactionary.
“The heart of a fool is in his mouth, but the mouth of a wise man is in his heart.”
“We must all hang together, or assuredly we shall all hang separately.”
“Our cause is the cause of all [hu]mankind…we are fighting for their liberty in defending our own.” ….. It is not about individual rights.
“The more the people are discontented with the oppression of taxes, the greater the need the prince has of money to distribute among his partisans and pay the troops that are to suppress all resistance and enable him to plunder at pleasure.”
“Only a virtuous people are capable of freedom. As nations become more corrupt and vicious, they have more need of masters.”
“Ordaining of laws in favor of one part of the nation to the prejudice and oppression of another is certainly the most erroneous and mistaken policy…An equal dispensation of protection, rights, privileges, and advantages, is what every part is entitled to, and ought to enjoy.”
Benjamin Franklin expressed the goal of America’s experiment in liberty when he said, “God grant that not only the love of liberty but a thorough knowledge of the rights of man may pervade all the nations of the earth, so that a philosopher may set his foot anywhere on its surface and say: This is my country.”
“Let honesty be as the breath of thy soul; then shalt thou reach the point of happiness, and independence shall be thy shield and buckler, thy helmet and crown; then shall thy soul walk upright, nor stoop to the silken wretch because he hath riches, nor pocket an abuse because the hand which offers it wears a ring set with diamonds.”
“We hold these truths to be sacred and undeniable” in a draft of the Declaration of Independence changes it instead into an assertion of rationality. The scientific mind of Franklin drew on the scientific determinism of Isaac Newton and the analytic empiricism of David Hume and Gottfried Leibniz. In what became known as “Hume’s Fork” the latters’ theory distinguished between synthetic truths that describe matters of fact, and analytic truths that are self-evident by virtue of reason and definition.
“Sell not liberty to purchase power.”
“Every man is, of common right, and by the laws of God, a freeman and entitled to the free enjoyment of liberty.”
There are some ideas of pessimism expressed by Franklin. For instance, with regard to corruption in government, it will be the end of government. My question. So how do we turn such a thing around and get rid of the corruption?
“The U.S. Constitution doesn’t guarantee happiness, only the pursuit of it. You have to catch up with it yourself.”
“The ancients tell us what is best; but we must learn of the moderns what is fittest.”
“I wish the bald eagle had not been chosen as the representative of our country; he is a bird of bad moral character; like those among men who live by sharping and robbing, he is generally poor, and often very lousy. The turkey is a much more respectable bird, and withal a true original native of America.”
Thank you, Ken Burns for inspiring us to learn from history, not re-live history, and thus progress forward through the ages. Progress forward through the ages, not as soldiers, but as human beings.
NOT Ben Franklin but pertinent to today:
Pertinent to the polarization of America by the deliberate mechanisms of newspapers and local media. “Local television and local TV news isn’t telling the voters about local candidates. NOT Ben Franklin but
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