Seventh Blog Post

It has been said that the definition of an educated person is “someone who can recognize a lie when he hears one.”  Notice that neither Ivy League schools nor the school of hard knocks is mentioned.  Education need not be formal, but experience and schooling together make a formidable combination.

Experience gives the ability to hear the lie in a salesman’s insistence that a certain used car is in perfect condition.  Your own ear can hear the flaw in the engine.

Formal education helps.  A carnival barker assures you that inside the tent behind him is a living dinosaur!  Just hand over five dollars (he’s giving you a special deal!) and you can go right in and see it.  Fun?  Perhaps.  A lie?  Of course.  A foundation of facts taught in public schools gives the lie to this one.

Experience helps.  Facts help.  The sense of what a lie sounds like helps.  If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.  Trump promised to get rid of the Affordable Care Act and to replace it with something “terrific” that is “so much better, so much better, so much better.”  Too farfetched to be true?  Yes.  No matter what one thinks of Obamacare, no health care plan designed by government committees is likely to be terrific.  And in what ways is this unspecified terrific thing supposed to be “so much better?”  This is what lies sound like.  They are farfetched, overstated and non-specific.

The truth is that considerable work, many delays and compromises must happen before this nation has a replacement for or an improvement to the Affordable Care Act.  No one will be completely happy and many people left without health care will suffer or even die.  Trump succeeded in destroying the ACA, but his rosy promise remains a lie.

Lies promise things that can’t be delivered.  Make Mexico pay for a border wall.  Really?  Are you kidding?  This is like declaring that you will make the Sun rise in the west.  Trump has no way to coerce a foreign nation to pay for construction of anything in the US, let alone a wall that would harm both nations.  This is a lie that insults one’s intelligence.

It sounds so good, though, doesn’t it?  It’s like listening to your crazy uncle after Thanksgiving dinner when everyone has had too much to eat and too much to drink and there he is, holding forth on all kinds of subjects.  (A lot like Trump campaigning.)  This kind of lie makes you laugh, feel vindicated, feel warm inside that a great big power is going to solve all your fears and angers about that pesky nation to the south.  Lies make you feel good and strong without needing any facts to support them.

It’s what an insult comic does on stage: outrageous statements and broad generalizations, frequent use of stereotypes and promises that cannot be fulfilled.  The Mexican President recently gave the USA the diplomatic finger.  Not a peso will be forthcoming.  Wall?  Maybe.  Who pays?  You will.  It’s going to be “the greatest wall that you’ve ever seen!”  This is what a lie sounds like.

“You’ll be able to keep your own doctor.”  This was President Obama describing the planned ACA.  This was not a lie.  It was a mistake.  It was a statement that could be researched by anyone reading the text of the proposed Act.  Much more importantly President Obama followed this statement a few days later with an apology and a correction.  You could usually keep your doctor, if he was on the health care plan you chose.  You could NOT keep an insurance plan that had been identified as a “lemon.”  Obama explained that a “lemon law” had been built into the ACA.  You couldn’t sign on with a health care plan that didn’t meet certain standards.

This is the sound of truth.  Corrections, apologies, real solutions and explanations, and the ability to find out the details yourself.  Truth sounds irksome.  It doesn’t make you comfortable or offer you broad generalizations.  It may make you tired and irritable because it calls on you to do your part.  You had to search out the website and find an insurance policy that fit your needs.  How tiresome, dull and unexciting.  How real.

“Obama doesn’t have a birth certificate!”  And later, “the birth certificate released by the President is not valid!  It says ‘certificate of live birth.’  That’s not a valid birth certificate!” Trump lied massively as did the Tea Party.  Go get your birth certificate.  Check it out.  President Obama’s birth certificate was and is as valid as anyone else’s.  Including mine.  I checked.

Lies are defeated by skepticism and resourcefulness.  Add these to experience and schooling and you have an unbeatable combination.  The truth shall set you free.



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