There used to be a TV show called To Tell the Truth. I’ve recently been reminded of such inquiry into truthfulness — perhaps more accurately described as Uncovering Hidden Bullshit — admittedly a TV-unfriendly name.
[As the term bullshit might put off some readers of serious journalism, I suggest the term mendacity: given to or characterized by deception or falsehood or divergence from absolute truth.]
John Burnett recently wrote a story in the Hawaii Tribune Herald titled: UH professor, former regent blasts Hawaii’s Pork Report. In the article, Burnett spotlights the efforts of University of Hawaii at Hilo employee Marlene Hapai at “firing back” at another publication, the 2009 Hawaii Pork Report: The Report Hawaii’s Government Doesn’t Want You to Read, published by two organizations: the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii and Citizens Against Government Waste. The report mentions a two-year, $32,162 contract awarded to Hapai’s Science FUNdamentals company as an example of tax money waste. Additionally, at the time of the awarding of the contract, Hapai was a member of the UH Board of Regents — doesn’t look so good to these two organizations that are ostensibly concerned with wasteful spending of taxpayer money.
Here’s where this story gets weird:
Both Grassroot Institute of Hawaii (GIH) and Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) make it clear, at least somewhat, that they are also promoters of unregulated capitalism, masquerading under the euphemism: free market. While reporter Burnett terms CAGW “a national think tank” and indeed the GIH and CAGW portray themselves as non-partisan, a little digging strongly suggests that they are both supportive of Republican politics. Ironically, Marlene Hapai is also big on the Republican party. She attended the GOP national convention in Minnesota and swung signs in gleeful support of the McCain/Palin campaign. Whatever. That’s her right.
Still, it is a little bizarre that these strong supporters of the Republican version of unbridled capitalism are in a face-off over who’s grubbing more money. Burnett fails to point this out and it seems worthy of as much, as the parties involved are members of the same club: unregulated market capitalism — actually more like privatization of most everything. (In Prof. Hapai’s case, she apparently enjoys feeding on the public dole while also advocating for a ‘free market.’ Might she just be lacking freely marketable skills such that the UH trough somehow just feels right? Is this actually how Science FUNDamentals works?)
Is Burnett’s omission akin to other journalistic behavior that fails to mention the corporate-directed plunder of our nation? Is this the giant elephant in the room that people beholden to corporate interests are forbidden to acknowledge? Is it career insecurity that causes us to just not go there? Under unregulated corporate domination, our country, nay, the world, has been sunk into economic depression, not to mention the senseless slaughter of thousands and thousands of innocent people — assault on the public and on the environment — for corporate profit.
This brings us to the crux of the matter: this truly is “non-partisan”, as they put it. Not only that, we’ve been being scammed by institutions and people who perpetuate false dichotomies — it’s utter mendacity that succeeds in dividing and conquering communities of people. I’d suggest that what ultimately degrades our humanity is actually a conflict between: communities of people on one hand, and the corporately co-opted corrupt institutions on the other. Make no mistake: this is absolutely transcendent of America’s two major political parties: they’re both in on the scam.
So how do we, as a community, expose what is covered up in order to live healthy and happy on our island and on our planet?
Let us first realize that the UH and many other publicly funded institutions are indeed often corrupt in their wasting of our tax money. Also, the free market capitalists are indeed often greedy and dangerous in their bankrupt morality that declares private ownership to be the ultimate human right.
What these two detriments to our communities’ health and sustainability have in common is their ability and resources to organize and further their respective brands of mendacity.
Professional cartels of bureaucrats denying community health, through wasteful and incompetent cornering of our tax revenue, AND capitalists wanting to privatize our public good — to hoard our world’s resources — are both ultimately enemies of citizen and community health.
We, as a community, must organize and recognize when the mendacity of these organizations attempts to swindle our public good. Perhaps an organization such as Citizens Against Mendacity could indeed serve as an effective bullshit detector in our effort to foster sustainable communities — resistant to parasites — in this time of change.