Saturday, November 6, 2010

The Value of Dissent

On Tuesday, Bob Hebert of the NYTimes claimed that Americans who made $50 million or more saw their incomes quintuple from 2008-2009. He corrected today:

"My column on Tuesday incorrectly described the situation of the small group of Americans earning $50 million or more annually. Their incomes declined by 7.7 percent between 2008 and 2009; they did not quintuple. The incorrect information came from a report based on flawed Social Security Administration data. An inspector general is investigating after two individuals filed false W-2 forms that led to the skewed data."

The sensationalism we see in the media today has to stop. Every issue has a compromise, every conflict has a thousand different viewpoints. When people solely seek out comments made by people who support their own agenda, we get nowhere. When Fox news and MSNBC provide outlets for those who willingly only listen to what they want to hear, we further divide our society into a screaming match of two opinions that have to meet in the center.

Our political system was set up for slow, gradual change that is nearly impossible to implement. Dissent, and more importantly, informed dissent, is possibly the most important part of the government which our founders set up. Consider this: our planet has been alive for 4.5 billion years. Most scientists expect it to last at least another 5 billion, and current research is only lengthening this estimate. Intelligent human life has more than half of our planet's life span to improve. Informed change, fueled by conflict, is how we must move forward.

When we demonize others, we devalue EVERY single point they make. If liberals brush off Republicans as irresponsible, war-crazy cronies of the rich, they destroy 50% of the human capital in one of the greatest nations on earth. Similarly, if conservatives consider Democrats wussy, soft fools who will never get anything done, they destroy the other 50% of the United States of America.

It is time to start considering the value in the thoughts of every person on this planet. No superficial characteristic makes any one person's opinion less than that of another's. Fighting without recognizing the enemy as human is pointless. Conflict while respecting the opinions of those that oppose you is the crux of society.

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