Is truth relative?

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Is truth relative? I don’t think so. Recently I saw a rant on Facebook repeating many of the lies propagated by the far right. Since the post originated with a black commentator, he could not be accused of racism against the Obama family. But lies are still lies no matter whose mouth they issue from. Whether racially motivated or from jealousy and spite, lies are lies and the truth is the truth.

Lucky day

Image representing Facebook as depicted in Cru...

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Imagine that you were in on the ground floor at Facebook or any other IPO that hit the jackpot when shares were offered to the investing public. What would you do with 100s of $millions or a few $billion? After the initial celebration, that would be a serious consideration. No one really needs that amount of wealth and putting it at one person’s disposal reduces the resources available to many who may be in dire need. One could set up a foundation to dole out gifts or one could do it oneself. But a fortune is thought to be liberating. Who needs all the additional work of selecting deserving charities?

I think that if I were ever fortunate to come into a large sum of money, I would seriously consider donating  most of it to government. After all, it is the job of government to allocate society’s limited resources to where they will do the most good. It is government’s full-time job and they should be good at it. We can argue about that and improve their work as necessary, but that is what government does. IMHO it would be more efficient to donate the excess that I don’t need to government rather trying to do the job myself or setting up the bureaucracy of a foundation to duplicate in a small way the efforts of government.


FBI Fingerprint experts.

FBI Fingerprint experts. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In today’s complicated world, it is not possible to research every question yourself. You must trust someone and “experts” disagree. So who do you trust? I trust experts who are not paid secretly or above board by someone to support a position. I trust experts who prepare their positions carefully, spellcheck their work, and don’t raise their voices on the air or by capitalizing their messages. I trust experts who respect opposing views, and do not try to speak when someone else is speaking. I am willing to permit experts to change their minds if new evidence is found. I do not trust experts who profit excessively from Washington‘s revolving door between industry and government. Trust must be earned and it is very fragile. It can lost very quickly. Lack of trust is a major reason  for Washington’s gridlock.



America’s prisons

Barbed tape at a prison

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The US invented the present system of prisons and we incarcerate more prisoners than any other country, both on a percentage basis and in terms of absolute numbers. This is a statistic that we must change, since the current system is a cancer on the body politic.

I have just finished reading Crossing the Yard by Richard Shelton. He taught creative writing at the University of Arizona, Tucson, and started creative writing workshops at various units of the Arizona State Prison beginning in 1974. Eventually, he assisted the prisoners in publishing some of their work in the Walking Rain Review. There is a website devoted to the publication and back issues can be purchased at .

Working with inmates changed his life for the better and he believes that the workshops helped some of the inmates turn their lives around. Some of the inmates in our prisons should never be released, while other inmates should not be in prison at all or should be serving much shorter sentences.

American prisons incarcerate; most do little or nothing to rehabilitate. There is a current trend to privatize prisons. That creates a financial incentive to incarcerate more people for longer periods of time, generating greater profits. I believe that it is only a matter of time until we outsource some prisoners abroad to save money and increase profits. Private prisons here in the US already remove prisoners from their families and any other local support they may have by shipping them out of state.

Long sentences and no rehabilitation make it very difficult for released inmates to re-enter society. Shelton suggests that one way we can help put an end to prison revolving doors is to encourage more people to volunteer their time teaching job skills to inmates. Any employed person can teach about his/her job to inmates so that upon release, the ex-inmates have some current knowledge that can be expanded upon as necessary. An additional benefit of increased volunteerism is that more people will know how our prisons really work. That is a mandatory first step if we are to make the necessary changes in the American system of imprisonment.