It’s not fake news all the time… it’s usually dollars and (lack of) sense


Frankly, I’m shocked by many of you.

Ok… well… yeah, shocked may not be the right word. And honestly, it probably doesn’t even come close to expressing what my true feelings are on most occasions. After all, at times I’m not that surprised by what’s happening, and at other times disappointment might come closer to covering my reaction.

Plus the reality is, there’s a good chance that 100% of the people that shock… disappoint… surprise me aren’t visiting my web site at all, and probably will never know this essay exists. Maybe this needs to be created as some kind of open letter to the masses. (Though that doesn’t seem quite right either.)

Still, with questions about adjectives and soapboxes, the basics hold up because it sure seems like we’re in the two-steps-back portion of the clichéd expression about struggling to make any progress during frustrating times. And that is where the shocked part begins to take on a bit of focus.

My shock… my disbelief… my issue is that so many people seem to accept as fact exactly that which they should question as fiction.

Go up to a person and ask them if they would fall for a scam. Go on… ask them. I’m guessing the majority of people think of themselves as too smart to fall for silly swindles. “Won’t happen to me. I would see it coming.” (My words.) The thing is, there are studies that show most scams are not designed to catch most people… deliberately dumb with the intention of drawing in more gullible victims. So there is potential merit in the idea that most scams won’t strike more aware people.

Yet have you ever noticed how many people will repeat statistics, share social media posts, and just in general pass along as fact some of the most amazingly misleading stories? Later, if you can point out the troubles with the story, they roll their eyes or dust it off as no big deal.

For the most part, it’s not that big of a problem. The reality is simple: (1) Numbers and facts lie all the time, with details and elements being manipulated and presented in such a way that they can’t be shown as false. (2) Unless it matters specifically to a person, often it’s like a toddler falling with no one around… fall, bounce a bit, get up and move on.

It becomes a problem with perception becomes the reality. It becomes a problem when people take splinters of stories as representative of the whole. Two ideas of note…

First – I didn’t stand for the national anthem yesterday.

It did play. I stayed seated. That’s true.

True, and also incredibly misleading. A splinter. I never heard the national anthem yesterday. Not once. But, as one example of what I mean, I do know what I was doing between about 6pm and 10pm last night. There were several things like sporting events taking place around the country during those hours. The national anthem was played multiple times and I stayed in my seat.

Second – Some people I know, when considering the success or failure of any politician, looks at their retirement investments.

Decades ago, I was spending a break at work with some friends. TV was on in the corner, with some latest mountain-out-of-a-molehill report being shared. For whatever reason, a conversation was developing at our table, and one of the people seated with us offered her opinion simply (her thoughts, my summary): “My 401k is going up, so I’m fine with it.”

What do you do when no one is watching?

Ok… bit of a summary…

On the wall of an office near mine years ago: “Character is what you do when no one is watching.”

Overall, this essay has absolutely nothing to do with your personal feelings about the standing/kneeling/actions during the playing of the national anthem. I used it simply because it has been a topic for quite some time and continues today.

It also has nothing to do with what you find important when it comes to your personal life or the accomplishments of government. It is absolutely, 100% perfectly fine to act based on your own hard work and financial security. People are different, and that’s awesome.

Still… character…

What do you do when no one is watching?

See, I don’t remember the last time I heard the national anthem. Might have been the Super Bowl, but I don’t think I saw that part of the event this year. I think it’s been well over a year since I heard the national anthem in any way. It quite literally could have been the Super Bowl… almost three years ago, when Lady Gaga sang the national anthem at Super Bowl 50.

I suspect that like many of you, I believe that I hear the national anthem far more often in my own home than I do at any live events. On television… Super Bowl… Olympic medal ceremonies… whatever. Which brings us back to the question…

What do you do when no one is watching?

The answer doesn’t matter to me. I’m not in your home watching you. This isn’t about judgement. It’s not about what I do. But since it’s difficult to lie to yourself, let’s modify the question…

Do you find yourself strongly responding on either side of the standing/kneeling/actions during the national anthem scenario, and yet find yourself doing the exact opposite in the privacy of your own home? When the only one watching you is you… when the importance of the moment is solely noted by you… how do you respond?

Now let’s swing back to the more general ideas of this essay.

The answer to everything, when you have no clue about motivation or what is actually happening, is to follow the money. That’s it. Best I can give you as far as advice on everything. Because, quite honestly, I find that most things… politics being the massive example… rely heavily on distractions.

It’s like a magic trick. Pay no attention to what is happening over here. Don’t look at this side of the stage. Watch my right hand and not my left. Look away!

Follow the money.

Years ago, there was a joke… a funny story… a humorous lesson to be learned… that involved the idea of a husband and a wife, where the husband was caught telling a lie. The punchline was built around going down with the ship. Repeat the lie… sell the lie… die with the lie… any and all final acts of defiance should be solemnly swearing to the lie.

Haven’t we seen politicians tell us, over and over again, that what we saw happen didn’t happen? Of course. That’s why I laugh and chuckle at the supposed examples of fake news…


Because most of the time the pointing it out and selling the lie is being done to distract what is happening elsewhere on the stage.

It turns out that people are more than willing to buy into false narratives, with the lies being repeated over and over and over again to the point that some people are actually believing them because that’s what they heard. Not perception becoming the reality… the false narrative becoming the reality.

As long as 401k accounts are going up, a lot of people simply don’t care.

Character folks. Character. When it comes to the truth, follow the money. (Or, better yet, with the same ideas but a wider definition: consider the motivation.)

It would be nice if all of us took a deep breath and at least offered a moment to consider the opposition in any scenario. Understanding why someone else feels differently than you do can be incredibly powerful. It may not change your mind… it will definitely help you in the situation. But instead… fake news… look at the tap-dancing bear over there… accept what I say because I said it (repeatedly).

I’m shocked. Because with more information available, with ever increasing ease and speed, it sure seems like we’re becoming dumber as a whole. (Though that may actually be the reality.)


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