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Watch your language

Filter out the noise of political speech

Political 'firewall' would go far to protect us

A "firewall" was originally a partition designed to stop or slow the spread of fire from one part in buildings or vehicles to other parts. Today, a firewall is probably better known as a filter designed to keep intruders out of computer systems. In either use, a firewall limits damage to lives and equipment. It seems to me that we need at least one additional application of firewalls: We need a "common sense" firewall to protect us from the many wild political ideas.

This firewall would be made of common-sense knowledge, and would filter out anything that didn't conform to that sense. What is "common sense?" Common sense is a judgment of what is good and what is not; of what has work and what hasn't. Common sense is a history passed down in families and communities, and is tempered by the insights we gain from our own experiences. Common sense is very practical: it does not rely on philosophy, wishful thinking, or untested social theories. Common sense means continuing to use proven approaches: we don't need to reinvent the wheel, nor do we need to appoint a "Wheel Czar."

The human mind can imagine many changes that might improve government; but because the majority of "innovative" solutions have proved to be unworkable, the firewall is needed to filter out any proposals that fail the test of practicality. It would pass only things that have been proven to be safe for our governing structure.
Of course, common sense is not all-seeing: Common sense once deemed manned flight impossible; and the United States itself was once an untried and bold experiment. To prevent stifling valuable new ideas, the filter would place them in "quarantine," where they could be developed and tested on a small scale without risking the entire governing system. 

What would the firewall protect us from? On the local level it would prevent middle school laptop fiascos, or paying tolls on HOV lanes that we already paid taxes to build, or governments going into the hotel business.

Nationally, the list would be much longer. One item filtered out would have been the overnight panic that created TARP. Another would be the idea that car companies (GM, Chrysler), that cannot make money on their own, should be given public money. Still another is that a "stimulus" plan that will be implemented over a four-year period yet must absolutely be passed within 24 hours and without being read. 

We cannot make reasoned decisions about proposed laws if we can't understand what the law says it will do. Therefore, the common-sense firewall would block any congressional acts that the average person could not read and understand. Thousand-page bills would be rejected as being too large for the system to handle.

The firewall would understand mathematics. It would ignore as illogical any budgets, deficits, tax numbers or claimed "savings" that were false or imaginary. This would eliminate the irrational claim that adding more people to public medical care will reduce its costs, or that taking money from Medicare will make it more efficient.

Internationally, the firewall would reject the idea that, if you give a bully (like Iran, North Korea) candy, he will be nice. Common sense knows that the bully will eat the candy, continue threatening and demand more candy. Common sense understands that among nations it is much more important to be respected (or in some cases, feared) than it is to be liked. 

The firewall would evaluate political speech: if it sounds too good to be true, it probably isn't true! The firewall would return all questionable claims for clarification and factual support. The firewall's dictionary also would check for the use of words intended to mislead the public, and would translate them into common English; or if they are Bidenized (indecipherable), return them for rewriting. 

The most critical function of the firewall would be its lie detector. This would be a very sensitive element, capable of detecting the most subtle of falsehoods from politicians. The boldest lies would cause the sender to be placed in the "junk" politician folder, never to be heard from again.

So much is said, so litle is believable

By Rod Paramoure - Guest Columnist
Marietta Daily Journal, December 30, 2009