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Being a skeptic is essential to a democracy

Message Ed Tubbs
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Because last year I received either this exact same email, or one so similar the differences are indistinguishable, because I suspect many of you have also received it, or one like it, because, as was true of the copy I received this morning, it’s being passed around with little or no comment, and because that is exceedingly perilous to a democracy.

Over the course of the next several months, the offerings we’ll likely engage from television, from the radio, and over the Internet will be overwhelming. Most may comprise just enough factual information to preclude outright condemnation as outright fraudulent. But like the email below, if past is any indication, most will also be suffused with obvious non sequiturs and logic errors and just plain falsehoods that are intended to mislead absolutely.

First peruse the email, then catch my critique. But you don’t have to wait for the critique. All of us received gratis the most incredible gift: an intellect that facilitates critical thinking. All we have to do is use it. Unfortunately, as was the case with the email I received this morning, far too few of us do.

Now the email:

The sender observed: “I thought this was FACINATING! See if you do also!”

A Billion ~The True Story About a Billion Dollars

This is too true to be very funny.The next time you hear a politician use the word 'billion' in a casual manner, think about whether you want that politician spending YOUR tax money.A billion is a difficult number to comprehend, but one advertising agency did a good job of putting that figure into some perspective in one of its releases.

A. A billion seconds ago it was 1959.

B. A billion minutes ago Jesus was alive.

C. A billion hours ago our ancestors were living in caves.

D. A billion days ago no-one walked on the earth on two feet.

E. A billion dollars ago was only 8 hours and 20 minutes, at the rate our government is spending it.

While this thought is still fresh in our brains, let's take a look at New Orleans . It's amazing what you can learn with some simple division. . . Louisiana Senator Mary Landrieu (D), is presently asking the
Congress for
$250 BILLION to rebuild
New Orleans .
Interesting number. What does it mean?!

A. Well, if you are one of the 484,674 residents of New Orleans (every man, woman, child), you each get $516,528.

B. Or, if you have one of the 188,251 homes in New Orleans, your home gets $1,329,787 for repairs.

C. Or, if you are a family of four, your family gets $2,066,012.Washington, D.C...... HELLO!!! ... Are all your calculators broken??

D. A billion days ago no-one walked on the earth on two feet.

E. A billion dollars ago was only 8 hours and 20 minutes, at the rate our government is spending it.

Tax his land,

Tax his wage,

Tax the bed in which he lays.

Tax his tractor, Tax his mule,

Teach him taxes is the rule.

Tax his cow, Tax his goat,

Tax his pants, Tax his coat.

Tax his ties, Tax his shirts,

Tax his work, Tax his dirt.

Tax his tobacco, Tax his drink,

Tax him if he tries to think.

Tax his booze, Tax his beers,

If he cries, Tax his tears.

Tax his bills, Tax his gas,

Tax his notes, Tax his cash.

Tax him good and let him know That after taxes, he has no dough.

If he hollers, Tax him more,

Tax him until he's good and sore.

Tax his coffin, Tax his grave,

Tax the sod in which he lays.

Put these words upon his tomb,

'Taxes drove me to my doom!'

And when he's gone, we won't relax,

We'll still be after the Inheritance TAX!!

Accounts Receivable TaxBuilding Permit TaxCDL License TaxCigarette TaxCorporate Income TaxDog License TaxFederal Income TaxFederal Unemployment Tax (FUTA)Fishing License TaxFood License TaxFuel PermitTaxGasoline TaxHunting License TaxInheritance TaxInventory TaxIRS Interest Charges (tax on top of tax), IRS Penalties (tax on top of tax),Liquor Tax, Luxury Tax,Marriage License Tax,Medicare Tax, Property Tax,Real Estate Tax, Service Charge Tax,Social Security Tax, Road Usage Tax (Truckers),Sales Tax, Recreational Vehicle Tax,School Tax, State Income Tax,State Unemployment Tax (SUTA),Telephone Federal Excise Tax,Telephone Federal Universal Service Fee Tax, Telephone Federal,State and Local Surcharge Tax, Telephone Minimum Usage Surcharge Tax, Telephone Recurring and Non-recurring Charges Tax, Telephone State and Local Tax, Telephone Usage Charge Tax,Utility Tax, Vehicle License Registration Tax,Vehicle Sales Tax, Watercraft Registration Tax,Well Permit Tax, Workers Compensation Tax.


Not one of these taxes existed 100 years ago, and our nation was the most prosperous in the world. We had absolutely no national debt; we had the largest middle class in the world, and Mom could afford to stay home to raise the kids.

What happened?

Can you spell POLITICIANS ? ? ?

And I still have to 'press 1' for English?

I hope this goes around THE USA at least a billion times!

Vote Carefully!

Upon receiving this sort of email, the very first question that should enter anyone’s mind should be, ‘Why is this person sending this to me?’ Clearly it’s got a slant. So what perspective is the sender is trying to score? The person who sent this to me knows me rather well, and knows I’m the skeptic par excellence. She knows I really was born at night, but not last night.

Any sender of something akin to the preceding is insulting the intelligence of the one he or she is sending it to. Like, “I don’t think you’ll think this over critically, you won’t catch the glaring inconsistencies, inaccuracies, or the logic errors because you’re dull witted.” Essentially that’s the message.

The morals contained within the above are that somehow 100 years ago (1908) life was one never ending party, and that the party was ruined by politicians who had nothing better to do than to pass taxing legislation.

One hundred years ago. What was life expectancy in 1908? What about infant mortality? When was penicillin discovered? (You need to know this. The date is critical to our critique.) When did refuse collection, human bodily waste disposal and water purification systems come into being in the United States? When did the first Model T roll off the assembly line? How many owned one? When was the first freeway built? When were the first wage and hour and workplace safety laws passed? In 1908, how was the US population distributed amongst urban and rural areas? When did the abuses inherent in child labor come to an end in the United States? In 1908, what proportion of the population had a high school diploma, a 4-year college degree? One hundred years ago, what segments of our population had the right to vote? What year was it that Upton Sinclair wrote The Jungle, and what important red-tape laws were the consequence, and would you do away with them now?

When were the San Francisco earthquake and fires, and what was the federal government’s response, and should the response have been forsaken? What about all the other natural tragedies to have struck the various parts of the country? Hurricane Andrew, for just one example. How is New Orleans so different? And is it a city that needs to be rebuilt, or the people who lived in it, or both? And what’s in the rebuild estimate besides providing some measure of compensation to the population? The email suggests it’s only for the lands within the corporate city limits. Is that accurate, or is there a fraud not so well concealed here?

The only point I’m trying to convey is that the email is not “fascinating.” As I said, it’s the very worst form of insult. I hope none of you will be taken in by this example of poorly composed propaganda, or any of its ilk. Our democracy depends on all of us not accepting anything we read, see, or hear without employing a healthy dose of skepticism. It’s not a tough task. Honest.

— Ed Tubbs
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An "Old Army Vet" and liberal, qua liberal, with a passion for open inquiry in a neverending quest for truth unpoisoned by religious superstitions. Per Voltaire: "He who can lead you to believe an absurdity can lead you to commit an atrocity."
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