Reality T.V. has a strange grip on our culture today and it seems a litany of shows each year try to capture a new niche market. Unfortunately, reading Mises, Hayek and Rothbard has not made me immune to the hypnotic pull of watching a bunch of kids living in a house, or contests of eating bugs and other disgusting items, or what appears to be an American past time, the beauty pageant. So, when my wife and the in-laws turned on the tube Sunday night, I found myself watching the finalists of the Miss USA Pageant being grilled about modern social and economic issues.
Being a former candidate for office and basing the campaign on voter contact, i.e. door knocking and telephoning canvassing, I’ve had the odd ball question thrown my way on more than one occasion. So, watching Miss Utah fumble over her words only made me think of normal political drivel that circulates daily. And how we the public at large drink it up.
People speaking in the political arena seem to dip into the same abstract booyah base of political ‘key words’ meant to obfuscate rather than articulate their points. Think Obama without his teleprompter or George W with his Bush-isms. While Miss Utah’s answer was not as enlightening on workplace equality as most of us watching would have hoped from a 30 second answer at beauty pageant. The question asked by the judge was equally laced with drivel and steeped in political non-sequiturs. For example, Miss Utah’s question read…
“A recent report shows that in 40 percent of American families with children, women are the primary earners yet they continue to earn less than men. What does this say about society?”
This seems like the same kind of crap that makes it into political debates and no one even bats an eye at it then. Is the statistic quoted even relevant to the issue being discussed? Or has it been added simply for effect and to trick the listeners? It seems like they have skirted the question by using only a mildly relevant stat, while still attempting to manipulate the narrative for a specific outcome.
The underlying presupposition to the question is a concern regarding workplace inequality and how to rectify it. An important question for those of us that desire a free and open society and Miss Utah understood that. But vague disjointed language has obstructed our ability as a people to think clearly regarding what is a multi-layered and complex social issue.
Where are the no nonsense leaders in our country to combat thsi type of rubbish? I’d say the modern liberty movement has a good portion of them, but how do we cut thru all the noise on tough issues when our political opponents would rather dance in la-la land? Unfortunately, that’s a tough question, and I don’t have a quick or easy answer. But I image that the Miss Utah in a more libertarian world would start her answer with something like this video from Learn Liberty.
If you watch the video you’ll see that the social-economic issues that are interwoven into this question are far more complex than political speakers would have you believe. When looking at these issues we can’t simply count the number of people, wages and jobs, but we must also take into account the dreams, desires, and goals of society’s members. This is a daunting task to say the least, so give Miss Utah some slack.