Life in the Box: Reality Check


There have always been many reasons to distrust “The Government”—especially regarding war-related propaganda—but, in general, most reporters have trusted government statistics for decades. American Census data, reports from bureaus of Labor, Justice, Transportation, Economic Analysis, and hundreds of others feed us the information upon which policies and laws are based. They are important.

The people gathering and collating this data are not politically appointed and have some protection such as union rules that protect their jobs and can prevent their bosses from destroying or slanting their research.

Now, as a retired reporter, I realize that, alarmingly, government statistics and science will be vulnerable to political corruption in the new “post-truth,” anti-reality administration. “Climate change isn’t real. Women don’t mind being molested. Government workers are lazy. Etc.”

It’s already happening in states like Wisconsin, Kansas, and Iowa, where Republican Governors have appointed heads of departments and have tasked them with “taking sides” and firing employees who refuse to lie.

Replacing management with unscrupulous partisans is the first step; breaking the unions is second; rewriting history and science—and laws based on them–is third. No, I guess any order will do. I’ll summarize a few that have already or are currently happening, with reference articles, below.

It happened in Wisconsin, December 2016
In 2011, the governor of Wisconsin closed down collective bargaining. Now, in 2016, some of Wisconsin’s information websites are being rewritten, including a study on climate change that says it’s not really created by human activities. That’s not what the website used to say, and it’s not true. Why would the governor want this lie on his website? Well, let’s just say it’s possible he’s putting profit ahead of public good. That is despicable. Thanks for that word, Hillary!

Canadian Scientists have same problem – Government interference with truth 2012—2016
According to Scientific American, Canadian scientists have warned American scientists to back up their data on non-government servers. Why? Because four years ago Conservatives in Canada began denying important climate reports for political reasons. They prevented scientists from being interviewed by national media, and sliced budgets for any scientists studying “controversial” topics like pollution and climate change. The government also closed many science libraries—losing data randomly along the way. Can’t happen in America? Trump’s new administration is already asking for lists of names of environmental scientists—and not to give them praise and raises, we assume. Luckily for Canada, the public didn’t like this and voted in pro-science candidates the next term. Can we be so lucky? 

Iowa Judges Told to Favor Business Owners in Cases 2015
Basically, the Governor of Iowa assigned a non-judge to manage the department overseeing judges for workforce lawsuits. According to reports of insiders, this agency director did everything she could to force judges to decide in favor of business owners and against employees. She raged; she stomped and shouted; she bullied. The coercion didn’t work; the justices conversely recorded a higher percentage of decisions pro-employee than usual. However, they retired in droves and then they brought lawsuits against the director. She wasn’t tried or convicted; however she did resign—er, retire—when her appointment time ran out.

 
The Governor, however, was re-elected. His son became Trump’s Iowa campaign organizer, and now our Governor has been appointed as the U.S. Ambassador to China. Look out, world! His Lt. Governor will step into his conservative shoes, and she and the Republican majority statehouse are working to change the laws in Iowa to be pro-business and anti-employee. They are also messing around with collective bargaining. This isn’t fiction; however, it’s fictional to say it’s fair-minded.  

Kansas education goes round and round with Evolution
Remember when Kansas started teaching “Intelligent Design” instead of evolution—in science classes? Well, it took a while, but Kansas has reinstated evolution into the K-12 curriculum. Voters did this, really. They were embarrassed enough by the national and international jeers that they pushed back at the religious take-over and finally got enough Democrats into place to reclaim both evolution and climate change science lessons. They also looked to the national Core Curriculum for support. If the national head of education tosses out the Core, you know that every single state will have to fight this battle. 

The lesson here is—voters can change reality. Don’t forget for a moment that our new national administration is set to wedge partisan fiction into “reality” in very many ways, not just in schools, universities, and libraries, but socially, militarily, and scientifically. They are unapologetic about this practice, pushing their agendas publicly and brazenly into once-credible sources.

My bottom line at this moment regarding trust of government statistics is: although changes in upper management can happen quickly, it’s still the government workers in each field that we depend upon. Support Unions. Support truth. And be on the lookout for sudden changes in “science.”

Nancy Heather Brown is a retired, Emmy Award-winning television producer whose career has included interviewing, writing, and editing for a span of four decades. Today, she enjoys learning new things and reflecting upon the creative process and the world of ideas both inside and outside the box. All opinions are her own, and are not necessarily the opinions of Escape into Life.  

 

Wisconsin government changes science December 2016 articles from:

Green Bay Gazette 
Madison WSJ Television 
Canadian scientists warn U.S. scientists to back up data

 
Iowa Workforce judges fight coercion articles from:
The Des Moines Register newspaper 
Des Moines WHO television 

Kansas educators reclaim evolution and climate change curriculums

Robert Reich warning: steps toward tyranny in government  

Pew Research Center is an interesting (and credible) place to go for political and other national trends.