Welcome to our blog! The below commentary on public affairs, politics, and marketing represents the opinions of many different authors and is intended to fuel the discussion regarding the topics. No posts (blog posts by staff included) in any way reflect the official opinion of BGW Solutions, LLC. In fact, it is the intention of this blog to provide a wide variety of opinions — further representing the dynamic of the world of marketing and public affairs, and where South Carolina lands in it. We encourage any and all commentary. All reasonable commentary will be published.
I’ve not written a blog entry in some time. Part due to business, part due to blogging lethargy, part to SC political madness, but mostly because of an ongoing, abhorrent socio-philosophical debate. I’ve forced myself to avoid blogging on this ridiculous Chic-Fil-A debacle for some time. And I’m glad I did. With that being said, I am happy to calmly address the free speech debate that has reared its head yet again. (And please people, before commenting or judging, READ my points – too often people assume before giving thought).
Too often over time “advocating for First Amendment rights” has been cited as the reasoning behind why the everyday man supports the commentary of hate or the commentary of love. To the former, see the KKK, see neo-Nazis, see talk at the neighborhood store in the 1940’s saying “I personally have no problem with black people, but Johnny has a right to his opinion, so I stand by him,” and so on, and so forth. To the latter, see the belief in speaking of loving all people as is outlined by religious faith. This tale is one rooted in history.
A recent blog post by Columbia blogger Brad Warthen, “1st Amendment meant to protect POLITICAL speech,” outlines the argument that the writers of the 1st Amendment so proceeded with the law in order to protect political speech, but not immoral speech – that a line can be drawn as to the protection of free speech when it is immoral (such as is the case when Columbia City Council banned a pornographic sex toy shop from opening last fall and earlier this year). In his missive, Mr. Warthen does not come down one way or the other in support or against the Chic-Fil-A hoopla; rather, his point is that the argument from many liberals asking why these conservative free speech protectors aren’t also rallying in support of said sex shop’s free speech, is an incorrect argument…because in this case the sex-shop is immoral.
Now Mr. Warthen makes effort to not so bluntly make the case that I just boiled down to the final sentence of the above paragraph, but feel free to read the post (at the link above) and be a judge for yourself. I read it that way. And I responded on his blog with the below statement:
I do agree that “freedom of speech” should be limited in certain situations, but do not agree with your labeling of the parameters defining those situations. First, your note that you belief that Founders meant political speech is by your own admission an utter assumption with no pen to pad in the Constitution. Anyone can write an interpretive missive on Constitutional insinuation but that doesn’t make it anything more than an assumption.
Second, even if your assumption were the case, I disagree that freedom of political speech – but not “immoral” speech – is in any way descriptive enough or all-encompassing of our speech freedoms by writ. See: religious, spiritual, philosophical, and, yes, moral speech being freedoms we certainly have. Your code of conduct, of morality, is perhaps rooted in the organized religious underpinnings of our society that define most of our beliefs to date. Who named you the judge of what’s immoral and not? My point is that to assume political speech is fair game but immoral speech is not, as so judged by consensus in the heart of the Bible Belt, is both counter-logical and moot to the larger point: what’s believed to be true, whether true or not, is real in its consequences. That, most certainly, is the case with this fast food frenzy.
I agree Chic-Fil-A has a right to its opinion. I disagree that the mass upheaval of free-speechers coming to its side actually find spar with its free speech being at risk as the root of their issue. Rather, they just like their chicken more than they care about gay rights. After all, most of them surely found fault with the protesters at Westwood Baptist who were exercising their right to free speech. See what I just did there? I made an assumption, too, by applying the moral argument.
My final paragraph in that post was to set up a point. Whether you fall on Chic-Fil-A’s side or on that of gay rights advocates, there is no doubt that any plausible defense of morality is indeed based on one’s own moral vocabulary. No one man – even writers of the Constitution – gets to be the judge of what that entails (that is, kinda, what the law allows for). That’s why I could have the personal freedom to be a non-Christian and be friends with a Christian, and yet we could both still talk about it freely. It just so happens that beliefs not rooted in a belief system so engrained in Christianity or “traditional” morals, for example, could enable someone to actually find it immoral to be against sex shops…or against gay marriage.
Now how about that logic? While not true personally, I’m making a point. By applying Mr. Wharten’s same logic, only its counter, now advocating for Chic-Fil-A and not against the sex shop means you’re breaking the law: being against gay rights (immoral), being for pornography (moral).
Guess what people – beliefs are unto each individual. The only thing we’re left with is repeating my centerpiece to Mr. Warthen’s blog: what’s believed to be true, whether true or not, is real in its consequences. Think about it, and find out which side of social consequences you want to support.
Or more like an election. We haven’t been able to post in a month, it seems. Lordy, what an election season in SC it’s been.
No need to gallivant around town with the various comedic (read: shameful) episodes that have played out in our state’s politics over the past six months, but suffice it to say it has been something.
You’ll note the perspective from a right-leaning blog and that of its counterpart leaning left don’t differ enormously. Perhaps at all. It’s fair to say the general consensus by SC pundits, reporters, and political strategists is the situation is one heck of a clusterf*ck.
So with this more real introduction to election season in SC, we’re happy to lace up the boots again in the coming week as we campaign towards November. Analysis of what went down and what’s to come to follow. Thanks for continuing to follow us as we continue to enmesh our business right in the thick of it.
Here’s a recent conservative perspective on the Affordable Care Act, aka “Obamacare,” as written by Al Campbell of GermantownNOW. As a BGW contributor had previously pointed out, the ‘individual mandate’ will surely lead to some problems economically. Only one of which is this medical device tax dilemma being pointed out here. I cannot speak to the facts, as we did in our previous analysis of the health reform bill; however, it’s clear both problems….and public confusion (from “experts”) persist. I’ve bolded what’s false, as it represents a clear misunderstanding of what the bill is or does. It’s not a “single-payer” system; it is a multi-payer system, none of which is the government beyond traditional forms of social entitlement insurance — it just mandates that people buy private or find free insurance. A “single-payer” system would be full government provided insurance. But the points about it being problematic hold true, nonetheless. See below.
“ObamaCare… The Gift That Keeps on Giving”
By: Al Campbell
There is another ‘small’ issue with PPACA (a/k/a ObamaCare) that we just had to pass in order to learn what was in it. That small thing is a 2.3% tax on the gross revenues of firms selling medical devices in the United States. George Will pointed out that this small surcharge actually amounts to about another 15% tax on profits for medical device manufacturers.
This money is needed to fund the enormous costs of ObamaCare on top of all the other tax funding and fees and penalties that are found in ObamaCare’s thousands of pages, plus the hundreds of thousands of pages adding defining detail to the original bill.
The net result of this additional funding source, having been ‘called out’ as it were, is simply this: we won’t have such medical device manufacturers around much longer. And, we won’t see the continued introduction of such devices to bring us benefits that would’ve otherwise not been available. What we do have will be priced beyond our ability to pay since that added 15% income tax will have to be offset by much higher retail prices to keep the manufacturing plants running and provide the level of profit required by the investors.
Read the rest of this entry »
Sorry we have been so delayed in posting of late! Awesome clientele and much travel have sufficiently back-pocketed our blogging capabilities. So, with that, we are happy to introduce a guest piece by Rev. Dr. Neal Jones, of the Columbia, SC Unitarian Universalist Congregation. His contact information and piece on humanity — really — are posted below. Please consider giving some thought and sharing with others.
April 18, as posted in The State online
By Rev. Dr. NEAL JONES
Gallup released findings last month confirming that the South is aptly called the “Bible Belt,” as nine of the top 10 most religious states are Southern (South Carolina is No. 6); the 10 least religious states are in the Northeast and Pacific Northwest.
Days later, on Good Friday, a young woman posted on the web a picture of a dead stingray on a beach in South Carolina, claiming she saw the face of Jesus on the ray’s back.
What ties these two stories together? A Christianity that no longer represents Christ.
How does life in those hyper-religious, conservative, red states of the South compare to those more secular, liberal, blue states of the North? The red states have higher rates of divorce, domestic violence, teen pregnancy and out-of-wedlock births. So much for conservative “family values.” The red states also have higher rates of burglary, theft, assault and murder. And these are the states with government-sponsored killing, aka capital punishment. So much for Christian love.
One could rightly argue that the family dysfunction and violence of the Bible Belt are associated more with poverty and low educational levels than religion, but this argument begs the question:
Why do all those conservative, Christian, Southern voters steadfastly vote against the political policies that would assuage these social ills? Why do they shoot down even the most reasonable gun regulations, which would reduce violent crimes? Why do they shred the social safety net of public education, affordable health care, a livable minimum wage, a progressive tax rate and public assistance for the “least of these” — all of which would raise the standard of living of ordinary people and lower the rates of divorce, unwanted pregnancy, unemployment, poverty and crime? Why do they oppose sex education, access to birth control and a woman’s right to choose — steps that would lower teen pregnancy and out-of-wedlock births?
It’s because Christianity in America has divorced itself from the compassion of Jesus.
Christianity is possessed by two demons. One is the demon of right-wing politics. Christianity today would rather advance a mean-spirited conservative political agenda than promote understanding, kindness, acceptance and generosity. It would rather deprive women of their reproductive rights, deny gays and lesbians their civil rights and give tax cuts to the rich than feed the hungry, clothe the naked and house the homeless.
The Christian right has tasted political success over the past 30 years, and it has become intoxicated with power. Its adherents would do well to remember that when Jesus was offered all the kingdoms of the world during his temptations in the wilderness, he flatly turned them down in favor of advancing the kingdom of God.
Christianity is also possessed by the demon of supernaturalism. It maintains a primitive, pre-scientific worldview that no educated, thinking person could possibly hold as credible. Acting as if the Enlightenment never occurred and ignoring the validity of science, even reason itself, it clings to a Medieval belief in a gold-paved heaven and a flaming hell, in winged angels and horned devils, virgin births and resurrected deaths, and miraculous sightings of Jesus on refrigerator doors, grilled cheese sandwiches and the backs of stingrays.
Such indulgence in magical thinking is why so many Christians in this country have still not entered the 19th century, much less the 21st, in admitting the reality of evolution. Magical thinking impedes rational thinking, preventing us from availing ourselves of the most powerful resource we have as human beings in the struggle for a more humane life and the survival of the planet.
More than 200 years ago, Thomas Jefferson cut and pasted a collection of New Testament verses — composing what has become known as the Jefferson Bible, which includes the moral teachings of Jesus but omits all supernatural references. It’s past time for American Christianity to catch up with its prominent Founding Father in promoting a religion of ethical behavior instead of superstitious belief.
If Christianity could sober up from its inebriation with political power and catch up with our modern, scientific understanding of the world, perhaps the most religious states would also be the most kindhearted and ethical.
The Rev. Dr. Jones is pastor of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation in Columbia; contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To start, this will be all over the place and brusque. And it certainly won’t be considerate of your medical history. Such is the scenario with American health care. The following perspectives should be public knowledge – though I doubt seriously the extent to which the majority of Americans have thought deeply about them. So to offset what may upset I will say, Happy Easter to Christians and Chag Sameach to those of Jewish faith (as of sundown, this past Friday)!
And why not begin an ethics of public health with these undertones? It’s clouding the news these days: the Constitutionality of the individual mandate to purchase health insurance, as proposed by the President Obama Administration and passed under the 111th US Congress, then signed into law by the former. “Obamacare.” First thing’s first, to sum it up at its surface level, “Obamacare” is an array of political interests that coalesced into a law with several provisions – only one of which is a mandate that all individuals have some form of health insurance by a certain date (whether private, public, or quasi-public, as provided by a not-for-profit contractor). That is to say, the individual mandate is not analogous to Obamacare; it is one of the many intricacies within Obamacare.
Now that that’s cleared up, this essay will focus on that very provision. At root in the mandate’s purpose is the desire to facilitate and propagate the benefit of improved overall public health. Societal health, that is. What that surely amounts to is American individuals’ sacrifice at some level, big or small – be it being forced to buy insurance for oneself, forced into an insurance coverage exchange, forced to pay taxes for others’ insurance, or remaining absolutely unaffected, beyond paying the taxes one already pays. The extent to which these are stratified in effect needs no further analysis herein. But for all intensive purposes, let’s agree: it will be beneficial for some, suck for others, or really not significantly impact most – beyond the fact that they agree or disagree with the “mandate,” and are already paying taxes for others’ insurance by law (Medicare, Medicaid, Disability, Social Security, the like).
Let’s pause there and look no further into its specifics. Instead let’s start, as appropriate on Easter Sunday, by clouding the political dynamic with the religious undertones I began with. Why not? After all, this is something that the right of the aisle has become politically adept at doing. First, on Christianity and the parables of ‘helping thy neighbor,’ perhaps at one’s own shortfall materially, consider the tale of the Good Samaritan.
The moral of Jesus’ parable is – by one of many round-about Biblical means – “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Help people, be nice, do what’s right. Because that’s what you would want for yourself if you were banged up and bleeding on the side of the road. Whether or not it’s at one’s own expense to help a person bleeding – their time, cost of travel to the hospital, etc., they’re likely to do it because it’s the right thing to do. The most impassioned believer might even pay a penniless person’s medical bill. One of good faith would ardently support these values at their core. Man oh man, lest these ethics translate unto public health. A Democratic talking point to use henceforth might be, “For those who love God, know that helping others at your own expense will not go unnoticed by God”. Would that assuage the debate? It seems not. Now, sure, there are multiple contradictory factors to compare regarding the political Right’s ardent hatred of “health care reform” and ardent love of the religious values of helping others’ no matter ones’ own expense, but I’ll leave it there for your own consideration.
And what of this mandate’s economics? Here we can blast the Left. Short of ‘socializing’ health (something appalling to the American Right and politically unfeasible in the U.S.), it’d seem the standard middle-ground would be to settle upon something that involves choice, not government mandate, right? Right?
A respected South Carolina GOP strategist and marketer is taking on an admirable and humbling journey into oneself this year. He recently posted this blog update.
Having read it, I find some of its assumptions to be alarmingly indicative of some of the main things I disapprove of and fight against as someone who strives to push people to educate themselves before forming beliefs. His essay does offer one good theme: don’t choose sides just to choose sides; don’t sell your vote without knowing what you’re voting for first. But at root in what follows is the problematic assumption that conservativism allows people to be different while liberals push people to be the same. I’ve posted my reaction to this flawed argument below.
There’s a difference between being a liberal and liberalism. I’d like to think conservatives believe in liberalism as well. A student of history will note that liberalism dates back to the times of John Locke and also serves as the platform for what the US stands for in the world: constitutionalism, democracy, free and fair elections, human rights, capitalism, and the free exercise of religion.
Whether you lean to the left or the right of the American political mold is actually a privilege of the system we’ve created. The author edges on wrong about robot-ism, if you will. Political history has shown that the ideological divide in our country is widening – not shortening. Sure there are yellow-dog D’s and straight-ticket R’s voting party line; but the American ideological strata is growing by decade. Hence the tea party and occupy movements; green party and libertarianism. This is evidence of people straying against their party’s platform.
Indeed, just as the author un-categorized himself as a straight-ticket R voter, there are Democrats who do the same. It’s unfair to presume anything different. So I do join you in not being a robot – but so do many others. I won’t get into the extreme skewing of what being a liberal means (the author perceives it as akin to Communism somehow; ahem, indeed, our very governmental structure and economy prevents that). However, perhaps there exists the potential that Dems think people are born at different starting points or with major disadvantages (e.g. socioeconomic factors or disabilities) and so they promote entitlements to help people who don’t stand on the same ground that you (the author) were born on and walk upon to date. Your assumption that all are created equal is how you are able to espouse that people should “be different.” Maybe, just maybe, they want the opportunities you’ve had, friend.
Whichever reality you see, what we can both agree on, regardless of ideological differences, is having faith that the possibility for parties to represent beliefs exists. A look into other “liberal” nations (in the socio-economic sense of the term) will show that multi-party systems better deter the robotism you’ve noticed (see the UK or Germany), and you’re starting to see that form in the US, at least symbolically and ideologically with the above mentioned ‘new’ movements like the tea party.
Cheers, and thanks for the opportunity to comment,
Old hat by now in the Palmetto State, a recent corruption scandal has plagued the South Carolina campaign process as former Lt. Governor Ken Ard stepped down from his post before pleading guilty to seven counts of illegal campaign finance manipulation late last week. He’s been replaced by former Senate President Pro Tempore, Glenn McConnell, who will have headway to make in saving face for the state GOP in the coming weeks and months. Indeed, the party acknowledges that Ard’s indictment has been a long time coming, as investigations date back to mid-summer last year.
State prosecutors noted that Ard laundered his own money through associates to then make illegal contributions back to his 2010 Lt. Governor bid, “netting” $87,000 in nonexistent contributions in early 2009 as other candidates such as Orangeburg attorney Bill Connor were fighting for Big Whig donors around the state. Says fundraising expert and BGW affiliate in the state Bob Wislinski, “an important part of any campaign early on is securing a stranglehold on the perception that you’re out-fundraising your opponents – which then enables you to actually do so.” That Ard had falsified his campaign’s financing created the illusion that he was the winning ticket, thus encouraging subsequent donors to get behind his bid. Among his various financing follies, the former LG also used misappropriated campaign funds for personal purchases like tickets, airfare, clothing, and various other expenses.
But we’ll move past this, SC. We will. We always do. A head held high in the South and a personal pride in kindness, generosity and good faith are the essence of our genteel hospitality and charm. And that trickles on down to our morality and our sense of justice in governance, yes?
Not if morality and justice are analogs of ethics. And not if we’ve seen nearly ten direct – and major – public ethics violations, be they prosecuted or not, in just the past decade. A brief survey of a recent The State article recounts our ethical celebrity. From Sharpe to Ravenel to Viers (still in office), legislative misplay is rife. Circle in the current and past Governors’ personal life questions and the legacy of Strom Thurmond’s hypocritical bigotry and we’ve got a three-ringed circus. Oh wait, lest we forget the “You lie!” incident. There’s hardly a better background for using the oft-trending Twitter term, “SMH,” as a result. In fact, I’ve found myself shaking my head many, many times over the past ten years.
“Sweet title, bro,” most friends would say. Or, “I don’t care about that crap.” See any numerous lists of offsets that people – especially our in-their-20’s population – will use to discount their political moldability. Yes, we just invented a word and a phrase, and, no, we don’t suggest it in passing.
Political marketing is employed in radicalizing and stratifying the American ideological divide. We hear it more often these days but what does that really mean? Simply put: R’s talk is getting more holy, anti-governmental, and biting towards the left, and D’s speak is becoming more secular, less hands-off, and caustic towards the right. What is just, as we all know, is somewhere in between, or a more-than-bipartisan system – but that’s another opine for another day.
More important than our political divide is that the political molding problem persists and evolves – it feeds off its own press. Call it a parasite; call our strata a parasite. But certainly don’t blame marketing.
The obstacle is our general complacency towards the problem itself. Take this and our general malaise towards each side’s proposed solutions and you enter the political mold. Meanwhile our political races are being overshadowed by the advent of Super-PACs that fuel such mind-bending marketing. That’s Super Political Action Committees, and what’s so super about them is they are almost completely unregulated, can say almost anything negative about political candidates, are at the forefront of every major candidates’ campaign, and most importantly, are financed by millionaires and elites who don’t have to disclose any donations – just like the PACs themselves. Whoa, buzzkill bro. That’s right, right? If only this was the model of normalcy in life, we could, say, spread libel and slander about any job competitor at will, unregulated, and publish it everywhere without any consequences! Holy sweet idea, Batman. Read the rest of this entry »
What in the heck does microtargeting mean? And how do political campaigns find you, anyway?
Alas, friends, it’s possible that candidates don’t necessarily ‘speak’ to you. Rather, in this day and age, your interests speak to them. If you don’t like government and feel cutting red tape is imperative, Ron Paul might dig you up. Likewise for President Obama and social welfare. The list – and your political interest – goes on and on.
Check out this New York Times article to learn more: http://nyti.ms/zEjg33.