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Russell W. Shurts

The Con Men of the Mind

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By Russell W. Shurts

This country began with a revolutionary new idea; that all men should be treated equal in the eyes of the law. Under this new American political system a person had to physically harm another before the law, i.e. the government, would intrude into his life. In addition, before the law could take punitive action against him his offending action had to be proved to the satisfaction of a judge and twelve honest men.

Beginning in 1887, this ceased to be the law of the land, at least as it pertained to one very special type of person, the businessman. In that year, the people of the United States created the Interstate Commerce Commission, the first regulatory agency in the country’s history. With its establishment all men and women engaged in the railroad business were stripped of the right to run their businesses as they saw fit. In the future the people of the United States acting through the Interstate Commerce Commission would have the final say on how their businesses would be run.

With the implementation of this first regulatory agency it was only a short time before businessmen in other fields would also lose their right to be equal before the law. In the years since 1887, Americans through their government have created a cornucopia of agencies that ensure businessmen in virtually all fields have lost the right to make decisions about their own property, i.e. their businesses. Following is only a partial list of those agencies

• Anti-Trust Division of the Department of Justice

• Consumer Product Safety Commission – CPSC

• Department of Agriculture – DOA

• Department of Labor - DOL

• Department of Transportation – DOT

• Federal Aviation Administration – FAA

• Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation – FDIC

• Federal Energy Regulatory Commission – FERC

• Federal Highway Administration

• Federal Housing Administration

• Federal Reserve

• Federal Trade Commission - FTC

• National Labor Relations Board – NLRB

• National Transportation Safety Board – NTSB

• Nuclear Regulatory Commission – NRC

• Railroad Retirement Board – RRB

• Small Business Administration – SBA

• Social Security Administration – SSA

The primary reason given for the establishment and continued existence of these agencies is that the general public (meaning anyone who isn’t a businessman) must be protected in advance from these ‘predatory’ men and women who would swindle them at the drop of a hat. Businesspeople apparently are viler than any other member of society because they are penalized BEFORE they harm anyone.

But are they really more vile? It has been my experience that criminals can be found in every walk of life as can men of virtue. I have known scoundrels with millions and scoundrels that are penniless, and I have known scoundrels in each economic class in between. Furthermore I have also found that a man’s profession is no more an indicator of character than economic class. If one’s economic status or profession is not an indicator of moral character then what is it about businessmen that have caused society to treat them all as incipient con men?

The only thing that makes any sense is the one thing that makes businessmen different from the rest of us; the fact that they are responsible for the goods and services that keep all of us alive, well and thriving. Apparently because their goods and services are so vitally important to the rest of us, these men and women must have all their activities scrutinized and regulated in advance so as to make sure the rest of us are never harmed by their actions or their inactions.

But what if I told you there was something far more important to human beings than the goods and services businesspeople provide. If I could convince you of this fact, wouldn’t it follow that the people responsible for developing and maintaining something so valuable should be subjected to the same kind of regulatory treatment businesspeople have endured for over 100 years?

The ‘something more valuable’ I am talking about is the human mind. Because it is the ultimate source of ALL the goods and services in the world the human mind is the most important, most valuable thing there is. If you don’t believe me, I invite you to explain how any good or service has come into existence without a human mind being responsible for it. Goods and services don’t just magically appear (there really is NO Santa Claus). In every single instance if something of value to human beings exists; it first had to be invented, then developed, then mass produced and finally transported. None of these activities has EVER happened without a human mind creating and managing it.

But more important even than the development of goods and services is the value the mind has to each individual. Think about it for a moment; regardless of whether one is a successful entrepreneur or works on an assembly line it is each person’s mind that provides each person’s means of survival. Furthermore, consider, dear reader, how your life has been affected by how well you have used your mind. If you consider your life honestly I think you will see that the best, most joyous times of your life have come when you have done your best thinking. Conversely I think you would find that your most difficult problems have typically come about because of a failure to think well.

It the mind is so important, then, shouldn’t the people who develop and feed minds, i.e. the intellectuals, be subjected to scrutiny and regulation at least as onerous as the scrutiny and regulation businesspeople are subjected to. By intellectuals I mean the men and women who make their living by providing the ideas the rest of us use to help us live our lives. Professors, writers, journalists, dramatists, teachers, novelists, actors, artists, pastors, talk show hosts and musicians are just some of the people I would classify as intellectuals.

What is to prevent any, or all of these people from misleading and lying to you? Indeed, their right to say or write anything they want is protected by the first amendment. With such protection they have gotten away with far worse than murder. For example, how many thousands of people are dying in the world right now of malaria simply because intellectuals decided thirty years ago, without one shred of evidence, that the pesticide DDT was dangerous to human life? The erroneous IDEA that DDT is harmful to human life has been far more harmful to human life than DDT ever could have been. Or take another example from the political realm. It was intellectuals who developed the political systems known as Communism and Fascism, and it was intellectuals who convinced people in several countries to run their governments in accordance with these political systems. Only a few MILLION people lost their lives because of these two ideas. Indeed, even today a significant number of intellectuals still fervently believe in the validity of these political systems and continue to work diligently to convince the people of this country to turn its government over to one of them.

Or consider an idea that has been even more destructive of human life; the moral code of altruism. At the root of all evil political systems and most of the misery humans allow into their lives is this moral code preaching the goodness of self-sacrifice; the IDEA that a person’s life is somehow ‘better’ if he gives up all the things he values. What a farce, and yet this is what the vast majority of the professors, writers, journalists, dramatists, teachers, novelists, actors, artists, pastors, talk show hosts, musicians and other assorted intellectuals have been feeding the human race for thousands of years.

Well, it is high time this behavior ceased. If Martha Stewart can be sent up the river for 6 months for selling her property, then, by God, Noam Chomsky should be put in shackles for the rest of his life for foisting his nihilist philosophy on thousands of innocent students. The combined ‘sins’ of every millionaire businessman since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution haven’t done one-millionth the amount of damage intellectuals such as Chomsky and his ilk have done to the lives of countless millions of innocent human beings.

It is imperative, therefore, for the good of all human beings, that intellectuals be subjected to the most stringent regulatory requirements a good bureaucratic government can devise. After all, if businessmen are all incipient con men of goods and services, then surely every professor, journalist, TV reporter, novelist, playwright, minister, teacher and artist you see can be considered a prepubescent “Con Man of the Mind.”

For starters I would strongly urge passage of the PPMA, the Protection from Professorial Misconduct Act. Just like businessmen who routinely must go to the government to beg for a license to operate, budding professors would have to go before the Professorial Conduct Board to beg for a license to dispense the ideas they hold dear. I suspect the first ‘professor’ brought up before this new regulatory agency would be Colorado’s Own Ward Churchill.

Another agency I would strongly advocate creating would be the MCC, the Media Content Commission. Anyone planning on writing or presenting a news story would have to have its content vetted by this commission before it could be given to the general public. I would imagine Dan Rather would be first in the docket trying to explain a career of pawning off leftist ideology as ‘objective’ reporting.

In rapid succession I could envision the AAA, the Anti-Altruist Act, the PMA, the Pastor and Minister Administration, the NPSB, the Novelist and Playwright Safety Board, and most importantly, the EITA, the Eradication of Incompetent Teachers Act.

If you consider the idea of regulating the Con Men of the Mind absurd, then consider just how absurd each of the federal agencies I listed at the beginning of this essay really is. And if you can correctly recognize just how dangerous the idea of regulating a person’s mind is, then hopefully you can see how equally dangerous the idea and practice of regulating what a person buys and sells is; for it truly is a short step to go from regulating what a person produces and trades to regulating what a person thinks.

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