The Disincentive for Responsible Reporting (Tax and Spend Socialists)

Take a deep breath. There, that's better, isn't it?

I don’t even know where to begin with this discussion except to offer my apologies for using a derogatory term to describe one side of the issue and failing to come up with a sufficiently derogatory term for the other side. When I decide to offend, I think I’m an equal opportunity offender, because like I stated, I’m not a proponent of either camp. I think for myself.  And for the comment from one individual who suggested, “This and the many attempts to drag the tea party into the mud show how desperate you guys are”.  I am not “you guys“, because I certainly don’t believe in the alternatives either side has presented me as being responsible or for the good of the people.  Given the rhetoric on both sides, I’d be embarrassed to be in either camp.

Likewise, it appears I have been the subject of misinformation. While I am well-versed (and abhor) the quid pro quo tax-and-spend mentality of the liberals and bureaucrats in government, the extreme in the other direction, given discussion I have had with friends and colleagues who have expressed to me their support of their ultra-conservative views (and defending the Tea Party Movement) has been one of scorched-earth budget management and widespread privatization of almost every aspect of governmental service. However, as has been expressed in comments regarding my last post, that is not the platform of the Tea Party Movement. Of course, this is pretty difficult for me to embrace, because there doesn’t seem to be anyone who can consistently state anything to me about the Tea Party Movement other than their anger at the status quo. So other than, “Vote the bums out” and “Obamacare is going to cost us jobs and decent healthcare”, both statements of which I think are pretty extreme in themselves, I haven’t heard anything that causes me to get warm and fuzzy when I think about these individuals taking office.

So since I now have your rapt attention and expect to get plenty of hate mail from the OTHER side of the fence, maybe the two poles will come together to listen to what I have to say without finding it necessary to accuse me of unprofessional or crass behavior.

When I speak of “lock-step” marching to the party line on EITHER side, it is the mindless reliance on sound-bites and partial information because I think many people have become too lazy to think for themselves.  Thus, this article.  Because like I said, the fault I had in the last article was 1) not coming up with an equally sensitive descriptor of another point of view and 2) not having an accurate view of the platform of the other side I chose to illustrate my case.  Because really, there are many more than two points of view and to suggest that these extremes were the only extremes would be grossly oversimplifying the issue.

Believe me or not, I had no intention of pushing anyone’s buttons and I’m sorry for doing that.  It did, however, reveal to me the obvious.  There is a disincentive for responsible reporting and you all have unpleasantly illustrated my argument with a gold frame.

I have been writing on the internet since before there were blogs.  I am not, however, a reporter.  Much of what I speak of on the internet is anecdotal or observational.  I do, however, write technical articles and papers independent of FHZ, and my expertise is in research and strategic planning.  So while one of you chose to express your feelings about my “lame” article, I’d say that I’m not hurt, in fact, I’m smiling a little to myself because the only comments I ever hear about how lame something is happens to be when I’ve tweaked someone.

Since I can view the number of “hits” on my page, I take a particular interest in my “outlier” posts: those which show me wild spikes in readership.  I take great pains to present both sides of many issues.  Anyone who actually KNOWS me knows that I am very concerned in getting multiple points of view and understanding the entire issue.  I am not an “emotional poster”, or one of these clowns that has a conspiracy theory about anything coming down the pike.  Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on how you see it), I have a pretty stable and respectful readership that makes rational and sound comments based on their own experiences.

With the exception of the “Roto-Ray” article several months ago, those outlier posts have consistently occurred when the headlines or lead paragraphs have involved controversy.  It is clear: rational and reasonable discussion is not what people want to read.  With few exceptions, people want sensationalism and anger.  It’s no wonder the internet isn’t safe anymore.  People are willing to post damn-near fiction in order to get traffic.  What does THAT say about society?

I don’t have any interest in writing titillating articles and reveling in a flock of readers who are only coming by to see what awful thing I have to say about someone or something.  I don’t rant.  And this is neither MSNBC nor Fox.  When I talk about balance, I mean it.  But I would like to have more readers, if anything, because what I have to say, I think, should be said.  I would like to think that when I write, instead of creating hate, readers say, “Wow, that’s something to think about”.

I don’t apologize at all for suggesting that both extremes are wrong.  There are many more of us in the middle than on the fringes.  We are not all zealots and we certainly don’t all believe in the vast right or left wing conspiracies.  Those of you who do are often just unhappy people itching for a fight.  Those of us in the middle lean to the left or the right because we do see some values in one or the other direction of thought, but most sensible individuals realize there’s a certain value in compromise and consensus.  Let’s go back to the sandbox, shall we?

Any of you who have ever played in a sandbox know that there are sandboxes where personalities dominate.  In some cases, a bully has taken over the whole sandbox.  In some cases there are two opposing forces.  In many cases there is one force, the force of sharing and collaboration.  If you had three sandboxes side-by-side and you were choosing which sandbox to put your children in, I’d be willing to bet that none of you would choose to put your children in sandbox one or two.  So why would you choose to live in a society that encourages those behaviors and a grander scale?

Firehouse Zen is not for the weak-minded.  I am calling my readers to be responsible and ethical and balanced.  I ask you to take other points of view into account, if for any reason, it may reinforce your own beliefs.  I’m not asking you to embrace opposition, I’m asking you understand it.  In doing so, is where we grow.

Since I have the attention of those who just want sound-bites, let me tell you, there is a wealth of information on the internet that will make you a better person.  We don’t all have to flock to these negative sites and we don’t all have to be at war with each other.  Just as in the situation in South Fulton, there are other sides to the argument that never came out when the ADD bloggers began blasting out accusations and rhetoric.  Don’t fall into the trap of the unenlightened.

If you read the first article and still hate me, I’m okay with that.  But I ask you to re-read it and see that it wasn’t directed one way or another, and admit that to yourself.  If you don’t care to come back, I’m okay with that too.  And if you think I’m unprofessional or crass, I ask you to read my other articles and see if you still believe that to be true.   But I’m not about to apologize for telling you all, it’s not always about winning or losing, sometimes it’s about surviving the game.  Instead of fighting with each other, we should be pulling together to solve our most pressing challenges.  There are too many awful things going on out there that we could solve together and maybe we’d feel just a little better about one another.  Of course, if you choose to stay, I’d like that too.

Let’s reward insightful and responsible discussion and avoid the lunatic fringe.  Let’s work together rather than apart, and let’s step away from the negativity.  I’d just as soon do that myself and it’s my hope that you would too.


  • Jimmy G says:

    “I would like to think that when I write, instead of creating hate, readers say, “Wow, that’s something to think about”….

    Always do Chief… Altough many do not comment (I for one, do not usually) we do like the ‘read’ and thoughts. Keep up the great work!

  • Dave Statter says:

    There is a lot to be said about being in the middle picking from the best you see at either end.

    But it is hard to do these days. The demagogues on each side tell us those who disagree with our views are evil and can’t possibly have a good idea.

    I have long been a believer that this extremism in everything we do is destroying us. We aren’t happy unless we are on the attack.

    Barack Obama could bring unemployment to zero, find the cure for cancer and wipe out the deficit, but for some he would still be an evil man. (Just an example, because that goes both ways.)

    We see it in the fire service with the discussion of safety. Judging by the comments I have read for more than three years you can’t possibly be an agressive firefighter and still make safety a priority. You are either a safety nanny or a reckless fool. It’s as if there is no in-between.

    To me Lt. Frank Ricci said it best at his FDIC speech- “We must be careful never to demonize those who disagree with us. We should only debate the issues.”

    If you follow that advice and show some respect for those you disagree with, you might actually learn something and grow in the process.


  • Mick Mayers says:

    Well said, Dave. Thanks for reading. If it weren’t for you, I would have to rely on another site for ideas to steal (Well, you and The Geez).

  • Peter Lupkowski says:

    I always look forward to some deep thinking rather than the pedestrian muckraking of us vs. them. Yet as Dave so articulately stated being demonized by both sides makes the middle a potentially untenable position.

    I am afraid that we are slowly losing the art of compromise and empathy that were cornerstones of my youth. I often chuckle that I get more practice at my part time job as referee when I am at work rather than at the sporting events that request me!

    As always thanks for your eloquence and content.

  • Chief, I think you have some serious anger issues to deal with. Your example of the parking lot in the Increasing Tempo post, complete with descriptive unhappiness, makes me think you could use this:

    All kidding aside, I applaud you on keeping your calm over the South Fulton issue. You’ve been a voice of reason, rational thought and intelligent firefighting since I started reading your blog. I find it refreshing to know I can come here, get insightful writing, and grow in my profession. Please don’t let the hate-mongers sway you. They are ignorant, and as Statter says, they’re just looking for a fight. Nothing you, I, or anyone else say is going to move them from their high horses.

    Keep up the excellent work, and know that we appreciate you. Always have, always will.

  • truck6alpha says:

    This blog is supposed to be therapy. But the funny thing is, the whole Tempo post originated in listening to some people talking about their frustration with an increase in expectations (mine), and I could feel their pain. Sometimes I have to write it down to convince myself it’s the right thing to do.

    Thanks for reading and I’ll check out that link.

  • truck6alpha says:

    Wow. What a coincidence. I think I’ll have to order that one; it’s kismet. I mean really, if you were to Google “Zen” and “Parking Lots”, how many hits do you really think you’d get?

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