Follow the Money

Follow the Money

There’s been a lot of information to digest lately in the news, and I have to wonder how much of it is valid, and how much is not. It seems anything anyone doesn’t want to hear is automatically deemed to be “fake news.” And in many cases, maybe it is. How are we supposed to know? Follow the money.

There’s an old adage that is loosely based on the Watergate scandal, which says, “follow the money.” In many cases it will take more time than most people have in a day to literally trace the money transactions of any particular issue. However, there are questions we can ask ourselves to help sort out what the motivation of the writer of the story is – and what are the motivation of the characters in the writer’s story? Follow the money.

For example, I’ve seen several posts in my newsfeed this morning about a replacement healthcare plan in the United States. Opinions vary from “the current plan is fine,” to “anything would be better than what we have now,” and everything in between. What are we supposed to believe? Well, I can’t tell you what to believe, but when I’m reading these updates, I try to think about who is going to profit the most from keeping the current plan in place vs. changing the plan. Maybe the insurance companies? The drug companies? Hospital networks? Lobbyists? Legislators? It’s pretty confusing, isn’t it? One thing I’m sure of either way. As a private citizen, I’m probably not really the focus of this debate. Follow the money.

And daily, we read and watch reports of horrible acts of terrorism. Who is profiting from that?! It’s hard to think about, when so many lives have been devastated. Most of these attacks, however, are either coordinated directly by well-funded terror organizations, or performed by “lone wolves” who have been radicalized and inspired by those same well-funded terror organizations. Who is funding the terror organizations? Follow the money.

Closely related to the terrorism issue is the world-wide refugee crisis. It’s natural to want to help people who are hurting, but at the same time, we know that there’s such a thing as a “wolf in sheep’s clothing,” and that it’s likely that there will be undesirables masked as helpless refugees seeking “shelter.” We think we’re going to get warm fuzzies from the feeling of helping someone, but after they arrive in country, we find out a little too late that the Trojan horse was not quite the gift we were hoping for. Instead of watching the bouncing ball ping back and forth from “we’re a nation of immigrants,” to “the Constitution is not a suicide pact,” why don’t we focus on defunding the terrorists organizations that are running these people out of their homelands in the first place. Follow the money.

The financial motivation of just about any social cause can be easily tracked to the 501(c) organization(s) behind it. These IRS-sanctioned organizations exist mostly for one reason – to fund themselves. They do so by riling up the public and motivating people to send them donation money so that they can grow. This churches, political “think tanks,” LGBTQIAA+ advocacy groups, civil rights groups, charities, animal aid groups, and on, and on, and on. Most of the protests and demonstrations hailed as “grass roots” efforts are actually “astroturfed” by these “not for profit” organizations. And they cannot stay in business unless they keep people agitated enough to open their wallets. Follow the money.

When I was a kid, I had a hard time watching horror shows, because the visuals would give me nightmares. I eventually learned that if I focused on the “how” the special effects were being created, I would not have nightmares. Similarly, as an adult, I have found the “follow the money” approach to digesting the news takes much of the stress out of what I’m reading and hearing. Instead of being angry over what really constitutes “fake news,” and what does not, I can focus on the motivation of the writer and the subjects of the story – and perhaps learn something either way.

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