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To 'Think Different' is not Enough

by Jason Whong

Apple's new "Think Different" campaign sends the right message for computing. By using images of unique 20th century thinkers, Apple's PR mavens hope we'll want to use unique computers. But for life, thinking "different" is not enough.

You have to "Think Different" for a reason.

If you've been reading my columns (or, if you are my housemate Lori), you know that I'm an opinionated, passionate person. I am a fan of conspiracy theories, alternative viewpoints, and any defensible, yet unpopular position. I believe Lee Harvey Oswald may have been a patsy. I believe that the American government lies to its people. I believe that industrial production of hemp could have significant environmental benefits. And no, I have not been smoking anything.

I guess it's because I'm Libertarian. To be sure, I don't agree with everything the Libertarians preach. I think that much of its philosophy is idealistic (read: unrealistic) in nature. Libertarianism won't work for the same reasons that Communism didn't. For a quick explanation, Libertarians believe in absolute freedom: No taxes, no draft, no misguided government programs. This sounds good at first, but essentially it would transfer power from the government to the corporations. And I don't trust either of the two.

Under a Libertarian system, we would have no interstate highways. Instead, a roadbuilding company would buy a strip of land, develop it, and charge a toll. There would probably be no police in the cities; instead, the security force which had the lowest bid would become deputized. There would be no welfare; charitable agencies like the United Way would be responsible for all philanthropy.

Some corporations that depend on existing government policy would be hard hit. Automobile insurance companies would no longer have their market guaranteed, since drivers would not be forced to purchase insurance. Medical care providers would no longer be able to take money from medicaid and other programs. Affirmative action would be eliminated, as would a guaranteed percentage of government contracts to historically disadvantaged companies.

It all sounds like one big headache. However, I think that after a tumultuous period of transition, things can work out. A truly competitive, free market will cause prices to fluctuate, and eventually decrease. Things which cost too much for the average citizen would either come down in price or vanish entirely.

Of course, it can't work; the fabulously wealthy would remain that way, while the people continue to funnel their money into the corporations. With certain exceptions, I think that most billionaires would rather keep their money than pay taxes. Additionally, free market forces, when left unchecked, would probably lay waste to the environment.

So why am I Libertarian, if I don't believe in Libertarianism? Does everybody agree with everything his or her political party stands for? Certainly not. I just think it would be nice to be able to trust the govenment. I am sick of the scandalous operations that the CIA foisted onto the free world. I am sick of a government that is nicer to corporations than it is to its own citizens. I am tired of most of the nation's scientists and engineers being led into warmongering industries, simply because the government creates such a huge market for implements of destruction. And I also want to see pharmaceutical and insurance industries suffer for their price gouging.

I'm also tired of the government stepping in for people who got themselves into jams they couldn't get out of. Cigarette smokers shouldn't expect free lung operations. Factories that pollute should not expect the government to pick up after them. Banks which can't stay solvent shouldn't expect the government to bail them out - they should just do a better job of being banks.

I'm ready for some changes. Of course, nothing radical will happen. Alternative viewpoints are usually dismissed without thought, simply because of their dissonance with the status quo. Of course, some alternative viewpoints are genuinely bad, and deserve the treatment they get. I have no problem with using rational, truthful arguments to discredit any organization or school of thought, whether it be considered normal or alternative.

The lesson here, if you've read this far, is not to Think Different, but to think. Become media literate. Question everything. Never use the phrase "both sides of the coin"; if you must use an analogy to describe varying opinions, involve a dodecahedron somehow. Never make a decision without considering and questioning all of the facts. Question your leaders. Question your journalists. Question anyone in power. But do it politely, and with honor.

There's nothing wrong with seeming a little kooky to the rest of the world, as long as you're searching for truth. George Washington, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Susan B. Anthony, Mohandas Gandhi, and Joan of Arc are a few examples of people who dared to use their brains for critical thinking.

Question me. Challenge me to back up my statements in this article. Ask me why I think you should be asking questions. Point out the myopia in my proposed dystopia. Do this, and you'll develop your thinking caps. Critical thinking is perhaps the only subject that is woefully neglected in schools.

Perhaps there is a reason for that.

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