Seventy-one years ago this month -- in January 1948 -- a black, 17-year-old high school dropout left home. The last grade he had completed was the 9th grade. He had no skills, little experience, and not a lot of maturity. Yet he was able to find jobs to support himself, to a far greater extent than someone similar can find jobs today.

I know because I was that black 17-year-old. And, decades later, I did research on economic conditions back then.

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s2smodern

In this era when there has been more information available to more people than at any time in the past, it is also true that there has been more misinformation from more different sources than ever. We are not talking about differences of opinion or inadequate verification, but about statements and catchwords in utter defiance of facts.

Among the most popular current catchwords are "climate change deniers." Stop and think. Have you ever -- even once in your entire life -- seen, heard or read even one human being who denied that climates change?

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s2smodern

Britain's release of Abdel Baset al-Megrahi-- the Libyan terrorist whose bomb blew up a plane over Lockerbie, Scotland in 1988, killing 270 people-- is galling enough in itself. But it is even more profoundly troubling as a sign of a larger mood that has been growing in the Western democracies in our time.

In ways large and small, domestically and internationally, the West is surrendering on the installment plan to Islamic extremists.

The late Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn put his finger on the problem when he said: "The timid civilized world has found nothing with which to oppose the onslaught of a sudden revival of barefaced barbarity, other than concessions and smiles."

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s2smodern

The most important thing about what anyone says are not the words themselves but the credibility of the person who says them.

The words of convicted swindler Bernie Madoff were apparently quite convincing to many people who were regarded as knowledgeable and sophisticated. If you go by words, you can be led into anything.

No doubt millions of people will be listening to the words of President Barack Obama Wednesday night when he makes a televised address to a joint session of Congress on his medical care plans. But, if they think that the words he says are what matters, they can be led into something much worse than being swindled out of their money.

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s2smodern
Mike Scruggs