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PHILIP MARTIN: Not even sinister

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There is an ol’ boy I follow on Facebook. He’s a man of faith.

He believes the Restoration of the Once and Future President is coming, and that in a year all those who were suckered into being vaccinated will realize their mistake and that it will be too late for them. He believes that the audit in Arizona is going to rock the world.

He believes he is being shadow-banned and censored, that Facebook–his nemesis and his lifeblood–has singled him out. His content is being obviously suppressed, otherwise he’d have more comments and likes. He believes most Americans think like he does, and that there are powerful and malevolent forces that operate beyond the ordinary bounds of nations and laws that seek to subjugate the individual. He believes he has special insight into the way things really are.

For all I know, he might be right.

All of us ought to keep in mind the possibility that we might be wrong. What we believe is not always congruent with reality. But, as a recent letter writer to this newspaper pointed out, when you believe something you believe it: Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

People who pay attention to Facebook get the news they deserve. The problem is that everybody pays attention to Facebook. And to cable news blather. And they can’t imagine that anyone doesn’t attend to the spectacles that occupy their days. All the wonder and beauty in the world and focus goes to opportunistic cranks too dull to ever consider the consequences of their fake certainties. Some people poison the world with lies to make their nut.

I don’t blame them. A TV show is not a serious tool for moral investigation; it’s meant to draw attention to itself. A TV show’s purpose is to attract eyeballs that will suffer the commercials embedded by advertisers willing to pay for access to the show’s audience.

What the advertisers want is a target-rich environment, a sea of credulous consumers willing to believe their pitches. Some demographics are worth more than others, depending on the product you’re trying to sell.

If you want to know what the powerful think of you, look at what they’re trying to sell you. If you’re seeing a lot of ads for gold bullion, timeshare cancellation, male performance enhancers and credit repair services, maybe you should rethink your life choices. Or at least understand that, based on your viewing habits, certain people have identified you as susceptible to these pitches.

Maybe somebody thinks you’ll believe anything.

That’s not a knock on faith, a gift not granted everyone. There are lots of things I wish we all had more faith in, like the basic decency of most human beings when confronted by genuine crisis. Most of us would behave better in a critical situation than we might expect; we aren’t the snarling, selfish, solipsistic creatures we often present as. Most of us are capable of selfless sacrifice and casual kindness, even though there might not be anything other than anecdotal evidence of this.

And recent years have eroded my faith in any sort of American exceptionalism–to paraphrase Goethe, I cannot conceive of any crime which we could not commit.

Hannah Arendt’s 60-year-old assessment of the Nazi SS officer who oversaw the logistics of Hitler’s Final Solution, Adolf Eichmann, as the embodiment of the “banality of evil” is usually viewed skeptically these days; many have pushed back against the idea that Eichmann was pedestrian and ordinary. (Arendt’s critics often misread her; let’s leave that discussion for another time.)

But the more important observation that Arendt made, and the one that’s more germane to our 21st-century world, is that the Nazis promulgated a culture of what she called Gedankenlosigkeit, usually translated as “thoughtlessness” but more accurately rendered as “the inability to consider.”

Eichmann and other Nazi bureaucrats were so consumed by petty careerist concerns that they were blind to what their actions meant in the wider world. It wasn’t just a lack of empathy with the victims of the Holocaust, it was an inability to imagine himself beholding to any law higher than the affirming edicts of his Fuehrer.

When Arendt wrote that Eichmann was nicht einmal unheimlich–not even sinister–she was talking about the nature of evil, which some people (like my Facebook friend, perhaps), would grant it parity with good. But Arendt took a view of evil that was similar to that of St. Augustine, who saw it as a shadowy absence, a lack of goodness, a defect rather than an opposing force. Eichmann wasn’t filled up with something vital and darkly grand. He was inhibited by a lack of imagination–a lack of humanity.

He could honestly state that he didn’t believe he had committed any crimes because he was simply performing a role ascribed to him. (Judas could have made a similar argument.) Eichmann could not see around the propaganda of the Nazis; he could not imagine a story in which he was the villain. He was a good man doing a good job, and he knew this was so because he could neither conceive or countenance a world where his actions and those of his countrymen might be seen as monstrous.

It is human to want to feel that we are at the center of the story, that our words and actions are meaningful. Some of us ache to be more than we are, to live lives of derring-do, to win friends and influence people, to think and grow rich.

But there is no glory sitting behind a keyboard, especially not in an age when everyone has a keyboard and a platform and every thought revealed in ways cruder and more blatant than the next monkey with a persecution complex might express it.

A few years ago, a college professor got into trouble for using the phrase “little Eichmanns,” and I don’t disagree with his censure. But most evil is done piecemeal, indifferent to any grand design, and many of those who aspire to leadership, both intellectually and politically, are as careerist as any Nazi.

Be careful who you put your faith in.


Philip Martin is a columnist and critic for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. Email him at [email protected] and read his blog at blooddirtandangels.com.

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Dave says: If you need a cosigner, you're not ready – Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal

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How to improve your credit score in 2021: Easy and effective tips

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If you’ve ever wondered “What is my credit score?” it’s probably time to find out. Having a good credit score can make life a lot more affordable. If you’re about to buy a house or car, for example, the higher your credit score is, the lower your interest rate (and therefore, monthly cost) will probably be.

Your number may also be the deciding factor for whether or not you can get a loan and ultimately determine if you are even able to buy something you want or need.

So, yes, the goal is to have the highest possible credit score you can, but increasing the number doesn’t just happen overnight. There are important steps to take if you want to increase your score, and the sooner you start working on it, the better.

“If you’re trying to increase (your credit score) substantially to accomplish a goal, you’re really going to have to have as much lead time as possible,” said Thomas Nitzsche, director of media and brand at Money Management International, a nonprofit financial counseling and education provider that advises people on how to legally and ethically improve their credit score on their own.

If you have fair credit and you’re trying to improve the number for a house purchase, for instance, you’ll want to start working on it at least a year in advance, he explained to TMRW.

But even though that sounds like a long time away, you can (and should!) start doing things right now to bump that number up. Below, see seven things you should do — and not do — to help improve your credit score:

1. Review your credit report

Review your credit report and look for errors that might be hurting your score. Morsa Images / Getty Images

The first thing you’ll want to do is pull up a copy of your current report so you know where you stand. You can get free reports from all three agencies — TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax — at annualcreditreport.com. Nitzsche said it’s important to take a moment and understand the financial snapshot of where you are today and where you want to be.

You’ll also want to take some time and look for any errors on your report, which could negatively impact your score. “If your name is misspelled, that’s not going to hurt your score,” he explained. “But if you see a late payment or missed payment (that’s in error), or maybe you have an account that should be reporting but isn’t, then that’s a problem and that will impact your score.”

If there is an error, you should dispute it and try to provide as much proof as you can.

One other thing: You can also ask a creditor to remove an issue if it’s been corrected (i.e., if you paid off a collection debt). Nitzsche said it doesn’t hurt to ask and the worst thing they could say is no.

2. Have good financial habits

“The biggest part of your credit score is payment history, so the most critical thing is never missing a due date,” Nitzsche said. Set up a monthly autopay or add all due dates to your calendar so you never miss a bill.

You can also achieve a higher score when you mix different types of accounts on your credit report. It may seem counterintuitive to get extra points for having debt in the form of student loans, mortgages and auto loans, but as long as you’re paying them off responsibly, it shows that you’re reliable.

3. Aim to use 30% or less of your credit at any given time

Know your credit limit and aim to only use 30% or less of it for a better credit score.Tim Robberts / Getty Images

Know your credit card limit, and try not to use any more than 30% of that number each month, otherwise your score could lose points for too much credit utilization.

Another thing you can do is ask your bank to increase your limit. “That will give you more flexibility to spend more,” Nitzsche said. You could also pay it off twice a month to keep the balance low. But he does warn that you never know when the balance is going to be reported to the bureau. It can happen at any point during the month, so it might be the day after you make the payment or the day before. “You don’t necessarily want to use the card and pay it the next day because that doesn’t give the bureau the chance to know that you’re using it,” he said.

4. Avoid requests for new credit

If you’re looking to increase your score around the time you want to buy a house or car, you won’t want to open up a new line of credit, like a retail card, credit card or loan. That’s because “hard” credit inquiries like those can lower your score, and sometimes it comes down to a few points over whether you’re approved or what your rate will be, Nitzsche said.

“Soft” credit inquiries, like when an employer checks your credit or when you pull your own report, won’t affect your score.

5. Keep all accounts open, even ones you don’t use anymore

Even if you don’t use that credit card from college, it’s a good idea to just keep it open because closing it could hurt your score. Nitzsche explained that you’ll be dinged some points for each account that is closed. If you want or need to mentally break up with a card, just cut it up instead.

6. Build your credit if needed

If you haven’t established credit yet, you might not even exist … in the credit report space, that is! “If someone has never fallen in delinquency on any subscriptions or utilities or never had collections on anything and they have not utilized credit cards or loans in the past seven to 10 years, they may not have a credit profile at all,” Nitzsche said. “That presents a challenge when you want to buy a home.”

If this sounds familiar, you may have to get a secured credit card where you put down a deposit, he advised. “You still have to make payments and use it responsibly. Not all banks offer them but you can usually check with your local bank or credit union.”

7. Reach out for help

If you want personal guidance on boosting your credit score, make an appointment with a credit counselor.kate_sept2004 / Getty Images

There are many apps and credit-monitoring services that can help you stay on top of your credit score. You could also reach out to a professional credit counselor who can help you navigate your specific situation. (Here’s a good resource about finding a reputable service.)

One last thing: Nitzsche warned that everyone should beware of credit repair scams that claim to be able to increase credit scores for an advance fee to get accurate negative information removed (even temporarily) from credit reports.

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Lifestyle News | ⚡How J&G Credit Recreations Assists Individuals to Gain Financial Stability Through Credit and Homeownership – LatestLY

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Lifestyle News | ⚡How J&G Credit Recreations Assists Individuals to Gain Financial Stability Through Credit and Homeownership  LatestLY

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