Higgins: I’ve Been Framed … BadlyWritten by Tim Higgins | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Because fiscal policy in this country is perhaps the most important subject to the long-term future of this country, debate in Congress turns to it occasionally. In spite of such importance, most of this is not serious debate however. There is an election coming up some eighteen months from now after all, so those we’ve sent to Washington would naturally much prefer to score political points by demonizing their opponents on the subject rather than to do their jobs and logically frame and debate the issue.
The truth of the matter is that when those in Washington are not ignoring the economic realities of this country, they are often purposefully distorting them. Voters are deluged with partisan talking points on both sides of the aisle and expected to accept these misrepresentations of fact while supporting incumbent legislators who have done everything in their power to ignore the work that they’ve done and were hired for. In no other line of work (at least, not one without union protection) is such consistent and virulent job non-performance accepted.
Economist Thomas Sowell got it right about such debate when he said in his recent book, ‘Economic Facts and Fallacies’ that, “Some things are believed because they are demonstrably true, but many other things are believed simply because they have been asserted repeatedly.”
So it is that we can ignore the fact that government spending is the highest that it’s ever been in relation to the Gross Domestic Product of this country except during WWII; and at a rate almost twice as much as the value of all of the goods and services produced in this country by comparison with what it did during “The Great Depression” (according to usgovernmentspending.com) and refuse to discuss cutting it.
We are told that this unparalleled disparity is caused by defense spending of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan when the facts are that Defense spending is only 25% of the total federal budget and not all of that is spent fighting. That number is closely followed by Healthcare at 23% and Pensions at 21%, and those numbers will grow far worse in the days ahead. They would in fact be far worse by comparison already were it not for these conflicts.
The debate then moves to the concept that over-spending is the fault of the Bush Administration, when the facts show that President Obama has gone further into the red in two years than Bush did in eight. Presidential blame is further misdirection of the debate however. Congress makes and passes budgets and both major parties share equal guilt in increasing the rate of government spending.
We are told that this can be solved by taking more money from ‘the wealthy’ by way of taxes. The facts however, recognize even if we took everything from these ‘evil rich’ we could not sustain the level current spending, let alone conservatively projected growth of such costs. Such thinking likewise ignores the fact that tax revenues grow in this country when the tax rates are reduced. No growth however, can possibly hope to compete with the increasing rate of government spending if something doesn’t change drastically … and soon.
Having lost the debate on facts, many attempt to re-frame the debate and talk about what are now ‘rights’ in this country; regardless their cost or sustainability. Economist Walter E Williams has refuted this quite ably however saying, “A right, such as a right to free speech, imposes no obligation on another, except that of non-interference. The so-called right to health care, food or housing, whether a person can afford it or not, is something entirely different; it does impose an obligation on another. If one person has a right to something he didn’t produce, simultaneously and of necessity it means that some other person does not have right to something he did produce. That’s because, since there’s no Santa Claus or Tooth Fairy, in order for government to give one American a dollar, it must, through intimidation, threats and coercion, confiscate that dollar from some other American.”
But those pushing for increases in the size of government will resist the logic of such cogent arguments in any discussion, clinging arrogantly, vigorously, and sometimes furiously to failed theory and misrepresented fact in defense of false presupposition. This leaves yet another economist, Henry Rosovsky, as perhaps the final person framing the debate when says, “Never underestimate the difficulty of changing false beliefs by facts.”
We’ve personified everything else in this country from the most humble creature that walks or crawls to Mother Earth herself. Perhaps if we personified fiscal policy debate in this country, it might have something to say about the way it’s being treated. In fact, I have little doubt that it would say, “I’ve been framed … badly”.