- I would rather be exposed to the inconveniences attending too much liberty than to those attending too small a degree of it.
Thomas Jefferson (1743 – 1826), to Archibald Stuart, 1791
In September of 2010 I wrote a post about our increasing need to get our information in “four minutes or less.” I would like to add that we not only want our information in four minutes or less, we also want it packaged in a way that we can either accept the total package or reject the total package. In other words presented to us in a package that is tied up with a neat little bow.
At the risk of oversimplification, I believe that is exactly why we are struggling as a country today. We have diminished our capacity for critical thinking and now accept, for the most part, being told WHAT to think. This is not something that is restricted to only one political party or, for that matter, one world view. It has infected the many people.
Our lives are so “busy” and so much information bombards us on a daily, even hourly basis that we just want “the bottom line” without looking closely at how we got there. We want so desperately to believe that this person is all “good” and that person is all “bad” that we just accept the data that confirms our opinion. The problem is with the data….not looking critically at the data. And that happens because it takes quite a bit more than four minutes.
The danger in wanting a nice little package is that we dismiss vital information and/or dismiss critical facts because it doesn’t fit into our neat little box.
My original post discussed the free market system, “fairness,” and the extreme efforts to make any sort of “competition” evil. I summarized as follows:
The free market is not structured on “fairness” nor does it seek to influence human behavior in desirable directions. Individuals do that. Individuals, acting as active moral agents and who have a transcendent source of what is right and what is wrong do that. You cannot divorce the individuals acting within a system from the system and make statements condemning or supporting that same system and stay in what I call the “real world.”
Unless you’ve been in a medically induced coma, or stranded on a desert island for the last few years you are probably aware that the free market and capitalism are under attack. Capitalism is seen as the cause of all of not only our woes, but the woes of the world. The collectivist world view sees capitalism in this light, which in turn determines how the collectivist will propose and enact economic policy. The opposing world view sees things quite differently.
Take, for instance, our U.S. Treasury Secretary’s statement that United States would never follow a strategy to weaken the U.S. dollar. This statement was made today by Timothy Geithner at a meeting organized by the Council on Foreign Relations. But the dollar is in decline. I guess what he meant to say was, “It’s not my fault.” Earlier this month, in a Huffington Post article he is also quoted as saying “not raising the debt ceiling would be catastrophic.” He says:
“What will happen is that we’d have to stop making payments to our seniors — Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security. We’d have to stop paying veterans’ benefits,” he told Amanpour. “We’d have to stop paying all the other payments on all the other things the government does. And then we would risk default on our debt — and if we did that, we’d tip the U.S. economy and the world economy back into recession — depression.”
(NOTE: The underlying assumptions here are: 1–that the U.S. economy and the world economy would NOT tip back into recession–depression if we would just increase the limit on our credit cards and 2–that messing with current payments to seniors and veterans is the only option and 3–“all the other things government does” are absolutely necessary….does the phrase “non-essential personnel come to mind?)
Then read Destructive Economic Myths at the Washington Times and The Debt Bomb Showdown at the Patriot Post. In addition read an article from The Foundry, Bernanke Helps Defuse Default that offers a little history on the debt ceiling issue:
In the fall of 1995, the federal government reached its $4.9 trillion debt ceiling. Congress refused to raise it. The world did not end. Instead, Treasury took several measures during the period to raise funds to meet federal obligations without exceeding the debt ceiling. Was, as Geithner warns, the “full faith and credit of the United States … called into question”? No. Was there “catastrophic damage to the economy”? No.
OK….now for something completely different and a little more fun 🙂
Most of us are not professional economists, therefore we are at the mercy of sound bites unless we do our homework and then compare the information we are given with our real world experiences. There are a number of YouTube videos that will help you understand some of the issues better.
The video above will help you understand “mandatory spending” in less than two minutes!
This one will help you put those big numbers being discussed into perspective, again in less than two minutes!
Finally, since our Constitutional Republic is still somewhat intact, we still care about what The People have to say and the majority of them say they want a balanced budget, elimination of waste, and reformation of entitlement programs. I realize that you could find polls that differ from the one presented above, but think about your real world. If you consider the videos in my post “Let’s Do Some Math” and consider the videos above you will come to the realization that we have some very difficult decisions to make.
These decisions will be painful. We have allowed the progressive/collectivists to put a structure in place that promises more than it can deliver (do the math!), creates dependency on government to solve all our problems and “take care of us,” and demonizes “the rich.” And we want an answer that will fit neatly into a box that we can tie up with a bow.
The progressive/collectivist world view will tell you that you just need to give them four more years to clean up the mess made by George W. Bush during which time they are taking actions that will increase our debt and do nothing to reign in our spending. Where does your common sense tell you this will lead? Once again ask yourself what fundamental transformation actually means to you and your family.
The opposing world view will tell you we need to make tough decisions and face what we have created. They will also tell you we need to restore the integrity of our Constitutional Republic so that the government is brought back into line with the limitations set forth in our founding documents; decreasing the size of government. That means we learn again exactly what charity is. We find ways to help those in need at a local and personal level. will that be easy? No. Is it worth it? Yes.
As the introductory quote states, liberty and freedom feel less secure than the alternative. The alternative is to give up liberty and freedom for a little more security or safety. Which brings another quote to mind:
- Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.
- Benjamin Franklin (1706 – 1790), Historical Review of Pennsylvania, 1759
The Moral Issues of Money at Gulagbound.com
Dick Morris: IMF Becoming America’s New Fuhrer at New Zeal