Famine of Common Sense Hits the U.S.
- 21 August 2011 by Author 0 Comments
Famine of Common Sense Hits the U.S.
By Richard Larsen
Published – Idaho State Journal, 08/21/11
The Old Testament prophet Amos promised that there would someday be a “famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord.” There seems to be another famine in the land that may or may not be related to Amos’ prophecy: that’s a famine of common sense.
Roughly defined as “good sense and sound judgment in practical matters,” its dearth seems to indicate that it is far from common, and perhaps is more elusive than ever.
To illustrate, let’s take a simple analogy of men digging a pit. As they dig deeper and deeper, the walls to the pit rise higher making escape increasingly unlikely. What if an observer refused to participate in the digging and rather alerted them to the threats of their incessant digging, and admonished them to quit digging until they devised an escape plan? It seems to me the observer was being astute and prudent by not expanding the threat and by bringing attention to the potential risks the diggers were creating for themselves. The last thing I would think of accusing them of is being a “terrorist.” It would be illogical to do so, for they are warning of impending self-imposed danger to the diggers.
Yet that’s precisely how some in the media and even prominent national leaders have characterized the “Tea Party” congressmen who refused to simply raise the debt ceiling which would allow the debt diggers to dig deeper and more inextricably. Rather than buckling to pressure from the White House and even their own leadership, they raised the specter of our national debt exceeding the nations’ GDP, and at least got some agreement to reduce spending slightly over the next ten years, even though future Congresses may not honor it.
For being conscientious objectors to the otherwise perfunctory act of raising the debt ceiling, do they get praised for causing Congress some introspection on spending priorities? No, they get aspersions, accusations, and insults hurled at them. MSNBC pundit Chris Matthews refers to them as the “scary Wahhabis of American government.” Bob Beckel, a USA Today columnist and a fixture representing the left on Fox News calls them the “TEA Terrorist Party.” And Vice President Joe Biden was said by members of the Senate Democrat caucus to have declared that they “acted like terrorists,” through the debt-ceiling debacle. And Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) labels them as “unfit to govern.”
Military Veteran Bill Wavering illustrated the deeper humor in these appellations last week when he wrote, “Such rhetoric is actually laughable when you consider the fact that these ad hominem attacks are all originating from people who cannot ever identify an ACTUAL terrorist as a terrorist. ‘The Taliban are actually freedom fighters! If we could just talk with al Qaeda, we could reach a mutual understanding.’ Really?”
The only way they can come close to making such nefarious monikers and characterizations valid is if they base their argument on false premises, which they did. The first false premise is that by failing to acquiesce on the debt limit, default (failure to make payments) was inevitable. As I pointed out two weeks ago, we had hit the debt limit in mid May and didn’t default. The Treasury Secretary can juggle a lot of payments without ever being forced to default.
The second false premise was that if we didn’t raise the debt limit, U.S. debt would be downgraded which would have multiple pejorative effects on the debt, the deficit, interest paid to service the debt, and perhaps fewer buyers of our bonds. Well, that happened anyway, even with a debt-ceiling raise. The reason? Too much debt and a lack of political resolve in Washington to address it. Reading the S&P downgrade report, it appears the only ones who could’ve prevented the downgrade were the Tea Party “Wahhabis” in Congress. They were the ones with serious recommendations on the table for reducing spending.
Now contrast that with how Obama comported himself during the debate. Did you notice who Obama threatened when he wasn’t getting his way on raising the debt ceiling? He threatened to not pay Social Security benefits. He didn’t threaten to not pay foreign aid, food stamp recipients, or funding for Obamacare. He didn’t threaten to defund the EPA, the Education Department or the Energy Department. He didn’t threaten to curtail his golf outings or lavish vacations. No, he threatened Social Security recipients. Frankly, that sounds more like terrorist blackmail than what congressional conservatives did in attempting to reduce the debt.
I understand politicians and establishment media applying such terms to their opponents. They have to make them out to be the bad guys. But shame on us if we fall for their specious allegations based on fallacious logic!
AP award winning columnist Richard Larsen is President of Larsen Financial, a brokerage and financial planning firm in Pocatello, and is a graduate of Idaho State University with a BA in Political Science and History and former member of the Idaho State Journal Editorial Board. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.