Requiring Truth From Power

One last shot before Christmas…

One of the things that irks me about the general public’s approach to problems is the willingness to accept things at face value and the lack of intellectual curiosity about statements made, policy positions stated and “facts” that are thrown out from politicians to the media like chum to circling sharks. I don’t so much blame the public for eating this pre-packaged and processed pabulum as I just stand and watch in stupefied amazement at how easily these lies are told and swallowed. Our country would be far better served if there were more that refused to rise to the bait and asked the follow up questions or even conducted the most modest of research.

Since the mainstream media has abdicated that responsibility, the responsibility falls to us, regular folks without degrees in journalism from the Ivy League. There is a very important and vital role in what we do.

One of the howlers that has been and continues to be passed out as the hot button issue du jour, the “payroll tax holiday”, has risen from the depths of inanity to take on a panic filled aura like a 1950’s swamp monster B grade horror movie is the little fiction of the White House stating that there are 160 million people that the payroll tax holiday would impact. As the Daily Caller points out, that doesn’t even square with their own numbers:

The White House is manipulating numbers to boost the emotional impact of its allegation that Republican legislators are denying a $40 per paycheck tax cut for 160 million American workers.

According to the Census Bureau, the U.S. economy supports only 131.7 million American workers — not 160 million. That total is only slightly up from last November’s total of 130.3 million workers, because of the stalled economy.

Still, White House officials continue to push the 160 million number.

This has even been uncritically reported on that fortified bastion of the left-wing press, the notorious FOX News. Is it a really big deal of scandalous proportions? Of course it isn’t, but the problem I have with it is this is but one example of a miasma of frequently told fibs that conditions the press and the public to accept bigger lies later, sort of like the old boiling frog analogy.

Point of fact, one of the reasons that we never are able to solve anything is that most of these policy arguments are based on half-truths and sometimes outright lies. Another great example is the current Obama administration’s lament that “we just can’t do big things anymore” (of course the lament was really about a large faction of America that won’t allow government to do big things with taxpayer money without their permission). Again from the Daily Caller back in October:

At a recent campaign event, President Obama said that the United States “became an economic superpower because we knew how to build things.” He went on to list the Hoover Dam and the Golden Gate Bridge as monuments to America’s capacity for greatness.

Hoover Dam? You mean the great accomplishment of the “progressive” regime of liberal saint FDR? Perhaps this great event dedicated by FDR in 1935 bears a little closer look.

How socialists love dams! No propaganda magazine out of the USSR failed to include a picture of some mighty dam; and the Three Gorges dam on the Yangtse River is Chinese Communism’s proudest engineering achievement. Nothing says “heroic materialism” like a dam. No surprise, therefore, to see Rachel Maddow on MSNBC standing in front of the Hoover Dam telling viewers: “You can’t be the guy who builds this. You can’t be the town that builds this. You can’t even be the state that builds this. You have to be the country that builds something like this.” So the Hoover Dam was built by government employees? No: It was built by a consortium of six private companies. It was financed by government money, though, wasn’t it? Only if you think there truly is such a thing as government money: The dam was financed by taxes drawn from the economy. The federal government supervised the project, at least, didn’t it? It did — and the consortium had to fight all the way against pettifogging regulations and efforts by Interior Secretary Harold Ickes to have the workforce unionized.

The Hoover Dam was finished early and under budget, by American business.

How many people do you think know that the Hoover Dam was not actually built by a munificent and all-powerful government but by private companies? Before I read this in the November 28th edition of National Review, I didn’t. I never even questioned the role of private industry in construction projects like this because the government school curriculum that taught me about the glories of the FDR government harnessing the savage power of nature for the benefit of the country never even mentioned it.

It is not time to speak truth to power, it is time to require truth from it.

3 thoughts on “Requiring Truth From Power

  1. The question was never, in my mind at least, whether the the government built the Hoover Dam, of course it contracted the work to private companies. On reflection, I realize that you are correct, we were not taught that in school, whether by design or not, I cannot say.
    However, the dam would not have been built had not the government wanted it built, authorized and paid the contractors to build it. That is Ms. Maddow’s point.
    As to whether the dam Should have been built, that is another essay by itself. One area was robbed of its water to supply another, paid for with funds taken from people who will not benefit from either the power or the water provided by Mr’ Hoover’s namesake.

    My favorite teacher taught the necessity of questioning everything. Thanks for the reminder.

  2. “we were not taught that in school, whether by design or not, I cannot say.” You’re beginning to sound like the Saudis. C’mon, G.! The education system here has been carefully engineered. It’s a racket.

    But your other argument, I totally dig…..

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