This month, just before the Midterm Elections, I’m focused on the perfect storm created by the intersection of three disastrous forces running amok in our nation today.
I wrote about the first force back in 2013, in “What We Don’t See is Killing Us”—I hope you will take a moment to read it, because it sets the stage for what is to follow. In that post, I extolled the writings of Henry Hazlitt on Economics, and particularly his observation that policies always have two effects: immediate and secondary. Always.
“In studying the effects of any given economic proposal we must trace not merely the immediate results but the results in the long run, not merely the primary consequences but the secondary consequences, and not merely the effects on some special group but the effects on everyone.” Economics in One Lesson, Chapter 15.
Hazlitt’s point is that the immediate result of a law, regulation or policy created to benefit one group may look good in the short run, and make for encouraging news clips, but that same policy may also prove to be a total disaster for the rest of us, and for the country as a whole, but that secondary result always happens a little later. And there is always this follow-on result—it is not optional.
The obvious and most powerful example today is inflation. To solve virtually any problem for decades, and in particular to counteract the disaster of government-imposed economic lockdowns during Covid, the government’s answer has nearly always been to spend more money, lots more money. The immediate effect—people happily buying stuff—made for great prime time television. But the secondary consequences a year later are, first, the theft of our buying power from inflation, and now, to fix the fix to the Covid fix, the added cost of much higher interest rates for every household, leaving less to spend on that same stuff than when we started. The inevitable secondary result has made us all worse off.
I strongly recommend Hazlitt’s short book Economics in One Lesson for anyone who is interested in gaining a quick understanding of almost any economic issue or policy. It’s a great read, with many real-world examples.
The second devastating force at work today is summarized in Thomas Sowell’s 1995 masterpiece, The Vision of the Anointed, with one of the most accurate subtitles ever penned, Self-Congratulation as a Basis for Social Policy. It is a “devastating critique of the mind-set behind the failed social policies of the past thirty years,” pushed on us by the political and intellectual elites, the “Anointed,” who “consider themselves ‘thinking people,’ but much of what they call thinking turns out, on examination, to be rhetorical assertion, followed by evasions of the mounting evidence (the facts) against these assertions.” [From the book cover].
Sowell takes subject after subject and fact after fact to show that the Vision of the Anointed always follows the same pattern:
- The Crisis, which must be solved, even though it may actually be improving already without any special intervention.
- The Solution, or the Anointeds’ Policies to end the Crisis, which they claim will lead to beneficial Result A.
- The Results, once the Policies are instituted, which instead lead to detrimental Result Z.
- The Response. Those who blame the Anointeds’ Solution are simplistic and ignorant of the real complexities. No burden of proof is ever required of the Anointed, to whom the press gives pass after pass. Indeed, it is often asserted that the Result would have been much worse, were it not for the Anointeds’ Solution, and so more of the same is required.
Sowell’s many examples range from The War on Poverty to Criminal Justice Reform, but one that jumps out at me right now is his example of Sex Education, first introduced by well-funded Federal and then State programs in the mid-60’s, targeted to reduce teen pregnancy and venereal disease through better education. Unfortunately, the Result was that among teenage girls in the next decade, birth rates, venereal disease and abortions all increased dramatically. Why? Because more teenage girls engaged in sex. And what was the Response? Even more had to be spent on sex education!
But re-reading in 2022 what Thomas Sowell wrote in 1995 about this subject gave me chills:
The real goal was to change students’ attitudes—put bluntly, to brainwash them with the vision of the anointed, in order to supplant the values they had been taught at home. In the words of an article in the Journal of School Heath, sex education presents ‘an exciting opportunity to develop new norms.’…An example of such indoctrination may be useful:
A popular sex instructional program for junior high school students, aged 13 and 14, shows film strips of four naked couples, two homosexual and two heterosexual, performing a variety of sexually explicit acts, and teachers warned with a cautionary note from the sex educators not to show the material to parents or friends: “Many of the materials of this program shown to people outside the context of the program itself can evoke misunderstanding and difficulties.”
Parents who learned of this program and protested were quickly labeled ‘fundamentalists’ and ‘right-wing extremists,’ even though they were in fact affluent Episcopalians in Connecticut. Here is an almost textbook example of the vision of the anointed, preempting the decisions of parents as to when and how their own children shall be introduced to sex—and dismissing out of hand those with different views. (The Anointed, p.20)
Remember, this was written almost thirty years ago, and the indoctrination was mostly just about sexual activity, not anything close to today’s focus on transgender activism, and sexual grooming, with constant over-sexualization at every age, starting in Kindergarten. It’s important to keep in mind that today’s leading activist Anointed principals, teachers and enabling politicians were students in the classes that Sowell describes. For examples of today’s more intense and much worse Vision of the Anointed in education, visit a website created by parents and grandparents at one particular school.
To the forces of (1) delayed secondary consequences from bad policies and (2) the destructive Vision of the Anointed which drives those bad policies, we now have a third terrible reality—wholesale denying of the truth, even when the truth is clear and obvious, and not just a matter of opinion or interpretation.
I wrote about this acceptance of untruths and lies by so many in leadership in our nation in a post last year, “Looking For Truthful Leaders”. There I listed eleven specific delusions that are apparently believed by a large number of those in power in America, and never challenged by most in the media.
This repetitive, enthusiastic support for clear lies today seems a step beyond what Sowell found in his research three decades ago, when a slightly different interpretation to some Result might still be argued, in spite of the facts, and the media still wanted the truth.
The only reasons I can imagine for otherwise intelligent, informed people not only to accept, but actually to promote, lies is their search for personal gain and/or political power.
Think about all the clear lies that many of our leaders appear to believe, as well as Hazlitt’s detrimental, secondary results to believing and implementing these lies with real policies. To the eleven delusional lies listed in that earlier post, we can now add:
The best way to protect families from inflation is to give them more money to spend on what they need.
The War on Drugs is working, thereby reducing addiction and crime in America.
The Mueller Report fully examined every aspect of the Russian Collusion issue, including the FBI’s early involvement.
Georgia’s election reform laws will suppress the vote and create Jim Crow 2.0.
Forgiving debt that is owed will not be inflationary.
The Hunter Biden laptop was Russian disinformation.
Mexico and its neighboring Central American nations can solve the root causes of the border, drug and cartel crises, if we all just work together and give them more money.
And one important caveat to the coming secondary result related to the National Debt. Thanks to recent spending, our debt level is now $31 trillion, and climbing. That is approximately $100,000 for every person in America. For a family of four, that’s $400,000. Since less than half of us pay taxes which fund the interest on the debt, that means that each tax-paying family of four is responsible for the interest on $800,000. With interest rising to near-normal levels of 5%, and about half of all Federal taxes coming from individual tax returns, each tax-paying family’s burden is about $20,000 per year, or $1,700 per month, just to pay the interest on the debt for all the stuff we’ve funded for decades, with about half of that stuff added in just the last few years.
That’s $1,700 per month less that the average tax-paying family of four has available to spend on everything else the family needs. And that’s before the nation spends a penny on healthcare, defense, education, social security, or any other seemingly worthwhile government priority.
Hazlitt’s disastrous secondary Result for this Anointed policy is coming, and it won’t be pretty if and when our nation can’t fund that interest. It would be so much better to reduce spending now. For a simple but potentially powerful idea in that area, please see a post from 2012: “How To Stop Runaway Spending.”
But what is the larger answer?
To me, that answer is simple: We need smaller, paid-for governments at all levels, with much less of the Anointeds’ impact on every aspect of our lives, run by honest servant-leaders who seek the truth and abhor lies, elected from non-gerrymandered districts, and all held accountable by a fiercely independent, truth-reporting free press.
Go out and vote for those people, if you can find them where you live. If you can’t find potential leaders like that running for election near you, think about what it will take to coax good people to do so.