What They Know For Sure Just Ain’t So

I hope for the new year that “conservatives” will update their databanks regarding how our economy, society and government actually work.  As Mark Twain said, “It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.”  When public policy is based on misinformation it’s usually ineffective or destructive. And, when ineffective or destructive public policy harms people, animals or the planet, in my book that IS “evil.”  People of all religious leanings (or none at all) agree we aren’t supposed to go around hurting others.

We have recently become fully aware that, for decades, a disinformation campaign, funded by self-interested billionaires, has been spinning away in support of really libertarian, not traditional conservative, public policy.  There never has been a successful society organized around libertarian principles, so, not surprisingly, these public policies, have destructive outcomes.  They place Wall Street, billionaires and corporations in control of the people and their government.  Additionally, it makes it difficult to argue amicably regarding what our government should do if we can’t agree on the facts.  For example, it makes it impossible to move forward as a nation when libertarian Republicans control a US House of Representatives with the worst performance in the history of the Republic.

They formed think tanks and funded segments of educational institutions to give the patina of truth to propaganda.  They’ve bought up TV networks and stations, newspapers large and small, and radio networks, then hired pundits to repeat the misinformation again and again or to omit myth-busting facts.  They’ve even established organizations that write their favored laws and place them in the fists of their funded and promoted elected officials for adoption. They fund campaigns of hatred and lies to attack those who speak truth or oppose their agenda.  The propaganda has infected primarily the Republican Party, but Democrats are not immune, as  today those who call themselves “conservative” in both parties really speak fluent libertarian.  If you think I exaggerate please read up on the history of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), the John Birch Society, the Koch brothers, the State Policy Network, the Texas Public Policy Foundation, Rupert Murdoch and Fox News.

Well, what are some the demonstrably factually wrong ideas?  I simply list some here because space doesn’t allow discussion.  They’ve been thoroughly debunked and exposed as wrong and some about our economy are as follows:

Government does not create jobs.

Government spending on social programs is redistribution of wealth, but government tax policies that favor the wealthy are not redistribution.

Government tax policies are not the source of our income inequality.

Income or wealth inequality on the scale we have today isn’t a serious threat to our economy, society and democracy.

The “free” market provides better solutions to social problems than do government social programs.

Religious and private charities can meet the needs of our unemployed, disabled, children, elderly and poor.

Government social programs don’t work; they create more problems than they solve; they create greater dependency and reward laziness.

A corollary of that–The New Deal and regulatory policies of FDR did not lead to recovery from the Great Depression and LBJ’s policies (Medicare, Medicaid, Welfare) of the 60s did not reduce poverty or help the middle class.

Another corollary–The stimulative efforts of President Obama along with our social safety net (Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, unemployment insurance, food stamps) didn’t pull us out of the latest depression.

People using food stamps (SNAP) are able-bodied but too lazy to work.

Most of the money in government social programs goes to bureaucrats not people in need.

Unemployment insurance makes the unemployed avoid seeking work or education to get new employment; it kills jobs, hurts the economy.

Raising the minimum wage reduces employment and causes price inflation.

Minimum-wage jobs are most often held by teenagers.

Our government annual deficits and total debt are due to social safety net spending.

Our deficit and public debt are the greatest threat to our national security.

Our government has a spending problem, not a revenue problem.

“Austerity” (lower taxes and lower government spending) leads to economic recovery and creates jobs; especially tax cuts on higher incomes create jobs.

Government regulations reduce employment (i.e., kill jobs).

Immigration and immigration reform, including citizenship for those undocumented, harms our society and our economy.

The Affordable Care Act takes health insurance away from people; will increase the debt and deficits; will reduce the ability of people to get the care they need; will reduce individual freedom; will kill jobs and harm the economy.

Social Security is bankrupt.

We’re broke and can’t afford the government we used to have.

The policies of the Obama administration have driven the debt higher; spending is out of control under President Obama.

Unfortunately that’s hardly an exhaustive list.  Remember, no matter how many times you may hear these myths repeated, it will NEVER make them true.  Whether it’s in the local newspaper or on national TV channels, these things some people “know for sure….just ain’t so.”  Worse still, this misinformation is spread to induce support for government policies that directly harm people, our society and our democracy while serving only the profits of corporations (especially polluters), Wall Street and the wealthy. These myths justify cuts to food assistance, education, Social Security, and local services like police and fire protection.  They support the failure to extend unemployment benefits to over a million long-term unemployed, the failure to put people back to work upgrading aging infrastructure and the failure to raise the minimum wage which has not kept up with inflation.  They leave in the shadows over 10 million immigrants deserving of citizenship.   They would take away our recent improvements in health care accessibility and quality. They call for spending cuts while refusing to raise taxes on corporations and higher incomes back where they used to be to fund government services.  Look in the mirror, Mr and Ms America, these tales you’ve been told are justifying public policies that either directly or indirectly hurt YOU.  It’s past time to bust those myths wide open.

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