I also thought this was a pretty awesome story.
The organization of the far right to take an idea that is factually incorrect and spread it around in the media and have conventional wisdom based upon it and then policy based on empirically incorrect "facts" is scary. News sites were publishing stories about Paul Krugman going bankrupt last week and that Chuck Hagel being funded by Friends of Hamas, a non-existent group, a couple of months ago after some right wing reporter spread it around. Oh yeah, Obama is a Muslim too.
Cherry-picking alone is very common, but when it gets coupled with anti-science and anti-math rhetoric and decision-making power, it gets disturbing. It seems to me that a large minority of powerful people in the GOP willfully disregard scientific, financial, and other data that is critical for smart decisions. Not everyone understands all of those details, but willful disregard is fundamentally different that relying on other people to help you figure out empirical reality. As someone who is a fan of data-based decision making and who is conservative about imposing financial and environmental risk upon unconsenting people, this scares me.
Two examples. One, offering options to some people to replace social security with privatized savings accounts. Great idea, except when you have crazy people exposing those accounts to high levels of risk that results in folks losing 1/3 of their savings. Due to people not being conservative enough about the financial risk they expose the public to, we have financial crises.
Second example: hydraulic fracturing for natural gas. Will probably do a lot of good for the economy and is definitely going to happen. However, there are some real health and environmental risks associated with drilling and property rights that need to be addressed to do it righ. There are a lot of unknowns that we could understand with a little more time to do it in a much safer way, but now the GOP is completely closed to a more conservative risk strategy for drilling. Instead they want to rush in and impose unknown risks upon unconsenting property owners. Here too GOP leaders misquote studies and confuse people about what is going, dangling out the short term jobs carrot (which is good, but should not be the only consideration), so that they can do what fits with their ideology.
This leads us down the road of politicizing data-driven decision making that is typical practice for all major companies in the US. I'd be willing to bet that making government unable to use the tools of the time to govern will not lead to a good situation.
blah, blah, blah,
"There are lies, damned lies, and statistics."
"You can prove anything with the right kind of research."
"Facts can lie, the truth never does."
It's also unfortunate the gullibility of the American people has risen dramatically since the days when the internet became commercialized.
No one knows the true effect of what we do or propose today. Tomorrow contains many variables that we can't anticipate.
Yes, the people in Washington do need to make smarter decisions based on better information. The American people need to become more informed about economics, science, and technology. Only then can our country get back on the right track.
I too am confused by what you're trying to say here. How can the American people become more informed about a subject if they dismiss research on the subject ("blah, blah, blah,", etc.)?
Generally speaking, the American people are too quick to take what they read on the internet as fact. You have to do your own research. The American media has the problem of not doing enough research or writing from a biased point of view.
At one point in time, I used to believe the numbers game. I became a Lean Six Sigma green belt and that changed it all.
Sorry, still not getting it. Are you saying we should doubt the original Reinhart and Rogoff study, or the study that reported the flaws in the original study, or the media source from which Fly learned about the second study? When you "do your own research," where do you get your raw data? And did Lean Six Sigma teach you to beware of other people's numbers, or did you become aware of the way that they play around with numbers?
"Facts can lie, the truth never does."
One example is when Obama said to the Mexican People.
“This war is being waged with guns purchased not here but in the United States… more than 90 percent of the guns recovered in Mexico come from the United States, many from gun shops that lay in our shared border. So we have responsibilities as well.” BS!
Fly im still trying to figure out your point? To bash the contemporary Republican? As for a austerity program it makes since to me. Austerity programs can and do reflect both dem and gop agenda i.e. "tax increase" or "cuts in SS spending". What is balanceing a budget if not asserting some form of austerity program?
I think walkie may be trying to say that all the statistics and facts and such tossed around by fly and climegeist are enough to make your head spin. I have avoided this blog because it made my head hurt, not just spin.
Personally, I am getting tired of all the discussion about how "THEY" are deliberately misleading us, lying to us, feeding us poison, taking our guns, etc.
There are millions of people in this country and most of us are good folks. I don't believe most of us lie, steal, or murder as a daily practice.
If I dropped my wallet, I believe Fly would hand it back to me, and I trust that if I found Fly's wallet, he would not poison my sweet tea while I wasn't looking.
Geez people... lighten up.
Fly, just the other day I was agreeing with you! Today, however, I have to give a little input.
Being married to a professor of accounting who has worked in the business school and done plenty of research, he and many others will tell you that research and numbers can ALWAYS be skewed.
they can be skewed by anyone, on any side of an issue.
What needs to happen right now, is we need to set party aside and come up with a plan that will work for our country.
In my opinion, that doesn't require any further research; the evidence is right there as plain as the nose on their faces.
the problem is that the majority of them have no desire to do anything other than argue over who's right and who's wrong.
We need to clean house in DC.
Balancing the budget would seem to be the simple solution ,but simple solutions are never quite that simple. I think you may be assuming that all government workers are lazy and that most government program are bloated and unneeded,ignoring the fact that many government programs are vital to the health of the nation and passing over the fact that government workers buy groceries,pay rent, make car payments and pay taxes. In this instance austerity would reduce government spending but also have deleterious effects on the economy.Shall we kick grandma to the curb? Shall we shut down the FDA? Sell off the national parks? And what about all of those federal transfer payments to all of those red states that receive more federal money than they send to Washington? Shall we cut veterans benefits? Basic research? Does all of this take place without a tax cut? Do we assume that a national budget is comparable to a personal budget? In balancing the budget are we putting ideology ahead of pragmatism? My feeling is that the conservative embrace of austerity has more to do with politics than with economics.
Yes, numbers CAN always be skewed, but that doesn't mean they ARE always skewed, nor does it mean that skew can't be detected. Saying "well, numbers can lie" to dismiss a study whose conclusions are distasteful to you, without any evidence that their data or analyses are in fact skewed -- well, sorry, I can't think of a gentle way to describe that thought process!
There are a lot of interesting ideas being touched on here:
- on how the world is complicated even though (and I'd say because!) everyone has their own, simpler, ideas on how things should be
- on what things (other people) should base their decisions
- on balancing the federal budget (pols love to invoke 'we the people have to balance our budget, so why can't the government,' but how many Americans do you know who are debt-free?)
- on the idea of government as business (wait, that's not this thread, but still interesting).
I did not broach the government- as -a -business trope which I think is harmful. We are ,after all ,citizens of this nation and not merely consumers of services or customers. Citizenship demands much more than the vendor /customer relationship.Why devalue the relationship? Would young forensic students rifle Bartletts to find quotations about the glories of consumerism?How about this one: " If I have one life to give,let me die for my service provider"?
The government as a business doesn't play any better at the state level .The governors customer service initiative sets my teeth on edge.... We are citizens of Georgia too d... ..!
Let business do what it does best and that is to run business. When business intrudes into every aspect of American life , we all suffer.
Fly, When you say "I think you may be assuming that all government workers are lazy..." by "you" I assume you mean me. From what Ive said, you assume, I think all government workers are lazy. Why are you bashing me I am not a contemporary republican. 22
Pus, A well balanced budget does not mean "debt-free" think about how many americans have a balanced budget.
22, I am not bashing you. I made an inference based on some of your earlier comments. If I have been unfair, I apologize.
But the two are inextricably linked. Try to find an article about balancing budgets, either personal or governmental, in which debt is not a central topic. I'm curious, though, how many Americans you think have a "balanced budget."
Incidentally, if you choose to follow the "if I have to balance my budget, then so does the government" analogy, I'll note that you can't balance a personal budget OVER TIME simply by cutting expenses; you have to increase your income stream.
Thomas Herndon is the greatest economist to ever live. He has proved that debt has no relationship to economic activity. How have the greatest minds missed what he has now found? What a genius, and he is only a graduate student! What next. A new theory on gravity? Maybe he can solve the nuclear fission mystery. Need I go on.
No, please don't. Herndon didn't "prove" anything, he provided compelling evidence for serious flaws in earlier analyses. Misrepresenting him, and then mocking this imaginary version of him, instead of responding to what he actually found, is lazy and foolish.
The 90% debt to GDP is the amount of money our nation owes. It is our debt. Our current debt is over 16 Tillion dollars a year.To service it (pay the interest) is 900 Billion each year. This is what we spend on welfare programs ,medicaid and other social programs each year. The 900 Billion to pay to service our 16 Tillion in debt, comes from you and I paying higher taxes each year, which takes the money out of the pivate sector, which slows economic growth. People can't buy a new car because they need that money to pay higher taxes, so the government can pay the 900 Billion debt service. The 900 Billion does not pay off the debt,that 900 Billion only pays the interest for one year on the 16 Trillion in debt we still owe.Finally, this President and his Socialist Allies (Democrats) want to tax more money from the people, not to pay down the principal on the 16 Trillion dollar debt, and thus reduce the 900 Billion debt service cost each year, he wants to spend the money redistributing the taxpayers money to his socialist friends who don't deserve it. Our Government is not to be a rackateering enterprise. That is what corrupt governments around the world do. Finally, for those of you reading this, ask yourselves the following:
If you run up your credit card debt by 50,000 dollars, your minimum monthy payment wil go up. That minimum payment only pays the interest. You need to pay more than the minimum payment to begin paying off your debt. If you did not have any credit card debt, you would have more money to spend on new clothes,a new car, new shoes and so on. The same is true for government. So, I am to believe that because someone showed that two Harvard Professors don't know how to use a calculator, is a reason to abandon all logic concerning economics, is foolishness.
1. The $16 trillion debt includes $5 intragovernmental debt that does not, as far as I can tell, impose any kind of repayment burden on the public, because it's money that one branch of government borrows from another.
2. The interest paid on the federal debt in fiscal year 2013 was actually $191 billion, so either you've exaggerated your claim by some 470% or else you're mistakenly using a measure of "debt service" that includes both interest and principal payments (i.e., paying down our debt); I can't find that $900 billion figure anywhere, so I don't know which it is. But simple use of a calculator should convince you that your numbers are wrong: $900 billion interest on $16 trillion equals an interest rate of over 5.5%, which is rather significantly higher than what the Fed is paying!
3. I'm quite sure you don't REALLY want the Federal government to manage its money like a business (i.e., how many businesses do you know that do not borrow significant amounts of money) nor like a private household (most of which have significant debt for major purchases like homes and cars, and which ideally should have lots of money set aside in savings!). These are foolish analogies, because government is specifically designed to deal with issues that aren't best handled by either businesses or private households, so why would it approach these issues in the same way?
4. You're fond of slapping Obama, and Democrats, and anyone with liberal leanings, with the inflammatory label Socialist, but by defining it in terms of redistributing taxpayer money, you make the label meaningless, because, again, I doubt you REALLY think Bill Gates should receive 200 times as many benefits from the government than you do just because he pays 200 times as much taxes as you do!
But yes, I agree that our government is pretty dysfunctional, inefficient, and doesn't always work in our best interests. However, I continue to hope against hope that logic and evidence can prevail against irrational ranting, no matter how heartfelt. Because if you don't know what you're doing, and don't know it, you can easily make a bad situation much, much worse.
I didn't read the study cited, so I don't feel capable of comment. Wonder how many of the contributors to this blog could say the same (but contributed anyway).
Fly,excellent blog. Til you got to party bashing. Enjoyed it anyway. Very well done.
Our national debt is money we own to those who lent our government money. Money that the government spent on things that were over and above items paid for by taxes collected for budgeted items. Those who purchased our government bonds lent us the money. China has bought the lion’s share of our bonds, and they want their interest payments each year and also their principal back at some point in time. It is not one part of the government lending the money to another part of the government. This is real debt and real money. Explaining what our President and his political allies have been doing is not ranting, it is calling it for what it is Socialism.
So all of the pele who receive Social Security are socialists? if Democrats are socialists, are Republicans fascists? I thought I knew what these terms meant. Please explain.
Social Security is a government retirement system to supplement a person’s private retirement savings. The system requires you to pay into the system by law. It was to pay for itself. You put money in throughout your working live, 40 years or more, and you would get a monthly check in your retirement years. This is not Socialism because the individual pays for the end benefit, but it is bad government policy. The rate of return on Social Security has been 2%. Had the American people been required by law to invest that money into a private IRA, 401K or other retirement funds, the rate of return would have averaged 6% or more. This proves that government never can do better, what the private sector is set up to do. Government has no business getting involved where it doesn’t belong.
In addition to the bad rate of return, politicians who have control over your Social Security money rather than you having control over your money if it were in a private sector retirement account, our politicians have raided the Social Security Trust Fund to allow millions of people who never paid in a dime to Social Security to receive payments from the fund. By having the government involved, our politicians have more power to control our lives. It grows the government, costing us more unnecessary tax dollars, paying for a failed system, and by doing this promotes Socialism.Dependency on government.
Finally, both parties are socialistic. The Democrats are committed to full Socialism where the government will control everything. The Republicans are Socialist when it helps them get re-elected. The current Immigration Bill illustrates this point. Our government was designed (A Republic Style Government) to stay out of our lives. Read the grievances listed in our Declaration of Independence. We had had enough of the King’s government being in everything and controlling our lives. We fought a Revolution to rid ourselves of that oppressive Socialist Government. Sadly, we have spent the past 100 years trying to go back to that British Style Socialist Government. The American Socialists are winning because they have control of our education system controlled by government. Our children are being taught to hate this country, what it was founded on, what it has stood for and that our country is the cause of problems in the world. Nothing is farther from the truth. Our children are being lied to. Plato told the Greeks “ If you want to know the future, it is, who is teaching the youth, and what are they teaching. Americans need to wake up, and re-learn our founding and insist that our children be taught the truth about our history. I was recently in a high school classroom in this county. The History teacher had left on the board that day’s lesson. It said the following:
Lesson Objective: Causes of American Imperialism! If this doesn’t outrage you, than you too have been lied to.
Bush floated the idea of private retirement accounts. Given the fiscal shennaginans allowed on his watch, I think we all dodged a bullet by not privatizing the system.
I really don't understand the screed against teachers.I also think you are making some sweeping generalizations.Some teachers may be too liberal for your tastes ,but others would share your opinions. As a rule, high school teachers are fairly conservative, and I suspect that the comment left on the board was taken out of context.Did you bring some preconceived notions with you?
I was not a big fan of Bush. He was far better than Gore. For me, Bush did one huge thing right. He correctly identified our war with Islamic Terrorists, when he said to the world “ You are either with us or against us“. This should still be our policy. Many lies were told about him, including those on his proposal to privatize Social Security. It was lied about because if it were privatized, the politicians lose that control over your life.
As for my comment on the teacher’s lesson, when did you graduate from high school? Are your history teachers still teaching? What has been happening in school’s outside of the Southern States for the past 45years is now happing in the past 10-15 years in the South. I retired from teaching two years ago. This type lesson was common with certain history teachers. Younger history teachers, under 40, learned their American liberal re-write of American History in their college courses taught by liberal professors and re-enforced by new revised Liberal written history textbooks. What I am saying is, they only know what they have been taught, and they teach it to our children. I applaud you for having the same reaction as I to the objective of that days’ lesson, however it happens far more often than you think.
I will second Ironside's comment about some teachers. I know several and some of them are quite liberal. That is fine with me if that is their personal politics, but I remember several nights of straightening out that day's lesson because the teacher put a very liberal spin on things that occurred in the 19th century.
Not on the blogs. Not a chance. Not only will I not disparage another person's integrity when they cannot defend themselves, I will not threaten their livelihood.
I considered being a History teacher at one time, and gave some thought to how I might conduct a class. I felt I could honestly keep (most) of my personal opinions out of the classroom. Either some teachers do not have that much self control, or they deliberately try to work their agenda whenever they can.
My history teachers taught American history without any personal spin. The textbooks had no agenda or spin. We did have open debates in class on all the political issues of the day, and current events. It was the 1960’s and the Left’s golden age of social change that they were pushing on to America. But, our debates were student generated and we always had student opinions from both sides and all sides. My teachers would become moderators of our debates. They never added their personal opinions.
When, I became a teacher, I followed this style of teaching because it is the only way to insure that student inquiry would not become indoctrination. A teacher must guard against injecting their personal opinion because students would tend to side with the teachers point of view to gain favor., and the teacher is an authority figure and must be right, that is why they are the teacher. I did play devil’s advocate if there were no student willing to take the opposite point of view. But, again I would put it in a context like “ What about this or that” to guide them to consider other points of view and debate them.
This style of teaching is not happening today, and it is not taught to college students studying to become teachers in our Schools of Education in our Colleges and Universities. Sadly, what is happening is open teacher opinion being expressed in the classroom.
Fly, No Worries. Often Its hard for me to truly understand what someone is saying when there is no eye contact, body language and tone. So I assume that Bryant stopped reading when she-he got to the part about “Contemporary Republican thought is sclerotic...” 22
Sorry for the break in postings, I had my own post-secondary education to deal with.
Don't believe any research until you can prove it with your own research. We are too quick to take what another person says as truthful fact.
For every one person pointing out evidence in the pro, another person can point out evidence in the negative. One must be willing to research and research with accuracy and credibility.
A common example is the fake "global climate change" debate. I have yet to find any single person to tell me what the optimum temperature is for our planet. We are 100,000 years out of our last ice age, we are probably nearing the day of the optimum temp, or maybe in another 10,000 or so years. This planet we live on has survive far more dangerous things than humankind. In retrospect, humans are a minor part of our ecological threat. The sun in the sky is a much bigger threat. Yet, I hear no one calling for sun control.
In regards to politics, we can't blame the politicians because we are the ones who put them there.
In regards to education, we had a great education system before President Jimmy Carter created the Department of Education. Even Dr. William J. Bennett, the first Secretary of Education is often the first person to say that in a crowded room or radio airways.
Research never "proves" anything, it gives you the probability that a hypothesis is incorrect! Every researcher knows that they may be wrong. Because of this, scientists are inherently skeptical; you should never "believe" research per se. Instead, you should be able to evaluate the data, the analysis, and the conclusions, and hopefully come up with the same odds that they did (but it doesn't always work that way, as Fly is pointing out in this post!). This is far more productive than doing your own research on everything; how could you even do that? And since you can't, where does that leave you? I'm not saying you shouldn't do research (it's what I do, after all!), I'm saying you need to be able to evaluate the logic and evidence of others as well.
The fact that you can always find people claiming "evidence!" on either side of any issue is too often used as an excuse to simply discount any evidence that contradicts your preconceptions.
"What is the optimum temperature for the entire planet?" is a nonsense question. The planet doesn't care, of course, so temperature could only matter for its inhabitants, and surely you realize that what's optimal for polar bears isn't optimal for orchids. Even if the only inhabitants you care about are people, there isn't going to be a single answer for all humanity either, and in any case, the problem isn't so much the temperature itself as it's the speed of the change in the temperature.
As far as the planet surviving catastrophes in the past, that's true, but not without massive consequences to its inhabitants (meaning, those that were present at the time were largely destroyed!). People survive cancer, but does that mean we've got a "fake cancer debate"?
Finally, I can't even imagine how you can conclude that "humans are a minor part of our ecological threat" unless you scrupulously avoid reading anything that has to do with pollution, habitat destruction, invasive species, overharvesting, ecology, humans, plants, or animals.
Let me be of assistance. Read about the fate of Sumerians,the Toltecs, the Mayans,the Anazazi ,and the residents of Easter Island and report back to me.You might also read the latest from Alexander Von Humbolt (1805).Lebanon is hotter and drier because the fabled cedars of Lebanon were logged off in antiquity. Take a long look at the J Curve, a graph that vividly illustrates the global warming phenomenon.If you do, you will note a correlation between industrial activity and rising temperature.
Human activity does have deleterious effects on the environment and has affected climate.And modern technology has given us the means to truly upend the apple cart. Modern man has cast a long shadow over the earth ,and unless we heed the warnings that are all around us, we will reap the whirlwind.
Global warming is apolitical.We do not have Democratic science and Republican science.We have only science.Republicans/Libertarians (disgruntled Republicans who want to smoke dope) make themselves look foolish and irrelevant if they choose to ignore the overwhelming evidence that we now have before us. We need to do something about it and soon.
Bill Bennet took The McGuffy Reader and sucked the life out of it to create his tomes for children.Pity the poor children!
If you can cite one new idea the Republican Party has floated about anything, I will retract my "sclerotic" comment.If you can refute the Republican animus against government and the great influence that Grover Norquist exerts on the party faithful, I will retract that statement as well.Many points are debatable ,but sometimes people are just wrong. The contemporary Republican Party seems to be wrong most of the time.
Regarding the OP: Carmen Reinhart and Kenneth Rogoff wrote an editorial for the NYTimes today that 1) agreed with Herndon about their coding errors, 2) disagreed that they cherrypicked and massaged the data they did use, 3) complained that "The politically charged discussion, especially sharp in the past week or so, has falsely equated our finding of a negative association between debt and growth with an unambiguous call for austerity."
The first two items, incidentally, are pretty common in the scientific literature (not sure if economics qualifies, but I'm just saying these kind of disagreements do happen among researchers, and people do actually concede errors); the third item (i.e., interested parties manipulating research findings to fit their own agenda) happens all too often.
variable value food stamps
makeing mortage bailout recourse loans
fewer government agencies
"taxing consumption over income"
the emancipation proclamation!!
reduced income tax rates
electronic medical records
removing federal review of the recognition of same-sex marriage
the national park service T Roosevelt
the EPA Nixon
increased oil drilling
partial birth abortion ban
gun ower rights
not suporting US department of education
training for jobs in high demand "scholarships" for tech training
social impact bonds
no or "exempt from" obamacare
blocking executive decision etc etc
tax credits for hiring veterans
prohibiting back door amnesty act
STEM jods act
strong national defence
strong support for Israel
fly im sure that,
never had a good idea for our country...
variable value food stamps
makeing mortage bailout recourse loans
social security reform
fly your right not one good new idea.
Your list needs some editing.For example, Grant was too trusting and his administration was darkened by the Credit Moblier scandal and endemic corruption.Roosevelt would be called a RINO today. Harding was widely regarded as incompetent ,and his administration was marred by the Tea Pot Dome scandal. Coolidge wore funny hats and turned a blind eye to malfeasance on Wall Street. Hoover was a good man and a great humanitarian but was hampered by a conservative ideology that did not permit him to think outside of the box at a time when bold measures were needed to cope with the ravages of the Great Depression. Reagan set conservation and environmentalism back thirty years.Even avid conservatives don't want to claim W.
Laissez Fair predates the Republican Party.
Free markets are also encouraged by Democrats.
Social Security reform means cuts to Social Security.
Right to work laws have led to increased income inequality.
Reagan dropped the ball on immigration reform in 86.
Gun laws are too lax.
Oil companies should not be given a free pass on land held as a public trust.
Some drilling really needs to be restricted.
We should have signed the Kyoto Protocols long ago as even far right Republicans are coming to see that global warming is a problem.
Our relationship with Israel is often contrary to the national interest.
There a flaws in my post I'm sure, also there are flaws and scandal has haunted some great people. But you asked me to cite one new idea the GOP has floated. Did you not see one new idea or better, one good idea in the bunch? Reform does not have to mean cuts in SS. Better allocations is reform.
The better ideas on your list would not find favor among contemporary Republicans. The GOP is in a lot of trouble. Even Republicans note that.