Every so often I feel a need to point out that things are not nearly as bad as the talking heads of whatever persuasion declare. Really can’t blame them — hysteria is good for ratings. My bad.
My favorite quote about politics is from H.L. Mencken’s "In Defense of Women":
"Civilization, in fact, grows more and more maudlin and hysterical; especially under democracy it tends to degenerate into a mere combat of crazes; the whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, most of them imaginary."
Mencken was right. Most of the hobgoblins that our elected officials, celebrity scientists, and media elite proclaim really are imaginary.
I actually have observed this with my own lying eyes.
Back when I was a public advocate of sorts I would often open my presentation to Congressional staff with an apology. “Please forgive me for casting a ray of sunshine into the omnipresent gloom here on Capitol Hill.” They would laugh. Almost everyone coming in to them was a fountain of dire threats and warnings.
And off I’d go.
I would point out that there was a simple, well-tested, politically palatable way of creating an economic climate to foster economic growth in the 4% range, as under Reagan and Clinton. Not the paltry 2% range under Bush, Bush, and Obama. I’d do the math for them. It showed that an extra 2%/year growth would generate a gusher of federal revenues. Enough money to end the deficit, start paying down the national debt, cut some taxes, fix our infrastructure, and put Social Security into the black.
With enough revenue left over to buy a few more aircraft carriers so we wouldn’t have to listen to those neoconservatives whining about America’s doom, presumably from an imminent invasion by those ferocious Canadians they believe are massing at our northern border to impose universal health care on helpless little us.
Without campaign contributions, moolah, and barely any staff support I played a major role in persuading two successive Congresses to pass my signature legislation. (For the curious, it had to do with monetary policy and setting up an objective official study of what monetary policies consistently fostered noninflationary, equitable, prosperity. A compass for the Fed!)
You cynics? Get off it. Congress is avid for good ideas. If you have one get your necktie out of mothballs and bring it to them rather than merely writing disgruntled letters to the editor.
True, my lonely efforts were insufficient to surmount the inertia of the U.S. Senate. That chamber was designed by the Founders to prevent the enactment of legislation. It performs its mission brilliantly. A story for another day.
And in passing, only one House Democrat voted for it. No need for concern that it will pass again so long as Speaker Pelosi is in charge. Portents of Doom are assured for the foreseeable future.
That’s one reason I know that alarmists wildly overblow how bad things are. Now let’s turn to the Big Picture. Matt Ridley, writing in The UK Spectator, observes out that "We’ve just had the best decade in human history. Seriously."
I’ll wait until you get out the smelling salts. Ready?
“We are living through the greatest improvement in human living standards in history. Extreme poverty has fallen below 10 percent of the world’s population for the first time. It was 60 percent when I was born. Global inequality has been plunging as Africa and Asia experience faster economic growth than Europe and North America; child mortality has fallen to record low levels; famine virtually went extinct; malaria, polio and heart disease are all in decline.
“Little of this made the news, because good news is no news. But I’ve been watching it all closely. Ever since I wrote The Rational Optimist in 2010, I’ve been faced with ‘what about…’ questions: what about the great recession, the euro crisis, Syria, Ukraine, Donald Trump? How can I possibly say that things are getting better, given all that? The answer is: because bad things happen while the world still gets better. Yet get better it does, and it has done so over the course of this decade at a rate that has astonished even starry-eyed me.”
Hey! Starry-eyed me too!
Stark reality is anticlimactic. Peace and prosperity lack drama. No Michael Bay explosions. No John Williams’s orchestration.
To compound my felony in having ended this decade on a sobering note of good news my first column of the new decade, next week, presents the dawning of a golden age of peace and prosperity.
Deal with the grim reality of peace and prosperity.
Or skip me next week!
Ralph Benko, co-author of "The Capitalist Manifesto" and chairman and co-founder of "The Capitalist League," is the founder of The Prosperity Caucus and is an original Kemp-era member of the Supply Side revolution that propelled the Dow from 814 to its current heights and world GDP from $11T to $83T. He served as a deputy general counsel in the Reagan White House, has worked closely with the Congress and two cabinet agencies, and has published over a million words on politics and policy in the mainstream media, as a distinguished professional blogger, and as the author of the internationally award-winning cult classic book "The Websters' Dictionary: How to Use the Web to Transform the World." He has served as senior advisor, economics, to APIA as an advocate of the gold standard, senior counselor to the Chamber of Digital Commerce and serves as general counsel to Frax.finance, a stablecoin venture. To read more of his reports — Click Here Now.
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