I would hope most people reading this have, at some point, heard of Godwin’s Law and its most famous corollaries. The most well known amongst them being that as soon as someone compares a person or position they disagree with to Hitler (or Nazis in general) he or she, by default, loses the argument. In classic logic, this would be referred to as Reductio ad Hitlerum. I would like to propose an addendum to this. If you refer to a person or position as some extremist terrorist group then you also lose the argument by default*.
Today’s perpetrator is none other than Thomas Friedman over at the New York Times. He has deigned to weigh in on the Debt Ceiling debate and, as I’m sure you can guess, he is less than pleased with what he sees. Along the way he commits horrendous acts of inappropriate metaphors, poor analysis and heinous partisanship.
The main broadside of Friedman’s vitriol is, of course, saved for the tea party. He does build up to it. Making an attempt at being equitable Friedman starts by attacking both Democrats and Republicans for not dealing with this problem two years ago. What he seems to have forgotten is that two years ago there were no Republicans anywhere in power, so this is one that he should be laying squarely at the feet of Democrats.
“What business do you know — that is still in business — that would operate this way: making massive long-term cuts, negotiated by exhausted executives, without any strategic plan? It certainly wouldn’t be a business you’d expect to thrive. Maybe you can grow without a plan. But if you cut without a plan, you will almost surely hit an artery or a bone that could really debilitate you.”
Allow me to answer that with another question. What business do you know – that is still in business – that spends 60% more than it brings in? Not for one year, not for two years, but decades and decades on end. Not only that, but that business plans to continue to do so. A business in that situation, if it didn’t sit down at that exact moment in time and cut every single expenditure possible, would be filing for bankruptcy within minutes. There are two ways to reduce debt, as any qualified financial planner can tell you: increase income and reduce outlay. Increasing income takes time and is not guaranteed to be possible. The only sure-fire way to reduce debt is to cut spending to below the current income. This is simple logic. There is nothing extreme here, anyone with an ounce of business experience, something sorely lacking in the upper echelons of the New York Times as well as Congress, could tell you the same thing. Friedman’s plan is based on what he calls the five pillars that have gotten America to where it is today.
1. Educating the work force up to and beyond whatever technology demands.
This worked until the education establishment was co-opted by progressives to teach diversity. Now universities pump out a steady stream of emasculated borderline alcoholics with no real skill set.
2. Building the world’s best infrastructure of ports, roads and telecommunications.
Looking at America’s the ports and roads, you’d be hard pressed to call them the best. The depredations of unions, government mismanagement and the environmental lobby have done their best to keep these in less than peak condition. While the US does have decent telecom infrastructure, overregulation has created a business environment that stifles growth.
3. Attracting the world’s most dynamic and high-I.Q. immigrants to enrich our universities and start new businesses.
This happens mostly due to ongoing good will that America has, but high taxes and onerous regulations on business are eroding it.
4. Putting together the best regulations to incentivize risk-taking while curbing recklessness.
How has that turned out in the past? Dodd-Frank and Sarbanes-Oxley have done wonders to dampen any growth in the market. The EPA works diligently to destroy manufacturing and the energy markets. The list goes on and on with examples of how everything the government tries to regulate ends up destroying wealth and costing jobs.
5. Funding research to push out the boundaries of science and then let American innovators and venture capitalists pluck off the most promising new ideas for new business.
Like every other thing funded by the government only the most politically correct projects get funded. That doesn’t take into account the hundreds of millions of dollars wasted on studies that do absolutely nothing to push the boundaries of science.
Of course Friedman has to defend the “social safety net.” We can’t take any money from Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid. That would, of course, cause a back lash against the free-market economy. A veritable revolt of the proletariat against the capitalist bourgeoisie would ensue. It goes without saying that this is a laughable contention. For starters, no one is talking about doing away with these entitlements, just reforming them to a point where they do not totally destroy the American economy. More importantly, even if they were to be discontinued today, there would be no uprising of the industrial working class.
As far raising income, the only way Friedman can see to do this is by raising taxes. It has been shown over and over that this only works in the very short term. As taxes rise business loses the incentive to produce and GDP goes down. As a matter of fact, no matter what the marginal rates are, tax revenue stays more or less steady at 19% of GDP. Therefore, the only real way to grow income is by reducing taxes at which point the entire economy grows and government revenue would go up.
It is then that Friedman pulls out the big rhetorical guns. All of the common sense statements above are the platform of the Tea Party. Lowering regulation, serious cuts to entitlements and lowering taxes, these being the only tried and true route to growing the economy and reducing debt. If you agree with those things, you lack any aspiration for American greatness. You want to see America fail. Also, you’re a member of Hezbollah. Go ahead, feel free to bomb some night clubs and lob a few thousand rockets onto your neighbors.
That’s clearly what you’re planning to do if you don’t think continuing business as usual will work. That is the plan you’ve asked for, Mr. Friedman. Massively cutting entitlement spending, cutting regulations and cutting taxes are the only way to achieve your five pillars.
And we can do it without calling for a violent Jihad against Western Civilization.
* The exception to this rule would be the Bourdain Addendum. Named for celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain who refers to vegans as the Hezbollah wing of the vegetarian movement.