Friday, June 15, 2012

You're Not Entitled To Your Own Facts

You know, lately, it seems I've been getting into more frequent debates, well, to be honest, arguments with people about various politically tinged topics and of course, I always believe I'm right. I research a topic to the best of my ability and then speak my opinion based from what I think are the "facts" of the matter at hand. But I'm finding that people are not always convinced by facts. "My "facts" are more factual than your "facts"," seems to be the standard tact. Then The Boston Globe pointed this out:

Recently, a few political scientists have begun to discover a human tendency deeply discouraging to anyone with faith in the power of information. It’s this: Facts don’t necessarily have the power to change our minds. In fact, quite the opposite. In a series of studies in 2005 and 2006, researchers at the University of Michigan found that when misinformed people, particularly political partisans, were exposed to corrected facts in news stories, they rarely changed their minds. In fact, they often became even more strongly set in their beliefs. Facts, they found, were not curing misinformation. Like an underpowered antibiotic, facts could actually make misinformation even stronger…. appears that misinformed people often have some of the strongest political opinions. A striking recent example was a study done in the year 2000, led by James Kuklinski of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He led an influential experiment in which more than 1,000 Illinois residents were asked questions about welfare — the percentage of the federal budget spent on welfare, the number of people enrolled in the program, the percentage of enrollees who are black, and the average payout. More than half indicated that they were confident that their answers were correct — but in fact only 3 percent of the people got more than half of the questions right. Perhaps more disturbingly, the ones who were the most confident they were right were by and large the ones who knew the least about the topic. 

I read Bruce Bartlett's recent New York Times article about the fiscal legacy of George W Bush. This man worked in the Reagan and Bush 41's administrations. So I figured, if Bartlett says there are issues in how the general public is perceiving the fiscal policies pursued by the Bush administration, I could count on his relatively knowledgeable view. Bartlett basically says Bush 43 messed up. He asserts that tax cuts alone do not grow the economy and points to the CBO's numbers which show Clinton's tax increases actually stimulated the economy and left us with a large surplus. The subsequent tax cuts of the first decade of the 21st century that were supposed to make the economy grow didn't do anything of the sort.

The 2001 tax cut did nothing to stimulate the economy, yet Republicans pushed for additional tax cuts in 2002, 2003, 2004, 2006 and 2008. The economy continued to languish even as the Treasury hemorrhaged revenue, which fell to 17.5 percent of the gross domestic product in 2008 from 20.6 percent in 2000. Republicans abolished Paygo in 2002, and spending rose to 20.7 percent of G.D.P. in 2008 from 18.2 percent in 2001.

According to the C.B.O., by the end of the Bush administration, legislated tax cuts reduced revenues and increased the national debt by $1.6 trillion. Slower-than-expected growth further reduced revenues by $1.4 trillion.
These are facts, detailed by someone who knows quite about the subject matter. Plus, he once was a batter for the home team. The tax cuts did not work. Obama continued them, essentially administrating like a moderate Republican. But Republicans now say this is not good enough, and MORE tax cuts are being demanded. We're seeing what's happening in Europe. The facts are on clear display.  We're watching it happen, LIVE. Austerity is destroying countries in Europe.

We seem to not want to look at facts and actually believe them. Then another person that is highly regarded (at least up until now) in the Republican party says this:

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, speaking to editors at Bloomberg, also said his father, former President George H.W. Bush, would have trouble fitting in with today's Republican Party.
"Ronald Reagan would have, based on his record of finding accommodation, finding some degree of common ground, as would my dad – they would have a hard time if you define the Republican party – and I don't – as having an orthodoxy that doesn't allow for disagreement, doesn't allow for finding some common ground," Bush said, according to the website Buzzfeed.

Many people are saying that Republicans are not willing to find compromise.  They themselves say they're willing to sit down and talk. The GOP spent two years saying no to literally everything that President Obama proposed, even ideas that they themselves had previously endorsed. And due to rules they themselves altered in the Senate, they could filibuster and stop or slow legislation.  Here we have, JEB BUSH, a man who knows the people in question, is saying that Ronald Reagan wouldn't fit in today's GOP. Of course, he's just misguided.  

I hope when I hear something that I don't agree with, I will listen, study and see what is factually correct, to the best of my ability. I'm not perfect , I don't know everything, and I do have my opinions, but everything cannot be commentary. Everything cannot be opinion. Climate change is happening. Water is Wet. Too much sugar makes you fat. Facts. I hope we as a country can at least learn to agree on what they are, if not what to always do about them.

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