I’ve been revisiting some of my old favorite bands lately. Here is some Def Def Leppard…
A little music is good, every now and again.
Does hysteria breed hysteria? I think that is the message of Professor Larry Kotlikoff;s article at VOX.
Imagine that you are an employer. Every day you hear, “the economy’s going over a fiscal cliff. Tax hikes and spending cuts totalling $600 billion will kill the economy”. Everyone is saying it – the politicians, the media, the economists, the Fed, the CBO, the IMF. So it must be true. Sure, the Republicans and Democrats may make a deal and save the day. But these guys never agree and, meanwhile, economic doomsday – January 1st – is just weeks away.
What do you do? Do you wait for your customers to disappear, as they surely will, or do get a head start and start firing now – or at least stop hiring? You get a head start And in so doing, you make the prophecy come true. Other firms see less demand from your erstwhile and prospective workers. But the other firms – there are 30 million of them – all do the same thing. So, voilà, you see fewer customers and weren’t all the pundits right. And weren’t you smart to get a leg up?
The professor then makes a case that the crisis of 2008 was more the result of panic than anything else. Hmmm. I don’t know Professor. There was a little thing of losing 40 to 50% of the value of one’s home that is something worth panicking about, I think.
Then he moves on to talk about what is occupying the President and Congress today; the Fiscal Cliff. He says that all the scare talk is causing businesses to take measure that will ensure that we have a recession. But, it seems to this humble observer that Kotlikoff contradicts himself with these two statements.
Let us be clear; absent collective panic, our economy will not implode if we move from running a 7% of GDP deficit to a 3% of GDP deficit. The Federal Government ran deficits of 3% or less during most of the post-war era and the economic sky did not fall in.
Ten thousand baby boomers are retiring each day. Within two decades all 78 million will be retired and collecting $40,000 per person (in today’s dollars), on average, from these three programs. These and other projected expenditures combined with our low average tax rates – historically speaking – have produced not a fiscal cliff but a fiscal abyss. The fiscal gap separating the present values of all future expenditures and all future revenues is now $222 trillion.
It seems to me that a $16 trillion debt, the insolvency of Social Security and Medicare, and the devastating burden of ObamaCare along with a deluge of new regulations to cripple businesses are more than enough reason to panic.
But, maybe the professor agrees with me after all:
As we justify doing far too little far too late, the fiscal gap, the only economically appropriate measure of our government’s true indebtedness, is growing at a colossal pace – by $11 trillion over the past year alone. To put $11 trillion in perspective, it’s as large as the entire stock of official debt in the hands of the public. So if we want to panic, there is something real to panic about. It’s the fiscal abyss, not the fiscal cliff.
And then again, maybe he doesn’t agree with me
But, of course, what is needed is not panic, but leadership. The President and other politicians need to stop scaring the nation. In so doing they are coordinating everyone’s expectations on recession and, thereby, assuring it will come. Two thirds of the public are now convinced the economy will face major problems come January 1st (Cowan 2012), whilst corporate America is already cutting back on investing and hiring (Son 2012).
If Congress remains deadlocked – which seems likely – and recession ensues, both parties will say “I told you so”. What they will miss is that their telling us so, not making minor fiscal adjustments relative to what’s needed, will likely be the true source of the recession. Our economy is crazy enough. We don’t need hysterical leaders to make it more so.
Leadership??? When is the last time anyone has seen any signs of leadership in Washington? No, Professor, I think Americans have every reason in the world to panic These clowns are going to take us down while playing their blame game. We are not going to find any leadership, Professor.
Well, now you know what I’m thinking. What are your thoughts?
[…] Hysteria and frenzy are clearly the way the politicians and media elites think we should deal with tragedy. These media worthies might better spend their tears and lamentations over the reckless coverage of the tragedy, when speculation, supposition and make-believe were presented as fact. Errors included the wrong number of the dead, the false identification of the shooter, the wrong guns identified, and the way the shooter was dressed. Tragedy was compounded by media ghouls who descended on surviving children and parents, stuffing microphones the size of beer cans in their faces to ask, “how did it feel?” (When tragedy strikes, the hysterics rule | Pruden & Politics)
Contemptible behavior as a reflexive response to calamity is not a characteristic endemic only to the reeking buzzards of the Fifth Estate and Democratic politicians, though those particular unworthies seem to have cornered most of the modern market on it. But in the aftermath of the latest murderous rampage committed by a homicidal whacko using a firearm as his weapon of choice (and not the other way around), many members of academia and the arts have succumbed to blind panic, villifying gun owners who are guilty of nothing, and making it clear that the liberal way of protecting the innocent is, as always, by removing more of their Constitutional rights. A sampling:
Ben Stiller: “Shocked and saddened by what happened today in Connecticut. We have to stop the access to guns in our country.”
Chrissy Teigen: “it’s too easy for a monster to get a gun. solution: NO ONE GETS GUNS. sorry if this is an inconvenience for your complete need to have one.”
Sarah Silverman: “Band-Aids-on-Band-Aids @NRA people want MORE access to guns to combat all the people w access to guns.”
Piers Morgan: “This is now President Obama’s biggest test – will he have the courage to stand up to the American gun lobby?”
Michael Moore: ”The way to honor these dead children is to demand strict gun control, free mental health care, and an end to violence as public policy.
Rashida Jones: “Gun control is our only road to freedom. Freedom from the fear of senselessly losing children. … Thanks, gun lovers, for all your hateful tweets…
Flea: “No civilians should be allowed to have guns. none…and i dont think the cops should have guns either…change the constitution…and make quality mental health care free…god bless the children…in many countries the cops have no guns and they do perfectly fine…peace and love to all…heartbreaking…the depth of sadness.
Erik Loomis, PhD, assistant professor of history, University of Rhode Island: [I] want Wayne LaPierre’s head on a stick …looks like the National Rifle Association has murdered some more children … Can [we] define NRA membership as dues contributing to a terrorist organization?
But opinions, as the old vulgarism goes, are like anuses — everybody’s got one, and most of ‘em stink. You can’t remove the darkness in the human heart by singing “Kumbaya” or by legislating a return to the days of the longbow and battle axe. While a rational national debate on stopping mass mayhem — one that includes America’s law abiding firearm owners and 2nd Amendment supporters — may or may not be appropriate, one thing is certain: the only surefire way to stop an armed individual is with another armed individual.
FLASHBACK: Asst. Principal Ends School Shooting With Personal Gun (All American Blogger)
Original Post: Be Sure You’re Right, Then Go Ahead
In 1970 a movement gained traction where it had been building up power for some time. It was then that the environmental movement became more than a fringe segment of the social populous. Their pushes in the 60’s finally brought fruit, and that fruit would be handed out generously in campuses, legislatures, and businesses across the country (all without pesticides).
There were some rightful motions set in place during this time such as pollution fines for corporations, but not all were so legitimate. Climate change, for instance, was quick to fall off the lips of most environmentalists, but it was the coming “Ice Age” that we feared. Time Magazine published a story in 1974 titled, Another Ice Age. In it they said,
However widely the weather varies from place to place and time to time, when meteorologists take an average of temperatures around the globe they find that the atmosphere has been growing gradually cooler for the past three decades. The trend shows no indication of reversing. Climatological Cassandras are becoming increasingly apprehensive, for the weather aberrations they are studying may be the harbinger of another ice age.
Life magazine quoted “many qualified experts” and dismissed any skeptics due to “solid experimental and theoretical evidence” to support the following predictions in their Jan 30, 1970 issue.
–In a decade, urban dwellers will have to wear gas masks to survive air pollution
-In the early 1980’s air pollution combined with a temperature inversion will kill thousands in some U.S. city
-By 1985 air pollution will have reduced the amount of sunlight reaching earth by one half.
-In the 1980s a major ecological system – soil or water – will break down somewhere in the U.S. New diseases that humans cannot resist will reach plague proportions.
– Increased carbon dioxide in the atmosphere will affect the earth’s temperature, leading to mass flooding or a new ice age.
-Rising noise levels will cause more hearth disease and hearing loss. Sonic booms from SSTs will damage children before birth.
Ice caps were growing, seas were cooling, ecological systems are failing, the air wasn’t breathable, the sunlight was fading, the cold air was causing drought which led to famine! This global cooling, combined with our outrageous population growth was about to hit the fan and we needed to do something quick. The panic was on. Ronald Bailey from Reason.com captured the alarm well in his piece, “Earth Day, Then and Now”.
Earth Day 1970 provoked a torrent of apocalyptic predictions. “We have about five more years at the outside to do something,” ecologist Kenneth Watt declared to a Swarthmore College audience on April 19, 1970. Harvard biologist George Wald estimated that “civilization will end within 15 or 30 years unless immediate action is taken against problems facing mankind.” “We are in an environmental crisis which threatens the survival of this nation, and of the world as a suitable place of human habitation,” wrote Washington University biologist Barry Commoner in the Earth Day issue of the scholarly journalEnvironment. The day after Earth Day, even the staid New York Times editorial page warned, “Man must stop pollution and conserve his resources, not merely to enhance existence but to save the race from intolerable deterioration and possible extinction.”
Surely these individuals, these “qualified experts” making these predictions would have been cast outside the population like mental lepers, right? Wrong; most were lifted into lofty positions of respect. They are still quoted today and considered “well respected”.
The ecologist Kenneth Watt would go on to make such claims like, “By the year 2000, if present trends continue, we will be using up crude oil at such a rate…that there won’t be any more crude oil” and “If present trends continue, the world will be about four degrees colder for the global mean temperature in 1990, but eleven degrees colder in the year 2000. This is about twice what it would take to put us into an ice age.” He would inspire a whole generation of ecologists to push for environmental rights.
George Wald would go on to get speaking invitations at almost every prestigious university across the globe, and advised Mikhail Gorbachev on environmental matters. Wald made a great impact in the world of medicine, but sadly failed miserably in his judgment of politics and environmentalism. He firmly believed that without worldwide abortion and contraceptives that the world would be overpopulated within the generation. Though his wild predictions were obviously off, he died believing them. In a 1994 interview with Boston College he, with the knowledge that his previous calculations were off, declared, “When it is said nowadays that we are in the grip of hysteria with regard to environmental problems, I wish it were true…Unfortunately, experts are convinced that the threat to the environment is all too real”. Doesn’t that sound familiar? Environmental experts, like weather men, are often quoted, but rarely proven reliable.
Barry Commoner ran for President in 1980 after founding his political “Citizens Party” based almost entirely on a system of socialism and ecological extremism. He started the party because he found Carter too moderate. After his failed attempts he was hired on at Queens University as a senior scientist, became a member of American Association for the Advancement of Sciences, and has a star on the St. Louis Walk of Fame.
In 1970 Dr. S Dillon Ripley said that within 15 to 30 years “somewhere between 75 and 85% of all the species of living animals will be extinct. He went on to have a building in the Smithsonian named after him and received honorary degrees from Brown, Yale, Harvard, John Hopkins and Cambridge.
In an interview with mademoiselle magazine in 1970, Paul Ehrlich foretold, “In 1973, 200,000 Americans would die from air pollution, and by 1980 the life expectancy of Americans will be 42 years.” Large words from a butterfly expert, but this entomologist would become one of the most famous environmentalists in the world; the Bing Professor of Population Studies at Stanford.
He’s best known for his book “The Population Bomb” which starts out, “The battle to feed all of humanity is over. In the 1970s hundreds of millions of people will starve to death in spite of any crash programs embarked upon now. At this late date nothing can prevent a substantial increase in the world death rate”. His course of action to deal with this overpopulation was to “have population control at home, hopefully through a system of incentives and penalties, but by compulsion if voluntary methods fail. We must use our political power to push other countries into programs which combine agricultural development and population control.”
In 2004, Ehrlich was interviewed and when questioned about his false predictions he said, “My basic claims (and those of the many scientific colleagues who reviewed my work) were that population growth was a major problem. Fifty-eight academies of science said that same thing in 1994, as did the world scientists’ warning to humanity in the same year. My view has become depressingly mainline.” Unfortunately, he’s correct. Those “experts” have come out to somehow support the basic principles behind Ehrlich’s obviously false forecasts. These are the same individuals who now advise our politicians or even hold high offices capable of implementing policies.
This is the problem. If a religious zealot makes doomsday predictions about the world ending we mock them. When their prediction falls flat they are rightfully mocked and eventually ignored. Their line to a higher power is obviously not as clear as they thought and their credit is brought into disrepute. If you make such claims within the ecological/environmental world and they turn out untrue then you are given professorships and honorary degrees. You presumably become part of a group commonly referred to as “experts”, who seemingly always agree. When May 21st passed by without a heavenly rapture, the media lit up in mockery of its predictor. When the 80’s survived without an ice age or mass death in the streets of America, the media made them expert references.
Two years ago in an interview, Ehrlich said that his book “The Population Bomb” was “way too optimistic”.The interview was for The Earth Island Journal, and the title of the interview, “Paul Ehrlich, the Vindication of a Public Scholar”. Denial, ladies and gentlemen, isn’t a dried up river in the pestilence ridden land of Egypt.
Original Post: The Sentry Journal