Political Sleight of Hand

Magicians use sleight of hand and miss-direction to confuse their audiences and create illusions of performing “magic”. Progressive politicians have long used a similar technique, or “sleight of mouth”, to confuse voters and create the illusion that they and their progressive policies are effective despite the ever mounting historic evidence that conclusively proves otherwise.

One of the most frequently used “sleight of mouth” techniques is to sell a policy by only discussing the first level of impact. Henry Hazlitt, in his brilliant, must read, book Economics in One Lesson described a similar economics fallacy this way:

“The art of economics consists in looking not merely at the immediate but at the longer effects of any act or policy; it consists in tracing the consequences of that policy not merely for one group but for all groups; what is seen, and what is not readily seen. Nine-tenths of the economic fallacies that are working such dreadful harm in the world today are the result of ignoring this lesson. Those fallacies all stem from one of two central fallacies, or both: that of looking only at the immediate consequences of an act or proposal, and that of looking at the consequences only for a particular group to the neglect of other groups.”

You can’t swing a dead cat in Washington without hitting one of these fallacies in action. A few examples, which happen either through ignorance, or malice of intent include:

  • Obama care (Nancy Pelosi’s statement that we have to pass it to find out what’s in it).
  • Raising the minimum wage (second order effects: results in fewer jobs and inflation).
  • Putting coal mines out of business to reduce carbon emissions (higher prices for electricity, and higher prices for products).
  • No need to drill in ANWR since we won’t get the oil for 5 years (but after five years we WILL have that oil flowing for decades and be less dependent on foreign oil).
  • Government spending creates jobs (government spending requires taxes which would have created at least as many and likely more jobs if not taken from people and companies for government use).

Never accept the first order of effects of any policy as the final answer. Look deeper to see what the logical second, third and fourth order effects are. To quote Rafiki from the Lion King, “Look Haaarder”! When the analysis looks this deep, most policy proposals will stop smelling like roses and start smelling more like rotten eggs.

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