Anger … and Non-Comprehension

One of the latest political polls I saw showed that the three “non-political” candidates [Trump, Carson, and Fiorina] for the Republican Presidential nomination now hold over fifty percent of the likely Republican voters. Another showed Bernie Sanders leading Hillary Clinton in several key primary states. Whether these numbers are totally accurate or whether they rise or fall, they’re highly significant in two regards.

First, they show how much anger and dissatisfaction there is among the electorate with professional politicians and Washington, D.C. And second, they show the lack of political and economic understanding on the part of most Americans, not to mention a high degree of hypocrisy.

I’ve already written about the anger, and that’s pretty obvious to many Americans as well as the political commentators.

I’ve mentioned aspects of the lack of understanding before, and some comments in response to my observations also illustrate that there’s a wide-spread failure to understand why seeming “simple” and “common-sense” solutions, as many proposed by Trump and others are called, are neither simple nor common-sense…and certainly not affordable under current taxation levels. A tremendous percentage of the American people, when it comes to government, have no comprehension of the costs involved, one way or the other.

Most Americans believe that wasteful federal spending should be eliminated, but they won’t support the elimination of excess military bases, because they represent jobs in their districts. The army has more tanks than it can use; that’s one reason why the army had no problem turning over excess armored personnel carriers and other equipment to police forces. The BLM runs essentially runs in the red because federal grazing rates are between half and a fifth of what private grazing rights go for. IRS audit rates are the lowest in years, if not forever, and getting to the taxpayer assistance lines takes hours at times because Congress cut IRS funding so much. Lower audits mean less revenue and more successful tax cheats. The list of Congressionally mandated requirements that reduce tax revenues and subsidize special or popular interests, virtually all in response to popular or contributor political pressure, would take pages and pages to even summarize.

There was a huge hue and cry over corporate profits and American companies moving their headquarters abroad, and the popular and political response wasn’t to deal with the reason behind those moves, which is the U.S. tax structure, but to make it more difficult for companies to do that… which is already proving ineffective and giving more companies to move their headquarters abroad — exactly the opposite of what would be desirable.

Minimum wage workers want higher wages, and need them if they are to be able to support themselves without federal aid, but small businesses don’t want higher wages mandated, and most voters who aren’t minimum wage workers don’t want to pay higher taxes to provide income support and welfare benefits to the working poor who need those benefits because their wages are so low.

In short, voters want lower taxes, but no cuts in federal programs that benefit them, only in “other people’s programs,” and they also want to beef up programs such as immigration enforcement, law enforcement, without any increase in taxes.

Yet they’re angry that the “career politicians” can’t deliver this impossible package, and they get angry at any politician or public figure who points out that what everyone wants costs more than anyone wants to pay.

So they’re voting for the “outsiders.” The problem is that basic economics doesn’t care whether a politician is an insider or an outsider. We’ve reached a point where we can’t keep borrowing more than we’re willing to taxes ourselves… and a huge percentage of the electorate isn’t willing to face the problem. They just want someone else to pay for it, and they’re voting for anyone who will support their delusions.

6 thoughts on “Anger … and Non-Comprehension”

  1. hola says:

    I consider myself an educated and thoughtful person who follows politics, and I truly cannot understand why people would be so silly as to fall for the simplistic, bombastic and unrealistic proposals and statements made by Trump, Carson & Fiorina (full disclosure: I worked for HP for 25 years prior to Carly’s destruction of that incredibly original and innovative company, thus I am biased in that area). It is especially telling when their supporters clearly state that they don’t care whether what the candidates say is actually doable, but that they support them because they say things their supporters are thinking. I guess the scariest things is that there are actually people who do believe in the political equivalent of the tooth fairy, and plan on voting for she/he/it.

  2. Joe says:

    Basic economics does not say that banks should be deregulated, so that “whizz-kids” who can’t understand the exponential function can book revenue on deals that will only be recognized as loss-makers once the whizz-kids have moved on. Nor does basic economics say that the losses should be covered by tax-payers, be it by direct purchases, or by the never ending quantitative easing which is the only basis for the increase of share prices since 2008.

    Basic economics shows there is a conflict between productive capitalism (workers + bosses) and the financial sector which makes money from inventing new pieces of paper. In times when the financial sector is repressed and boring, we benefit from scientific and engineering advances, and from improving living standards. In times when the financial sector is dominant, inequality rises, and most people lose their living standards destroying the very basis of industrial capitalism: consumers.

    Perhaps people do not understand this clearly, but at least they realize keeping going in the same direction is a bad idea. I, for one, would like us to return to the pre-Reagan/pre-Thatcher era when bankers were boring Gollums, living in dank dark caves, lusting over what they could not have, while the rest of us lived in a world that believed in a bright future.

    1. But basic economics does say that there is a cost to everything, and the longer you delay paying the costs, the higher they’ll be.

      1. Joe says:

        Your premise is that voters are selecting non-mainstream candidates because they promise more services for lower taxes.

        My premise is that they are selecting non-mainstream candidates because they are unhappy with business as usual.

        There is indeed a cost to everything, and things do cost more later. But the game these days seems to be about making others pay it. Paying it “later” is one such strategy. “Cleverly” abusing the system so that it doesn’t work as designed is another.

        1. I don’t necessarily disagree with your points, but all too many of those who are vocally dissatisfied with “business as usual,” especially Republicans, are benefiting from business as usual, and think they shouldn’t have to pay for anything they don’t like.

  3. Art Stewart says:

    Mr. Modesitt,

    Just a note to say thank you for writing such thought provoking and enjoyable books.

    I just completed rereading the “Rhenn” and “Quaeryt” Imager novels.

    (I initially read fiction for enjoyment and relaxation setting aside some for a slower more serious read.
    My “read again” bookshelves seem to collect your books.)

    Thank you again and all the best to you and your family.

    Art Stewart

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