The Slippery Slope

In the previous post, I lamented the massive lack of honesty among Republicans, especially among elected office-holders, who are getting to the point where at least some of them will literally do almost anything to hang onto to power and position, whether legal or not.

So far, the Democrats are better, but not nearly as much better as they believe, and therein lies the problem.

The public “lying” problem isn’t new. It’s as old as civilization, but when it gets bad enough that most of the public in a country believes that no public official can be trusted, that country is on the brink of revolution or autocracy, if not both. The United States is coming perilously close to that benchmark, given that the majority of Republicans have effectively declared that they don’t believe the administration on factual matters of national importance.

So how did we get here?

It’s really pretty sadly simple. First, Americans have never liked unpleasant truths, and rather than face them, they prefer to blame others, usually the President in power. Second, while Americans have always had a weak understanding of politics and history, the current generations have an even weaker grasp and, moreover, don’t want to improve that understanding. Third, Americans have become slaves to instant gratification, and with that has come a failure to understand or accept that it takes time to fix things. That’s why the first President Bush lost re-election – because he made unpleasant and unpopular financial fixes – and why President Clinton reaped the benefits of those fixes because he didn’t have to make unpopular public policy choices.

Fourth, politicians of both parties have learned that telling unpleasant truths has the immediate consequence of unpopularity and losing the next election. This bleeds over into everything.

For example, although the official inflation rate for some time, until the last few months, has been below 2%, that methodology for calculating inflation isn’t the same as it was fifty years ago, because the impacts of housing, food, energy, and education are now significantly understated. This “adjustment” not only understated the “official” amount of inflation, but also allowed the government to keep down cost-of-living increases in Social Security, military pensions, and various other benefits and programs, which not only reduced federal outlays but effectively was a hidden tax on beneficiaries.

So… when these costs suddenly increase, and government economists are saying inflation is “transitory,” even people who aren’t economists definitely get the idea that their government is lying to them. And all those years of misinformation and statistical manipulation are coming home to roost in the form of more and more people losing trust in government… and asking, “What else aren’t they telling the truth about?”

Now, even when a public official is telling the truth, most people are skeptical.

And that’s very, very bad news at a time when there are no good quick fixes available.

7 thoughts on “The Slippery Slope”

  1. Paul Smith says:

    I found your most recent book, Isolate, to be a bit of an allegory on US politics right now. It feels like the Commercers are the ones running the show with both parties we have beholden to them and no one else. I’m 32 and the more I delve into the problems we face the more it feels like a Gordian Knot, between cost of living, health care, student debt (thankfully I have none), and our politicians. Who can really trust politicians when they promise a world of changes that are popular among the people that voted them into office but never deliver upon?

    What can we really do? There isn’t an easy answer and nothing can be enacted with the current two party system.

    Beyond the doom and gloom, I’ve enjoyed your books since I first read the Magic of Recluce in the summer of 2001 and I look forward to enjoying more books from my favorite author.

  2. Postagoras says:

    It’s certainly a problem that the official inflation rate no longer reflects the effect of inflation on housing, etc. But I’m not convinced that the average citizen is pegging their distrust of government on the official inflation rate.
    For Republicans, distrust of the government was fanned by President Reagan, and that continues to this day. It’s a winning marketing tactic in elections, which leads to Republican candidates getting elected to NOT pass legislation, unless it’s cutting taxes. There is no other Republican legislative policy agenda.
    You may not like the Democratic legislative policy agenda, but at least they have one, unlike the “Party Of No”.

  3. Thomas Belford says:

    I like your books Leland except for all the feminist rankings and obviously confused political leanings. Are you really such a confused Democrat/Communist supporter that you see the murder of tens of thousands of Seniors in NYC seniors homes and also in California and Chicago and DC, all of which are democrat bastions. If you are you’re truly a traitor to America

    1. You really don’t understand, either what I am or what I write, and you clearly don’t understand the world in which you’re living. I’d almost feel sorry for you, except for the fact that severe misconceptions of a wide variety are one of the principal reasons why the USA has such problems.

    2. Tom says:

      Hi. I am curious. What do you like about LEM’s books and do you have a favorite.

      I like his writing style and a great deal of the content which is comprehensibly described. My favorite was Empress of Eternity, displaced by Imager and more recently by Evanescence.

  4. Morpheus1999 says:

    I am rereading Scion of Cyador. It is a prescient story with surprising parallels to current events in the US. Status quo is untenable, when the Mirror Towers are fading; the structures, direct and derived, and the rules can’t hold when one of the underpinnings is removed. This is the inverse of plot enabler in Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged. Why not train lancers to use the captured iron swords from Hamor – oh, these are a dangerous risk to Chaos Users.)
    When Americans’ Constitutional freedoms to choose are threatened by rules to preserve the common good – a good portion of the population questions the value of the common good over the rights of the individual. How do you convince people of unpopular changes in the era of Covid-19 – don’t forget that smoking and drinking still have an impact on the cost of an individual’s rehabilitation when these kinds of choices catch up – now that we have to reconcile with the freedom to choose not to wear a mask? It’s much more complex than letting the candidates win their Darwin Awards given the potential collateral damage to even their vaccinated peers.

  5. Darcherd says:

    During the European economic crisis a decade or so ago, one remark by a European official stuck in my memory. “It’s not that none of us know what needs to be done. It’s that none of us know how to get re-elected once we do it.”

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