Grassroot Perspective: 16 and a lot of 000s, Bias Blindness, and More

This article originally appeared in Hawaii Reporter.

Scanning the week’s national news, views and clues with you and yours in mind

By Malia Hill

Quote of the Week:
“In the lexicon of the political class, the word “sacrifice” means that the citizens are supposed to mail even more of their income to Washington so that the political class will not have to sacrifice the pleasure of spending it.”—George Will

Each week, we’ll be monitoring the web to find the most interesting, challenging, or important items for those who are concerned about liberty, accountability, and big government.  Here are some of the highlights from the past week:

16 and a lot of 000s

$16,000,000,000,000.   That’s a dizzying number of zeros.  And it’s the number that the national debt reached this last week.  Sure, it would be easier to read if I just said “sixteen trillion dollars,” but one of my personal peeves with the way that government and money are discussed is the fact that we tend to talk about such astronomical sums that the whole thing becomes somewhat abstract and untouchable.  What are we ordinary folk gonna do about $16 trillion?

Well, you’re going to end up paying it.  Or some of it, anyway.  At the current population of the US, the national debt is now more than $50,000 for every man, woman, and child living in our country.  In terms of debt per taxpayer, it’s more than $111,000 and counting.  It’s more than our Gross Domestic Product—that is, the value of everything produced in our economy.

Oh, and it has gone up by more than $6 trillion during the Obama administration.  Interesting that he called the $4 trillion increase under George W. Bush’s 8 years “irresponsible” and “unpatriotic.”  How embarrassing if someone were to remind him of that—though I’d bet, oh, about $6 trillion that he’d try to find a way to blame the stunning spending increase on Bush.  At this rate, we’re going to see another campaign to raise the debt ceiling.  Oh, and all the other ills that come from taking Greece as an economic role model.

Bias and Willful Blindness

Does the mainstream media have a left-leaning bias?  Is there anyone (short of George Stephanopoulos) who can’t see it?  Other than other members of the media, of course.  I sometimes wonder if the public frustration with bias in the media stems less from the fact that it exists at all as with the fact that—even in the face of their own ombudsman conceding the problem—there is such a steadfast refusal to admit it.

As Jeff Jacoby writes, the problem may be as simple as the effect of cultural reinforcement within the media.  When everyone you interact with regularly holds certain opinions, it’s not surprising that this becomes your new frame of reference for “normal.”  Think about every major hobby/club/sports team you’ve ever been seriously involved with . . . wasn’t there a point when you forgot the average person wasn’t nearly as interested in that hobby as you and the people you associated with?  It’s this “hive mind” that is most worrisome when it comes to considering the impact of bias in the media.  Take, for example, David Chalian, Washington Bureau Chief for Yahoo news, who was recently fired for unwittingly saying into an open microphone that Republicans were “happy to have a party with black people drowning,” after hearing that the GOP had postponed its convention in light of Hurricane Isaac.  Most of the attention has focused on the substance of his scurrilous slander, and few have had the gall to dispute his firing.  But as Jacoby notes, lost under the radar is the import of the fact that Chalian felt secure in making this statement to his peers and coworkers.  And that may be the more worrisome fact.

How Do I Get Some Money From the Government?

As this video explains, we should be a little embarrassed that some form of “How do I qualify [for government money]?” is what Google assumes you’re looking for as soon as you type those first four words.  The problem is manifold, from encouraging long-term dependency to consolidating the power of government at the price of individual liberty.  (Nothing is really free—least of all government funding.  That’s why every vote to increase government power, even those that create more programs that lead to more taxation and more regulation, takes us down towards more limited freedom.)  At the same time, the number of individuals paying no taxes continues to rise, putting more of the burden on actual taxpayers, and increasing the number of people who can vote themselves into more benefits at the cost of others.  It’s a disturbing cycle, and one that needs to end.

One Way to Put People First

This idea, from Institute of Policy Innovation, is non-partisan and makes a lot of sense.  So it probably doesn’t have much of a future.  But it’s worth pointing out all the same.  The IPI notes that using tax code incentives is a long-established way of promoting economic growth and making a statement about national priorities.  So what better way to say that our citizens are our greatest economic resource than by making all education costs, from test preparation to tuition, tax-deductible?  This is the kind of “investment in our future” that would do a whole lot more good than bankrolling people’s hybrid cars.

Who’s Really More Out-of-Touch?

It’s fall in an election year.  Let’s the battle for the hearts of centrist independents begin.  And as this infographic from Resurgent Republic demonstrates, the President has his work cut out for him after a term that has cemented his liberal status in the eyes of many independent voters:

Views expressed in this column are intended to promote creative thought, educate, and, we hope, prompt comment. Accordingly, thoughts expressed do not necessarily reflect the official position of Grassroot Institute of Hawaii or the author.

Is this commentary helpful to you?  If so, please help us defray our costs by clicking HERE to support the Grassroot Institute.  We exist based on contributions and accept no government funding.

Please let us know what you think about this reporting. We want to serve your needs, so include your recommendations. Send to maliah@grassrootinstitute.org

Subscribe to our free newsletter!

Get updates on what we're doing to make Hawaii affordable for everyone.
Want more?

Get content like this delivered straight to your inbox. We’ll also send updates on what we’re doing to make Hawaii affordable for everyone.

Recent Posts