A couple of events lately have dramatically brought into focus the issue of TRUTH, not one’s own personal truth, not the truth as told by the victors, not the truth as understood by where one presently stands, but THE truth. Very recently, it was publicly announced that a new university is in the offing. Called the University of Austin, according to its statement of principles, it will be devoted to the classic purpose of universities, the pursuit of truth. Rod Dreher, author of Live Not by Lies, also spoke in recent weeks in Tulsa, conveying warnings from those who lived in the former Soviet Union that the U.S. is sinking into the sort of totalitarian mindset by which everyone dare not tell the truth for fear of retribution.
Working in policy, it can be extremely frustrating to watch as people come to believe lies. Most lies are attractive. One of them was recently voted when rent control was voted into law in St. Paul, Minnesota in the mistaken belief that it’s possible to legislate more affordable housing simply by declaring it to be so. Another mistaken belief, that prosperity for workers can be legislated by imposing a minimum wage, was given a leg up with the rewarding of half a Nobel in Economics to an economist whose several insights included an empirical result indicating a small increase in the minimum wage doesn’t cost jobs.
Both of these events simply ignore the Laws of Demand and Supply, both of which have been confirmed again and again, with the former (a price ceiling) inevitably leading to a shortage of housing, making housing infinitely expensive to those who can’t find any, and the latter (a price floor) inevitably leading to a labor surplus (unemployment), forcing some into the lowest of all wages, zero dollars. Perhaps there will be a deeper law discovered one day that supplants supply and demand the way relativity has supplanted gravity. Nevertheless, the truth is that ignoring the Law of Gravity, however flawed the theory might be, is foolish in everyday life, and ignoring the Laws of Supply and Demand in policy is equally so.
“A lie doesn’t become truth, wrong doesn’t become right, and evil doesn’t become good, just because it’s accepted by a majority.” – Booker T. Washington
Critical Race Theory, an issue previously addressed in this blog, is an effort to assign blame for social ills disproportionately suffered by one ethnic group in the United States to another ethnic group, based not just on historical wrongs perpetrated and suffered by the groups’ ancestors, but on some supposed deep-seated animosity of one group against another. This ignores very real cultural pathologies (attitudes and erroneous beliefs) that negatively impact some in both groups that have been extensively explored by eminent economist, Thomas Sowell. Race hucksters and socialists, more interested in power than truth, ignore social pathologies associated with single-parent families, a lack of emphasis on education, lack of traditional morals, and lack of respect for property and hard work in determining social problems.
The truth is that one of the sources of disparities is crony policies like occupational licensing and corporate welfare programs, both of which are policies that literally allow the rich and politically connected to get richer and more powerful. Oklahoma’s legislature passed two separate laws creating commissions to review occupational licenses on the one hand and corporate incentives (welfare) on the other, with an eye toward eliminating at least some of these policies. Neither has recommended anything significant. The one reviewing incentives is chaired by a man whose job it is to hand out incentives, an obvious conflict of interest. Both Critical Race Theory and crony economic policies have come about as a result of lies certain people want to hear. Some want to hear how their personal predicament has nothing to do with them; others want to hear how their greed is good. There are, unfortunately, plenty of politicians willing to say either or both.
“When you want to help people, you tell them the truth. When you want to help yourself, you tell them what they want to hear.” – Thomas Sowell
One of the weird disconnects between truth and beliefs today has to do with education and educational attainment. The college-educated are the source of “woke” ideology, where everything has to do with race or how one is sexually gratified. The objective truth of XX and XY chromosomes (female and male, respectively) and obvious physical differences is ignored. Belief in socialism is currently more prevalent among the “well-educated.” For decades, teachers graduating from university didn’t see the sense in teaching reading using phonics. Man-made global warming is taken on faith by the “well-educated.” The willingness of those pursuing and attaining college degrees to unquestioningly believe lies is frightening. And, while those with PhDs, as a group, are relatively Covid-19 vaccine hesitant, those with bachelor’s degrees are the most willing to believe government officials like Anthony Fauci are telling the truth. All this goes to prove that being miseducated is worse than being uneducated.
“No people will tamely surrender their Liberties, nor can any be easily subdued when knowledge is diffused and virtue preserved. On the Contrary, when People are universally ignorant, and debauched in their Manners, they will sink under their own weight without the Aid of foreign Invaders.” – Samuel Adams
There will soon be a verdict in the trial of a young man who claims self defense in shootings he committed during riots in Kenosha, Wisconsin last year. As with the shooting that inspired those riots, the press has been consistent in misrepresenting facts that have come out in trial. The likely outcome if there is an acquittal is more protest, possibly even violence. But it’s clear that truth has ceased to be a priority for the press in this country. It has, unfortunately, ceased to be a priority for many.
“His primary rules were: never allow the public to cool off; never admit a fault or wrong; never concede that there may be some good in your enemy; never leave room for alternatives; never accept blame; concentrate on one enemy at a time and blame him for everything that goes wrong; people will believe a big lie sooner than a little one; and if you repeat it frequently enough people will sooner or later believe it.” – OSS description of Adolf Hitler’s strategy of lying
The ceasing of the real pursuit of truth in the United States will be its undoing, not hypersonic missiles from China.
The opinions expressed in this blog are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the official position of 1889 Institute.