Just the facts, nothing but the facts

factsAny clod can have the facts, but having opinions is an art. — Charles McCabe

Get your facts first, and then you can distort them as much as you please — Mark Twain

We are urged, by “No Labels” for example, to agree on the facts and go from there. Yet we can’t agree on the most basic facts–best we carry guns everywhere or pretty much nowhere? For every fact one believes, it seems someone believes the opposite and can cite some authority to prove it. This makes it difficult to pin politicians down–for example, Tom Reed claims that “taxes are at an all time high” which may resonate in NY-23 even though the claim is false.  Here are some facts that some believe while others believe the contrary:

    • big government is best
    • balanced budget is responsible in good times and bad
    • guns make us safer
    • marriage is only between a man and a woman
    • minimum wage should be raised
    • cutting benefits helps the unemployed find work
    • we spend too much on the military
    • firearm regulations are unconstitutional
    • rescinding environmental regulations creates jobs
    • government jobs aren’t real jobs
    • private business is always preferable to government programs
    • climate change is a hoax

For each of the above, one can find people, some with expertise, who believe the opposite and argue persuasively for it.  How can we know what’s right? When someone says “small government is best,” ask “how do I know if that’s right?”

When we are told that a “study” has proved a fact, ask: “who did the study, was it published in a reputable journal, was it peer reviewed, were the results confirmed independently by other researchers, who paid for it?” The phrase “respected think tank” is often a euphemism for a right-leaning Koch-funded propaganda outlet.

Watch out for false quotations–when we are told that Thomas Jefferson said this or that, something that seems unlikely, it is probably false. For example:  “My reading of history convinces me that most bad government results from too much government,” which has been falsely attributed to Jefferson, is not found in Jefferson’s writings according to the Thomas Jefferson Foundation, Inc.

© William Hungerford – April 2014

http://www.monticello.org/site/jefferson/spurious-quotations

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About whungerford

* Contributor at NewNY23rd.com where we discuss the politics, economics, and events of the New New York 23rd Congressional District (Allegany, Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, Chemung, (Eastern) Ontario, Schuyler, Seneca, Steuben,Tioga, Tompkins, and Yates Counties) Please visit and comment on whatever strikes your fancy.
This entry was posted in Congress, Dept of Defense, Economics, Education, Environmental, Gun Violence, Political and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Just the facts, nothing but the facts

  1. Deb Meeker says:

    If we take this excellent advice, what on earth, if anything, could we believe that Rep. Reed says?
    The clever part, it seems, is to entitle legislation in a way that it accomplishes the opposite of what the name suggests. Two examples of this are:
    H.R. 4206: “HAND UP Act” which was introduced by Reed, and is actually a smack down, not a hand up. https://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/113/hr4206#summary/libraryofcongress

    And, Reed’s co-sponsorship of the “Save American Workers (SAW) Act” to repeal the 30-hour definition of a “full-time employee” under Obamacare and restore the traditional 40-hour definition to protect employee hours and wages”, to prevent those who work 30 hours instead of 40 hours, not to be able to take advantage of the ACA . I guess “saving” American workers means not allowing them to have insurance?
    Rep. Reed if nothing else is a master at making some of his constituents believe he wants to help those with no jobs or money for food – they’ll be so much better off, and self-sufficient without that government SNAP assistance, and unemployment insurance.

  2. josephurban says:

    Good points. There is a recent history of naming laws to make them seem to be what they are not. Remember the “Family Responsibility Act” which demanded that poor single mothers put their infants in child care and get low paying jobs. “Family” ? Or the “Patriot Act” which allowed the government to deprive US citizens of rights by simply labeling them, without trial or recourse to counsel. “Patriot” ? Or the yearly “Farm Bill” which is a giveaway to the agribusiness industry. Why don’t they just pass a “Peace, Prosperity and Everyone is Happy” bill? Then they can all go home. Job well done.

  3. whungerford says:

    Yes, I might have added:

    When Tom Reed explains anything, he invariably only tells his side of the story. Tom can explain cutting SNAP benefits without even mentioning hunger in NY-23. Be sure to find out the rest of the story.

  4. BOB McGILL says:

    In District of Columbia v. Heller (2008), the Court ruled that the Second Amendment “codified a pre-existing right” and that it “protects an individual right to possess a firearm unconnected with service in a militia, and to use that arm for traditionally lawful purposes, such as self-defense within the home” but also stated that “the right is not unlimited. It is not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose”.[78]

  5. BOB McGILL says:

    There will never come a time when people are happy about taxes. When you figure than one out, we’ll make you president. 🙂

  6. BOB McGILL says:

    ” Get your facts first, and then you can distort them as much as you please “

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