Monday, August 4, 2008

Beware of Fortune Tellers

95% of the American adult public can’t solve a very simple quadratic equation, or write a literate paragraph, so it comes as no surprise that the voting public has an almost Stone Age-level of willingness to believe the prophecies of fortune tellers. I’m not talking, here, about the Gypsies who read your palm at the carnival. I’m talking about the spin doctors who televise their predictions about the future in order to tear down someone who holds a different view. I’m talking about Republicans who tell you what a Democrat will do, and vice versa.

Some predictions are legitimate, especially when they involve projecting a linear trend. Gasoline will be $7.00 a gallon in four to six years. I don’t care if you believe this, but I’m budgeting my personal finances to accommodate it. Sea level will rise ten feet when the Greenland ice cap melts completely, and it melts increasingly every year. I’m not buying any seafront property. Iraq will have American military garrisons for the next 20 years. I’m advising all my nieces and nephews to not join the Army or the Marines if they want to have a happy life. I believe in projections, but I don’t believe in fortune telling or prophecy. Here’s what I mean.

Karl Rove and his Republican cronies are televising political ads that predict what Obama will do if he becomes president. My question is this— if they can see the future with such clarity, why didn’t they predict the response of the Iraqi militants before we decided to invade their sovereign nation? Get my point? And I don’t mean this to be a one-sided criticism of Republicans. The Democrat oracles are telling us what McCain will do, if and when Iran goes nuclear. These are the same Democrat oracles who bet all the smart money that Hillary would be the nominee. The fact is, even McCain can’t predict what he will do if Iran goes nuclear. Given that scenario, he might think first about strong military action, but if China and Russia and India sided with Iran, I’ll bet he’d learn to live with just another member of the nuclear club, and put his faith in nuclear deterrence based on certain destruction for Iran if it broke the rules. Nobody can see the future, especially when it comes to events that involve foreign countries.

The fortune tellers say that Obama will raise taxes. Maybe Obama will raise taxes, and maybe he won’t. He doesn’t know about that yet, and neither does Karl Rove. The United States has the lowest Federal taxes in the industrialized world, and we also have the lowest standard of healthcare, public education, and air and rail travel service. Someday, America might grow tired of being dead last in the industrialized world in these categories, and when that day comes, the President at that time will push to raise taxes to fix the shortcomings. It might happen during the next presidency, or maybe the presidency after that. Maybe it will never happen, and America will slip to third-world status. Third-world countries have very low taxes, or none at all. Maybe that’s what we really want. Nobody can say.

Here’s the deal. If the gullible voters base their vote on political advertising prophecies, then we probably won’t get the best candidate elected to office. Most of us think that nothing could ever possibly be worse than Bush, but that falls into the category of predicting the future.

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