Fact or Feeling?

elephant donkey boxing

by Alex Symington…….

I wrote an essay about a year ago on the physiological difference between the conservative and liberal mind and how information and external data are processed. I won’t rehash it except to say, wow, they are different. Being of the liberal persuasion, I’ll give you my take on the simple question, “How are you?” When someone asks me that, I might pause and think about it. First, the answer depends on who’s asking. If it is a casual acquaintance or a stranger the answer is an automatic, “Fine, thanks. How are you?” If it is someone important to me I might say, “Let me get back to you on that.” Or “I’m probably doing better than I feel.”

I think this way because I have been on the planet for awhile and in that time learned there is sometimes a vast difference in how I “feel” and how things actually are. I might feel crappy, but if I stop and think about it, I have a wife that loves me, I’m healthy(ish), my kids don’t hate me and I have indoor plumbing and AC, so the fact based answer is, “Outstanding!”.

I bring up the conservative/liberal mind set because I see my conservative brethren pretty much going with their feelings on almost every issue, socio-political, cultural and otherwise, rather than what is actually, factually going on.

An example of this, feelings-over-facts syndrome, is the phenomenon of the conservative mind’s adoration of Ronald Reagan. Ron made those people feel good and his aw shucks demeanor engendered, what I would call, a false sense of paternal security. However, remember he was an actor and being president was the role of his lifetime. Putting feelings aside, let’s look at what actually happened under his watch.

Ronald Reagan was responsible for selling arms to the Islamic Republic of Iran in the misguided and failed attempt to free six American hostages in Lebanon. Our hero then funneled some of that money and CIA training to the right-wing Contras, counter-revolutionary groups, seeking to overthrow the socialist Sandinista government of Nicaragua. This covert and illegal operation, carried out with Reagan’s blessing, was to crush the leftist Sandinista government of Nicaragua that was doing things like advocating a policy of mass literacy, devoting significant resources to health care, and promoting gender equality. The horror.

There is a long list of equally lousy behavior by Reagan and his administration, such as the Savings and Loan robbery by Reagan’s fat cat buddies and the public bailing them out. Sound familiar? Department of Housing and Urban Development grants rigging, EPA scandals and lobbying scandals, weakening Glass-Steagall, demonizing unions and initializing the destruction of the middle-class, BUT he made his adoring fans FEEL good. AND in spite of what you may have heard, Reagan was not responsible for bringing down the Soviet Union, it self-destructed, collapsing under its own weight of inefficiency and bloated military spending. That should sound familiar, too.

In addition to the above shenanigans, an eye opener of an article in Forbes Magazine (certainly not a bastion of leftist ideals), Adam Hartung exposes us to the facts and fallacies of left/right economics with a report on the book, “Bulls, Bears and the Ballot Box” by Bob Deitrick and Lew Godlfarb. In it, Hartung tells us, “The heavily researched, and footnoted, text brings forth some serious inconsistency between the common viewpoint of America’s dominant parties, and the reality of how America has performed since the start of the Great Depression.”

Not to keep picking on poor Ronald, but Deitrick and Goldfarb give us an example of popular Reagan mythology, “In explaining President Reagan‘s great economic recovery of the 1980s it is often attributed to the stimulative impact of major tax cuts (ERTA.) But in reality the 1981 tax cuts backfired, leading to massive deficits and a weaker economy with a double dip recession as unemployment soared. So in 1982 Reagan signed (TEFRA) the largest peacetime tax increase in our nation’s history. In his tenure Reagan signed 9 tax bills – 7 of which raised taxes!”

Here are some interesting bullet points from the book:

-Personal disposable income has grown nearly 6 times more under Democratic presidents

-Gross Domestic Product (GDP) has grown 7 times more under Democratic presidents

-Corporate profits have grown over 16% more per year under Democratic presidents (they actually declined under Republicans by an average of 4.53%/year)

-Average annual compound return on the stock market has been 18 times greater under Democratic presidents (If you invested $100k for 40 years of Republican administrations you had $126k at the end, if you invested $100k for 40 years of Democrat administrations you had $3.9M at the end) [!!!]

-Republican presidents added 2.5 times more to the national debt than Democratic presidents

-The two times the economy steered into the ditch (Great Depression and Great Recession) were during Republican, laissez faire administrations

Those are facts and as Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan once said, “Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts.” Again, the fact that I have been around long enough to have lived through eleven different executive administrations, twenty-eight congressional and nine senatorial cycles I can honestly say the current crop of presidential wannabees is pathetically uninspiring (except for one) and most of them (especially Trump) would never even have left the gate just a couple of decades ago.

The “shoot-first-fact-check-later-and-double-down-if-you’re-called-on-it” style of public discourse is a direct intentional by-product of the aforementioned two decades of being assaulted by bombastic talk radio blow-hards and fact-challenged FOX News in that time. This cretinous conduct is destroying any chance for healthy dialogue and critical thought and replacing the grown-ups with illiterate school yard bullies. As the political goal posts have been moved so far to the right, even our old friend, “The Gipper” would come across today as a raging leftist next to any of the clown car candidates we have the unfortunate task of “choosing” from. (Except for one)

So, when it comes to ideology and perception, facts can simply be annoying and counter to how we FEEL. Of course, in the real world nothing is black or white, but some things are pretty darned close. Water is wet, ice is cold, the economy is healthier under liberal governance, not “conservative” and politicians will say anything they think you want to hear. (*Except for one)

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5 thoughts on “Fact or Feeling?

  1. Alex,

    Outstanding article…The broad range and details of your essay are beautifully woven into a masterful work. I’ve grown to expect nothing less. And you’ve never let me down.

    Thanks for your wonderful contributions and hard work. It’s sincerely appreciated…

  2. Alex, I can only applaud your focus on Ronald Reagan and the adverse role he played in turning America in the wrong direction. I consider him a turning point in our history, a very negative one. Donald Trump fits neatly into what you are bringing up here. I’d explain it like this: we have reached a point in our country’s intellectual evolution where what a person says has become meaningless, but how he or she says it is all that matters. Pathetic. Good stuff Alex, Jerrome

  3. I ALWAYS enjoy Alex’s articles! This one included. I gave up on both mainstream political parties long ago. The same group pulls the puppet strings of both. Obama is a great case in point. He’s a Democrat? National debt has absolutely skyrocketed. Instead of public health care, he created forced private insurance (Blue Cross was a huge contributor to moving his campaigns along, so what would you expect?). He reaffirmed the Patriot Act. He increased and diversified foreign conflicts. He put an ex-Monsanto executive in charge of the FDA for krissake! Basically, he broke every campaign promise and continued and expanded the Bush regime.
    As for Reagon, one his worst moves was going back to imperial measure instead of sticking with metric like (almost) the rest of the world. That’s why we buy 23/32″ plywood instead of 3/4″. It is actually 19mm, but for most carpentry work in, say Canada, it is rounded to 20mm. Adding up a column of mm dimensions is a helluva lot easier than converting a bunch of inches and fractions to a common denominator, adding, and converting back to something that you can read on a tape measure! And instead of figuring 1 liter of fresh water to weigh 1 kilogram, we have to figure on a gallon weighing 8.328676 pounds, usually over-rounded up to 8.34 lbs/gal…… to account for the impurities? Thanks for nothing, Gipper.

  4. Alex, What makes Trump and his phenomena even worse is the fact that “how” he says it used to be considered a horrible way for a human to behave. Such self centeredness, blowhardedness, lack of humility, braggartry, were once considered negative character traits. Whatever happened to modesty? Didn’t we always used to want our great heroes to understate their greatness? Where have you gone Joe DiMaggio? ciao, Jerome

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