Pulling Our Tail
Drawing on an excellent quotation from Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Sowell makes a point that has been increasingly relevant, although it could be and has been made for decades — centuries, even:
Abraham Lincoln once asked an audience how many legs a dog has if you count the tail as a leg. When they answered “five,” Lincoln told them that the answer was four. The fact that you called the tail a leg did not make it a leg.
It is too bad that Lincoln is not still around today. He might emancipate us all from our enslavement to magic words.
When you call something a “stimulus” package, that does not mean that it actually stimulates. The way individuals, banks, and businesses in general are hanging onto their money suggests that “sedative” package might be more accurate.
This is not a new phenomenon, peculiar to this administration. President Bush’s “stimulus” package did not stimulate either. The same was true back in the days of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s “pump-priming” by spending government money to get private money flowing.
The circulation of money slowed down then the same way it has slowed down today.
Some of our biggest political fallacies come from accepting words as evidence of realities.