by Richard Saunders – June 29, 2014 (opinions expressed don’t necessary represent eventsfy views)
Over these past five years—since the 2008 financial recession stoked the undercurrent of fear within our society—our current far-right republicans have been peddling this fallacious narrative that our Federal Government has become increasingly overbearing, herculean, and running amuck with our tax paying dollars.
“FEAR” sells immensely well in our free-market society—this can’t be emphasized enough! “The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is FEAR,” said influential American author, H.P. Lovecraft. Marketing wizard Martin Lindstrom—author of Buyology: Truth and Lies About Why We Buy—concluded the following:
Fear absolutely sells! Our primal instinct as human beings is to survive; therefore, fear is key to influence people’s behavior. Fear relates to our survival: Do I have enough to eat? Will I have enough money when I retire? Is that product safe? In this respect, Lindstrom claims that political fear-based advertising is effective because it taps into our primal concerns of survival.
So the bottom line is that “FEAR” is an easy sell or a quick way to make a buck for any corporations or individual trying to sell their product. We MUST understand that the constant peddling of “FEAR” by the far-right and Fox News isn’t the true reality—it’s based on selling their product (ratings)! These organizations and individuals are absolutely opportunistic—taking advantage of the “FEAR” spawned by the 2008 financial recession and the election of the first black president.
So why are there so many fearful individuals today? It’s absolutely a direct result of the immensely successful selling techniques by the far-right media and Fox News. Fox News continuously gloats about having the best ratings among the cable news channels, yet what DOES it really sell? Journalism with REAL “Fair and Balance” news? No it doesn’t. It sells a constant theme of “FEAR,” doom-and-gloom scenarios, and what ifs. At what cost does this constant “FEAR” peddling have on us? It should be quite obvious—look at the behavior of our politicians. Our politicians’ behaviors are a direct reflection of what has been propagated and sold to our society and their constituents. The root of our dysfunctional government ISN’T our politicians—it’s the “FEAR” and anger being sold to us by the far-right media. So what are the consequences going to be to these organizations and individuals who sell exclusively or predominantly “FEAR” to us at such destructive costs?
Contrary to the “FEAR-SELLING” far-right organizations—let’s look at the REALITY of what has really transpired over these last five years of Obama’s Presidency:
- We avoided a TRUE financial depression because of CORRECT government policies based on the tried-and-true Keynesian theory—increase demand during market crashes
- America’s homeland has been extremely safe from foreign terrorist attacks—not easy since many more terrorists have been created since the Iraq War began
- Al Qaeda mastermind and spiritual leader, Osama Bin Laden, has been killed
- Benghazi mastermind and Leader, Ahmed Abu Khattala, has been captured in less than two years from the attack—much faster than typical for terrorist attackers
- Private-Sector economy is adding around 200,000 new jobs every month—about the same rate as before the 2008 financial crisis
- The Stock Market (Down Jones Industrial)—our most revered indicator of our economy’s health—has increased from 6,500 in March 2009 to 16,800 in June 2014 (an ASTONISHING and AMAZING 158 percent increase in just five years)
- A record-breaking increase of 1,250,000 New U.S. household millionaires in 2013 according to Boston Consultant Group
- The national average Real Estate Market has increased from 140 in March 2009 to 170 in May 2014—an increase, NOT a decrease, of 21 percent—based on S&P/Case-Shiller 20-city composite home index
- Corporation profits are at ALL-TIME record highs
- Crime rates in America are at the lowest rate since the 1960s based on the Bureau of Justice Statistics
- Inflation has been at the lowest rate since the 1950s
- Medical Inflation is also at the slowest pace in 50 years—according to The Wall Street Journal and contrary to any conservative talking point
Now let’s finally debunk the far-right’s MAIN “FEAR-SELLING” argument that they have been peddling these past five years—excluding their entire anti-Obama agenda, which is another whole issue that would require its own article. The far-right has been peddling this fallacious “FEAR-SELLING” narrative that our Federal Government has been growing out-of-control—especially over these last five years—and that we should be “frightened” about our liberties being violated and this out-of-control Federal Government.
To understand if our government is truly getting larger or not, we MUST establish some consistent parameters to measure the size of our government over a long period of time—this is the only way to really understand the truth. So what’s our baseline to measure the historical trend of our government size? The baseline measurement should BE the annual Federal Spending as a percentage of our GDP—Gross Domestic Product, which is a measurement of the size of our economy. This measurement is BEST because it shows the proportion of our government spending to our GDP; therefore, if our government were ACTUALLY becoming more burdensome on the free-market economy, then the proportion of our government spending to our GDP would be increasing, correct? This measurement is also BEST because as our GDP has grown so has our population, companies, industries, infrastructure, and foreign affair relationships and assistance; therefore, more Federal Government overall has been needed. A government that provides its services to a population of 100 million must increase its size to provide its services to a population of 350 million—does anyone disagree with this premise? So if we use the annual Federal Spending as percentage of GDP to measure the size of our government, you can much more correctly measure the growth or burden, if any, of our Federal Government on our free-market economy.
Since 1974 the average annual Federal Spending as a percentage of our GDP has been 20.5 percent. After we implemented the 2009 American Recovery Act—which was TEMPORARY spending to off-set the lack of demand due to the 2008 financial crisis and was GREATLY needed (ask any TRUE economist, not a political talking head who doesn’t have the expertise in this arena)—we are NOW back at the average annual Federal Spending rate of approximately 20.5 percent of GDP in 2014. See chart below:
A few side notes:
- According to the Congressional Budget Office, the annual Federal Tax Revenue as a percentage of GDP has been at a historical low of 15.3 percent during the Obama Presidency yet the TEA Party (Taxed Enough Already) was created—quite baffling indeed and undoubtedly stirred up by the “FEAR-SELLING” far-right machine
- When Federal Revenue as a percentage of GDP is lower than before, We Americans ARE KEEPING more of our money – not less as so many people believe.
- The 2008 Financial Recession caused a fall in our 4th Quarter 2008 GDP by 6.3 percent—worst since 1982. Therefore—using simple arithmetic—when our GDP decreases so much in any year (i.e. 2009), the annual Federal Spending as a percentage of GDP will naturally increase. ALSO, during recessions, safety-net spending (unemployment benefits, food stamps, increase of medicaid recipients, and other Government assistant programs AUTOMATICALLY increase without any Legislative Bill
However—this CAN’T be emphasized enough—the percentage of Federal Spending in 1974 towards Social Securing, Medicare, and Interest Expense on our debt represented about 25 percent of ALL Federal Spending. In 2014 the percentage of Federal Spending towards Social Security, Medicare, and Interest Expense on our debt represents OVER 50 percent of ALL Federal Spending—according to CBO. Therefore, in 1974 using simple math, total Federal discretionary spending (excluding SS, Medicare, and Interest Expense) was about 15 percent of GDP (total Federal spending was about 20 percent of GDP X 75 percent that was for Federal discretionary spending); AND NOW using simple math, total Federal discretionary spending (excluding SS, Medicare, and Interest Expense) is about 10 percent (total Federal spending is about 20 percent of GDP X 50 percent that is for Federal discretionary spending). One must conclude discretionary spending has decreased.
DO understand that Federal Spending on Social Security, Medicare, and Interest Expense go directly TO regular individuals—NOT to governmental agencies to pay for government employees (only a fraction does)—and we have deemed these Federal Spendings sacrosanct or absolutely necessary for our society—see charts below:
Therefore, we MUST conclude that the Federal Spending towards EVERYTHING else—besides Social Security, Medicare, and Net Interest on our debt—has been GREATLY decreasing. Can anyone conclude otherwise? I’m not at all a proponent for a larger government—quite the contrary. In fact, I believe that the Federal Government provides its services ONLY until the private sector can provide these services instead—realizing that this is a very long view point. This has been the long-term trend since the establishment of our Federal Government. A non-exhaustive list of many industries that have gone from predominately or exclusively public to more-and-more private over time below:
- Universities and other Schools
- Defense Spending
- Long-term care
- Roads and bridges
Have we really become this paranoid nation with all this indignant anger? We need to Stand Up and push back against this “FEAR-SELLING” far-right machine—don’t’ buy it anymore! Don’t argue that the left DOES “FEAR-SELLING” too so why don’t you call THEM out! Well, right now – more than I’ve ever experienced and seen before – the GOP is absolutely the perpetrators of this outrageous “FEAR-SELLING.” Over these past five years, THESE organizations have been so destructive for our Federal Government getting anything done. – thus hurting our Great Nation These organizations are absolutely at the ROOT of the problems of our current dysfunctional Federal Government. You can’t be disinterested and a bystander any longer—stating that all politicians are corrupt is strictly a copout of not trying. You have been endowed by our ancestors with the responsibility to defend our nation against any threats—both domestic and foreign—that harm our Great Nation. The threat facing our GREAT nation right now is our inability to accomplish anything in Congress—almost SOLELY because of the “FEAR-SELLING” and misinformation of far-right organizations. STAND UP silent majority—STAND UP and push back!