May 4, 2008 at 8:33 am (Economics, Political)
Politics, at least in the United States, seems to be an industry that’s based on emotional, irrational thinking. Often, the method of fear, uncertainty, and doubt (FUD) is employed to confuse those voters who think with their “stomachs” rather than their heads. Most Americans seem to have no problem with the trillions of dollars spent on attacking Iraq, but they are outraged by paying an extra dollar or two per gallon of gasoline. We live in a nation where hysteria over a manufactured threat – terrorism – has given government free reign to curtail liberties. We ask for no evidence related to the effectiveness of unbridled spending on war and “Homeland Security”.
Economics will be an important part of our next Presidential election. One of the main arguments against the Democratic party seems to be that it will raise taxes and increase spending. But is there any statistical information to backup that claim? R.W. Bradford argues just the opposite in The Politics of Presidential Spending. While the article is several years old, the information is still quite valid (and if you factor in Bush’s War and his administration’s bungling of just about all aspects of American government, it would help support the results). Here are some statistics and excerpts:
Most people believe that Democrats are big spenders and that Republicans are tight-fisted. The evidence leads to a very different conclusion.
Since 1970, spending has grown 64% faster when a Republican sits in the White House than when a Democrat does.
- In the twelve years that a Democrat has sat in the White House, spending has increased at an average rate of 1.29% per year; during the 22 years of Republican presidencies, government spending has risen at an average rate of 2.12%. In other words, spending has grown 64% faster when a Republican sits in the White House than when a Democrat does.
- During the 20 years Democrats have controlled both houses of Congress, spending has grown at an average rate of 1.84% per year, more than double the average rate of 0.89% per year during the six years the GOP ran Congress. (During the other eight years, when control of Congress was split between the two parties, spending grew at an average rate of 2.52%. The split-control years all occurred during Republican presidencies.)
- When Democrats controlled the White House plus both houses of Congress, spending grew at 1.70% per year, slightly below the average growth rate of 1.83% for the entire period.
- The slowest spending growth occurred when a Democrat sat in the White House and Republicans controlled both houses of Congress. Spending rose by an average of just 0.89% during the six years of this situation, which all occurred with Bill Clinton as president and Newt Gingrich as Speaker of the House.
- During the 14 years Republicans controlled the White House and Democrats controlled both houses of Congress, spending grew at an average annual rate of 1.92%. During the eight years with a Republican president and a split Congress, spending grew at 2.54% per year.
The results are quite clear – not only do Republican presidents spend far more money, but they often spend it on such “necessities” as creating wars. Sadly, the American people are extremely unlikely to let the use of any for of facts, figures, or statistics inform their decisions. So, it looks like the Republican Party can continue with it’s campaign of FUD, and people will listen.
April 2, 2008 at 8:15 am (Political, Religion, Science)
For those that tend to think that religion is just harmless fun for the deluded, it’s important to remember that the belief in the supernatural can have everyday consequences. Such was the case for a less-than-two-year-old girl that was suffering from an otherwise easily treatable infection. MSNBC reports in Faith-healing parents charged in baby’s death:
OREGON CITY, Ore. – A couple whose church preaches against medical care are facing criminal charges after their young daughter died of an infection that authorities said went untreated.
Carl and Raylene Worthington were indicted Friday on charges of manslaughter and criminal mistreatment in the death of their 15-month-old daughter Ava. They belong to the Followers of Christ Church, whose members have a history of treating gravely ill children only with prayer.
Ava died March 2 of bronchial pneumonia and a blood infection. The state medical examiner’s office has said she could have been treated with antibiotics.
The Worthingtons could face more than six years if convicted on the manslaughter charges and up to a year on the mistreatment charges, said Greg Horner, chief deputy district attorney. They were released on $250,000 bail, he said.
Encouragingly, the article states that this is the first time that laws designed to prevent this form of child abuse have actually been enforced. That’s good news for these poor children whose only “crime” was being born to extremely superstitious and irrational parents. I think it’s fair to expect the Bush Administration or some of his cronies to start treating faith-based healing as a real solution. In any case, it’s probably not much worse than the current state of the U.S. healthcare system.
February 2, 2008 at 6:11 pm (Political, Science)
LiveScience recently posted an article that does a good job of summing up the Bush Administration’s stand against science. From the article, Scientists Say Bush Stifles Science and Lets Global Leadership Slip:
In his final State of the Union address, President George W. Bush devoted several lines to science and technology topics. He called for research and funding to reduce oil dependency and reverse the growth of greenhouse gases.
“To keep America competitive into the future, we must trust in the skill of our scientists and engineers and empower them to pursue the breakthroughs of tomorrow,” Bush said. [Full Text]
But several scientists around the country aren’t buying what they see as rhetoric not backed by funding. And they are frustrated by what they view as the White House’s morality-based politics that they say ignores scientific evidence, distorts facts and leads to outright censorship of reports and scientists. The White House responded to the criticisms point-by-point.
(A Democratic congressional report in December stated: “The Bush administration has engaged in a systematic effort to manipulate climate change science and mislead policymakers and the public about the dangers of global warming.”)
While this is hardly a surprise to anyone who has been following Bush’s track record, it seems that people would be shocked and outraged that our government is censoring science. Are we back in the Dark Ages? What role should people who barely understand what cells are play in the process of legitimate scientific research?
Worst of all, this seems to have had quite an effect on the American people. When you see a panel of “experts” discussing a topic such as stem cell research, religious leaders are included. What special knowledge could these people possibly have that could be of use to the rest of us? Many Americans will make their decisions based on a gut feeling (often involving their interpretation of Jesus’ will). With a better education system and improved distribution of wealth, we’d all be smart enough to ignore the White House’s censorship. Instead, a large portion of the country seems to consider George Bush and his cronies to be authorities on science.