American Elephants


How Do We Know And What Don’t We Know? by The Elephant's Child

How do we know stuff? We were told by our parents or another relative. We learned it in school. We read it in a book. Then it gets even more iffy. We read it in the newspaper. We read it online. Someone sent it to us in an email. A friend who seems smart said so. We read it in a newspaper headline while we were waiting for the bus, or over the shoulder of the guy sitting next to us. Twitter? Facebook? We researched it on Wikipedia. We read the news online (From whom?) Uh huh.

We have to decide what websites online are reliable. On what basis do we decide? How do we decide what books are authoritative? Just because someone printed it and put it between hard covers? Or because the book cost a lot?

Democrats are particularly upset that the economy seems to be responding favorably to President Trump’s actions. Big companies are giving their workers $1,000 bonuses. Both Nancy Pelosi and Debbie Wasserman Schultz have sneered at that—called it “crumbs.” And said that after taxes it wouldn’t be all that much. Not all workers manage to make as much as members of Congress, who get pretty hefty salaries. For a lot of families, an extra $1,000 is a pretty big deal. Sneering is not cool.

Democrats also believe that tax cuts for business is just giving money to the rich (nobody ever said they were consistent) and it doesn’t do any good for the economy, and the climb in the stock market is just a bubble which will break shortly and bring on a terrible recession. And besides, the improvement in the marketplace was really brought on by Obama’s planning and deeds. Uh huh.

How do we know how the economy is doing? Just because the stocks go up?   No,  we depend on the market itself to tell us about buyers and sellers. When a product doesn’t sell, the  seller has to figure out why. When a store does not sell enough, that needs to be figured out as well, and that is why Toys  Are Us  and Sears are closing stores. We hear every day about “Studies say” and “the polls say” but we have to study who was doing the studies and who was doing the polls and just who they were polling and what they asked.

None of us have enough time, but it helps just to be suspicious. If you are paying enough attention to that which you do not know, you can fix the ones that really matter., and if you know that you don’t know, that’s better than thinking that you do—when you don’t.

President Trump went off to Davos, leaving behind the impression that he may be amenable to offering citizenship to the Dreamers. That’s 1.8 million. Really? Senator Schumer  trotted off to MSNBC to be interviewed by Rachel Maddow. He argued that the “hard right” has always opposed immigration. That “Donald Trump ran on an anti-immigration platform,” and “the Tea Party’s—one of their fundamental values is anti-immigrant, which is horrible, disgusting, but that’s who they are.” But not one of those statements is true. I don’t know anyone that is “anti-immigrant” though I’m sure there are some out there. Republicans are pro-immigrant, but distinguish between legal and illegal immigrants. And have a preference for the former. We don’t play language games by calling them “Dreamers” nor do we refer to them as “undocumented citizens” as ABC did recently.

Representative Adam Schiff, Chairman (as Liz Shield says) of the House Leak Everything Committee appeared on CNN to explain that the House could not release the FISA Memo because the American people were just too dumb to understand the, um, intricacies of the thing.

The presidents we choose are only ordinary people with all the flaws that ordinary people have. It’s a big job and we hope they hire good brains and good managers and good strategists to help. Most of them make mistakes, often big ones, and hopefully when they’re done, they go back to being private citizens instead of making mischief for their successor.

The basic problem is that we have only the past to guide us. The future, no matter how hard we try to read it, remains a mystery until we get there. As the old song goes “What will be will be, the future’s not ours to see.” Doesn’t hurt to study up though.


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