Sunday, November 07, 2010

Why People Don't Listen to Those Who Were Right

The policy "solutions" offered by our ruling class and their media front men have been epic fails. The bailouts have failed, if QE1 hadn't failed there would be no need for QE2. And all any of that is doing is both postponing the inevitable correction and insuring it will be worse when it is finally faced. The wars of nation-building have also failed. The longer we stay the more the population views us as occupiers rather than liberators- as we would were the situation reversed. Our support in those lands is largely limited to the small slice of the population who benefit from participation in the governments that we are propping up.

In both domestic and foreign policy, the facts are exposing the limits of what government can do. Government cannot induce prosperity by increasing debt and increasing control of the domestic economy. Government cannot build nations in our image through military force when the population does not value what we value. Everywhere we see that government acting beyond its God-ordained role of honoring those who do good and bringing wrath on evil-doers, is a failure. The war on poverty, trillions later, is as big a failure as the wars of nation-building.

My point is that those who argued for big-government solutions to these problems are still the voices that the media puts up there. They are still the ones quoted. They are still the ones who have big events that people buy tickets to go see. They are still the celebrity opinion makers that people on their appropriate side of the political spectrum still listen too. The fact that the polices they advocated were disastrously wrong does not seem to have destroyed their credibility in the minds of the populace. The people have not tuned them out or sought out other voices for counsel. Lately I have put my mind to the question of why people don't quit listening to opinion makes who have proven to be wrong? Or, more productively, why don't people listen to those few who events show to have been right?

I've noticed that those few who see farther than the rest are often accused of hallucinating by those whose vision does not extend as far. The far-sighted warn about what the catastrophic result will be if we adopt some bone-headed policy. They get shouted down and dismissed as "nuts." Then when what they warned of comes to pass, few people remember that they were right, they just remember them as nuts! And of course, because of the bone-headed policy they are in a "crisis." And a crisis is no time to change who you listen to, why we have to rally around our leaders!

Not everybody was wrong about these issues. There were some who warned us, but they were laughed out or shouted down. A few saw the dollar decline coming. Some predicted that the bailouts would not turn the economy around. There were those who warned us about attempting to impose good government at bayonet point. Ron Paul is the most prominent example I can think of- and that he is shows what I mean. While he is getting more TV time than before, I note that even his son Rand had to distance himself from his father's views to win in Kentucky, and that in a year of Republican landslide. The plain fact is that most grass roots conservatives still don't want to listen to him. If there were a Sarah Palin rally and a Ron Paul rally in the same city on the same day, which one would draw the most conservative listeners?

While I like the feeling-tone Palin projects, there is simply no comparison between the two regarding who was most correct on policy. Palin approved the bailouts, Paul opposed them. Palin approves the nation-building wars, Paul opposes them. On most other issues, they seem to have similar positions, except that Palin is more illegal-alien friendly than Paul.

I have come to the rather depressing conclusion that until substantial personal pain is involved, most citizens, left or right, don't change who they listen to based on who events have proven to be right or wrong. They listen to who is "loudest", that is, who is easiest to listen to because they are most accessible. They also pick who they listen to based on feeling-tone rather than correctness or error. This goes beyond someone who will confirm whatever errors that they hold. Paul has a rather creaky voice and is an older man of average appearance. That, combined with lack of accessibility to his message- Huckabee and Palin may get their own FOX shows, and Stephanopolous his MSNBC show, but Paul will never get either - trumps fact. Style overwhelms substance. Packaging pulverizes product.

There are seven billion of us. That fact offers some hope that the colossal stupidity of failing to listen to those who were proven to be right in the past is not a permanent part of the human condition. The race simply could not have survived if it were. Although mankind has little experience with the possible corrosive effect of mass media, there is reason to believe that once the pain level gets high enough, people will alter their behavior. Until then, people will listen to whoever tells them what they want to hear, is most accessible, or sounds and looks the most pleasant. Once they can no longer afford that luxury, they will devote some effort to seeking out and listening to those who have been right.


Blogger Mark Moore (Moderator) said...

isaiah 53

4:37 AM, November 07, 2010  

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