Rhetoric and realities

If there is one thing we’ve got a surplus of these days it is rhetoric. We get extra loads of it during the election season.

We also have a lot of realities around. Those who enjoy the rhetoric sometimes ignore the realities.

Here are a few examples.

Oil. The rhetoric is that we have reached peak oil production in this world. Oil production is going to fall, fall, fall. We will run dry. We must develop other forms of energy in a hurry. If we don’t we will freeze. And we will have to walk. And we will starve. And all that stuff.

The reality is that there are immense parts of the world that contain oil that we have not tapped. There are hundreds of billions of barrels of oil that we won’t allow ourselves to search for. In our coastal waters. In Alaska. On government lands. There are vast quantities that we could not retrieve in years past. Modern technology allows us to do so now.

In addition, we have oil shale. Technology will gradually allow us to extract oil from shale at reasonable prices. Geologists estimate the U.S. has enough oil locked up in shale to fill almost 2 trillion barrels. That should keep us going for a while.

Global warming. The rhetoric is that there is a consensus among scientists that global warming will devastate our earth. And that humans caused it. And that humans can stop it.

The reality is that a huge number of scientists pooh pooh all or most of the global warming theories. The reality is that their ranks are growing. The reality is that the recent conference on global warming was mostly political. And the Kyoto Treaty was mostly political. And that the world’s loudest mouth, when it comes to global warming, belongs to a politician.

The reality is that there is a lot of serious science that disputes the basic theories of global warming.

Taxes. The rhetoric is that we should tax the rich more. That the rich do not pay their fair share of taxes in this country.

The reality is that they pay most of our taxes. The reality is that half our people pay no income tax. The reality is that the top 5 percent of earners in this country carry most of the load.

A further reality is that most small businesses are incorporated in such a way that the companies don’t pay the taxes. The owners pay the taxes. So if you raise taxes on the so-called rich, you are raising taxes on most small businesses. Those businesses create most of the new jobs in this country. Raising taxes on your job machine makes no sense. It will do damage to the economy.

Another reality is that the economy may well be slowing. Raising taxes on your job machine when your economy is slowing is a type of suicide.

Middle East. The rhetoric is blah, blah, blah about the Middle East. The reality is that we will do what it takes to defend Israel. Another reality is that Iraq is looking more successful as we roll along. And if it succeeds as a government where the people elect their own leaders and have a decent share of freedom, it will tie other Middle East countries in knots.

Tax Code. The rhetoric is that we will simplify our tax code.

The reality is that our politicians will never allow this. Nor will the idealists who support them. They want a complex tax code they can use to shape society the way they want. They want a tax code they can use to punish enemies and support friends. No way they will allow a simple tax code whose sole purpose is to collect income tax.

Social Security. The rhetoric is blah, blah, blah about Social Security and Medicare.

The reality is that both systems will be bankrupt. We will have to bail them out by paying more taxes. And by accepting shrunken benefits.

You may feel warm and comfy when you hear the rhetoric. It is designed to have that effect on you.

The realities may not make you feel so comfy. Nonetheless, you are not likely to escape them.

From Tom ... as in Morgan.

For more columns and for Tom’s radio shows (and to write to Tom): tomasinmorgan.com.

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