Economic ignorance is a phrase heard more often in recent days, often in reference to actions or words coming from the Obama administration.
Understanding a complex economy such as ours and its relationship to that of other countries is a difficult task. Economics is a subject not well understood by many of us; there are few "laws" of the "science" that are set in stone. An old adage rings true; i.e. "If all economists were laid end to end -- they still wouldn't reach a conclusion." Even the "laws" of supply and demand get contorted when dealing with energy markets.
You would think that in a country that prides itself in having a free enterprise economy, that most of its citizens would understand their economic system.
Sadly, that is not the case. Our economic ignorance is often a case of "learned ignorance," in which we have been exposed to the truth but choose to ignore it in favor of an ideological concept or political expediency. Case in point: Prior to the economic meltdown of 2008 there were two committees in Congress (one in each house) with oversight for banking, housing, and finance.
Their members, you would assume, were experts in the field of financing and related matters.
Nevertheless, 100 Democrat and Republican experts, did not, would not, or could not, do anything to prevent the financial meltdown.
Second case in point: At the height of the meltdown, President Obama and his supporters enacted an omnibus health care reform act in which he spent most of his political capital. The legislation was so awful that many of his fellow Democrats had to be bribed to vote in favor and it did not address the most severe and immediate national problem, creating jobs.
Yet for the sake of creating a "legacy," the administration proceeded to force this act down the throats of all Americans. Economic ignorance won again.
More recently, the president has demonstrated his own economic ignorance in blaming unemployment on automation, such as ATMs. His motivation in this case was to explain his poor record on employment. He either did not know the facts of the relationship between automation and job creation or chose to ignore them.
When it comes to "economic ignorance," learned or otherwise, no one can hold a candle to U.S. Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas. He apparently lives in a "parallel universe" of economics. He seems obsessed with bringing down economic institutions and returning to the "gold standard" and the good old days.
While he criticizes candidate Rick Santorum for votes in which he was "playing ball" while serving in the Senate, the congressman apparently doesn't play ball with anyone except his fan base. In the 112th Congress's last 40 votes, Paul had "did-not-vote" on 31 bills. On 10 "key votes," he voted on five; three times with the Democrats and zero with Republicans.
Of course, he has been running for president most of this time, with the attitude of a disinterested spectator when it comes time to explain how he would fix things. Minnesota Republican Rep. Michele Bachmann's record is 40 for 40 and so is Utah's GOP Rep. Rob Bishop. If you are a Republican who resides in Paul's Texas House district, you've got to feel underrepresented.
While Paul may be the perfect gadfly, persistently annoying with provocative criticism, he's no real candidate. There is no suggestion that a sitting congressman should not run for higher office but it would seem wise to make arrangements to participate in the work of Congress. Otherwise, it appears that the job is not that vital.
There are many other examples of economic ignorance. The collective impact is a weakened government and a divided people, a real inconvenience.
Reynolds lives in Pleasant View. He is a retired businessman and member of the Kiwanis Club of North Ogden.