Wednesday, June 01, 2011

As a rule, Americans prefer to put off dealing with things that could go wrong, we prefer to wait until things have gone wrong...

We didn't deal with overpriced housing and too-easy credit until they blew up in our faces. We didn't deal with Bin Laden until after 9/11.

On one hand, taking pre-emptive action can head off problems. On the other hand, who can really know if something is a problem until it actually does blow up in our face? (by definition, a 'bubble' is only confirmed once it does burst).

For every crisis that has taken place, there have been many more that haven't turned out as bad as the doomsayers have predicted. The Gulf of Mexico hasn't turned into a vast graveyard. Millions didn't die from swine flu. Japan didn't overtake the United States in the 80s and 90s.

And dealing in advance with a potential crisis requires changing the status quo that most people have gotten comfortable with... and changing the status quo in what is usually used as a negative way.

It is precisely because so many Chicken Littles have been proven wrong over the decades that most people tend to take such claims with more than the proverbial grain of salt. Why bother to upend our lives in order to deal with some potential problem if the claims are just as overblown is usually the case.

So it is with the supposed negative consequences of global warming. The public just isn't that interested in changing their lives - and in a negative way - on the off chance that this time the alarmists are right, that all sorts of bad things are going to happen if we don't immediately do X or Y.

And now moving to the point I grudgingly have to make...

The same dynamic holds with the debate over government spending and the size of the deficit/debt.

People just aren't interested in giving up some of what they have because yet another group of Chicken Littles are screaming that the economy is going to collapse if we don't do X or Y.

We can watch and listen to Paul Ryan and the others advocating drastic reductions in the size and scale of government. We can agree that they are intelligent and sincere in their beliefs. We can acknowledge the workmanship that goes into their Powerpoint presentations and web videos. We can admit that we don't have much in the way of hard numbers with which to to argue against them.

But we're not going to jump on the bandwagon. We're not going to give up our slice of federal spending. At least not until we see that the doom and gloom that Ryan foresees comes to pass.

And just as the global warming alarmists have become objects of ridicule (and deservedly so, in my opinion), so too will Ryan and his colleagues if they persist in pushing us to take preventative action before we agree that we are in a real crisis.

It isn't enough to scream and make all sorts of dire predictions about the world as we know it coming to an end if we don't do what Ryan wants us to do. That is what the global warming alarmists have tried to do... and with little success to show for their efforts.

Why should anyone expect us to respond any differently on the matter of federal spending? When you gotten used to tuning out one Chicken Little, it is only natural that we tune all of them out.