Wednesday, June 25, 2014

A Sad Day for Irony

The New York Times wrote a piece about Walmart which Walmart "fact checked" which was then counter "fact checked" by the Huffington Post. <sigh>

The comments, as usual, are rampant and mostly side with the side of the article the person is reading. Feel free to wade in those waters if you like. But for me, the piece I haven't seen mentioned at all is something so painfully obvious that I just can't fathom how we haven't mentioned it yet. The one section of the original article that made me roll my eyes was this little gem:

It's a sad day when we have to look to corporations for education, health care and basic ways to boost the middle class. Most advanced nations do those things for their people. ... By default, we have no choice but to lean on our corporate overlords.

He's probably railing against corporatism and just doesn't realize it yet. There's much irony there, but that's not what made me roll my eyes. The question is much more obvious:

What do "advanced nations" do to generate wealth to fund education, health care, and boost the middle class?

I'm not an economist. I know very little. But I do know this: The only way a nation makes money is by people producing goods/services and trading them locally/globally. In other words, we create wealth when we produce stuff. Citizens, individuals, and businesses create value and trade in goods and services to such profit that the government can tax their activity to provide for things the government and/or its citizens want done.

The government does not have a way to generate wealth in and of itself. It takes a cut of every transaction -- including a car you buy used, which has already been taxed and, should it be sold multiple times, could be taxed for more than it was originally sold. In a very real sense, then, even if we were to find a government-run utopian solution to education, health care, and middle class boosting, we would do so by leaning on our corporate overlords ...our employers, be it ourselves or someone else.

So what is the article's author's solution?

Congress could raise the minimum wage, make college more affordable, or even make it universally accessible for all qualified applicants. At the very least, it could reduce the student loan burden.

Solution 1: Have the government create wealth. Uh, how is Congress going to generate the money needed to pay everyone more? Printing money does not create value, it creates inflation which reduces the value of the dollars already owned (which is great for people, or governments, in debt, not so good for people only buy what they can afford).

Solutions 2 & 3: Make college cheaper/free. How? Thus far, from what I've read, the skyrocketing tuition costs are precisely because of the government's involvement. I like the idea of free online education -- hence why I offer my own free film school -- but there are huge problems with free online education; my own experience has shown that students don't complete free online classes.

Solution 4: Reduce the student loan burden. I don't even know what that means from any kind of practical standpoint.

Any solution based non-ironically on irony is simply sad.

 ~Luke Holzmann
Filmmaker, Writer, Guardian


Happy Elf Mom (Christine) said...

Well, maybe we don't need to generate so much wealth. Maybe we should start by not being the world's policeman and cutting the military budget. Maybe we also stop sending billions overseas when we can't pay our own bills.

Just a starting point in my mind right off the bat. Sometimes we can't do the things we really want because there is simply not enough money, but often it is a matter of priorities.

Luke Holzmann said...

Oh my, yes. Government spending is a whole other ball of wax well worth consideration. Worse, as I alluded to in this post, even when the government dumps money into things we like (like education), it doesn't always (usually?) help (e.g. student loans).


Anonymous said...

Just wondering if anyone has ever, even once, considered fact checking Amber Densmer.