A little economic masterpiece: “That Which is Seen and That Which is Not Seen” if I recall, was written by Frederic Basiat, a French lawyer and economist, around 1850. Today, we know so much more than he did, that we seem to have forgotten what he did know that we have been unable to deny. As his undeniable knowledge impedes the goals of our politicians, it is ignored and not taught to children, assuring that it will return to history and stop troubling any current reality. But it remains, stubbornly, true. You can Google it if you doubt. (It’s short.)
If one employs the time spent waiting for the soap to rinse off in the shower, or the time between awakening and actually arising, much useful thought can occur. Applying Bastiat’s thought to the present fits into those useful niches.
We are assured by our ‘elite’ that in the U.S. at least, we have recovered from our “Great Recession” and are only awaiting growth, which is eagerly onrushing but has somehow, not quite arrived. The unemployment statistic is receding if slowly, and our President, Congressfolk and media (mostly) assure us that this is so.
But the percentage of Americans not in the labor force persists at 1970 levels, the average household income has been declining for some years and the 46 million folk on food stamps have s have set a new record for over three years now. That which is seen seems to conflict some with that which is not seen in America.
So as that soap rinsed off, we had some thoughts of our own. Or better, questions of our own. Rhetorical of course; few appear anxious to answer them.
1. Up to the 1970’s, there were in America, a lot of housewives. Carpenters and auto mechanics expected to support their families while Mom raised the kids, let alone lawyers and engineers. Now, most families need two workers to make it; a triumph of feminism right up with the right to die on a battlefield. The Internet, cell phones and fast food ease the strain of this ‘progress’ but still, Mom ain’t home with the kids as she once was.
2. U.S. jobs that looks unattractive and low paying to residents but rewarding to many from elsewhere are proliferating along with quasi-open immigration; better jobs are continuing a shift to cheaper labor places, catching U.S. workers in a pincers between departing jobs and arriving cheap labor competition.
3. Public education is ‘dumbing down’ to the least common denominator rather than upraising the average knowledge level at the cost of losing some who can’t or won’t make the standard. (I.e. If some apples are bad, dump the entire barrel)
4. Government policy is escalating the cost of energy, inevitably reducing the productiveness of the economy and thereby, the general living standard.
5. Government continues obligating taxpayers with huge debts and feeding inflation (while denying that) with fiat money that assures a declining dollar purchasing power.
6. And an all-time record 46 million Americans have been on food stamps for 38 months now. (Today’s soup kitchens)
So we see these and we do not see how they add up to economic recovery. And we have not been able to keep our doctor, either. We have wondered why voters continue electing Democrats but considering current Republicans, admit that electing them instead offers little practical difference. A triumph as is said; of hope over experience.
So as the soap disappears down the drain, Bastiat’s warning (for that is what it was) goes with it. Today, we are educated, informed and expected to see what we are intended to see and nothing else is acceptable. Or in many places, permitted … In 1850, Bastiat was correct. Today, his is still correct but nobody wishes to know it. He remains a bully read, though.