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Manipulation makes us dependent on govt.
United Press International ^ | 7/13/2002 | By Jennifer Chew

Posted on 07/12/2002 11:59:19 PM PDT by greydog

WASHINGTON, July 12 (UPI) -- There is a reason why new government programs seem to proliferate, and why existing programs -- even bad ones -- can be as hard to kill as Count Dracula.

It is set up that way on purpose using a very specific technique, according to Charlotte Twight, who spoke at a forum at the Cato Institute in Washington D.C. on July 11.

"The reality is that today, the government seems to grow, even when the public doesn't want it to grow, and seldom shrinks, even when the public would prefer it to shrink," said Twight.

As a result, she says, Americans are becoming ever more dependent on federal programs of all kinds, whether they want to or not.

"The shift from personal autonomy to dependence on government is perhaps the defining characteristic of modern American politics," Twight has written in her new book, "Dependent on DC: The Rise of Federal Control over the Lives of Ordinary Americans" (Palgrave for St. Martins Press), written under the aegis of Cato.

"In the span of barely one lifetime, a nation grounded in ideals of individual liberty has been transformed into one in which federal decisions control even such personal matters as what health care we can buy -- a nation now so bound up in detailed laws and regulations that no one can know what all the rules are, let alone comply with them."

"Political transaction-cost manipulation" is what Twight calls the approach that creates unwanted or necessary government programs, and then keeps them alive indefinitely.

She developed it in answer to what she says is the prevailing approach to the programs, which she calls "What is - is effective."

"What is - is effective" basically states that the way things are must be efficient, because if it were not, the people would rise up in opposition. Twight says this is not so, precisely, because of the effects of political transaction-cost manipulation, or PT-CM for short.

Twight, a professor of economics at Boise State University who writes frequently on this and similar topics, has spent the last fifteen years "studying the origin and evolution of various key federal programs, including social security, income tax withholding, federal education laws, federal health care legislation, and database mandates that have been issued by the federal government."

Twight says there are the two major categories of PT-CM. One is information cost and the other is the action cost. Information cost includes things like semantic efforts to change people's perception of the costs and benefits of government actions in a particular area.

This category also covers the distortion of information, restriction of access to information about the costs and benefits of government actions, and incrementalism (when government officials present pieces of legislation "a slice at a time" instead of as an entire package, in order to change the perception of the program's costs and benefits).

Presenting an example of how government officials use semantics to alter perceptions of legislation (information cost), she said: "(J)ust a few months ago, Congress passed and the president signed into law a new huge farm subsidy bill. Of course it was not called the 'New Huge Farm Subsidy Bill of 2002'. Instead, they came up with a name -- 'the Farm Security and Rural Investment Act of 2002'."

As a example of action cost, which she said undermines the "actual getting together of citizens to get something done in the political realm," Twight cited the erosion of the formal amendment process for changing the Constitution. Changes in the Constitution were not supposed to be "lightly done," Twight said. It was supposed to be very costly and difficult to do. "But what we have done in recent decades is, in effect, allow the Supreme Court to change the meaning of our Constitution without benefit of any formal amendment process."

In her book, Twight examines how the federal government has been able to grow and "so greatly expand its powers, sometimes in ways initially contravening public sentiment, without provoking rebellion ..." She says that happens because "...(T)he government officials have both the power and the personal incentives to change the costs to private citizens (and to others in the government) of taking particular political actions."

Government officials, according to Twight, "succeeded in expanding the role and scope of government by using strategies that make it more difficult for people to resist government expansion."

"Dependence on government systematically built up over the last 75 years has eroded American belief in and commitment to self-responsibility," she writes.

In her book, Twight demonstrates how social security guarantees dependence of the elderly, how income tax withholding functions as the infrastructure of dependence, how public education is imprinting the next generation with political transaction-cost manipulation, and how heath care controls are exploiting human vulnerability.

She explains many of the tactics -- some considered basic political techniques -- that politicians use to virtually force polices they want implemented upon their constituents. For example, if there is a policy that an official wants passed, but which the people are generally opposed to, the official can "tie it together with two or three or four or a hundred measures that people do want, and you put it all together in one package, and say its an up or down vote on the whole package. Then it makes it much more costly for the citizens to resist that part of it that they don't want."

To test the accuracy of her theory of the pervasive influence of PT-CM, Twight has for the last eight years been on what she calls a "treasure hunt," looking for empirical evidence about the origin of various key government programs.

What she found (using Congressional and federal documents) was that in each case "the story was the same-- political transaction-cost manipulation was absolutely critical in the creation and the passage ... and the implementation of the program."

"In my view, it is the tactics of political transaction-cost manipulation that in the span of just 70 years have made possible the creation of a society in which each of us is heavily dependent on Washington, D.C."

Copyright © 2002 United Press International

TOPICS: Business/Economy; Constitution/Conservatism; Crime/Corruption; Culture/Society; Editorial; Government
KEYWORDS: catoinstitute; governmentprograms; libertarians
Really, NO $H!T
1 posted on 07/12/2002 11:59:19 PM PDT by greydog
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To: *libertarians
2 posted on 07/13/2002 12:13:49 AM PDT by Libertarianize the GOP
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To: greydog
A really interesting read.

With most Americans "on the take" from the federal and state governments this will cause no waves.

3 posted on 07/13/2002 4:17:22 AM PDT by G.Mason
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To: CarolASThompson

Articles like this are extremely irritating because they're just floating generalities.

Perhaps you shouldn't read things that are extremely irritating. At the firs sign that you feel you're becoming  irritated, move on to something else.

 Are critics such as Charlotte Twight clueless, or is this just a calculated ploy to allow the proles to vent their feelings to let off steam and avoid a serious attack on the root of the problem?

Umm, perhaps you wouldn't become so irritated if you slowed down and thought to realize that Twight didn't write the article -- somebody else, Jennifer Chew, did.

5 posted on 07/13/2002 10:28:04 AM PDT by Zon
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To: Zon
Correction: At the first sign
6 posted on 07/13/2002 10:29:07 AM PDT by Zon
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To: Libertarianize the GOP
It's not manipulation or conspiracy. It's plain old greed. People want something for nothing. As economists say, there are 2 ways to get what you want. One is to earn it yourself, and the second, easier way, is to take it from someone else. Government is just an easier way to steal your neighbor's money.
7 posted on 07/13/2002 1:49:24 PM PDT by Pining_4_TX
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To: CarolASThompson
Now I see what you mean. I didn't get it the first time around.

Articles like this are extremely irritating because they're just floating generalities.

Giving that much credence to something useless, is it worth getting irritated over? The way I look at useless articles is they suck and not worth the energy of getting emotional. Though, expending energy to write a refute or debunk an article or portion of it, I do find to be energetic.

The article is just another PC feed-the-hand-that-feeds-you-back to get more interviews.

Reporters are too lazy to put forth the effort. They choose to open doors wherever possible and keep them open. The very people the media should be reporting as crooks, criminals and scoundrels are the ones they praise. What a colossal hoax it is. For of course the interviewee -- the bigger the better to which politicians and bureaucrats are among the biggest with academics and "specialists" bought by the media mantra of open all doors coming in right behind -- those people/ crooks being interviewed would never open the door if he or she knew that the reporter intended expose them as frauds.

There's a large and growing cadre of articulate, well-thought-out writers on the WWW. They are the opposite of the lazy reporters that rely on the easy-to-open doors of covering for crooks. In essence, they are unreal doors that can slam back shut in their face.

For the articulate writers on the Web, their open doors are among themselves, and their readers. Their essence is that they have to honestly earn an open door policy with their interviewees and they welcome their readers feedback. Often looking for other articulate writers of integrity and honesty among the feedback they get from readers.

That the mainstream media is liberal biased is not a reflection of congress or the alphabet bureaucracies. It is with both Republicans and Democrats that the government is what it is. The whole good-guy-bad-guy betwixt political parties is a ruse. For voting for the lesser of evils still begets evil.

As Mr. Brown used to jokingly ask us neighborhood kids, "Do you want a fat lib or a busted eyebrow?" That was not lost on me. From Democrats you get one, from Republicans you get the other. There are no winners and losers in politics for they (reps and dems) are two sides of the same coin. The only losers are the citizens, their prosperity and well-being which is mostly represented by the business community. The only winners are parasitical politicians and self-serving bureaucrats. ...Hot on their heels the mainstream media and academics catering to the the government crooks.

The genie is out of the bottle.

Congress has created so many laws that virtually every person is assured of breaking more than just traffic laws. Surely with all this supposed lawlessness people and society should have long ago run head long into destruction. But it has not.

Instead, people and society have progressively prospered. Doing so despite politicians creating on average, 3,000 new laws each year which self-serving alphabet-agency bureaucrats implement/utilize to justify their usurped power and unearned paychecks. They both proclaim from on high -- with complicit endorsement from the media and academia -- that all those laws are "must-have" laws to thwart people and society from self-destruction.

Again, despite not having this year's 3,000 must-have laws people and society increased prosperity for years and decades prior. How can it be that suddenly the people and the society they form has managed to be so prosperous for so long but suddenly they will run such great risk of destroying their self-created prosperity?

The government is the all time champion of cooking the books and it has the gall to point fingers at the whole business community because of a few bad apples. The entire business community and employees that support it should stand tall against a government feigning to protect the little guy from organizations that cook their books.

If there was ever a prime example of the fox guarding the hen house it is the government claiming to protect the little guy from organizations that cook their books. President Bush will have to militarily smash down terrorism. For that is his job. It's not the President's, congress or' the government's job to manipulate the economy.

The business community with their employees will have to stand tall against the PC-status-quo fox -- self-proclaimed authorities claiming/feigning they'll use the government to protect the little guy and a complicit media and academia that supports them; for they are all the fox -- to regain their rightful place as the champions of honest business that has always increased the well-being of people.

The government, having already manipulated the economy to almost no-end, President Bush can play the unbeatable five-ace hand of replacing the initiation-of-force IRS and graduated income tax with a don't-pay-the-tax-if-you-don't-want-to consumption tax. For example, implement the proposed national retail sales tax (NRST). Not only would that win votes for Bush and republicans in congress it would boom the economy.

Where will it lead?

War of Two Worlds
Value Creators versus Value Destroyers

Politics is not the solution. It's the problem!

The first thing civilization must have is business/science. It's what the family needs so that its members can live creative, productive, happy lives. Business/science can survive, even thrive without government/bureaucracy.

Government/bureaucracy cannot survive without business/science. In general, business/science and family is the host and government/bureaucracy is a parasite.

Aside from that, keep valid government services that protect individual rights and property. Military defense, FBI, CIA, police and courts. With the rest of government striped away those few valid services would be several fold more efficient and effective than they are today. 

Underwriters Laboratory is a private sector business that has to compete in a capitalist market. Underwriters laboratory is a good example of success where government fails.

Any government agency that is a value to the people and society -- which there are but a few -- could better serve the people by being in the private sector where competition demands maximum performance.

Wake up! They are the parasites. We are the host. We don't need them. They need us.

9 posted on 07/15/2002 3:36:40 PM PDT by Zon
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