The Three Big Mistakes of Politicians


By: Brooks A. Mick

By the way, I am ASSUMING these are just mistakes due to ignorance or lack of meticulous thinking rather than deliberate mistakes. I guess I still have some degree of respect for politicians. Perhaps I’m wrong, however.

First, politicians are, in the main, lawyers. Their whole outlook on life, due possibly to their training, but probably more a belief system ingrained since childhood that led them into the legal profession, is that the world is made up of victims and perpetrators. Somebody did something to somebody. Somebody has to be blamed and made to pay. Thus the recurrent theme in legislation and in political rhetoric that somebody gained and somebody lost, that life is a zero-sum game and you must make somebody pay to reward somebody else. Most politicians have seldom held an honest job in their lives where they manufactured something that somebody else wanted to purchase, that they had to meet a payroll, and that they had to turn a profit to stay in business. Thus they don’t seem to understand that ordinary life is not composed of winners and losers, but of people who work and study harder and thus earn more. “The Rich” have not stolen from others, should not be made to pay “victims,” should not have their money taken simply because they have it. In the real world, this would be called robbery. In government, they consider it “taxation,” or more recently, “asking people to contribute their fair share.”

Second, politicians tend to use only static analysis, the “all else being equal” type of mentality that allows them to say that increasing taxes increases government revenue. “If we raise taxes 5%, we’ll get 5% more tax revenue,” they believe. They do not use dynamic analysis, wherein a tax increase will cause people to change their behavior and thus the amount of money returned by the 5% tax raise may be much less than they predict–indeed, if the taxation causes citizens to decrease the activity taxed, they may get even less revenue. Lawyers tend to think statically–if I can take $100,000 from Corporation A, then I can take my 50% which will leave $50,000 for Client B.” They don’t consider that Corporation A will lose much more than that $100,000, that it will probably cost some employees of Corporation A their jobs, and so on rippling through the economy.

Third, politicians tend to think very short-term. Thus the refusal to consider the war on terror as a decades-long war that we must fight. They only look at the short-term small picture, repeating the left-wing mantra that we should have “focused on Afghanistan” or “gone after bin Laden” rather than recognizing that we need a long-term strategy that involves converting despotic Muslim regimes that breed terrorists into decent members of the world community that cease breeding them and help us fight them. Businessmen–entrepreneurs–tend to think long-term also. Lawyers, I fear, do not naturally take the long view.

Decades hence, President George W. Bush will be deemed prescient, even visionary–if we manage to survive the legalistic, static-analytic, short-term mentality of the great bulk of our politicians. It is bad enough that congress is comprised of mostly lawyers. The main thing that scares me about Obama is that he is a lawyer who reflexively sees victims everywhere. This may result in a refusal to pursue terrorists he sees as victims and a desire to punish the rich who, in his mind, have victimized the poor.

When voting, I would recommend that we give a few demerit points to any politician who is a lawyer and vote for someone with real-world experience if possible That’s what I plan to do.

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