The wise Bernard Baruch had faith in our future because of reason, or the power of the human mind to cope with the problems of human life. Today, our great country faces significant economic problems. Congress has the Constitutional duty to "provide for the general Welfare of the United States". Despite this duty, our "Do Nothing" Congress has made little progress in reducing the deficit, or lowering unemployment. This is because many in Congress do not use reason to cope with these problems, but seek to rationalize the Norquist Pledge. More particularly, Norquist followers believe government must be reduced by opposing any tax increase; ideas which can not be compromised. However, an overwhelming majority of business economists (87% in NABE poll), & the Simpson-Bowles Report, have concluded from that a combination of higher taxes & lower spending is the best way to reduce the deficit, yet grow the economy. Republican Bruce Bartlett exposes the cognitive dissonance members of Congress faithful to the Norquist Pledge in his "Economix" blog (NYT 6/12/12). The historical evidence from the Clinton Administration is proof that taxes can be increased to reduce the deficit, yet accomodate economiic growth. As Louis Menand argues inhis Pulitzer Prize-winning book "Metaphysical Club", an excess of faith in particular ideas is an impediment to successful thinking.
Economics is about the future, & economists can not predict the unpredictable. In recognition of the limits of human knowledge, Congress must be willing to compromise on matters of economic policy. Our democracy depends on an educated citizenry, electing successful thinkers as leaders, that use reason. Such wise statesmen must be "open & humble", & willing to compromise for the common good. The Pledge to the Norquist Lobby by Congressmen precludes compromise, problem solving by reasoning, & above all, confidence in the future of our great nation.
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