Paul Greenberg

The day's news continues to deliver a bountiful crop of theories, explanations, analyses, opinions and observations that I don't for a minute believe.

For example:

Raising the tax on capital gains is going to produce more capital. But when you tax something, aren't you bound to make it less, not more, plentiful?

This brilliant idea is as sound as putting a "windfall profits" tax on the oil industry and expecting it to produce more oil.

Didn't we try this with the Carter administration at the tag end of the 1970s? The results were as disappointing as much of the rest of the Carter administration: another bureaucratic maze that did little or nothing to help the consumer and a lot to hurt him.

The windfall profits tax of the Carter years was, however, a dandy way to cap every small well in the country. And reduce production in general. (Why produce more in order to have the profits taxed away?) A tax is a great way to cut down on supply and therefore increase demand and, with it, prices.

(Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, please note.)

Here's another tried and failed idea, or rather assumption: Appeasing dictators - like North Korea's Kim Jong Il - will make them tractable and forthright.

Abandoning the Iraqis will bring peace in our time.

(Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, please note.)

The current economic bump/slowdown/recession will continue indefinitely. But it's no more permanent than the boom that preceded it. Not till the business cycle is outlawed will economic trends go only one way.

Remember how the dot.com boom was the New Paradigm? Before that, the Roaring Twenties were going to be the start of a permanent New Era. Instead, we got the biggest Depression of them all. There is still a tide in the affairs of man, and it goes both in and out.

How about if we wall ourselves off from the world's economic troubles by going back to high tariffs and forgetting free trade? The way the historically high Smoot-Hawley tariffs, imposed during the Hoover administration, guaranteed the prosperity of the 1930s. Right.

The best solution to any economic problem is to lower interest rates even further, print more dollars, and in general inflate the economy.

Economics is an impersonal science in which individual personalities - their innovations and contributions - don't matter.

Politics has nothing to do with culture, and vice versa.

Our basic problems are economic, not cultural.

Ethanol will cure our energy problems without creating others. The law of unintended consequences has been repealed.

Economic reforms will make Communist regimes - like Mainland China and Castro's Cuba - model democracies.

Arms control ended the Cold War, not American determination to win the arms race and confront the Communist threat.

Manners are only superficial.

Abortion is the answer.

Shorter sentences and more paroles will discourage crime.

Leaders don't matter.

Character doesn't tell.

Moral authority isn't essential in a president.

Television is a cultural boon.

The traditional family is outdated.

It takes a village to raise a child. (Actually, it takes a family.)

Teachers' unions have improved education.

Religion is the opiate of the masses. (Actually, socialism is.)

Give people bread and circuses, and they'll be satisfied.

The masses, unlike you and me, don't know any better.

Government has the answers. (It may not even have the questions.)

And so unbelievably on. Name your own favorite fallacy.


Paul Greenberg

Pulitzer Prize-winning Paul Greenberg, one of the most respected and honored commentators in America, is the editorial page editor of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.