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5 Common Political Beliefs That Simply Aren't True

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.

"No matter how big the lie; repeat it often enough and the masses will regard it as the truth." -- John F. Kennedy

The sad truth of the matter is that most Americans don't pay much attention to politics and those that do often just parrot doctrine instead of investigating issues with an open mind. This allows lies, myths, and dubious assertions to live on long after they should have shriveled and died in the light of day. Here are just a few of those diseased assertions that have continued to circulate in the body politic long after they should have been cured.


1) Affirmative Action is a pro-black policy. Sure, there are a few black Americans who are helped by Affirmative Action, but the cost of the policy is enormous.

For one thing, no matter how talented or deserving a black American may be, Affirmative Action casts a shadow over his accomplishments. Did she get into the college because she deserved it or because of Affirmative Action? Did he get the promotion because he earned it or because he is black? White Americans often think this privately and it causes even black Americans who oppose Affirmative Action to question the worth of their achievements.

If you want something more concrete than that, here's Thomas Sowell giving a real world example of how Affirmative Action leads to black college students failing to graduate from college.

In other words, where the racial preferences in admissions are not as great, the differences in graduation rates are not as great. The critics of affirmative action were right: Racial preferences reduce the prospects of black students graduating. Other data tell the same story.

Compare racial preferences in Colorado, for example. At the flagship University of Colorado at Boulder, test score differences between black and white students have been more than 200 points -- and only 39 percent of the black students graduated, compared to 72 percent of white students. Meanwhile, at the University of Colorado at Denver, where the SAT score difference was a negligible 30 points, there was also a negligible difference in graduation rates -- 50 percent for blacks and 48 percent for whites.


How many millions of black Americans could have graduated from college, but didn't because Affirmative Action "helped" them get into a college they weren't ready to attend?

2) Being for Illegal immigration is a pro-Hispanic policy. It's intriguing that being pro-illegal immigration is supposed to be the key way to appeal to Hispanic Americans because they're being hurt much worse than the average American by illegal immigration.

Because illegal immigrants often don't buy health care, don’t pay for auto insurance and cheat on their income taxes, they can afford to work for much lower wages than American citizens. There are no "jobs Americans won't do," although there may be jobs they won't do at the same price as an illegal alien who doesn’t have to pay the same bills.

This is a particularly big issue for Hispanic Americans because they're more likely than other Americans to end up directly competing with illegals. Take a look at the industries that are dominated by Hispanic workers.

Hispanic workers are the backbone of industries like meatpacking, food service, construction, agriculture, and domestic services. Hispanic workers land two out of every three new construction jobs.

Then there are the industries that are swarming with illegals.

According to the Current Population Survey (CPS) Annual Social and Economic Supplement, as of March 2006 almost twenty four percent of all construction workers in the country were foreign born. Most of the immigrant construction workers are Hispanic, although not all Hispanic construction workers are immigrants, of course. In March 2006 a little over twenty-four percent of the construction workforce was Hispanic, compared to approximately six percent in 1980. Seventy percent of the 1.4 million Hispanic construction workers in the U.S. in 2000 were born outside the United States, and fifty-seven percent were not U.S. citizens.

Farmers likewise stress that access to migrant labor is critical for agriculture. There are about 1.6 million full-time farm workers in the US. About 80 per cent of those workers are foreign born and nearly seven out of 10 are working illegally.

There are still roughly 11 million illegal aliens in this country. If they weren't here, the Hispanic unemployment rate, which is at 12.5 percent, would probably be much closer -- or perhaps even better than the white unemployment rate of 8 percent.

3) We can fix our deficit problems by taxing the rich. This has become the de facto position of the Democrat Party. Forget spending cuts! We don't need 'em! We'll just tax the rich until the budget is balanced and we've paid off our debt.

There's one huge problem with that: It won't work, it can't be done, it's impossible. No matter how you massage it, the math won't add up.

"(Even if we took) all the profits, all of the salaries, all of the assets, all of the expenses, all of the revenues and holdings of the rich and we liquidated them....(and we'd) scrape through for one year."

Put another way, if we were to pull a "full Stalin" and take everything "the rich" in this country makes and owns, it would pay off the deficit for a single year. Then, when the next year rolls around, we'd have another trillion dollar plus deficit on the way, but with no tax revenue from the rich, no one who could invest in new businesses, and no entrepreneurs willing to bust their behind to make money the government would confiscate from them. Hello, new Depression. Hello, Doom.

We can discuss whether the rich should pay higher taxes, but what you can't truthfully argue is that the government can get spending under control without dramatic spending cuts.

4) The more money we put into education, the better our schools will perform. We see the exact same scenario repeated again and again in this country. We hear claims that education is underfunded and it's causing our schools to perform poorly. We respond by ramping up spending dramatically. There's no improvement in performance. A few years later, the cycle repeats.

Of course, if money were really the problem, we'd already have at least the second best schools in the world.

According to the most recent OECD figures (2007), the Koreans spent $5,437 per primary-school pupil; we spent $10,229. For education as a whole, the Koreans spent $7,325 per pupil; we spent $14,269. They not only “outpace our kids in math and science”; they do it by only spending half as much. ....We spend more than anyone but the Swiss on education, and by any rational measure at least half of it is entirely wasted.

So what do we get for the second highest spending level on planet earth? It's not so impressive.

The three-yearly OECD Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) report, which compares the knowledge and skills of 15-year- olds in 70 countries around the world, ranked the United States 14th out of 34 OECD countries for reading skills, 17th for science and a below-average 25th for mathematics.

We can debate the reasons why our public schools do such a mediocre job until the cows come home and then we can spend twice as long trying to figure out how to fix it, but what we can't rationally do anymore is blame it on our schools being underfunded.

5) Being tough on crime is a racist policy. It is true that percentage wise, black Americans are arrested and go to jail at a higher rate than other ethnic groups. So, some people look at that and declare that being tough on crime obviously must be racist.

However, they're missing the all important other half of the equation. Black criminals are, for the most part, preying on other black Americans.

Blacks are only 13% of the population, but over 40% of the murder victims. Ninety Three percent of those black victims are killed by other black people.

In other words, nobody benefits more from a black criminal going to jail than other black Americans. The same goes for keeping black criminals in jail.

About 43 percent of prisoners who were let out in 2004 were sent back to prison by 2007, either for a new crime or violating the conditions of their release, the study found.

If racists really were in charge of our justice system, being soft on crime would be one of the most effective ways that they could hurt black Americans.


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