BETWEEN THE LINES: Facts can be stubborn things

Not many Americans know that John Adams, the second president of the United States, defended the British soldiers involved in the Boston Massacre. The man, who a few years later would sign the Declaration of Independence, got his clients acquitted.

The trial and its aftermath, however, produced an interesting quote from the Massachusetts native: “Facts are stubborn things and, whatever our wishes, our inclinations or the dictates of our passion, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.”

Adams’ observation about the folly of human nature remains true. Man still tends to interpret facts, or ignores them altogether.

Take, for example, the issue of foreign aid. During the last three years of the Bush administration, foreign aid declined from $14.8 billion in 2005 to $11.4 billion in 2008. However, during President Barack Obama’s term, it has risen 80 percent to $20.7 billion and, by the end of this fiscal year, should be more than $22 billion. In the interim, funding for protection of our borders has declined and amounts to only 75 percent of that spent on foreign aid.

I wonder how the public would vote on the issue if they had a chance. Seems to me they would favor their safety rather than sending dollars abroad — sometimes to be used by our enemies. Granted, foreign aid is minimal in the scheme of things compared to the $1.2 trillion deficit, but frugality has to begin somewhere.

Some figures announced by the government, such as the recent drop in unemployment from 8.1 percent to 7.8 percent, are not entirely based on facts, but on a massaging of the numbers. How else can unemployment go down when 115,000 new jobs are created when it takes twice that to maintain the current work force? The answer is simple: The government figures each month subtract the number of people no longer looking for a job, which in September exceeded 300,000.

That example gives credence to the old adage, “Figures never lie, but liars figure.”

Another truth that has been politically distorted is tax cuts only benefit the rich. Thomas Sowell, noted economist, wrote a short paper demonstrating that, historically, past tax cuts have been very beneficial for the economy.

Income tax cuts in the 1920s, which reduced the tax rate from 73 percent to 24 percent, increased revenues collected from those earning more than $100,000 a year by $3 million. Even former Democratic President John F. Kennedy understood, saying, “The soundest way to raise revenues in the long run is to cut taxes now.”

I close with Gresham’s Law which states: “When a government compulsorily overvalues one type of money (or one group of people over another), the undervalued money will leave the country or disappear while the overvalued money (fiat currency) will flood into circulation (inflation).”

Allowing government to pick the winners and losers is not what our Founding Fathers had in mind when they intentionally limited the scope of the federal government.

Laughlin is a Christian Libertarian. He is an economist, teacher, father, husband and most recently a grandfather. He has written a weekly column for The Tribune for 15 years. He and his wife Gina reside in Meadowlakes. To contact him, email He is an independent columnist, not a staff member, and his views do not necessarily reflect those of The Tribune or its parent company.

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