Tyler Cowen points us to an interesting new paper by Paul Niehaus – one that nicely complements today’s Quotation of the Day.
I seldom disagree with Steve Landsburg. But – although recognizing that part of Steve’s tongue is in his cheek here – I think it fair to say, contra Steve, that Pres. Obama did indeed lie about Obamacare. To use Steve’s example, telling an adult that the plan is to travel throughout England by rocket ship is indeed not a lie, just an instance of contemptuousness. But to tell, say, a two-year-old child the very same thing is a lie because it’s reasonable to expect that the child will believe the tall tale. On matters of basic economics large numbers of Americans are more like two-year-old children than like adults. They believe that there is such thing as free lunches if government promises to deliver such meals. They believe this absurdity in no small part because eloquent, powerful, well-dressed, and finely titled men and women repeatedly say it’s so and because no one suffers any direct, personal consequences from believing such fantastical stories or even for voting for the story-tellers. And because the political process promotes irresponsible and childish perceptions and decision-making (see also the Niehaus paper above), Obama had plenty of good reasons to believe that he’d be believed by enough gullible Americans when he wrongly assured Americans that Obamacare will not result in people losing health-insurance policies that they don’t want to lose.