Disintegrating Economic Recovery
by Prof. John Kozy
July 12, 2011
The word ‘recover’ always has the connotation of “getting back.” But who is going to get back what when the economy “recovers”? Few at most. So what does an economic recovery look like? No one knows. The word ‘recovery’ can not be applied to objects willy-nilly. A sick person goes into the hospital to recover; a broken automobile is taken to a shop to be repaired. Automobiles do not recover. Neither do economies; they can only get better or worse, and specific information is needed to determine which. Few people realize just how close to the edge of disintegration America is. The Congress meets for one purpose and one purpose alone—to get reelected. The political posturing begins the day after each election, while the nation’s problems go unaddressed, and our media aid and abet the posturing. Such is America today. This recession/depression will never “recover.” Neither will America.
That successful, inveterate liars consistently use a specific group of practices has been known for ages. They, for instance, give long winded answers to questions to distract and confuse the questioner, make assertions that can’t be easily refuted, and keep from saying very much that is specific, making it difficult to confirm or refute details. One prevalent way of doing this is to speak metaphorically.
Those of you old enough to remember the Vietnamese War may remember that whenever General Westmorland was asked how the war was going, he usually replied that there was “light at the end of the tunnel”
Of course there was; there is light at both ends of every tunnel. But no one ever knew which end he was talking about or if we were getting any closer to the end that would get us out. We all now know, of course, that we were not. Telling us that there was light at the end of the tunnel told us nothing at all; yet many were led to believe that “there is light at the end of the tunnel” was synonymous with “we were getting closer to victory” even though there is absolutely no logical relationship between these two assertions. Why did Westmorland always answer this way? The only reasonable answer is to avoid telling the truth.
Likewise, President Obama is addicted to vapid metaphors: the US still has a “big hole to fill,” “Headwinds” from the first half of 2011 are holding back the recovery,” “There are going to be bumps in the road,” and “on the right track”
The hole that needs to be filled is the lack of specificality in his speeches, but let’s just consider the ubiquitous “on the right track.” It’s very similar to “light at the end of the tunnel.” A train, for instance, can be on the right track but be going nowhere or perhaps even going backwards. When a train is on a siding, isn’t it on the right track? What does this metaphor tell anyone? What kind of evidence could be cited to refute it? It’s one of those perfectly safe, empty claims that people trying to hoodwink others make all the time.
But what has all of this to do with “recovery”? Well, just take a look at how the word is ordinarily used.