The Magazine

Be Clear!

Or be defeated.

Jun 20, 2011, Vol. 16, No. 38 • By DAVID GELERNTER
Widget tooltip
Single Page Print Larger Text Smaller Text Alerts

Which is it? A problem of conscience, of economic growth, or of Medicare’s running out of money? Since the answer is “all three,” the speaker ought to say so up front: “Our demented spending binge has caused many problems, and here are three.” 

Ryan also said, “Each year that policymakers kick this can down the road means trillions of dollars in empty promises are being made to future generations.” And, the president’s budget proposal would “raise taxes by $1.5 trillion.”

But “trillions” is meaningless without something to measure by. It’s simpler to say: The president’s February budget projected a national debt bigger than the whole U.S. economy ($15 trillion). Or pick some other measuring stick. However tiresome it might be, you must pick a comparison and repeat it every time you write or speak: Very few people keep figures of this magnitude in mind. Can you blame them? They are way outside normal experience.

And I promise every politician and commentator in the country: If I hear “kick the can down the road” one more time, I tune out forever and move to Tahiti.


David Gelernter is a contributing editor to The Weekly Standard.



Recent Blog Posts

The Weekly Standard Archives

Browse 20 Years of the Weekly Standard

Old covers