« Macroblog Thinks Barry Eichengreen Is Too Pessimistic | Main | Tim Dunlop Reports on the Bushies Destruction of American Power Worldwide »

December 21, 2004

Projecting Shadows on the Walls of the Cave

Kevin Drum says that we should stop trying to lead the American people and the American press corps out of the cave so that they can perceive the Forms directly by the bright light of the sun--their eyes simply cannot cope, and their brains have been so enfeebled that they cannot understand arguments based on policy substance. Instead, Kevin says, we need to concentrate on making the appropriate shadow puppets on the walls of the cave to induce voters and the press corps to behave in the way they would behave if they could see and grasp the Forms:

The Washington Monthly: However, as both Garance and Ezra point out, factual arguments will only get you so far. For the broad public you also need emotional and political arguments. Is it possible to make them? I think it is. Although the first step is to convince opinion makers that the facts have changed in the past decade, the second step is to construct a more, um, practical campaign. It would include arguments like this:

  1. Politicians lie all the time, and now they're lying about Social Security being in trouble. What is it they're really after?
  2. Wall Street tycoons are being cagey about this, but the truth is that they can't wait to get their hands on your retirement money. Management fees is what this is really all about, isn't it?
  3. Today your retirement benefits are guaranteed. With private accounts you're taking on a big risk. What happens if you turn 65 right after a stock market crash?
  4. Take a look at Chile. Take a look at Argentina. They tried private accounts and look how their retirees are doing.

You get the idea. Facts and figures work on some people, but populist arguments are how you win the ground war. The question is, who's going to take on the job of getting down and dirty with this stuff?

I disagree. I'm going to keep grabbing people by the neck and dragging them out of the cave. Someday, dammit, Jonathan Weisman is going to perceive the Forms by the light of the sun whether he wants to or not.

Posted by DeLong at December 21, 2004 08:56 AM