16 March 2012

The Rationalization Hamster, Writ Large

Continuing on my new interest in the subject of cognitive dissonance:

It’s a well-known fact that Americans oppose government spending in the abstract yet favor virtually every government spending program. For example, last April Gallup reported that 73 percent of Americans blame the deficit on excessive spending and 48 percent wanted to reduce the deficit mainly through spending cuts (and 37 percent equally with spending cuts and tax increases). Only a few months before, however, Gallup also reported majorities opposed to cutting spending on anything—even “funding for the arts and sciences”—except foreign aid.

Citizens of the United States, much like human beings in general, have the inherent conflict of ideals versus reality.  Citizens recognize that government spending is generally bad, particularly if said spending runs a deficit.  Yet, everyone wants the goodies that are bought with government money.

This is nothing more than the rationalization hamster running amok on a national, political scale.  Women recognize that cads are bad, and yet they are attracted to them and will rationalize away their terrible behavior and general caddishness.  In like manner, citizens recognize that deficit spending is bad, yet still manage to find a way to justify virtually every form of federal spending, even though the majority of it is unconstitutional, and often inefficient and counterproductive to boot.  And so, humanity gets the best of us once again:  we know what reality is, but it is so much more pleasant to wish it away, and thus we continue to rationalize our support of policies we know will harm us in the end.

No comments:

Post a Comment