ED122297a: No Respect For Truth

COMMENTARY Political Process

ED122297a: No Respect For Truth

Dec 22nd, 1997 2 min read
Edwin J. Feulner, Ph.D.


Edwin J. Feulner is the founder and president of The Heritage Foundation.

How would you react if you discovered that conspiracy theorists, or atheists, or right-wingers were getting their political opinions printed as fact in encyclopedias and school textbooks? What if you picked up an encyclopedia, say, Britannica or Collier's, or your child's history textbook, and found references to Franklin Roosevelt as the president "who turned the other way while the Soviet Union enslaved Eastern Europe"?

You'd be outraged, and justifiably so. Reference works are supposed to be the last refuge of objectivity, and if you can't go there for the unvarnished facts, you can't go anywhere. Anyone arrogant enough to step over this line reveals a dangerous lack of respect for truth or for other people's-even children's-right to have access to it.

That's why I want to alert you to the fact that liberals are destroying your ability to get the straight facts from reference material. For years you've listened to conservatives warn that if liberals were arrogant enough to insert their political bias into the reporting of supposedly "straight" news, they wouldn't stop there.

Well, we were right. For years now, liberals-by virtue of their political domination of academic circles in America-have been marching through the reference section of your library and the textbook publishing houses and inserting their political opinions simply as "the facts." Since so few people read their children's textbooks or do research in their spare time, the liberals are getting away with it.

Examples are numerous. As my friend Brent Bozell of the Media Research Center pointed out in a column recently, all you have to do is look up someone liberals hate, Ronald Reagan, in the encyclopedia: "Reagan persuaded Congress to enact a series of tax rate cuts that mainly benefited upper-income taxpayers. To offset some of the revenue losses, he obtained severe cuts in spending for `social' items, including Social Security, job training, college loan guarantees, aid to cities, food subsidies and medical care for the poor, disability payments for the handicapped, day-care centers for children, and geriatric centers." Gee-did Reagan have horns and a pointy tail too?

If you think the passage above, straight out of Collier's Encyclopedia, is pretty much on the mark, you've been reading biased liberal newspapers too long. Revenue losses caused by the Reagan tax cuts? There were no such losses. In fact, government revenue increased when taxes were cut, just like Reagan said they would. Why? Because the tax cuts left more money for the economy to work with, producing more wealth, and therefore more tax revenues. If you don't believe me, check the Statistical Abstract (a reference work liberals haven't ambushed yet), and you'll find that in the years following the tax cut, government revenues from individual income taxes increased from $286 billion in 1981 to $349 billion in 1986.

Did Reagan cut the social safety net to offset those non-existent revenue losses? If so, how did Social Security spending increase from $118.5 billion in 1980 to $287.5 billion in 1992? Why did spending on food stamps go from $9.1 billion to $21.8 billion? Why did spending on every item on Collier's "evil cuts" list rise on Reagan's watch?

Lies-flat out lies. Liberals have become so used to not being held accountable for what they say and write that they don't even check the facts anymore. Why should they? For example, "A History of US" is a history textbook series published by none other than Oxford University Press. It reports to its young readers (does your child use this book in school?) that on Reagan's watch, the federal budget deficit rose from $58 billion to $2.3 trillion. An obvious error, right? She must have been wearing her glasses backward. No deficit has ever come near such a colossal figure. The correct number is $155.2 billion. Nonetheless, the $2.3 trillion figure appeared in a subsequent "revised" version of the book's chapter on Reagan.

This is what happens when people care more about politics than they do about the truth. And liberals care more about politics.

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Note: Edwin J. Feulner, Ph.D. is president of The Heritage Foundation (www.heritage.org), a Washington-based public policy research institute.