Tone Deaf

“Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly, and applying the wrong remedies.” Groucho Marx

Recently we have had various speeches by Biden and a cast of the usual purveyors of grandiloquence telling us what a wonderful job they have done to address problems they themselves helped to create. History shows us that the inevitable behavior of government leads to problems that they at first deny; when reality forces them to acknowledge the problem they blame others, and then proceed to pass laws that make things worse; such behavior goes so far as to claim credit for at least doing something. As Sigmund Freud once observed “No one who shares a delusion ever recognizes it as such.”

The media has not been very critical about this, but there is a growing chorus of those that have, often with a common phrase that much of what these politicians say shows a certain tone deaf behavior regarding what’s really happening. The definition of tone deaf is “Having or showing an obtuse insensitivity or lack of perception particularly in matters of public sentiment, opinion, or taste; unable to appreciate or understand the concerns or difficulties of others; out-of-touch.”

A conspicuous example of this was Joe Biden’s “The Battle for the Soul of the Nation” speech at Independence Hall in Philadelphia on September first. The staging was awful, but the words were even worse; according to most polls a majority of Americans viewed it as not only divisive, but more a campaign speech than a presidential address, a continuation of his anti-MAGA comments, some of which characterized Republicans as “semi-fascists”. This not only ignored his pledge to be a unifier, a president for all Americans, but it insulted about 48% of the electorate. Name calling shows weakness, a tactic deflection of failures you refuse to admit to.

Then there was the Biden speech in Boston a couple of days ago taking a victory lap for his success in reducing inflation and improving the economy, followed by Pelosi’s speech praising him and congress for doing so. Unfortunately it was the same day that the CPI data showed a substantial rise in inflation and fall in the markets. It was as if these speeches were written for the previous month’s data and someone forgot to update them. While bear markets are usually temporary, inflation is money lost forever. Promoting spending bills as anti-inflationary ignores the lessons of history, like failing an open book test.

The reality of where the economy is seems to be an ongoing debate since April of 2021 when the Fed called inflation “transitory”; at that time the more intelligent economists like Mohamed A. El-Erian, and the former Treasury Secretary and Director of the National Economic Council, Lawrence Summers, cautioned the Fed that they were already late in raising rates and reducing their balance sheet.  The Fed finally started raising rates in March 2022, after persisting for nearly a year with “accommodating” rates; it also stopped with the transitory narrative as inflation not only persisted, but accelerated.  

It’s also obvious given the recent CPI and PPI data, declining GDP, persistent yield curve inversion, and market volatility to the downside that we are in a recession. Some cite the low unemployment rate as an indication of a strong economy, but ignore the all more important low participation rate.  Further, the economic impact to jobs historically lags behind the onset of a recession by about 6 months. This boom-and-bust cycle is a by-product of Fed monetary and government fiscal policies, both of which politicians are blaming depending on their partisan bias. The fact is the two are related making both the cause. However, given that the Fed has a mandate to first assure price stability and second employment, it can’t do both, and in fact has historically done a bad job with either.

It is true that the government’s pandemic and energy policies have exacerbated the current boom-and-bust cycle by creating supply problems adding to the extreme price instability. Markets hate uncertainty, and all this instability has the added effect of creating high volatility, especially in the energy sector, which affects just about everything in an economy.

According to the latest BLS, whose reported data many economists find understated, approximately 50M households, nearly 40% of American families, will have expenses higher than their incomes, despite the fact that wages have increased by about 3.4%; however, after deducting for CPI core inflation of 8.3%, wages actually declined 4.9%. But the CPI core inflation excludes food and energy, which when included gives actual inflation at 9.1%, and real wages that declined 5.7%.  This does not provide for a victory lap, and in fact the trend indicates even further problems.

Obvious political campaigning deprecating political opposition and taking victory laps for failed policies adds to an already extreme partisan derangement; a locked-down economy, medical mandates, high crime, rampant illegal immigration, proxy wars and crushing debt only adds to the frustrating tone deafness. Politicians that think they can employ totalitarian methods while denouncing totalitarian ideology fail to understand that they are one and the same thing; doing so while ignoring the immediate concerns of Americans in a recession that has all the makings of stagflation is not only tone deaf, but a threat to our future. We better not be so easily fooled as our future depends on it; if we continue as we have, then as the great Yogi Berra once said “The future ain’t what it used to be.”

Author: jvi7350

Politically I am an independent. While I tend to avoid labels, I consider myself a Libertarian. I find our politics to have deteriorated to a current state of ranting tribialism, and a growing disregard for individual rights; based on the axiom that silence is consent, I choose instead to speak out and therefore launched this blog.

10 thoughts on “Tone Deaf”

    1. Firstly, FACT CHECK has a batting average that wouldn’t get them in A Ball. Secondly, the article you cite doesn’t say he didn’t say it, but that they have no “proof” that he said it; understandable given the lack of “facts” that FACT CHECK actually bothers to research. Thirdly, I hardly ever go on Facebook so it’s not where I read Grouch’s comment; it was in an article I read sometime ago where I wrote down a number of things he had said in an interview that showed his more serious side. Among my notes on that interview I found his famous response when he was asked what he thought humor was, to which he said “Humor is reason gone mad.” Lastly, your comment is disappointing in that it’s not relevant to the subject of the post, and confusing as to why you would spend time on the quote but not address that.


      1. I will comment on the article, later, but the miss attributed quote came first.

        “Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it whether it exists or not, diagnosing it incorrectly, and applying the wrong remedies.” Ernest Benn
        See What is Truth By Henry Powell Spring · 1944

        This quote is often misattributed to Groucho Marx, with slightly different wording (“Politics is the art of looking for trouble; finding it everywhere, diagnosing it wrongly, and applying unsuitable remedies”). See Gyles Brandreth, Word Play: A cornucopia of puns, anagrams and other contortions and curiosities of the English language, Coronet, 2015.


      2. This is your second comment without anything to do with the subject of the post, so what’s with this “I will comment on the article later,….” stuff? The source of the quote was from Groucho himself in an interview when he was still alive to have said it, so I’ll take his word(s) over your inexplicable obsession to find others that someone else claims said it, or also said it…or is it someone who says that someone else says that someone else said it…?!?!?!. The fact that he said this in an interview constitutes the proverbial horses mouth. Not that I think Groucho was a thing, but in legal terms this is close to “Res ipsa loquitur”. Further, I assume this latest attempt is based on yet another internet dive. I read in a Forbes article (like the actual publication) that was a round table discussion by various tech developers (live stuff from horses mouths) that those who rely on the internet for facts are fishing in polluted waters and should expect to find dead fish like beliefs, opinions, but little to nothing live, as in from the actual persons involved.


      3. Please send me the link to the Groucho comment. And how can you say my comment has nothing to do with your article, when I am commenting on the lead into your article. If it has nothing to do with the article, why is it there?


      4. Link? What “link”? Please read my responses; the quote is from an article with the transcript of an interview, not from the internet. I never said the quote had nothing to do with my post. I said your comments did not have “… anything to do with the subject of the post,…”. This is your third comment but you have yet to address the subject matter, not even that of the quote, let alone the post.


      5. Well we will leave the quote issue with the fact that you cannot support your position accepted with your memory, when what I have read by other authors (one of which I cited) is that it is a misattributed quote.


      6. Really, my memory? While my memory is thankfully still very good, I repeat myself – the quote is from an interview transcript, whereas you took your position from hearsay, and of all dubious sources, the internet! While you continue to “litigate” the origin of the quote, you have contributed absolutely nothing regarding the subject of the post in now four comments, despite the fact that you said you were going to; why is that?


      7. Wow!!!! You really need a course in reading comprehension as the answer to that is in my replies. None of your comments are relevant to the subject matter of the post, so we are done. Going forward, please do both yourself and everyone else a favor and not comment unless you have something to contribute to the subject matter of a post. I feel like we have been robbed of time, deflected into vacuous and litigious trivia.


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