By Herman Cain
May 14, 2012
I believe in democracy, and in the wisdom of ordinary people to make
good decisions when they have all the information and understand the
These are core principles for me, so I found them challenged this past
week when voters in France and Greece acted in a way that seemed to
clearly demonstrate otherwise. With much of Europe facing massive debt
crises, and having agreed to abide by strict debt limits under terms of
the European Union fiscal pact, French and Greek voters elected new
governments that vowed to defy planned spending cuts and reject the debt
This is especially egregious in Greece, which is supposed to be adhering
to terms of an EU-sponsored bailout but cannot get its spending
policies under control to save its life – and let there be no doubt,
that’s what’s at stake here. Greece has built up so much debt
bankrolling its welfare state, and has caused so much government
dependence, it endured riots when it reached the inevitable point when
the government had to admit it could no longer continue its reckless
France is not in as much trouble, but in some ways the French election
result is even more troubling because French President Nicolas Sarkozy
was one of the authors of the EU pact imposing the strict debt limits.
The election of socialist Francois Hollande represents a rejection of
the very idea of fiscal responsibility, and leaves Germany in the
precarious position of championing spending restraint and limits on debt
while sentiment throughout the Eurozone seems to be moving entirely in
the opposite direction.
What is going on here? Is my faith in people misplaced? And have I been
wrong to express as much faith in the people of the United States – when
we too face huge fiscal challenges and there seems to be little support
for reform of the spending and entitlement programs that are driving
I do not believe my faith in We the People is misplaced, but I do
believe it’s important to remember the whole equation. The people will
make good decisions when they have all the information and understand
the situation. To the extent that people rely on politicians and the
mainstream media to get their information – Houston, we have a problem.
Quite simply, it seems to be the modus operandi of the political class
just about everywhere (and I include the mainstream media when I talk
about the political class) to downplay the fiscal problems brought on by
excessive government spending. To them, there is no problem that more
government outlays cannot solve, and if there is not enough money on
hand, it’s just because the people are too resistant to higher taxes.
As a case in point, the Associated Press reported on May 13 about the
serious crisis facing the State of California, which finds itself $16
billion in debt. AP reporter Judy Lin offered a classic MSM take on the
matter, saying the situation “will force severe cuts to schools and
public safety if voters fail to approve tax increases in November, Gov.
Jerry Brown said Saturday.” (Emphasis mine.)
According to the AP, voter refusal to accept even higher taxes will mean
the public, not the free-spending politicians, has failed. The real
failure, of course, rests in the hands of public officials who not only
refuse to limit their own spending, but also refuse to be honest with
the public about the situation.
Let me give you a perfect example that’s been in the news in recent
weeks. You may have heard that interest rates on student loans are
scheduled to double automatically unless Congress acts to rescind the
increase. Democrats are screaming bloody murder and demanding that
Republicans support a measure to keep the interest rates where they are.
What they don’t tell you is that Democrats put the scheduled increase
in place five years ago, and the reason they did so was so they could
claim the original lowering of the rate would not explode the deficit
over the long term. They do the same thing with physician reimbursements
for Medicare. The long-term plan always calls for a huge cut in the
reimbursements, and they use this to claim that deficits in the “out
years” will go down. But when the time comes for the spending cuts to
happen, or for the interest rates to double, they always stop it from
That’s how politicians put projections in front of the public that make
the situation look less dire than it really is. The worst example comes
from ObamaCare – big surprise, right? – in which Democrats counted $500
billion as a “spending cut,” then counted the same $500 billion as money
to fund the program. The mainstream media were well aware of this
deception, but did not call ObamaCare supporters out on it.
It’s hard to blame to voters for the decisions they make when
politicians hide the truth from them, and the media – which are supposed
to hold politicians accountable for what they say and what they do –
instead act as their propaganda ministry, assisting in the deception by
ignoring the worst of their dishonesty.
Having said that, voters have to look harder and more critically at the
information they’re being given. It has to be the responsibility of the
public to be better informed and less willing to accept the party line
of the political class and its media enablers. I still believe that the
people will make the right decisions if they have all the information
and understand the situation. In France and Greece, that did not happen
this week because the people obviously don’t understand the stakes.
The people of the United States can and will do better. I refuse to believe otherwise.