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posted on 26 February 2017

What Do You Call A Lie Constructed From Other Lies?

by Rodger Malcolm Mitchell,

A lie is a lie is a lie. But what do you call a lie about something that in itself is a lie, which is based on a third lie, all of which is constructed from a fourth lie?

A lie to the fourth power? A four-fold fabrication? A questionable quaternary?


Here are excerpts from an article in The Washington Post, 25 February:

Trump is upset the media is not reporting a meaningless statistic about the national debt

By Ana Swanson

On “Fox & Friends" Saturday morning, former Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain credited President Trump with reducing the national debt, after just one month in office.

Do you remember crazy Herman Cain of “9-9-9" fame? He’s back.

The level of debt fluctuates day to day and week to week, depending on seasonal changes in growth and when the government makes payments, collects tax revenue, issues new debt and other debt matures - making the data very susceptible to cherry-picking.

Using the same logic, for example, you could claim that after four days in office Trump increased outstanding public debt by more than $10 billion.

Facts: The numbers are so small as to be meaningless, and Trump had nothing to do with them. So that was what we’ll call lie #2.

Then, building on Herman Cain’s lie, Trump tweeted (what else?) the following:

Less than an hour later, the statistic appeared on another highly visible platform. The media has not reported that the National Debt in my first month went down by $12 billion vs a $200 billion increase in Obama first mo," Trump tweeted.

On Thursday, the public debt outstanding was $19.9 trillion - or, to be more exact, $19,913,903,120,188.10. And while that is less than it was on Inauguration Day, it’s $29.2 billion more than it was on Feb. 8.

All that goes to say you can’t pay attention to infinitesimal movements in the debt week-to-week.

Trump’s “The media has not reported" lie is all part of his claims that media reports are biased against him. But, the tiny bit of debt datum is even worse than meaningless; it is misleading.

For instance, if the media had broadcast that the debt went up in Trump’s first four days, he would have complained (rightly), that the media were broadcasting “Fake News."

So that was lie #3.

“Great optimism for future of U.S. business, AND JOBS, with the DOW having an 11th straight record close. Big tax & regulation cuts coming!"

Federal “debt" data doesn’t create optimism or reality about business or jobs - and now after four weeks, Trump is taking false credit for the rise in the Dow, the average that has risen from about 8,000 to above 20,000 - under Barack Obama.

So that was lie #4.

But lie #1, the Big Lie - the lie that reducing federal debt is in some way a good thing - that lie is promulgated not only by Trump, but by The Washington Post (and just about everyone in politics and media).

The so called “federal debt" is not really a “debt" in the way the public thinks about debt. For you and me and businesses and state governments and local governments, debt is a burden. We all are what is known as monetarily non-sovereign".

We can run short of the money to repay our debts, and even at best, a large debt can reduce our ability to spend on other things. Given enough debt, we can go bankrupt, lose our credit rating and be unable to borrow further.

None of this is true for federal debt, which is nothing more than the total of deposits in T-security accounts at the Federal Reserve Bank. In short, the federal “debt" is the total of specific bank deposits, quite similar to savings account deposits.

To “lend" to the federal government, you instruct your bank to take dollars from your checking account and deposit them into your T-security account at the Federal Reserve Bank.

To pay you back, the federal government simply transfers those same dollars back to your checking account.

And no tax dollars ever are involved in any part of the round-trip transaction. Even if the federal government collected $0 taxes, it could continue servicing any size “debt," forever. The federal government creates new dollars, ad hoc, every time it pays a bill.

The federal government could pay off the entire “debt" (deposits) tomorrow, and not a single tax dollar would be used. The government simply would transfer all the dollars residing in T-security account back to the checking accounts of T-security holders.

Paying off federal debt is similar to the way your bank transfers dollars from your savings account to your checking account.

If, instead of calling it “federal debt" we properly called it “federal deposits," no one would worry about size. Big privately-owned banks boast about the size of their deposits, and don’t refer to them as “debt" even though they are actually obligations ("debts") to their depositors.

In relatively rare cases, privately-owned banks can run short of dollars; the Federal Reserve Bank cannot. It is an agency of our Monetarily Sovereign federal government, which never can run short of its own sovereign currency, the U.S. dollar.

In fact, the federal government is so safe, it insures private bank depositors against loss.

So the federal “debt" is not a burden, not a worry, not a problem for anyone - not for the federal government and not for U.S. taxpayers.

Federal “debt" (deposits) is a reflection of the size of our economy, so long-term it is related to Gross Domestic Product.

The red line on the above graph shows that the federal “debt held by the public" (deposits) was $280 billion in 1970, and rose to $14 trillion last year - a fifty-fold increase in only 46 years - and the federal government still has no difficulty servicing it, nor ever will.

In summary, President Trump:

  1. along with the Washington Post, falsely claimed a reduction in federal “debt" (deposits) is a good thing (aka the Big Lie).

  2. falsely claimed he caused a reduction in federal “debt" (deposits)

  3. falsely claimed the media should have broadcast this great “accomplishment"

  4. falsely claimed this also caused the Dow to increase

How about calling it a “tetrad of tall tales."

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