Political satirist H.L. Mencken was right when he said, “Nobody ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public.”
We see evidence of this repeatedly in the ‘man on the street’ interviews. How often do we laugh at the ridiculous answers to what we consider ‘simple’ questions? These interviews generally point out the failure of our education system, but they also show an extreme lack of ‘awareness’ of current events.
Our government and politicians repeatedly take advantage of this lack of ‘awareness’ by phrasing their comments to appeal to what ‘we think we understand’ rather than to the ‘real’ situation.
An article “Do Americans Prefer Deception?’ by Walter E. Williams, points out how Social Security and Medicare taxes use our lack of ‘awareness’ to convince use that ‘business’ pays one half of these taxes. In the article he clearly demonstrates that the ’employee’ actually pays these taxes, indirectly through lower wages. (He fails to point out that the ‘consumer’ ultimately pays these taxes, just as they ultimately pay the employee wages and all other costs of production.)
I don’t know whether it is ‘lack of intelligence’ or ‘lack of awareness’ that leads politicians and the public to view the taxation of business as ‘taxing the greedy businessman’ and being ‘harmless’ to the average citizen.
This is perhaps the most pervasive belief of the average American, and it is ‘harmful’!
Taxes paid by business, any tax or compliance with a regulation, not only drives up the cost to the consumer (you and me) but it interferrs with the efficient operation of the ‘free market’. The higher cost may prevent a competitor entering the market and offering an ‘improved’ product that we would all benefit from. It may prevent the sale of an excellent product simply because the cost is ‘artificially’ inflated by the cost of the tax or regulation.
Worst of all, it encourages people to believe they will get something for nothing. There is no free lunch. The ACA (Affordable Health Care Act, or Obamacare) is a perfect example. It was sold on the basis of falsehoods. Touted as being ‘free’ to most Americans who had existing policies while deliberately designed to make those policies ‘unavailable’ when the law went into effect. This law took full advantage of American’s lack of awareness and/or lack of intelligence.