I got into a bit of an argument yesterday about the so called “fiscal cliff” negotiations. My dad was upset that the democrats were not concerned enough about the underlying debt problem. I asked “what debt problem?” And he said, ” you can’t live beyond your means forever”.
As a general matter that may be true. It also has nothing to do with the current messtoid in Washington. As Paul Krugman writes, the fiscal cliff is a problem because it would eliminate the budget deficit too fast. So it is not about unsustainable deficits. So why do smart people like my dad talk like this? Because that is what they hear from the media.
It is a good example of anchoring. When we are anchored on the idea that there are no proposals out there to fix the budget problem, we lose sight whether there actually is a problem at all. The conclusion is assumed, which closes off debate. Ooops. This got me thinking about about things that close off rather than open up debate. Things that shut our thinking down rather than turn it on. It also got me thinking about how often we do this to ourselves. Hmmm … this is starting to sound like a new year’s resolution.
And so it may be. But in the meantime, here is to a great new year for all of us!