A congressman yells “You lie!” during a State of the Union address and everybody blasts him for lapse of manners, failure to respect the office of the presidency. Less objectionable, presumably, is the statement itself. For President Obama and members of Congress do fib, misrepresent, lie: About this, about that, about the other. About a great many things.
We can safely say, I hope, that it is wrong to deliberately misrepresent any proposed policy for the sake of fooling people into supporting that policy.
Yet there are politically interested persons out there, men of good will in their own view, who not only endorse lying to advance “just” political causes but who even publicly defend such lying. Political writer Matt Yglesias doesn’t lie himself, he stresses. It’s the politicians, the activists who should lie. Yglesias has declared, for example, that it’s swell for proponents of government-funded rail to supply “unrealistically optimistic” estimates of ridership in order to secure government funding.
If you habitually support policies that rob people of their wealth and freedom, I guess you might not hesitate to lie about what you’re doing. You might be quite eager to deceive as many people as possible as much as possible. To insist, for example, that Obamacare will “save money” and “reduce the deficit” and “enhance competition.”
Yglesias says it’s okay to fight “dishonesty with dishonesty.”
But if you have truth on your side, you really don’t need to lie.
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.