Opinion: What we know that just ain’t so

Nov 26, 2022, 9:08 AM | Updated: Jan 17, 2023, 2:06 pm

This is an editorial piece. An editorial, like a news article, is based on fact but also shares opinions. The opinions expressed here are solely those of the author and are not associated with our newsroom.

SALT LAKE CITY — I love having my mind blown. I love it when I read something or someone explains a concept to me that shows me I have been wrong, sometimes for years. It proves to me that, even at 58, I am capable of learning and seeing the world through a clearer lens. Like Mark Twain famously said, “It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.”

Here are a few things I knew for sure that just ain’t so. I believed putting your cell phone in rice if you got it wet would help save the phone. I’d been told that was absolutely true! Nope. How about the one that says we only use 10% of our brains? Do you believe that is true? I used to, too, until I learned how absurd that myth is. Maybe the biggest lightbulb moment for me was when I learned that sugar does NOT make kids hyper. I’ve believed that and repeated it for all of my years! How can that not be true? Because it’s been debunked by dozens of studies. (This does not mean that sugar isn’t bad for you. I put it right up there with smoking.)

The Deficit Myth

I had a new mind-blowing experience today when I finished the book The Deficit Myth by Stephanie Kelton. I have long considered myself a fiscal conservative. We shouldn’t spend money we don’t have. Right? What I now understand is that my belief still holds true for households and businesses, but not for governments that are currency issuers. Contrary to my previous belief, the federal government should NOT budget like a household. It doesn’t need to tax to fund itself; it spends to fund us so we can build a solid society.

This understanding of macroeconomics is called Modern Monetary Theory. Does it argue that the federal government can spend endlessly without consequence? No. But budget deficits are not boogeymen. Neither is debt, which is just a scary way of describing the ledger of nongovernment savings. The only real threat to a healthy economy when the nation controls its own currency is inflation.

Trade deficits are really stuff surpluses

I even look at trade deficits differently. They could also be described as stuff surpluses. The only challenge with trade deficits is job loss. If the government uses its fiscal capacity to maintain full employment, the trade deficit doesn’t really matter, according to MMT.

Perhaps the one that blew my mind the most was about social security and other “entitlements.” (Entitlements used to be called “earned entitlements” or the “social safety net” until politicians decided to demonize them and the Americans who receive them.) The social security fund can never run out of money because it is not based on taxes paid into it. The only reason President Roosevelt explained the program in terms of paying into the fund is that he wanted Americans to feel entitled to the money. The money comes from our commitment to pay it, not any direct corollary to taxes. How can that be? Because a currency sovereign can never run out of its own currency. Inflation is the only thing to watch and work hard to prevent (or in 2022, reverse.)

Did any of this blow your mind? Since I hope to be a student of the world until I leave it, please let me know if I’m wrong on any or all of the above. I’m not afraid of what I don’t know, only of what I know for sure that just ain’t so.

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team here.

Today’s Top Stories

A man was partially amputated while harvesting crops on monastery land Tuesday. At this time, it is...
Devin Oldroyd

Man partially amputated by farm equipment Tuesday afternoon

A man was partially amputated while harvesting crops on monastery land Tuesday. At this time, it is not clear if paramedics could save the limb.
20 hours ago
A high altitude balloon floats over Billings, Mont., on Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2023. The huge, high-alt...
Mark Jones

Rep. Stewart: Lessons to be learned from Chinese spy balloon, doubts it ever flew over Utah

Rep. Chris Stewart tells KSL NewsRadio's Dave and Dujanovic that he has no reason to believe that the Chinese spy balloon ever flew over Utah.
20 hours ago
two deer are pictured gazing up along the grass, research will take a deep dive into deer this seas...
Hugo Rikard-Bell

DWR implements emergency state-wide restrictions on shed antler hunting

The Department of Wildlife Resources has implemented emergency state-wide restrictions for shed antler hunting to help protect Big Game in Utah.
20 hours ago
Utah Primary Election 2020...
Lindsay Aerts

New bill could disrupt signature gathering path to Utah’s ballot

There could be a significant shift in signature gathering by candidates in order to get on the Primary Election ballot in Utah under a new bill.
20 hours ago
Utah is now enforcing a law requiring an educational course for off-highway vehicles. The state req...
Alexandrea Bonilla

Course certification now required for OHV driving on Utah public land

For Utah drivers 18 and up, the required OHV course is free. Minors have the option to pass an in-person skills test or take a $35 course.
20 hours ago
The Utah Department of Corrections has provided more details after three separate assaults on priso...
Simone Seikaly

Utah Corrections offers more details on recent assaults against officers

The assaults happened Jan. 21, Jan. 30, and Feb. 4, 2023. Officials said the prisoners were looking for an opportunity to attack.
20 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Skier being towed by a rider on a horse. Skijoring....
Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

Looking for a New Winter Activity? Try Skijoring in Bear Lake

This article about skijoring is sponsored by the Bear Lake Convention & Visitors Bureau. Participate in Skijoring the Bear on February 20th, 2023.  What is skijoring? Skijoring is when someone on skis is pulled by a horse, dog, animal, or motor vehicle. The driver leads the skiers through an obstacle course over jumps, hoops, and […]
Banner with Cervical Cancer Awareness Realistic Ribbon...
Intermountain Health

Five Common Causes of Cervical Cancer – and What You Can Do to Lower Your Risk

January is National Cervical Cancer Awareness month and cancer experts at Intermountain Health are working to educate women about cervical cancer, the tests that can warn women about potential cancer, and the importance of vaccination.
Kid holding a cisco fish at winterfest...
Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

Get Ready for Fun at the 2023 Bear Lake Monster Winterfest

The Bear Lake Monster Winterfest is an annual weekend event jam-packed full of fun activities the whole family can enjoy. This year the event will be held from January 27-29 at the Utah Bear Lake State Park Marina and Sunrise Resort and Event Center in Garden City, Utah. 
happy friends with sparklers at christmas dinner...
Macey's

15 Easy Christmas Dinner Ideas

We’ve scoured the web for you and narrowed down a few of our favorite Christmas dinner ideas to make your planning easy. Choose from the dishes we’ve highlighted to plan your meal or start brainstorming your own meal plan a couple of weeks before to make sure you have time to shop and prepare.
Spicy Homemade Loaded Taters Tots...
Macey's

5 Game Day Snacks for the Whole Family (with recipes!)

Try these game day snacks to make watching football at home with your family feel like a special occasion. 
Happy joyful smiling casual satisfied woman learning and communicates in sign language online using...
Sorenson

The Best Tools for Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Workplace Success

Here are some of the best resources to make your workplace work better for Deaf and hard-of-hearing employees.
Opinion: What we know that just ain’t so