I don’t normally watch The Daily Show, but I caught part of an episode by accident today. In it, Jon Stewart was grilling a former Republican congressman about his opposition to Obama’s massive “bailout.”
Stewart had this Republican on the ropes because he was able to control the language of their discussion and this hapless Republican didn’t recognize what was going on. Stewart criticized him for being “pro-free market” while at the same time being in favor of “regulation” of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Showing how much we can trust Republicans, the man’s only response was that he was in fact in favor of “regulation.”
Peeling back this dishonest language, the plain fact is that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are government entities. (The former congressman even said as much earlier in the discussion!) They are most emphatically NOT representative of “the free market,” and a desire to reign in the government’s entities – Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae – is absolutely not in any way a “regulation of the free market.” It is entirely the opposite.
But this utterly despicable Orwellian switcheroo of terms went completely unopposed. Therefore, “regulation of the free market” was allowed to be framed as the agreed solution to the crisis, and concurrently, the problem was implicitly allowed to be blamed on an “unregulated free market.” This is, again, a complete and utter lie, as both men knew that Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae were the government and not the free market.
Jon Stewart is far from alone in his use of this deception. I’ve heard it used by congressmen, newsmen, and even ordinary people since the beginning of this latest mortgage brouhaha. But it is incorrect, backwards, and, for those who know better, dishonest.
The truth is the exact opposite of what the “regulation” cheerleaders would have us believe: the crisis was caused by overbearing government entities such as Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which distorted the markets and went wild dumping billions into foolishness. The failure was of these government entities and not in any way a “free market.” What the government failed to “regulate” was not “free markets,” but rather, itself. But because the term “regulate” is traditionally used to refer to government controls, these shysters are playing a shell game of words in which they “solve” a failure of government entities by calling for more government controls on private business.
So if you ever hear anyone use the term “regulation” in this way, be sure to set them straight. Because with it, they can control – and completely reverse – the entire meaning of recent events.