The Misinformation Police Come for the Economists

The Misinformation Police Come for the Economists
President Joe Biden speaks about his Bidenomics agenda at Dutch Creek Farms in Northfield, Minn., on Nov. 1, 2023. (Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP via Getty Images)
Jeffrey A. Tucker
11/28/2023
Updated:
12/21/2023
0:00
Commentary

The economy is great. Everyone is happy. Jobs are everywhere. Inflation is practically gone. Opportunity abounds. President Joe Biden deserves all the credit.

If you say otherwise, you might find yourself censored. Cite all the data you want but you’re contradicting a White House priority, which is essentially to lie to everyone until morale improves.

Seems crazy, doesn’t it?

A new Washington Post story, co-authored by the infamous Taylor Lorenz, whom the paper can’t fire without risking years of litigation, has explained that “The White House official said the administration is working with TikTok creators to tell positive stories of Biden’s economic stewardship, while also working with social media platforms to counter misinformation.”

Do you see what’s happening here? The censorship that began with silencing information on the lab leak, extended to stifling opposition to lockdowns, grew wildly intense over vaccines, and has hit even issues of Ukraine and Israel/Gaza is now coming for your assessment of economic conditions.

The trouble is that the White House says everything is great. Vast numbers of regular people disagree. The government says this is because we are all stupid and paying too much attention to misinformation, disinformation, and malinformation that we’re finding online.

You have The Washington Post openly conceding that the government is leaning on all the usual sources (Facebook, TikTok, LinkedIn, YouTube, Google, Pinterest, and so on) to block and throttle accounts that present information contrary to what the elites in Washington want you to believe.

It’s the new frontier of censorship. You can’t say we’re in a “silent depression” even though it seems like we are. You can’t say that the dollar is worth less than ever before, even if it is. You can’t say we’re currently making less than at the height of the Great Depression, even though that’s an interesting argument to be had.

All three are examples of what the authors of the article say is obvious misinformation that should be suppressed. This is because “some economists think these kinds of comments are not just wrong but dangerous.”

Dangerous! It’s dangerous to say we aren’t prosperous and happy!

They are saying this despite a grim reality that everyone knows. Disposable income is down in real terms for vast numbers of people. Millions have dropped out of the workforce. Prices are killing the purchasing power of the dollar, which is right now the lowest in U.S. history. Credit card debt is at the highest level ever, with rates on revolving accounts exceeding 20 percent.

Personal savings rates are falling and now sit at a mere 3.4 percent; this is even though the interest payment to savings is higher than inflation for the first time in two decades. Millions of people are prisoners in their homes, unable to sell because buying again would require downsizing by half and still paying more.

GDP data showing growth is highly doubtful because it’s distorted by a huge increase in government spending. Take that away and you end up with growth that’s flat or falling in real terms.

That only scratches the surface of the problems. At a deeper level, property rights are insecure following mandatory closures. Workers are battered by the vaccine mandates and resulting injuries. Entrepreneurs live in fear of lockdowns, litigation, and other arbitrary interventions in the practice of free enterprise. More workers than ever hate their jobs because they got used to free money falling from the skies while they binged streaming services and gaming, and hence cannot stand going to the office to earn less than they did during lockdowns.

Real income is simply not keeping up with prices for vast numbers of people. Sticky price inflation (subtracting food and energy) is still the highest it has been for 32 years! So much for “subsiding” inflation.

(Data: Federal Reserve Economic Data, St. Louis Fed; Chart: Jeffrey A. Tucker)
(Data: Federal Reserve Economic Data, St. Louis Fed; Chart: Jeffrey A. Tucker)

And yet the White House is saying that all of this is unsayable. It’s demoralizing people and becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy. For at least a year, Biden administration spokespeople have claimed that you should trust them and not the evidence of your own senses.

“I think it’s our job to explain to Americans what President Biden has done to improve the economy,” Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said on Nov. 27.

But come on, people are no longer naive. Generally, it’s a good idea to believe the opposite of what the government is saying. Trust in government is at historic lows. That’s for good reason. Instead of actually seeking economic improvement, the Biden administration’s answer is to gaslight, lie, and censor.

This kind of censorship is probably illegal. The government can’t bypass the First Amendment by outsourcing the blocking of information flows. We have now thousands, maybe tens of thousands, of pages of evidence that this is precisely what government agencies have been doing for four years now, at least.

The case is now moving through the court system. The Supreme Court will be called upon to pronounce on the matter. The evidence against government practices here is completely overwhelming. It’s no wonder that the 5th Circuit federal court issued an emergency injunction to stop the practice.

But here’s what’s simply incredible. Despite this epic case before the courts and the strong likelihood that the entire practice of muscling social media will be flatly declared illegal, federal agencies are doing it anyway, with impunity. Truly, this is a lawless government that believes it can completely ignore courts and public opinion.

And now for a final weird point. At the very bottom of the article in The Washington Post, the authors themselves acknowledge that not all is well.

“In fact, from 2015 to 2021, more than half of the country saw their disposable income increase relative to the prior year. But with inflation and the disappearance of COVID aid, that number has flipped. In 2022, at the same time voters soured on the economy, close to 60 percent of people saw their income decline relative to last year,” the paper reported.

That is to say that the White House is trying to suppress true information, the same as the old Twitter did with evidence against the vaccines. It suppressed true information about vaccine injury because this might lead to an “environment of vaccine hesitancy.”

This is the status of censorship today. Like in every totalitarian country, it isn’t really about pushing truth over lies. It’s about pushing lies over truth, in the name of suppressing disinformation. Clearly, the White House wants full control over the public mind and officials seek to do this by forcibly curating social media.

We have a Bill of Rights to stop this very practice. But it doesn’t protect free speech if there’s a government in charge that willfully ignores it.

If the White House gets its way, no one will ever read the following: We are in a silent depression.

Views expressed in this article are opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.
Jeffrey A. Tucker is the founder and president of the Brownstone Institute, and the author of many thousands of articles in the scholarly and popular press, as well as 10 books in five languages, most recently “Liberty or Lockdown.” He is also the editor of The Best of Mises. He writes a daily column on economics for The Epoch Times and speaks widely on the topics of economics, technology, social philosophy, and culture.