Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Put Up or Shut Up

–noun, plural -ties for 2.
1. the state of being uncertain; doubt; hesitancy: His uncertainty gave impetus to his inquiry.
2. an instance of uncertainty, doubt, etc.
3. unpredictability; indeterminacy; indefiniteness.

Something that has been a particular irritant of late is the recurrent argument that what's really harming recovery is uncertainty caused by new legislation being proposed. While I don't disagree that uncertainty is a problem, using this argument to block legislation is one of the silliest things I have ever heard. It's not an argument against passing legislation, it's an argument for it. Want business to be certain what's going to happen? Pass the damn thing, even if it is a job-eating, demonic, monster of a bill; at least business will be certain what's going to happen rather than leaving us stuck in a near depression because of "uncertainty."

To put it simply, everyone knows that taxes will have to rise, the health system will have to be fixed, financial regulations need to be passed, new drilling rules have to be put in place, defense spending will have to be pared down, social security needs to be reformed, some kind of consumption tax will have to be put on fossil fuels, greenhouse gas legislation needs to be passed, and we have to exit two wars. Since business knows these things are coming sooner or later, they're going to be uncertain until its done.

So if you want to end uncertainty, put up or shut up. Pass the necessary legislation that everyone knows is coming eventually, or stop making a silly argument about uncertainty which is just leading to more of it.


  1. UNCERTAINTY, n. Deficient misunderstanding.

  2. There's no reason to stop at fossil-fuel consumption tax. Why not institute an across-the-board national sales tax?

  3. Weird. I could have sworn this post had zero comments not two minutes ago.

  4. Karen, I'd have no problem with a consumption tax if it was meant to forestall rises in the income tax, I'm very positive on the idea of diverse revenue streams.

    For fossil fules, I more had the need to maintain roads in mind. Saying we need a dedicated revenue stream for the maintenance of our infrastructure simply sounded clunkier than how we could actually fund it.

    I think there was something wrong with the comments yesterday, I was getting notifications comments were posted but none were appearing. Luckily the site seems to fix the problem rapidly.