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Everyone Knows…

When “everyone knows…,” dissent is beside the point.

by
Herbert London

Bio

December 27, 2010 - 12:05 am
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President Obama is not inoculated against this condition. In fact, his economic policies are usually defended as “everyone knows.” Everyone knows something had to be done to save the nation from financial ruination after “the destructive policies of the Bush administration.” It is too bad I hadn’t received this doctrinal statement in my morning reading fare.

It is also axiomatic that everyone knows steps had to be taken to control the increase in health care expenditures and to provide insurance coverage for the uninsured. The fact that ObamaCare increases health care expenses and imposes insurance on those who may not want it is merely a pettifogging critique. After all, everyone knows it had to be done.

The experts in foreign affairs know what everyone knows: the U.S. cannot afford to play its traditional role of stabilizing global influence. Of course defense spending is 4.5 pecent of GDP and pales in significance to entitlement expenses, but not everyone knows that.

There is little doubt that “everyone knows” is a conversation stopper. It puts the naysayers in the penalty box. It says you cannot possibly have an informed opinion. It is comparable to reading a Frank Rich column or a New Yorker article in which the cognoscenti contend “everyone knows” the truth.

That there may be other points of view and that no one has a monopoly on the truth are conditions rarely considered by those who reflexively invoke “everyone knows” in argumentation. Needless to say, the reliance on this phrase isn’t an argument, but for those who assume their positions are in the orbit of natural order, it seems likely that this phrase will continue to be relied on.

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Herbert London is president of Hudson Institute and professor emeritus of New York University. He is the author of Decade of Denial (Lanham, Maryland: Lexington Books, 2001) and America's Secular Challenge (Encounter Books).
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