Trump Is Right About ‘Alternative Facts’

‘Don’t worry. The brush fires look worse than they are.’

That was the word this morning when we asked about flame control. The hills to the east of us are still on fire. Last night, we saw the familiar orange glow in many areas, but not the arc of flames we saw on Monday night.

We’re very much aware of the threat,’ said Rancho Santana manager Chris Curry.

That fire you saw last night has been burning for a month. So far, it’s still up in the hills and hasn’t done any real harm. It burns off the dead leaves, but the trees are still alive.

And if it heads our way, we’re prepared for it. We’ve cut a fire barrier around the property. And we’ve got a team of 50 guys who have been trained to fight the fire if necessary. We leave the water trucks full… They’re ready to roll out whenever we need them.

I’m not saying that nothing can go wrong…but I think we’re as prepared as we can be.

Facts of life

Brush fires are real. They are ‘facts of life’ here and in other parts of the world. Ignore them at your peril.

But what about threats in the ‘public space’?

Terrorism? Illegals? Currency manipulators? Unfair traders?

What kind of threats are these? What kind of facts back them up? Real facts? Alternative facts? Or no facts at all?

Yesterday, we waited for a tweet…

‘Republican Health Plan sucks. SAD!’ we hoped the president would say, adding: ‘Let people pay for their own damned drugs.’

It never came.

Instead, he said he was ‘proud’ of the new plan, while conservatives in and out of his own party blasted it as a travesty.

Then, scarcely had a few minutes gone by when Mr Trump tweeted that he was ‘working on a new system where there will be competition in the Drug Industry.

What’s this?

Is this the working of a genius…hiding his plans, even from his own party? Or is it just Trumpismo, where the president appears to be fighting for the little guy…but it merely creates a diversion while the insiders pick his pocket?

What’s the truth?

We don’t know. We doubt he knows, either.

‘Alternative facts’

Our subject for today is truth. It’s hard to see. And hard to tell.

Most people never get the hang of it. We say ‘time will tell’. But often, even time can’t get the words out.

You listen carefully. All you get is a garbled message full of maybes and possibilities. There’s always a lot of noise between cause and effect…at least in politics and economics.

Drugs are expensive because the feds have put in place a system of subsidies and mandates where someone gets the drugs and someone else pays for them.

It’s a classic win-lose system. In 1960, the average family had a total medical care cost of about $150. Now it’s $16,000…and has been growing eight times faster than wages for the last 16 years.

The solution is simple: The feds need to butt out. But who wants to hear that?

Not the mainstream media. Not the drug companies. Not the ambulance-chasing lawyers. Not the insurance companies. And not the millions of people who get medical care at someone else’s expense.

Even in personal matters, lies are generally more appealing than truth, to teller as well as listener.

A lie, like smooth whiskey, goes down easy…and then it leaves the drinker with a little glow. No kidding. Researchers have found that when people hear what they want to hear, it releases dopamine, giving them a little buzz.

You have to be careful how you phrase it. ‘No, dear…that dress doesn’t make you look fatter,’ may not be the winning lie you expected. But, generally, soothing lies are more warmly received than jagged truths.

It’s hard to tell the truth, too, because it’s not available. A raging brush fire — within sight — is about as ‘true’ as things can get. But in the public sphere, there is no comparable truth.

Many people have commented on Donald Trump’s casual acquaintance with the truth. But he’s right. Even if he knew what the truth was, people wouldn’t want to hear it.

That’s why ‘alternative facts’ are better than real ones — they get the response he is after.

And as for the news, only the local news — reporting on brush fires and traffic accidents — comes close to getting it right.

The rest is fake. Not in the sense that it is intentionally misleading (though it often is), but just that it pretends truth and knowledge that doesn’t exist. Here are a few recent claims:

‘Trump wants fair trade.’

‘The Fed will soon begin a tightening cycle.’

‘Illegals add to America’s crime statistics.’

‘Progress in the War on Terror.’

Any real truth to them? Not a word of it.


Bill Bonner,
For Markets and Money, Australia

PS: Tomorrow…a new way of understanding fake news.

Since founding Agora Inc. in 1979, Bill Bonner has found success and garnered camaraderie in numerous communities and industries. A man of many talents, his entrepreneurial savvy, unique writings, philanthropic undertakings, and preservationist activities have all been recognized and awarded by some of America’s most respected authorities. Along with Addison Wiggin, his friend and colleague, Bill has written two New York Times best-selling books, Financial Reckoning Day and Empire of Debt. Both works have been critically acclaimed internationally. With political journalist Lila Rajiva, he wrote his third New York Times best-selling book, Mobs, Messiahs and Markets, which offers concrete advice on how to avoid the public spectacle of modern finance. Since 1999, Bill has been a daily contributor and the driving force behind Markets and Money.

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