February 3, 2011
It’s nearly impossible to humorously mock something that is reasonable. Take, for example, the idea that hard work is often necessary for success. There’s nothing funny about that topic because it’s unambiguously true. Humor only comes easily when the topic itself has a bit of dishonesty baked into it. That’s why humor about politics, business, and relationships is so easy. There’s a whole lot of lying in those environments.
I have a theory that some sort of mockability test would work like a lie detector in situations where confirmation bias is obscuring an underlying truth. In other words, if you believed that hard work often leads to success, and yet I could easily make jokes about it, that would be a contradiction, or a failure of the mockability test. And it would tell you that confirmation bias was clouding your perceptions. To put it in simpler terms, if a humorist can easily mock a given proposition, then the proposition is probably false, even if your own confirmation bias tells you otherwise.
I’d like to test this theory. I’m wrestling with my own confirmation bias on the topic of whether we could, in some practical sense, balance the U.S. budget without raising my taxes. I certainly want that to be a solution. But everything I see confirms my belief that it’s literally impossible to do without causing more problems than it solves. And by that I mean more problems to everyone, not just the poor.
Obviously the math of budget cutting works. If you cut federal spending by 50%, just as an example, and keep collecting taxes, you balance the budget. And the philosophy of small government is legitimate. No one wants a government that grows larger without end. But I wonder if there is any way to cut government spending enough so that, along with economic growth, we can balance the budget without raising my taxes. I sure hope so.
So I issue a challenge to anyone who holds the view that the budget can be balanced without raising taxes. Allow me to interview you, by email, with the transcript published in this blog in a week or so.
I will pick one person to interview on this topic. If you’d like that person to be you, describe in the comment section your qualifications, political leanings, and a brief bio of yourself. The rest of you can vote on which champion of the cause you would like to see me interview. I’ll ask the chosen one to email me.
Just so you know what you’re getting into, I plan to mercilessly mock anything you say that lends itself to humor. If I fail to find humor in your reasoning, you win. It’s that simple. And remember, I want you to win because it means there’s hope I won’t have to pay more taxes.
Who wants to take a run at this?