Facts don't Matter

Politics and policy in the 21st Century exist independently of facts. What is true is ignored for what is assumed to be true.

Here is but a sampling of the facts contrasted with the policies created in spite of them.


19 states have passed new voting restrictions in the past 5 years. The majority of these include Voter ID laws, intended to counter voter fraud, particularly that involving a person masquerading as another voter. These laws have resulted in a 2% drop in voter turnout, significant particularly because minority voters are most likely to be excluded. So far in 2015, over 100 new disenfranchisements have been introduced in state legislatures.

After considerable research to determine the prevalence of such fraud, national studies found just 10 confirmed cases of voter fraud over a 12-year period, the rate of actual voter fraud is about 1 vote per 75,000,000 legitimate ballots. Putting that in perspective, that's 1 incident of voter fraud for every 15,000,000 people prevented from voting.


13 states have passed laws requiring that TANF recipients pass a drug test to receive benefits. The majority of Americans, from 53% to 81% depending on the poll, support the testing. It's one of those "of course" ideas that makes the rounds on social media every week or two.

Yet of the first 7 states to require drug testing, fewer TANF recipients tested positive than would be expected in a random group of Americans. Less than 1% of beneficiaries tested positive for illegal drugs in 6 of the 7 states, compared with over 9% of all Americans using illegal drugs. And the cost to state taxpayers? Over $1 million.


The NRA and many gun owners insist that their weapons make them safer and that they are used often in self-defense. Heaven help any politician who questions that wisdom, perhaps by using actual data.

There are 300,000,000 guns in the US, yet only 259 cases in 2012 (most recent data) of justifiable homicide with a gun. That's less than 1 case per million guns. Compare that with 11,208 gun homicides per year and just 2% of gun killings were in self defense. Two percent. Adding in all gun deaths, including homicides, suicides and accidental shootings, only 1 of every 32 gun deaths was legitimate self defense. I'd stand better odds in the ring with Evander Holyfield. And for women, the likelihood of being killed is three times HIGHER if there is a gun in the home.

But, you may protest, what about all the crimes prevented by guns that didn't result in deaths? Well, funny you should mention it. There are 67,740 incidents of guns being used each year to prevent crimes, such as burglary. Given that 1/3 of American homes have at least one gun and there were 9,800,000 crimes reported in 2013 (latest data available), guns were useful in preventing less than 1% of crimes and less than 2% of crimes against households with guns.

Yet the FBI reports those guns were used in 117,750 armed robberies (2011) and 131,310 assaults (2011). Your gun is four times more likely to be used to commit a crime than to prevent one.


Some interesting facts about the Pledge:

 1. It was written to commemorate Christopher Columbus' voyage, not the United States. Columbus was an Italian sailing under the Spanish flag (patriotic?) and his brutality as governor of the West Indies caused his eventual firing by the queen.
2. It was written by a socialist minister, Francis Bellamy, in 1892 as part of a business campaign to sell flags to schools.
3. The words "under God" were added in 1954.
4. Today 45 states require the pledge of allegiance be recited in classrooms. There is no evidence that swearing the oath has made better behaved children or citizens in those states. (Those that do not: Vermont, Hawaii, Iowa, Oklahoma and Wyoming)
5. In the New Testament, Matthew tells Christians not to swear any oaths, especially involving God.
6. The Pledge demands loyalty to the flag and the republic, not to the Constitution.
7. Originally, students did the Bellamy salute to the flag. During WWII, the salute was too like the Nazi salute and replaced by the hand over the heart.

Yet to refuse to say the pledge or to speak against it is as close to modern blasphemy as one can tread, short of wearing a burka to WalMart.

Don't like the facts? Apparently you can just ignore them.