My Reaction to Opinions

Opinions are of two types, but I'm not sure which one is the default.

When I was going to school I heard one of those pithy sayings that I maybe wrote down but don't remember very well. It was one of those elitist things that either made me feel better about myself, which is unlikely, or inspired me, which also isn't likely. All that I do remember about it is it saying that for the classes of students (undergrad, those with a graduate degree, and those who've earned a doctorate), each was qualified to have a level of opinion on a subject. I think those with a doctorate were entitled to hold a theory on something, but I don't remember the others. Someone may or may not have been able to hold an opinion, but I don't recall what level of study would give you that.

So, that's pretty useless since I'm only guessing you need a bachelor's degree for one, a master's for the next one up the chain, and a doctorate for the highest, but I don't remember if there was anything for people without college degrees or what the earned levels were.

Fortunately, that's not the point.

All I do remember is that at one level you were allowed to have an opinion, Now, that might be considered very snobby, but we do use the same word for two very different things. Opinions, without qualification are contrasted with either informed opinions or uninformed ones. When you hear someone talk about an uninformed opinion you can be pretty sure that they mean opinion to be an informed one. By the same token, when someone talks about informed opinions, plain old opinions are implied to be of the uninformed variety.

There's nothing wrong with that, but I'm going to try and be my usual anal self in the future and avoid using the word opinion to mean the uninformed ones. We all say that we have opinions about everything, but what I think we have, instead, is simply reactions. Those can come from our guts (or lizard brains) or from years of study. From now on, I hope to restrict the word opinion to the more elevated ones and understand that what most people mean by opinion is just a reaction to something.

There's nothing judgemental in that, nothing that discounts anything. We're all, every day, confronted by hundreds, thousands of things that we've never studied but maybe, at best, just heard about. To all of those, I have a reaction. I think an informed opinion (an opinion) is something much more rare and entails knowing the plusses and minuses, the pros and cons, and often not having even reached a decision on the matter.

But that's just like my opinion, man.

An Economy Problem

There's a guy running for office up here whose campaign reminded me of something I've been thinking about.

Over the past couple presidential elections a whole bunch of people have been talking about the US debt and deficit spending, often mentioning saddling the grandkids with repaying all the money we've borrowed to pay for things they don't think we should be spending money on. Their very simple fix, of course, is to stop spending money on things they think is wasteful (which is damn near everything).

That sounds pretty good on the surface, and I'm sure there's lots of money that can be saved, but it got me to thinking.

This candidate guy boasts that he was mayor of some town and managed to balance its budget and maybe even saved some money. Considering how easily statistics, especially economic ones, can be manipulated, I'm sure there's some way he can be telling the truth about that. I've also noticed, now that he's no longer mayor, that his town is doing a lot of road repair, putting in traffic islands, generally fixing things up.

Which leads me to my problem.

It looks to me as if instead of saddling future generations with debt, we can stop spending money and saddle them, instead, with future spending. It's sort of like putting off borrowing money to get your car fixed or a water heater replaced and, instead, letting your kids inherit something that needs repairs in order to work.

To put it simply, the money's got to be spent either now or later. Not spending the money now doesn't seem to me to be saving your kids anything at all and pretty much just puts them in the position of borrowing the money.

I'm not sure there's a great deal of real difference between inheriting debt and inheriting expenses.

Not spending the money now doesn't mean that it will never have to be spent is my point. Worse, any good feeling we might get from not giving our kids a bill might be short lived if they look at what we give them as being a piece of junk that will cost them a fortune to keep running.

I'm no economist and never even studied economics, but I hear that interest rates for borrowing are very low right now. As someone who inherited a distressed property (and admittedly let it get worse), I'm fairly confident in saying there's no easy way out of the situation.

Also, I'm not gonna vote for the guy.