Former Senator Moynahan said once: “You are entitled to your own opinion…but you are not entitled to your own facts.”
Political scientists at the research-renowned University of Michigan are pointing out that facts don’t necessarily have the power to change our opinions. The opposite is true. It seems that when misinformed people, particularly political partisans, were exposed to facts opposing their view, they rarely changed their minds. Instead, they asserted their beliefs even more vehemently.
Case in point we have Congressman Jim Costa representing the 20th District. He responds to the Pacific Institute’s February 2011 careful study of the effects of drought on the Valley with the assertion that “radicals on both sides of the debate will invariably use this report to prove their political talking points and advance their destructive agendas.”
Proving his own political talking points is exactly what he has done in his report to his constituents. And I suppose I do it too, since I’m as human as he is. The contortions in thinking and denial of well-established facts make his process one shared by all of us. That’s really sad, isn’t it?
But just plugging his ears and whistling past the graveyard, stating that environmental regulations choke the life out of Valley farmers doesn’t make it true. Read the report detailing the drought’s impact on the agricultural, energy, and environmental sectors for yourself. He states “the report minimizes the painful effects of the drought on our livelihoods.”
Oh, I don’t think so. The report is pretty clear that drought affected parts of the Valley differently and some farmers even profited.
But it’s harder to hear that it’s poverty and long-term unemployment dragging the Valley down: only 25% of water restrictions can be charged up to environmental regulations.
Further Costa maintains: “Policies to improve conditions in the area should focus on identifying and addressing the factors that have led to long-term economic hardship in the region.”
You’re sure right about that, Representative Costa. You do something about that and I’ll be right behind you, cheering you on. Do something about the Byzantine complexity of how water is allocated in California while you’re at it.