by Ralph Benko
Whoever wins the presidency there is a lurking issue, the most underappreciated issue in politics. Getting it wrong destroyed the economy (and contributed to ending the presidencies) of Ford and Carter and tarnished the records of George W. Bush and Barack Obama. Reagan and Clinton got it right and went on to handsome re-election.
The political and economic elites are curiously blind to it. An iconic cartoon by Benita Epstein (view it at benitaepstein.com) shows a myopic middle-aged man gazing into a refrigerator full of nothing but butter. It’s captioned “Hon, where’s the butter?” It is the defining image of “Male Refrigerator Blindness.”
Something like — let’s go gender-neutral trendy — Refrigerator Blindness — Obliviousness to the Obvious — is crushing our prosperity. This would be hilarious … except that misery from a lousy economy has driven millions of able-bodied workers into poverty or near poverty.
The death of the American Dream isn’t funny. It’s tragic.
Refrigerator Blindness is not just a comical trope. An inability to see what’s as plain as the nose on your face is a pop culture meme for an actual Thing, one technically called a “negative hallucination.” Per Encyclopedia.com:
The term [negative hallucination] first appeared in “Psychical (or Mental) Treatment” (Freud, 1890), an article relating to hypnosis. Freud wrote that it was possible to suggest to a hypnotized subject that he or she not see a person or thing that would be present to the subject upon awakening; in such cases the object appears to be “thin air” (p. 297). Freud borrowed this notion from Hippolyte Bernheim, with whom he studied to perfect his hypnotic technique.
The trance of “negative hallucination” — currently a mass hallucination — can be broken. We know how. Follow along.
A painfully obvious case of Refrigerator Blindness burst vivid recently. Marc Levinson wrote in the Wall Street Journal on October 14 Why the Economy Doesn’t Roar Anymore: The long boom after World War II left Americans with unrealistic expectations, but there’s no going back to that unusual Golden Age. It drips with painful irony:
Ralph Benko, internationally published weekly columnist, co-author of The 21st Century Gold Standard, lead co-editor of the Gerald Malsbary translation from Latin to English of Copernicus’s Essay on Money, is American Principles Project’s Senior Advisor, Economics.