Lying with half truths

Everyone hates lying. But what about deceptions where someone tells only part of the truth - the part they want you to know about - while leaving out certain material facts they don't want you to know about? Does that "count" as lying?   

For instance, consider how General Motors (GM) recently claimed it had paid back the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) loan financed by taxpayer bailout money. Oh sure, they did pay back the loan... with money from a taxpayer-financed escrow account. In other words, GM paid back the taxpayer money with different taxpayer money.

This would be like if you or I refinanced our home: A new loan is taken out with the new mortgage company and used to pay off the old mortgage. But the loan isn't really paid off, it's just with a different company.

Even more disturbing is the fact that the United States Treasury - and Treasury Secretary Geithner in particular - supported this half-truth woven by GM to deceive the public.

Politics isn't the only place you'll find this sort of half-truth lying. There are plenty of people out there with something they want to sell you - whether it's a product, an investment, or an idea - and they're more than happy to leave out the inconvenient parts. So do your homework and make sure you are getting the whole story, not a sales pitch.

P.S. If you want to learn more about the GM story, check out the New York Times article "Repaying Taxpayers With Their Own Cash"


Original publish date: May 07, 2010