Thursday, September 23, 2010

A quick political rant

Okay, by now, plenty of writers out there have already come to the entirely reasonable, possibly unavoidable conclusion that Tea Partiers, and Americans in general, are a bunch of selfish unrealistic hypocrites. They hate big government but blame the government for everything that goes wrong, and expect it to help them, specifically. And they definitely don't want to pay for any of the help they get. Maybe election advertisements aren't the best place to look for anything sensical in politics, but every Republican or Tea Party-type ad I've heard or seen has promised two things above all others: that the candidate will dramatically reduce government spending, and also help create a shitload of jobs for everyone.... through magic (or something)! I heard a story on NPR the other day where they interviewed all these people who were thinking of voting Tea Party because they weren't seeing enough jobs created. Ya know, by the government. But god forbid the government should create jobs by hiring people and paying them money to perform societally beneficial work. That would be economic stimulus.

Other than craziness, though, what's behind this crazy logic, and where does it lead us, besides into a future of maddeningly inane political advertising? I was reminded of an article in Reason (fake out! that's just a link to the home page, not the article, which I don't remember specifically) from a while back about the perverse incentives of government deficits. We might think intuitively that, when the government runs a deficit for an extended period of time, people will seek to reduce government spending (a la starve the beast ideology). But, empirically, you find the opposite correlation--and it makes economic sense, sadly. When the government spends more but people aren't paying more in taxes, their perception is that they're getting more stuff from the government for less money, and so their perceived opportunity cost of government actually goes down. And when the cost of something goes down, you generally demand more of it. After 10 years of W madness, maybe people feel so damned entitled to getting everything for no increase in taxes, or indeed, any noticeable sacrifice whatsoever, that they just keep wanting everything for nothing, and sadly, still think they can get it.

So, what's gonna happen? Republicans come to power, pass their damn tax cuts, maybe actually cut spending, but probably not, and while the economic outlook may improve somewhat, unemployment stays high because the problems with the economy are waaay beyond cyclical. In other words, things don't get that much better, and not just because the government won't do a thing to help. And then back come the Democrats, riding a wave of anger, railing against Republican failures! To accomplish....minor improvements, if we're lucky. Meanwhile, will people will continue to be angry, unhappy, and blame the government? How many election cycles will it take before they realize we have to pay more for less, and that the economy isn't going back to the way it was? That's the real question. Will we as a society make that realization before it's too late to address real problems like health care spending and climate change? Or will America's decline be all but written already?

Okay, and while I'm ranting here, judging from the inactivity that this generated when I posted it on my facebook, I don't think people adequately appreciate the absurdity of this. Now if I give O'Donnell the benefit of the doubt, what she meant to say was, "I will approve a bill only if it is constitutional." But what she effectively said, twice, was, "I will approve a bill if and only if it is constitutional." Does she realize, then, that by her pledge she would vote in favor of bills to allow unlimited immigration, triple postal service spending, and ban commerce between the states, if such bills ever crossed her desk? 'Cause those are all constitutional (article 1 section 8)! It's all part of her weird, Bible/constitution worship conflagration.

1 comment:

  1. Good rant Sam! Especially on people getting used to something for nothing under W.

    Tried to send an earlier comment but got lost somehow somewhere.

    Be sure to see Inside Job if you can. I want to know your reaction.