Monday, November 01, 2010

Ignorant Electorate's Conservative Confusion

Ignorant men don't know what good they hold in their hands until they've flung it away ~ Sophocles (497 BCE to winter 406 BCE) the second of the three ancient Greek tragedians whose work has survived.

"Well Look at this news!" was the title of a post on a Conservative blog I visited awhile ago. The news trumpeted by the Right-wing blogger was that "Conservatives Now Outnumber Liberals in All 50 States" according to a 6/15/2009 Gallup Poll. Obviously the wingnut believed the poll means the Republican party is on a verge of a comeback. In a few short days they'll retake the Congress and in 2012 the White House.

"I can't wait to see the liberal spin on this" the aforementioned disingenuous wingnut blogger proclaimed. I say disingenuous because, after I commented on a few of her posts she enabled comment moderation and told me to take my bullshit elsewhere. Her profile said "I'm glad you've stopped by!", although this sentiment apparently only applied to people who agreed with her.

I didn't provide a link to Mary Mary Quite Contrary's blog because it has since been deleted. Or, I assume this to be the case, since Blogger says, "blog not found". It probably has something to do with the fact that I started writing this post back in September of 2009 and never finished it - something I often do. I have a dozen or so partially completed posts.

Last Tuesday (10/19/2010) I read a Yahoo News story that says "more than half of likely voters see themselves as conservative, compared with 42% in 2006, the last midterm election, according to a Gallup Poll in early October". That line reminded me of this commentary which I never completed.

What Mary's post - and what anyone else who hears about how the electorate is more "conservative" now than ever before probably doesn't understand - is these Gallop poll numbers include people identifying as conservative Democrats and conservative leaning Independents. Either group (Independents more so than Democrats) could conceivably vote Republican. I laid out my fears regarding Independents with my 11/09/2009 post "It's Everybody Else's Fault". Now, only a few days from the midterms, it appears as though my worst fears are about to be realized.

"The biggest cause of trouble in the world today is that the stupid people are so sure about things and the intelligent folks are so full of doubts" was the quote I opened my previously mentioned 2009 post with. According to the Yahoo News story "Tea party candidates vow to make a difference in Senate". The story also mentions 63-year-old "Louisville resident Sherry Gerst" who is voting for Rand Paul because "[she's] just absolutely sick of the Democrats". I believe this is comment represents the typical political ignorance of your average voter.

The Democrats who might vote Republican are of the same ilk as the morons we called "Reagan Democrats". These dummies betrayed their party by voting for the worst US president in history. It's easy to tell Sherry Gerst is one of the dummies who doesn't understand politics in the least - because she didn't say "I'm voting Republican because it's the party that best represents the political philosophies I hold". This is the ONLY question you should ask yourself when deciding who to vote for. You should NEVER vote for one party because you're sick of the other one!

This is why a total nut who says she has been mistaken for Asian and that she can't tell if illegal immigrants sneaking across our border in her recent campaign ad are of Hispanic heritage might actually defeat Harry Reid. I don't live in Nevada so I don't know why Nevadans (supposedly) hate Harry Reid so much - but, whatever the reason, electing a total wackjob like Sharron Angle will only make Nevada's problems worse.

So what we are faced with this midterm is a politically ignorant electorate voting for politically ignorant candidates. Christine O'Donnell, when "debating" her Democratic opponent Chris Coons on 10/19/2010 questioned whether the prohibition against Congress making any law respecting an "establishment of religion" was contained within the First Amendment. Later she says she high-fived her campaign advisors, believing she had nailed Coons in the debate because - get this - he (Chris Coons) didn't know what the First Amendment says!

These people believe that if one party isn't "getting the job done", then, perhaps we should give the other party a chance. Never mind the fact that the parties are diametrically opposed. Never mind the fact that the Republican's stated strategy has been to obstruct any and all legislation put forward by the Democrats - even if they previously voiced support (or even co-sponsored) said legislation. And, also never mind the fact that it was Conservative economic policies that caused the current recession.

How many times is the electorate going to be snookered into voting against their own best interests by snake-oil selling Right-wing con men? The "snake oil" I'm referring to being the fairy tale notions that supply side economics and outsourcing are sound economic policies, or that a belligerent foreign policy and wars of aggression make us safer. Or that we can solve the deficit problem by cutting non-military spending and taxes on the wealthy.

When asked specifically what spending they'll cut they usually have no answer. Carly Fiorina, who is running to unseat incumbent Democratic Senator Barbara Boxer, was recently asked by Chris Wallace of Faux News what spending cuts she would support. Despite being asked seven times, she never answered. Fiorina (who wants to extend all the bush tax cuts) says she wants to "rein in out-of-control government spending", but "has no idea how" (according to a 10/17/2010 Think Progress article).

I don't believe this to be the case. Fiorina - like all Republicans - wants to cut entitlements. The reason they won't say this is what they want to do is because they know it will cost them votes. People LIKE Medicare and Social Security, and will vote against candidates who support cutting or increasing the age of eligibility for these programs.

So why the hell are the Republicans posed to make big gains in the upcoming election? The Alaskan teabagger candidate Joe Miller thinks Medicare and Social Security are unconstitutional - as well as the minimum wage. Do people like the idea of working for slave wages while living in their cars?

An email I received in November of 2009 (when I originally started writing this article) from Newsmax declared "Reaganomics is dead". According to NewsMax, Reaganomics drove us deeply into debt is a proven method of building a healthy economy by "reducing the growth of government spending, reducing income and capital gains marginal tax rates, reducing government regulation of the economy and controlling the money supply to reduce inflation".

Reduce the growth of government spending? This is code for attacking entitlements. Referring to Social Security as a "ponzi scheme" or claiming that it is "bankrupt" are examples of this. Social security isn't a ponzi scheme, nor is it anywhere near being bankrupt. According to a press release issued by Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders "The Social Security Trust Fund has a $2.6 trillion surplus that is projected to grow to more than $4 trillion by the year 2023".

The recent health care reform legislation is also being attacked by Republicans for the same reason. Several Republican fliers I received in the mail recently all attacked the Democrats running in my state/district because they supported "ObamaCare" and it's "$1 Trillion" price tag. Actually the cost of health care reform will be, as reported by CBS news, "$940 billion over ten years". It will also "reduce the deficit by $130 billion over ten years [and] $1.2 trillion dollars in the second ten years". Obviously referring to a bill's (extremely high) "price tag" when the bill actually SAVES money is absurd in the extreme.

Reducing income and capital gains marginal tax rates is Republi-speak for "supply side economics" which is a scam designed to shift taxes onto the backs of the middle class and poor. Reducing regulation? Do they REALLY think they can run on this again? They really DO think they can run on this again, despite the fact that Reaganomics caused the 2008 financial meltdown which lead to the current recession.

As for "controlling the money supply to reduce inflation" - certainly this sounds like a good idea? But current Fed chairman Ben Bernanke (who is a carryover from the bush administration) is currently considering increasing the money supply (the policy is known as "quantitative easing"). According to talk radio host Thom Hartman, "the environment right now is so deflationary that it looks like, and it looks like the Fed has agreed on this, that they can do QE, they can do this quantitative easing.

They can print more money, basically, and it won't produce an inflationary result. Instead it will simply stimulate the economy", because it "makes our exports cheaper which helps industries in the United States that export things". This is why the Chinese government undervalues their currency (we call it "currency manipulation" when they do it). The website "Economics Help" explains that "keeping a weak currency helps to boost demand for Chinese exports and therefore Chinese jobs".

The Newsmax email also asked the questions "how did we get so far off track?", and, "how do we find our way back?". Find our way back? To Reganomics? To this I say "no thank you". Reganomics has been proven wrong on all counts and should be relegated to the trash heap of history. The election of Barack Obama signaled that the American people have had enough of the bubbles and busts caused by Conservative economic policies. Or, I had hoped that people are waking up to that fact. Indications are that this midterm election will prove otherwise.

Which brings me to the point I wanted to make regarding the Gallup Poll. I am convinced that when people indicate that they are "conservative" what they really mean is that they are concerned about the level of debt our nation is amassing. Heck, it worries me. What is doesn't mean is that they're eager to vote in favor of outlawing same sex marriage, overturning Roe v. Wade, tax cuts for the wealthy, corporate welfare, or declaring unemployment and social security unconstitutional - does it?

No, when people say they are "conservative" what they mean is they are fiscally conservative. It stands to reason that when people have to watch their own pocketbook more closely they believe the government should do the same. Unfortunately most voters don't realize that the rules which apply to their own personal finances don't apply to those of the government. Conservatives mock Democrats who they say believe we can "spend our way out" of a recession. What they fail to realize is that if the government "tightens it's belt" (as they must) there is absolutely nothing to stop a downward spiral from pulling the economy deeper into recession.

If you think tax cuts are the answer you couldn't be more wrong. Businesses aren't going to start hiring people because they got a tax cut. Businesses hire workers when there is demand for what they are selling. Supply side economics has cause and effect reversed - it says that if a business produces a product demand will magically materialize. The answer to this conundrum is deficit spending to stimulate the economy. The economic theory is known as Keynesian economics, and it was the Keynesian polices employed by the Roosevelt administration that pulled us out of the Great Depression (regardless of the Republican effort to rewrite history to deny Roosevelt and Keynes the credit they deserve).

Republicans claim the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 failed because unemployed rose above the eight percent the Obama Administration assured us it wouldn't. Obviously the forecast was incorrect, but that hardly means the stimulus failed! For some reason Republicans they think the American people will buy their claim that spending over 500 billion (the portion of the cost of the bill that wasn't tax cuts) created zero jobs.

The White House Council of Economic Advisers says the stimulus saved or created 3.6 million jobs. The main problem with the stimulus, according to economist Paul Krugman, was that it contained not enough direct spending (but the tax cut portion was to large).

The conclusion which can be drawn from the preceding facts is that Republican economic policies (AKA Reaganomics or "supply side economics") don't have anything to do with fiscal conservatism - they are all about redistributing wealth upwards. And to suggest that the Tea Party candidates are populists is a sick joke. They represent the interests of the wealthy elite the same as the Republicans. George W. bush certainly didn't practice fiscal conservatism, nor did his father, or the president before him, Ronald Reagan. They all grew the deficit by unprecedented amounts. Cons now say GWB was a "big government conservative" and after this election they'll be different.

A campaign commercial from the Right-wing advocacy group "Let Freedom Ring" asserts "it's time for fiscal sanity", and claims the way to achieve that goal is to "vote for candidates who will save us from national bankruptcy". Obviously they believe you should vote Republican tomorrow. But House Minority Leader John Boehner recently pledged that Republicans "are not going to be any different than we have been".

In other words, if placed back in power we can expect more of the same fiscal policies that crashed our economy (most likely starting with an extension of the bush tax cuts for the wealthy that will add 36 Billion to the deficit). Given that fact, why would anyone - including voters concerned about the level of debt - even consider voting the "party of no" back into power?

SWTD #54

6 comments:

  1. "...why would anyone -- including voters concerned about the level of debt -- even consider voting the "party of no" back into power?"

    Why would they indeed. Mass hypnosis?

    ReplyDelete
  2. Roosevelt was a great leader and in many ways a great President. But to say that the New Deal got us out of the Great Depression is highly debatable, at best. Unemployment was 24.9% in 1933 and 19.0% in 1938. Only by 1941 did the unemployment rate go under 10%. Yes, there were many positive aspects to the New Deal; the bank holiday, FDIC, etc.. But there were also some boneheaded components, too. Many of the policies were far too anti-competition (where major industries were allowed to collude without the threat of anti-trust ramifications) and pro-labor for the time. The end result were that prices stayed way too high to stimulate demand. The sad reality is that we probably could have gotten out of the Depression several years sooner had only Roosevelt pursued a lesser draconian path.

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