Friday, January 03, 2014


From the New York Times, Krugman blogs, courtesy of Eschaton:

Disinformation on Inequality

The point here, as on so many other economic issues, is that we are not having anything resembling a good-faith debate. 

We could have a debate about whether rising inequality is a problem, and whether measures intended to curb it would do more harm than good. But we can’t have that kind of debate if the anti-populist side won’t acknowledge basic facts – and it won’t. In his piece Stephens trashes Obama, accusing him of making a factual error when he did no such thing; then proceeds to commit just about every statistical sin you can imagine in an attempt to minimize the rise in inequality. In the process he leaves his readers more ignorant than they were before. When this is what passes for argument, how can we have any kind of rational discussion?

More here.

You know, there are still decent arguments conservatives can make in support of conservatism.  But they've got to drop some cherished conservative notions in order to do so.  I mean, some of their most central and foundational concepts have been proven just plain wrong in recent years.  

The financial implosion of 2008 demonstrated once and for all that markets don't self-regulate, which means that government MUST intervene in the economy in some ways.  We've been cutting taxes on the rich for so many years now that economists have been able to study the effects, many times at this point, and these studies clearly show that tax cuts for the rich provide virtually no economic stimulus--of course, that also means we know for sure now that tax cuts do not create greater tax revenues, which is a silly thought in the first place, but there used to be what seemed like a reasonable argument supporting it, just not anymore.  We've also learned in recent years that cutting government spending during a recession makes the recession worse, and cripples the economy's ability to grow.  Okay, we already knew that, but conservatives, in their hysterical anti-deficit mania, have been ALL ABOUT cutting government spending, for years and years.  But now we know, for sure, that this is incredibly foolish in a weak or shrinking economy.  And so on.

So how have conservatives responded to all this recent information severely undermining their understanding of the way the world works?  Did they get together and reevaluate?  Did they make heartfelt attempts to formulate a new conservatism, one that is firmly rooted in the real world?  No, of course not.  Instead, they doubled down on their now obvious bullshit.  And when you point out to them that they are expecting you to believe what is obvious bullshit, they get REALLY ANGRY.  And that's their new game.  That's how they've responded to a total collapse in what passes for conservative "philosophy."  They just keep on believing fiction, anyway, and there's hell to pay if you don't respect their "beliefs."  The press, of course, is totally useless in this area, accepting conservative bullshit as "the other side," lending it legitimacy for reasons about which I can only speculate.

As Krugman asks, "how can we have any kind of rational discussion" under these circumstances?  Well, we can't.  And throw in evolution and global warming, to boot, and the situation becomes even worse.  You just can't do business with people who believe in fiction, and who expect you to believe in fiction, too.  It's a pretty grim situation, actually, with the conservatives opting for fantasy instead of modifying their ideas to fit reality.  I have no idea what to do about it.

But I do know one thing: it's damned rude to expect me to believe total and obvious bullshit; when conservatives treat me this way, I have absolutely no obligation to be polite or respectful when I respond.