Atlas Shrugged: The Mocking

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Because I Say So

When is Keynesian policy not Keynesian policy? When Megan McArdle says so. The following conversation in McArdle's comments shows how easy it is for propagandists to claim that black is white and up is down.

From her post:

I also agree with Krugman, the CBPP, and the CFRB that Republicans are hypocritical about tax cuts and Social Security. Not any more hypocritical than those on the left who insist on pretending that there is a trust fund which can somehow, in the context of the unified federal budget, cover the shortfall in Social Security revenues. Nor more hypocritical than those on the left who wish to extend the Bush tax cuts for those making under $250,000, and then blame the Republicans for their lack of fiscal responsibility, when the overwhelming majority of the cost of the tax cuts comes from those which benefit people making under $250,000--as if the budget deficit were offering some sort of discount for social justice.

But still, ludicrously hypocritical.

From the comments:

How can a larger tax cut be "not more hypocritical" than a smaller one?

because the GOP supports both.

No, you wrote that the Republicans, who support a larger tax cut, are no more hypocritical than the Democrats, who support a smaller one. I would think that judging the degree of hypocrisy here would be a simple quantitative exercise.

Sorry, misunderstood you. I think that at some point, the hypocrisy scale maxes out--if you're willing to spend $2 trillion while demagoguing the budget, you're not appreciably less hypocritical than someone who wants to spend $2.6 trillion while doing the same.

Within the Keynesian framework in which they're operating, there's nothing inconsistent about the Democrats focusing tax cuts on those most likely to spend them. You don't have to accept that Keynesian framework, but their policy is consistent within it.

This is non responsive. Within the supply-side framework within which the GOP works, there's no hypocrisy in opposing the highest marginal tax rates. That has precisely nothing to do with the strategic use of the budget deficit to oppose only things which you already opposed anyway . . . while blithely ignoring it when you want to do stuff.

No. Keynesian theory calls for increased spending during downturns, offset by fiscal responsibility during good times. So there's absolutely no hypocrisy involved in advocating tax cuts that are likely to be spent during a recession, while opposing those that are for rich people who are likely to save them and that will have a long-term budgetary impact. On the other hand, for the Republicans, who say that deficits are always bad, to advocate tax cuts for the rich during a period of large deficits, is indeed pure hypocrisy.

But the extensions aren't temporary. That's not Keynesian stimulus, it's just a tax cut.

If they end up being permanent that will indeed be hypocritical.

In McArdle's world, she always wins her arguments because she feels no compunction to argue honestly. She simply claims that tax cuts to increase spending during this recession/depression will never end, therefore they are not Keynesian and Democrats are just as hypocritical as Republicans.

That was easy. And this works for all arguments. If you are paid to help eliminate Social Security you just state that it won't be paid back, therefore it doesn't really exist. Then you change the subject to an irrelevant point you think you can win, forcing your opponent to drop the matter. Since most people know very little about economics you can throw a bunch of numbers and acronyms out and, like Condoleeza Rice, run out the clock by babbling incomprehensibly.

Now I am picturing McArdle and Mr. McArdle giving each other high-fives as they write their devastating responses that lay waste to the arrogant yet laughable pretensions of the lower classes.

After this bit of dishonesty in the support of conservative politics she states, "If I had to claim a political relationship status on facebook, I'd probably choose "It's complicated". There is nothing at all complicated about a political philosophy based on self-indulgence. If she thinks something benefits her, it's good. If it doesn't, it's bad.

Here's a Kathryn Jean Lopez interview with Doug Schoen, who co-wrote Mad As Hell: How the Tea Party Movement Is Fundamentally Remaking Our Two-Party System.

LOPEZ: Who is the tea-party movement? Has that been an evolving thing?

SCHOEN: This is a bottom-up, grassroots movement that has been growing steadily since March of 2009 and it stands for core principles regarding fiscal conservatism and a desire to return to constitutional principles and smaller government.

LOPEZ: Is there a different kind of populism at play here than in the past?

SCHOEN: In 1992, Ross Perot provided leadership and people spontaneously responded to a message that was for its time very similar to the tea-party movement’s. But notwithstanding what the press has said, the tea-party movement is an authentic grassroots movement.

LOPEZ: How is left-wing populism different than right-wing populism? Can they ever meet?

SCHOEN: Both left- and right-wing populism share distrust of the way the political system works and responds. The Left wants more government involvement, the Right wants less government.

LOPEZ: If you had to bet your reputations on it: What is the likelihood this remaking gives birth to a third party?

SCHOEN: I don’t think the tea-party movement will ever become a third party if they continue to demonstrate the kind of success they had tonight and over the past six months or so.

LOPEZ: Do we effectively have a third party when one looks at the Delaware Republican primary results — among others?

SCHOEN: Well, we do have a third force in American politics. It is not organized, and it has many variants and different forms. But it is as powerful as any third party could possibly be at this point in time.

LOPEZ: How much of these primary wins and losses have been about 2010 proxy wars?

SCHOEN: This is not a proxy war. It is an authentic grassroots movement.

LOPEZ: How does Sarah Palin play into all of this?

SCHOEN: Sarah Palin has proven this year without a doubt she is the frontrunner for the 2012 nomination — regardless of what the pundits and polls show.

LOPEZ: Is the GOP the natural home for the tea-party movement?

SCHOEN: Democrats made a profound mistake pushing away the tea-party movement. Bill Clinton won a substantial share of the 1992 Perot vote in 1996. Hence their home by default is the Republican party.

LOPEZ: Despite his win Tuesday night, is there a Mad as Hell message for Charlie Rangel?

SCHOEN: Charlie Rangel is very lucky he has one of the safest Democratic seats in the country.

LOPEZ: Nancy Pelosi Tuesday said she’s confident Democrats will retain control of the House? How in the heck would that happen?

SCHOEN: Nancy Pelosi has no reason to be optimistic. Ask Robert Gibbs!

LOPEZ: Is everyone mad? Are some people simply sad or worried about the future of the country? Are they reached differently?

SCHOEN: Everyone is mad, angry, frustrated, and nervous, regardless of party.

LOPEZ: You both are prolific. Are you simply political animals in need of outlets? What drives you?

SCHOEN: We tell the truth as we know it. Different perspectives sometimes, but absolutely the same perspective about the importance of the tea-party movement.

The tea party is grassroots because the tea party is grassroots. Or as McArdle would say, because the tea party is grassroots.


nanute said...

Would it be OT to ask: Do Mamma Grizzlies Eat Their Young?

Euripides said...

I hesitate to ask, but has Megan ever heard of 'The Paradox Of Thrift'?

nanute: I don't think so but a bear researcher observes; "We expected mothers to bluff-charge, and they often did, coming forward with a great show of bluster, pouncing, blowing loudly, clacking their teeth."

Clever Pseudonym said...

If Werner Herzog's Grizzly Man is any indication, they actually will eat their young. Timothy Treadwell got footage in Alaska of the remains of a cub who had been eaten by his mother. It's probably rare, but if bears get hungry enough, they'll eat anything.

Susan of Texas said...

Palin better run for office or her adoring fans will lynch her.

nanute said...

Euripides: Well, since I've been allowed to go off topic, kinda. Yes, Megan's aware of the concept. She thinks it has something to do with Sarah Palin shopping with someone's money. (Sorry Susan.)

Chris Doggett said...

Sarah Palin has proven ...regardless of what the pundits and polls show. has she proven this? I mean, if you're not counting measures of popularity or the opinion of paid political analysts, what are you using for 'proof'?

Syz said...

"If she thinks something benefits her, it's good. If it doesn't, it's bad."

Yep. Contrary to Megan's boast, it ain't complicated at all.

Downpuppy said...


You Menda These!

The fun thing about Supply Side is that based on all real world tests, it's utter bull.

tigris said...

Not any more hypocritical than those on the left who insist on pretending that there is a trust fund which can somehow, in the context of the unified federal budget, cover the shortfall in Social Security revenues.

She's still claiming government securities aren't secure?