Atlas Shrugged: The Mocking

Monday, November 11, 2013

How To Fix Megan McArdle's Poverty

We have been busy but we would be remiss not to point out a plaintive missive from Megan McArdle (who else?). McArdle asks someone to figure out How Conservatives Can Fix Poverty and Win Elections for her, for on top of all its other crimes against humanity, Obamacare is destroying marriage. McArdle read and commented on Garance Franke-Ruta's Atlantic interview with a couple who might get a divorce because they can't afford health insurance of Obamacare.

Let us enjoy take a moment to note that, for all intents and purposes, Franke-Ruta replaced McArdle when the latter slowly faded off into the sunset.

Okay, we're done.

Then there's this little bit about something else, and after that bit we return to marriage. McArdle has read people who have read studies that say married people have more money than unmarried people, so conservatives should find a way to incentivize marriage, reducing the need for "entitlements" and consequently winning elections with their imaginary solutions.

Let's begin with McArdle's cri de coeur:

[...Conservatives need to think hard about their answers to the mess that is our current patchwork of benefits. I’ve seen suggestions here and there, but nothing, so far, that the movement has coalesced around. The liberal answer -- give subsidies to more people! -- creates plenty of problems. If conservatives can come up with a better one, they’ll have a cornerstone for the more populist conservative policy platform that Ross Douthat has been calling for. Maybe even for a more populist conservative policy platform that can win elections in 2016.

McArdle understands the need for alms for the poor; they keep the dirty and unwashed at arms' length. But let's not overdo it!

Generous welfare benefits discourage work, eroding the tax base that is supposed to support them. Even Social Security benefits seem to reduce the number of children people have -- children who are still very necessary to support the universal entitlement.

Since Social Security is given to retired and disabled workers and their survivors and dependents, yes, I suppose Social Security does "seem" to reduce the number of children people have. You know what else reduces the number of children? Not having children. McArdle is married yet has no children, for reasons we neither know nor want to know. It's not very fair of her to insist that the poor have more children so she can ensure she gets Social Security. McArdle plows on anyway.

I’m on the record as a marriage booster. Marriage is a happiness booster, it’s the best environment for raising kids, and it’s one of the most reliable personal finance programs around. It’s good for you, and good for society. Good policy should encourage marriage, not discourage it.

Conservatives support “family friendly” policies such as child tax credits, but they tend to give this issue shorter shrift. This dynamic plausibly plays a role in the disintegration of marriage among the less educated. You often hear that welfare helped to destroy fragile families by making men less necessary to their economic support. But welfare did more than that: It actually chased men away. A two-adult family was unlikely to be eligible for welfare, or ancillary benefits such as housing and Medicaid.

Unfortunately McArdle can't think of any actual policies so she merely wafts a request out into the ether, where no doubt it will land on some fallow conservative mind, who will be able to convince people to do what McArdle will not: give up something that is to their benefit. McArdle herself refused to give up her mortgage deduction or employer-provided and tax-payer subsidized health care. Yet she insists that people much, much poorer than herself give up their government benefits, benefits they use to survive.  The poor's government benefits pay for food and shelter for their children. McArdle's government benefits paid for a Thermomix.

And speaking of those deductions, we now come to the little bit of the post that is sandwiched in between the odes to marriage. Less charitable minds than ours might think that this little section was the real reason for McArdle's rare venture outside of Obamacare.

This is not the only program that has this effect. Many tax subsidies phase out at higher income levels, such as IRAs and student loan deductions, and thanks to the tax deal cut over the fiscal cliff, higher-income earners will face more such phaseouts this year.

The link leads to an article on the Pease Limitation.

One of the impacts from the fiscal cliff legislation to be felt by high-income earners is the reintroduction of the Pease limitation, reduces the amount of itemized deductions that certain taxpayers are allowed.  While the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 reduced the impact of the Pease Limitation, it is still around, and it can greatly limit itemized deductions like mortgage interest and charitable gifts.

The infamous Pease limitation was first incorporated into the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1990 and it is named after former Congressman Donald Pease.  The purpose of the Pease limitation was to raise revenue by limiting some popular and common itemized deductions among high-income earners.  Pease limitations aim to reduce the benefit of the following itemized deductions:
  • Charitable Contributions
  • Mortgage Interest
  • State, Local, and Property Taxes
  • Miscellaneous Itemized Deductions
The limitation for 2013 will kick in on AGI levels that exceed $300,000 for joint filers and $250,000 for individuals, indexed for inflation.  Income over the applicable amount will trigger an itemized deduction limitation that is the lesser of (a) 3% of the adjusted gross income above the applicable amount, or (b) 80% of the amount of the itemized deductions otherwise allowable for the taxable year.

It seems that Mr. and Mrs. McArdle are about to take a bit of a tax hit. No wonder McArdle is trying to think of a way to save tax monies by squeezing the poor. Some people might complain at length about such an injustice, but McArdle is a libertarian and is no doubt overjoyed at the chance to stop taking advantage of those mooching and looting laws.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Rand Paul Consumers Find They Were Sold A Lemon

We deeply, deeply regret to inform that the Sen. Rand Paul's Death Spiral continues, as the embittered senator sinks into a seething whirlpool of non-stop disaster. The Washington Times, owned by Korea's Sun Myung Moon (motto: "The Washington Times will become the instrument in spreading the truth about God to the world"), has fired him with extreme reluctance prejudice. Evidently God is conservative because the Washington Times has faithfully supported conservatives throughout its existence.  But now even the Moonie Times, which has published the works of such illustrious conservatives as Larry Kudlow and  John Podhoretz, and which incubated David Brooks in its editorial department, finally met a conservative whom they could no longer publish. More or less.

The newspaper and the senator mutually agreed to end his weekly column, which has appeared each Friday since the summer.`

“We expect our columnists to submit original work and to properly attribute material, and we appreciate that the senator and his staff have taken responsibility for an oversight in one column,” Times Editor John Solomon said.

“We also appreciate the original insights he has shared with our readers over the last few months and look forward to future contributions from Sen. Paul and any other members of Congress who take the time to help educate our readers with original thought leadership pieces,” Mr. Solomon said.
Surely this is the most generous firing in history. Evidently the problem was a lack of oversight in one column, not the systematic theft of intellectual property.

In case you haven't heard, in the last week or so we've found out that Paul gave a speech that included a lengthy description of the movie Gattaca, a description lifted word for word from the movie's Wikipedia entry. And he gave a speech that included a description of the movie Stand and Deliver, lifted from that movie's Wikipedia page. And he lifted a part of another speech from an AP story. And he lifted a part of a speech from a Focus on the Family report. And he copied part of a column he wrote for the Washington Times from an article in The Week. And he plagiarized reports from the Cato Institute and Heritage Foundation, and an article in Forbes, in his 2012 book Government Bullies.

You have to work hard to commit that much plagiarism. Paul's response has been an occasional admission that he and his staff are very busy, combined with the sort of petulance you'd expect from a teenager being asked to clean his room.

Or maybe not. (Sen. Paul might be interested to know that we do not think the author of that passage plagiarized us by referring to Paul as a petulant teen. That comparison is inevitable considering the circumstances.)

It seems that socialism is just fine when it comes to writing speeches; Rand took the words from a producer and redistributed the words to himself, the little looter. Throughout this episode Paul has shown himself to be a true Randian; he declares he is a producer while acting like a moocher.

As we have seen while reviewing Atlas Shrugged (more reviews coming soon eventually!), Randians are repulsed by the lice and scum due to their superiority, which is both innate and due entirely to hard work and a strong will. Yet we also see that self-professed libertarians use the same tactics they despise in lesser mortals. Dagny Taggart would throw herself off a moving train before she would make excuses for failure, so Paul attempts to look as if he is taking responsibility for his plagiarism while first denying it occurred and then blaming it entirely on his staff.

In an interview with Fusion’s Jorge Ramos, Paul was asked if there is any truth to Maddow’s claim.  
“We borrowed the plot lines from Gattaca. It’s a movie,” Paul said. “I gave credit to the people who wrote the movie…Nothing I said was not given attribution to where it came from.”
But like all ideologues, libertarians pretend to hold themselves to high standards while routinely violating those standards and making excuses for their failures. The brain trust at Reason magazine, home of Mr. Megan McArdle, decided that the admissions of "sloppiness" were good for Paul's political career. Matt Welch:

If he wants to run for president, he needs to be better, not worse, and not merely as good, as the competition when it comes to the most seemingly trivial matters of comportment. Journalists, particularly (though not only) from those outlets sensitive to the allure that libertarian ideas have on some progressive voters, will be gunning for every possible gaffe, glitch, error of judgment, and stated deviance. He should consider it an honor to be challenged, instead of a challenge to get huffy about.

People who choose the Inside Game know, or at least should know, that the deck is stacked against them, and that they will be judged more harshly. Those were always the rules. On the upside, being the first real truth-teller inside an empire of lies carries with it enormous galvanizing potential. Whining about being picked on in this context is like complaining about getting fouled when you drive to the hoop against Bill Laimbeer and Rick Mahorn. The answer is to dunk the damned basketball, not bitch to the refs. And for god's sake, make sure your shoes are tied.

It's actually helpful for Rand Paul's presidential ambitions to be having these mini-kerfuffles in November 2013. It's doubtful that they will have any impact on the 2016 race, and he could clearly use the practice.

(The second a liberal starts talking about helping anyone that can't return the favor, all the libertarians will immediately discover that they don't have much in common with liberals after all. An alliance between libertarians and liberals will never work because the libertarians see themselves as leaders of the masses, not fellow members. Most liberals are happy to follow a leader but they will only follow someone who helps vote their liberal candidate into office. That is where the rubber hits the road.)

So it's not plagiarism. It's a gaffe, a glitch, a mini-kerfuffle. Nothing to see here. Sure, whining about being picked on is for the weak, but they really are being picked on and everyone is against them and Biden did it too. Libertarians will talk about self-reliance and manly individuality, but when reality rears its ugly head they come up with nothing but excuses and more excuses.

Rand Paul:

The standard I’m being held to is a little different than everybody else,” Mr. Paul said on CNN’s “The Situation Room.”

In an interview with the New York Times Tuesday, Paul admitted that he had "made mistakes" and said new procedures were being put in place to make footnotes available "if it will make people leave me the hell alone."
“The footnote police have really been dogging me for the last week,” Paul said on ABC’s “This Week” on Sunday. “I will admit that. And I will admit, sometimes we haven’t footnoted things properly.
Paul added: “In some of the other things that are now going to pop up under thousands of things I’ve written, yeah, there are times when they have been sloppy or not correct or we’ve made an error.”
 “I take it as an insult and I will not lie down and say people can call me dishonest, misleading or misrepresenting,” he said. “I have never intentionally done so.”

Paul simply denies that his staff plagiarized, knowing that his followers will ignore the truth and accept his lies. Incredibly, he thinks that simply saying his people didn't give attribution to the material they quoted is an adequate excuse. It's like saying that you didn't steal when you walked out of the store without paying for that large screen tv you are putting into the trunk of your car. You simply didn't give the clerk any money before carrying the tv out the door. The definition of plagiarism is quoting without attribution.

Paul's whining was extensive:

Paul again brushed off the criticisms as having ulterior motives and said speeches are different than other works.

“Can a speaker not tell stories without always remembering the exact citation? I think it’s a standard that no one else is being held to and I think it’s politically motivated,” Paul said. “We’ve tried at every possible point to attribute things and nothing was ever intentionally used. We give credit to Heritage I think 15 times in the book, to Cato 12 times. And do we always do it perfectly? Maybe not, but we try.”

You already paid for two tvs, right? What's the big deal if you didn't pay for the third? And as always, Paul does not mention the changes in text in the stolen material.

Bill Singer, who wrote the [plagiarized] Forbes article, told BuzzFeed his work on the article made extensive use of a U.S. Justice Department news release.  "It would appear whoever wrote the senator's book copied my language not the press release," Singer said.


So in conclusion, Sen. Paul is responsible for everything and nothing, his office never copies anyone else's work but simply left off the attribution when they copied others' work, and plagiarism isn't plagiarism because taking others' work without attribution is not taking others' work without attribution.

Say, you know who else was a plagiarist? Sen. Paul's bestest bud and namesake, Ayn Rand.

The Ludwig von Mises Institute kindly explains how Rand wasn't a plagiarist, she just apparently copied the plot of Garet Garrett's The Driver. There's that pesky definition problem again.

Garet Garrett, author of The People's Pottage, tells the story of an upstart Wall Street speculator financier, Henry Galt, a shadowy figure who stays out of the limelight as much as possible until he unleashes a plan that had been years in the marking: he uses his extraordinary entrepreneurial talent to acquire control of a failing railroad.

Through outstanding management sense, good pricing, excellent service, and overall business savvy, he out competes all the big names in the business, while making a fortune in the process. Garrett has a way of illustrating just what it takes to be a businessman of this sort, and how his mind alone becomes the source of a fantastic revenue stream.

But his successes breed trouble. The government conspires with envious competitors to regulate him using the Sherman Antitrust Act, calling him a monopolist who is exploiting the public. This book tells the dramatic story of his success and his fight. A reoccurring literary motif through the book has people asking: "Who is Henry Galt?"  
In one of many asides, this book contains one of the best explanations of the stupidity of "bi-metallism" that fixed the relationship between silver and gold. Indeed, the book is overall very sound on the money question, showing the inflationist populist movement of the late 19th century to be a pack of fools. Galt himself delivers some fantastic defenses of hard money and free markets, both in conversation and in front of the US Congress.  
This book was written in 1922, and people in the know might detect some similarity here with Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged. She might have read it or it might be a coincidence.

Yeah. It's probably just a coincidence.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Rand Paul's Death Spiral--He Admits His Job Is Too Difficult For Him

Today we will have the first of ten thousand posts discussing Sen. Rand Paul, what he knew about his plagiarism, when he knew it, who else knew about it, and who will be held accountable for it. Then we will discuss, over three thousand more posts, how Rand Paul's plagiarism proves that he should have asked Democrats for permission to do, well, anything*, and refuse to carry out any plans that were not approved 100% by 100% of Democrats. This is only work, however, if Democrats promise publicly that they will not rest until Rand Paul and all his works are destroyed. Kind of like how Republicans promised that Obamacare would be a disaster or they would die trying.
Mr. Paul attributed some of the sloppiness to the hectic life of a senator in high demand.
See, plagiarism is the same thing as sloppiness. Students everywhere will be thrilled with this new excuse. "But Mrs. Crabapple, I didn't copy Wikipedia, changing around a few words in the moronic belief that that would let me get away with stealing others' work. I was just sloppy in my accreditation!"

The fact that words were changed proves that the plagiarism was deliberate. If the problem were sloppy accreditation, the passage being quoted would be identical to Rand's passage.
“Things are done quickly and in a hurry, and sometimes I get some things sent to me while giving a speech — I’m looking down at my phone saying ‘read this for approval in 20 minutes,'” he said. “We write something every week for The Washington Times, and I literally am riding around in a car in between things trying to figure out if I can approve it.” “We need to get stuff earlier, but it’s hard,” Mr. Paul said. “We probably take on more than we should be doing.”
 Says the man who wants to run for president. It's a good thing that presidents aren't busy!
In the interview, Mr. Paul said that the Washington Times op-ed article was adapted from a speech, which was one of the reasons it was not vetted beforehand. The apparent plagiarism was first reported by BuzzFeed.
His staff copies his speeches from Wikipedia? I hope they are not highly paid. He could get a sixth grader to copy speeches from Wikipedia for him, and pay the lad in gumballs and shoelaces.
Mr. Paul’s office acknowledged that it had made mistakes, but largely sought to play down the charges of plagiarism. “In the thousands of speeches and op-eds Senator Paul has produced, he has always presented his own ideas, opinions and conclusions,” Mr. Stafford said. “Senator Paul also relies on a large number of staff and advisers to provide supporting facts and anecdotes — some of which were not clearly sourced or vetted properly.”
I can't wait to see Paul try to supervise a country. Woops, we bombed Israel because I have no idea what my sixth-grade level staff is doing!
Mr. Stafford continued: “Footnotes presenting supporting facts were not always used. Going forward, footnotes will be available on request. There have also been occasions where quotations or typesetting indentations have been left out through errors in our approval process. From here forward, quoting, footnoting and citing will be more complete.” 
In an interview on the ABC News program “This Week” on Sunday,  Mr. Paul acknowledged he had been “sloppy,” but also lashed out.  “I think I’m being unfairly targeted by a bunch of hacks and haters,” he said.  
Mr. Paul has taken a high profile in the Senate for a relatively junior member and is widely seen as interested in pursuing the Republican presidential nomination in 2016.
A "bunch of hacks and haters." Is that what he is going to call heads of state when they get irate at our bombings or spying? "Sure, my staff took out Tel Aviv, but everyone who pointed that out is a hack and a hater!" Then he will stomp to the Oval Office, slam the door, and throw a few knick-knacks around until Vice President Rafael Cruz tells him to come out because dinner is ready.

*Kind of like Megan McArdle's insistence that Obamacare could only be implemented with Republican approval, meaning never.
A smart leader knows that big strategic thinking and giving orders are the smallest parts of her job. The biggest is persuading people who are not invested in her agenda to carry out her grand plans -- and, equally important, figuring out which plans to abandon because they can never get enough support to work.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

The Progressive Path

I agree unreservedly with Ian Welsh's 44 Explicit Points on Creating a Better World, because they all lead us away from our current winner-take-all version of capitalism and because they are based on sharing power, not hoarding it. I do not believe that we cannot change our future, the future will change no matter what we do or do not do. We must attempt to push the course of our country into the right direction, not by giving our personal power to an authority, but keeping it for ourselves and magnifying it through the weight of numbers.

In A brief note on why the progressive blog movement failed, Welsh points out that progressive blogs did not have the money or backing to succeed, the ultimate problem of any group trying to enact policies hated by the rich.

The nail in the coffin was the 2008 primaries.  To put it simply, Obama bypassed the blogging gatekeepers. Commenters, whether free or bought (and yes, I believe many were on the payroll) capsized DKos and other major blogs.  Obama did not need the gatekeepers, he simply bought out the movement.  The bloggers were irrelevant.  At least one major blogger acted as a conduit for Obama hits: was fed oppo, and put that oppo out there.

Unlimited money in politics means that movements are bought and sold like baseball cards. The Tea Party was a few wingnuts and Ron Paul supporters until the Koches bought themselves their very own political machine, bypassing the right's politicians. In 10 months Ted Cruz made the leadership look weak and powerless. He used his bought-and-paid-for power to advance himself in his party at the expense of the leadership's power. He acted, for how would he know how much power he had unless he flexed it? And Boehner was afraid to use his power against Cruz until the economic elite made it very clear that the Tea Party was going too far and the money people were worried that the suffering they wished to impose on others might actually affect them as well. So Boehner lost power.

The Tea Party, say what you will about them, gets a great deal of obeisance from Republicans for one simple reason: they will primary you if they don’t like how you’ve been voting, and they’ll probably win that primary.  They are feared.  Progressives are not feared, because they do not believe enough in their ostensible principles to act on them in an effective fashion. 
That is why the progressive revolution of the early 2000s failed.  If you want the next left wing push to succeed, whatever it is called, learn the lessons of the last failure. 
(Note: I poured years of my life into the movement. Its failure is my failure, and I take no pleasure in it at all.)
If progressives want to actually enact progressive policies, instead of policies that simply are not as bad as the Republicans' policies, they must bypass the power elite. "Everyone" says this will not work because the left does not have enough power, but the left will never have enough power because they will not take that power from those who have it. This will be a dangerous and ugly fight, but the progressives will win because people who refuse to use their power always lose.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Then And Now

Megan McArdle, when she wants DC to stop regulating her car service and food trucks:
The more complicated the process, the less we are likely to notice when the federal government screws up. That doesn't mean we're doing fine; it may just mean that the federal government tends to be in charge of regulating the more complex, far-flung market processes.  
Because the disputes are hard to understand, the reaction to regulations at the federal level tends to line up on purely tribal affiliation: if you're a conservative, you assume that any new EPA regulation is a disaster, and if you're a liberal, you assume that it must be pretty swell. Among wonky liberals like Matt, I think there's the mirror tendency to assume that because the economy is not obviously being driven into the toilet by this stuff, the federal government must be doing a pretty okay job.  
But this may just be the broken window fallacy in action: we see the distortions of the local government, but the distortions of the federal government remain invisible precisely because they're so effective at destroying innovation. The more national the rules, the harder it is to tell whether they're bad. The economy would not be destroyed if we had federal laws against Uber and food trucks; we'd all just be a little worse off.   
The problem is, if the rules were national, none of us would even know that we were worse off. No one would ever have tried to start a food truck, so Matt and I wouldn't even know that there was this great thing we were missing. We may be assuming that the Federal rules work pretty well precisely because they have entirely foreclosed a bunch of great possibilities that we'd really enjoy.  
Then there are the things that federal rules don't entirely eliminate, but just make difficult and more expensive. Matt argues that there are things which the government should make difficult and more expensive, like dumping mercury into the air. I agree! But we should always remember that those rules frequently make it difficult and more expensive even for people who have no intention of dumping mercury into the air, because the rules frequently require that you take affirmative steps to ensure--and demonstrate--that you're not doing whatever is forbidden. And at this point, the list of these things is so long that compliance is becoming impossible, particularly for small shops.
Megan McArdle, when insufficient regulation might let the Chinese poison her dog:

So now she tells us that market equilibrium doesn't work. I thought we didn't need regulation because the market was self-correcting.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

More Hysterical Megan

Shorter Megan McArdle: A bad website will lead to death! Weeks of website repair is terrifying!! It's not time to panic but it's nearly time to panic!!! It's not impossible to buy insurance but it's nearly impossible to buy insurance!! Free riders!! Burning boats!!!  I may sound Apocalyptic but I really don't sound Apocalyptic!!!!11!!

Yes, that was much, much shorter.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Food Trivia

Let us imitate Our Heroine and take a (belated) moment to discuss macaroni and cheese. Macaroni and cheese is a rather personal thing. It is a child-friendly dish and many of us tend to prefer the type of mac and cheese we had as kids. So when Megan McArdle, in her continuing quest to confer upon her self an elite Foodie status, states that she just adores macaroni and cheese that has been baked until most of the sauce has dried up and the macaroni dries out, we will just chalk it up to different tastes. However, a few items are worthy of note.

Back in 2008, McArdle had a little cooking contest with her friends and made macaroni and cheese. She later published the recipe. For one pound of pasta, it included:

12 tablespoons butter, softened
6 tablespoons of flour
2 cups of whole milk
1-2 cups of heavy cream (you may replace one cup of the cream with 1 small container of sour cream)
2 pounds of good sharp cheddar, grated
1/2 pound of gruyere, grated
3 Kraft American singles
2 slices of Kraft provolone

The blogosphere was left to wonder if McArdle was attempting to block arteries to gin up more revenue for drug companies. After a while the laughing died down and more bland and badly designed recipes followed.

Which brings us to her new macaroni and cheese recipe.

First, I made one box of elbow macaroni, cooked according to instructions. Then, I prepared the standard white sauce that is the base for all my macaroni and cheese creations:
At some point McArdle quietly sought out a new recipe; her standard changed into a new standard. Foodies weigh their ingredients so the new recipe is metric and has much less fat.

80 grams butter  
120 grams flour  
1/2 teaspoon salt  
1 kilogram milk (Yes, I weighed it, because that’s how my recipe works. It comes out to something over 1 liter.)
Heh. One kilogram of milk, because that's just the way she rolls. Without a kilogram of milk, the recipe just wouldn't work. It's not like you can measure out a liter of milk! Only some ignorant lower class person, the type who doesn't even make her own white sauce, would measure a liquid using liquid measurements!

Does she tell P. Suderman to bring home a pound of milk after work?

So what would this recipe look like to a non-Foodie? Several helpful conversion sites helped translate McArdle's recipe into American.
about 5 1/2 Tablespoons butter  
about 3/4 cup flour  
about 4 cups milk  
about 20-22 ounces (1 1/4 to 1 1/2 lb.) cheese
Which is very heavy on flour and will result in an extremely thick sauce. The better to evaporate away, I guess. Twelve ounces of that cheese is mild white cheese, unlike most recipes, which mostly use cheddar cheese because they actually want their mac and cheese to have some flavor.

But the elite know best, and no doubt young libertarian hostesses will rush to provide their guests with the latest taste sensation, straight from the kitchen of the hostess with the most-ess.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

The Greed Of The Lower Classes

Megan McArdle bursts out with a religion-based crazy-lady rant just like the Congressional one.
Recently, I’ve been seeing a lot about fast-food workers and public assistance, after a study from the University of California at Berkeley Labor Center came out arguing that these workers get billions in public benefits. Several of my readers have hinted that I, as a welfare-hating libertarian type, should be outraged at all this free-riding.  
I don’t think this argument works for a bunch of reasons. We’re about to see a lot more fast-food workers on public benefits, because of the Affordable Care Act. (Assuming it doesn’t implode, of course.) Do companies really have a moral obligation to raise wages every time the public passes a new entitlement? That doesn’t seem as if it can possibly be right. Does Obamacare give you a moral obligation to pay your lawn guy more? Do you think it might be hard to pass new public programs if it did?
Our Megan is incensed! True, the fast food industry pays so little that its workers must go on public assistance. Unfortunately they now have the ability to buy health insurance with subsidies, the moochers. But just because some people get help buying health insurance doesn't mean that corporations should have to pay them a living wage and here I am, with my six-figure salary and full bennies, to tell you why.
If the public decides to give people a new benefit, then the public should be responsible for paying it. That is how it should be -- a system where one party gets to order the dinner, but send the bill to someone else who's not even at the table, is a bad system. But it’s also what’s best for the poor. Jason Furman, now President Barack Obama's top economic adviser, explained this very lucidly, seven years ago:
Does anyone really think that food stamps, Medicaid, and housing vouchers allow Wal-Mart to line its pockets by paying its workers less? Why don't you tell me which of the following two thought experiments make the most sense to you: · Wal-Mart is a nice, caring company. It wants its workers to have enough money to afford food, rent, and medical care, so it pays them $20,000 annually. Now along comes the government to give the workers $5,000 in food stamps, housing vouchers, and Medicaid, so now Wal-Mart only needs to chip in $15,000 to ensure its workers can live half decently.
Do you hear that, low-wage workers? Your bountiful pay of $20,000 a year ($384 a week!) is so generous that Wal-Mart could easily cut it to $15,000 a year if you complain about their second-hand subsidies. Sure, you can only live "half decently," but what else do the lice and scum non-producers deserve?
· Wal-Mart is an amoral company that wants to pay its workers as little as it possibly can while still attracting, retaining, and motivating enough workers to operate the business and make a profit. If the government makes food stamps and housing vouchers available, workers will take more time to find a high-paying job and greater leverage to press for higher wages. Wal-Mart will need to pay higher wages to attract the smaller pool of applicants and motivate them more now that the threat of firing someone carries somewhat less weight. (Economics aficionados should note that the EITC, which is only available to people who work, is a somewhat different story.)
Because jobs for people with no other options are plentiful and we have so few poor people and so many well-paying jobs.
So, hopefully you agree with me that Wal-Mart's workers are getting the direct benefits of these public programs and indirectly are probably getting higher wages as well.
No, I don't. McArdle does, however. More Furman:
But there's more good news for you: Most of the tab is being picked up by the wealthy, since the top 1 percent of Americans pay 39 percent of federal income taxes.
That's rich. That should be embroidered on a pillow. The people who vacuumed up 95% of the post-crash income gains and have almost all the money are your benefactors because they will now pay 39.6% on taxable income over $400,000.
Let's compare this to imposing a living wage. For the sake of argument, ignore efficiency and the impact on employment (not a bad assumption at Kennedy's proposed $7.25 an hour, but to benefit any Wal-Mart workers you would need to support $10 or $15 an hour, at which point it would be a terrible assumption). Where do you think this living wage would come from? It's too late to get the money from the Walton fortune, which in any event would only be enough to raise wages by $1 an hour (annualized). We could eliminate Lee Scott's salary and use the money to pay an extra 1 cent per hour to Wal-Mart's employees. You would have no way to legislate that Wal-Mart takes this money out of its profits, even if you thought these profits were sufficient. (And it's far from obvious that they are: Wal-Mart's profits per employee are lower than the economy-wide average. For example, Slate's owner, the Washington Post Company, makes $19,000 from each employee. Wal-Mart only makes $6,000 from each employee.)
Wal-Mart is the biggest employer in the US. To compare it to the Post is deeply dishonest. The Waltons have more wealth than the bottom 30% of Americans.
You shouldn't have any problem believing that what you think is an immoral corporation will pass most of the costs on to its consumers. Now, you might say it's only a 2 percent increase in prices. Given Wal-Mart's $250 billion in annual sales, this works out to $5 billion of "your money" (and more if you add more companies to your list). And "your money" is a more apt term in this case because the top 1 percent of Americans is not picking up 39 percent of this tab.
You don't want to have to pay 6 cents more for milk so a single mother can buy her kids shoes, do you?

The next paragraphs are McArdle in all her living glory. Sure, studies show that paying someone enough for them to survive doesn't increase unemployment, but I happen to have some (imaginary/hypothetical/wingnut-funded) studies right here that say the exact opposite!
Moreover, the living wage risks reducing employment, particularly among the least experienced and productive workers. The Earned Income Tax Credit and other similar benefits don’t. Yes, I’m familiar with research showing that the disemployment effects are small, or even nothing. Other studies suggest they’re larger. And even the studies that show no impact are very short-term -- they have to be, because in long-term studies, other factors can swamp the effect of wage changes. So they don’t capture long-term decisions, like whether to open a new fast-food outlet, or to invest in equipment that lets you get by with fewer workers.  
I’m a big fan of the EITC because it helps people who are willing to work, but whose work isn’t quite productive enough to support them in the minimum style that we think decent for a modern-day American. More of our safety net should be structured toward that goal. The implication of this Berkeley study that's making waves is that we should have a system more like the old European safety nets: Set a very high wage, so that no one in work needs benefits -- then provide lots of benefits to all the people who can’t get work at the higher wages. I think that’s a fundamental mistake, and so do a lot of European governments, who have been trying to reform those systems with varying degrees of success.
And that is why working people should be forced to depend on charity for survival. A handful of the richest people in the world might have to make a smaller profit or lower wages even further.

As entertaining as this crazy-lady rant is, it needs visuals. McArdle should have P. Suderman, boy ratf*cker, make a Tea Party video in support of Wal-Mart. He can get his buddies at Reason to play the part of Wal-Mart workers who are furious at this attack on Free Market Capitalism and wave around angry signs in support of their ersatz employers.

ADDED: See more about the issue at Naked Capitalism.

Dropping Dead

Much, much, much shorter Megan McArdle: "Obamacare Needs A Drop Dead Date"--The poor rollout of "Obamacare" is just the beginning of its "death spiral" and we should delay it for a year.

In response I will quote Jon Schwarz (via Digby) who wrote an article on his experience with cancer and "Obamacare":
So you can understand why I've been closely following the GOP's attempts to defund Obamacare. I'm suddenly much more interested in everything about healthcare policy, in the same way you're suddenly much more interested in the safety instructions in the seat back in front of you when the pilot announces you're ditching in Lake Superior. And every time Ted Cruz has gone on TV, what I've heard him say is: "I very much want to kill you, Jon Schwarz."  
That's because Obamacare requires insurance companies for the first time to cover everyone, regardless of any preexisting conditions. There's no more disqualifying condition than cancer; without Obamacare, I would now almost certainly be uninsurable if someday in the future I try to get insurance on the individual market. And we know what happens to people without health insurance in the United States: they die.  
This doesn't mean that I don't understand Obamacare's grievous flaws. But they're not flaws of going too far, they're flaws of not going nearly far enough. Almost every day now I think about the tens of thousands of Americans walking around with undiagnosed, early melanomas who could be cured in ten minutes. Some of them think something might be wrong but aren't doing anything because they have no insurance or bad insurance. Is it you, 28-year-old woman in jeggings who's clearly spent too much time at a tanning salon? Or maybe it's you, middle-aged dad I saw carting around three kids at the grocery store while getting instructions on your cell phone on what brand of spaghetti to buy. Or you, the 60-year-old cashier at the Indian restaurant who gave me the extra order that someone else never picked up. These thoughts about this unnecessary suffering torment me. If that sounds overwrought to you, I'm guessing you've never looked at a pathology report with your name on it that says "diagnosis: malignant."  
And the awful truth is that while Obamacare will save some of those people, it won't save them all – because although it will help nearly everyone get some kind of insurance, it won't help everyone get good insurance, the kind that saved me. Some of them will look at their strange asymmetric mole and their $2000 deductible and won't be $2100 worth of worried until it's too late. [snip] I didn't have to pay anything to see a doctor, and because of that it cost the healthcare system about $5,000 to treat me. If I'd delayed because I had to pay, it easily could have ended up costing the system $500,000 worth of interferon, CT scans and radioimmunotherapy, plus the additional downside of me being dead. Multiply that by millions of people and you'll understand why the right's crusade against health insurance is more than just evil and cruel, it's evil, cruel and incredibly stupid. 
So we don't have to just beat Ted Cruz so hard he flees back to Alberta. We have to get rid of the parts of Obamacare that may help the private insurance industry keep squeezing us like an anaconda. And we have to keep and improve the good parts, so the Affordable Care Act is just the first step to the only system that's ever worked anywhere on earth: universal, high-quality health insurance and healthcare for everyone. And while we're working on this, seriously – please please use lots of sunscreen and don't skimp on dermatologist appointments.
Read it all, as they say.

McArdle wants "Obamacare" to have a drop-dead date. If some people drop dead in the process, well, that's just the price they'll have to pay for Freedom.

ADDED: There could be no greater praise than to be burped up retweeted by Jonah!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

A Passion For Destruction

The is no question that Ted Cruz is smart. Yet he is doing a very dumb thing by threatening America's economic stability. Something is guiding him besides reason and logic, and it is not too difficult to figure out what.

Cruz's father, who was born in 1939 in Matanzas, Cuba,[14][13] "suffered beatings and imprisonment for protesting the oppressive regime"[13][18] of dictator Fulgencio Batista. He fought for communist revolutionary Fidel Castro in the Cuban Revolution[19][20] when he was 14 years old, but "didn't know Castro was a Communist." A few years later he became a staunch critic of Castro when "the rebel leader took control and began seizing private property and suppressing dissent."[13][21] The elder Cruz fled Cuba in 1957 at the age of 18, landing in Austin[18] to study at the University of Texas, knowing no English and with only $100 sewn into his underwear.[22][23] His younger sister fought in the counter-revolution and was tortured by the new regime.[20] He remained regretful for his early support of Castro, and emphatically conveyed this remorse to his young son over the following years.[13][20]

Cruz attended high school at Faith West Academy in Katy, Texas,[26] and later graduated from Second Baptist High School in Houston as valedictorian in 1988.[11] During high school, Cruz participated in a Houston-based group called the Free Market Education Foundation where Cruz learned about free-market economic philosophers such as Milton Friedman, Friedrich Hayek, Frédéric Bastiat and Ludwig von Mises.[20] The program was run by Rolland Storey and Cruz entered the program at the age of 13.[18]
I went to public school in Katy for a number of years. It is a small town that originated as a train stop on the Kansas-Texas railroad and became rice farms; the soil is a few inches of topsoil over clay, the land is flat, and rain is plentiful. By the time I moved there suburbs had sprung up in the relatively cheap land between Katy and Houston, and now most of the rice fields are covered with houses and strip shopping centers. It is relatively easy to live in a bubble there, especially if you only go to religious schools.

Like Ayn Rand, Ted Cruz learned a very valuable lesson at a young age: governments can be agents of oppression and fear and destroy lives. Also like Ayn Rand, Cruz viewed his family's experiences through the filter of his own personality and life experiences, and determined that the only way to deal with possibility of oppressive governments is to destroy them before they can destroy you.
Back in February Frank Bruni wrote this about Cruz:

Ted Cruz, a Republican freshman in the Senate who has been front and center in his party’s effort to squash Chuck Hagel’s nomination as secretary of defense, has a problem. He’s an ornery, swaggering piece of work. Just six weeks since his arrival on Capitol Hill, he’s already known for his naysaying, his nit-picking and his itch to upbraid lawmakers who are vastly senior to him, who have sacrificed more than he has and who deserve a measure of respect, or at least an iota of courtesy. Courtesy isn’t Cruz’s métier. Grandstanding and browbeating are.

He sits on the Senate Armed Services Committee, and during its final meeting on Tuesday about Hagel’s nomination, he made such nefarious and hectoring insinuations about Hagel’s possible corruption by foreign influences that McCain, who’d gleefully raked Hagel over the coals himself, more or less told Cruz to cool it. It was an unforgettable moment, and one that Republicans shouldn’t soon forget, because Cruz, 42, isn’t simply the latest overeager beaver to start gnawing his way through the halls of Congress. He’s a prime illustration of what plagues the Republican Party and holds it back.  
A fascinating illustration, too. On the surface, he should be part of the solution: young, Latino, with a hardscrabble family story including his father’s imprisonment in Cuba and escape to the United States. But Republicans who look to him and see any kind of savior overlook much of what drags the party down, which isn’t merely or even principally the genealogy of their candidates. It’s the intransigent social conservatism, the whiff of meanness and the showy eruptions. It’s what Cruz, who rode a wave of Tea Party ardor to victory in Texas in November, distills.


One voter tells the pollster that he’d be more kindly disposed toward Republicans if they could “be more pro-science.” Cruz has expressed skepticism about climate change, a position perhaps in tune with his hyperconservative base and his state’s oil interests but at odds with his apparently keen intellect.

He has an impressive academic résumé: an undergraduate degree from Princeton, followed by law school at Harvard. I’ve talked with his fellow students at Harvard and with his former colleagues from George W. Bush’s 2000 presidential campaign. All of them mention how fiercely smart he is.

But the flattery stops there. They remember him as arrogant, sour and self-serving, traits that apply to his brief time in the Senate so far. In questioning Hagel during the nominee’s confirmation hearing, he took a surprisingly, audaciously contemptuous tone.

Separately, in front of an audience of conservatives, he smirked dismissively as he griped that Hagel and John Kerry were “less than ardent fans of the U.S. military.” Those two men fought in Vietnam, and earned Purple Hearts; Cruz never served in the institution he purports to regard so much more highly than they do.

ONLY three senators voted against Kerry’s confirmation as secretary of state. Cruz was among them.

He has an affinity for opposing, a yen for obstructing. He belonged to the minority of 22 senators who voted against the Violence Against Women Act, which passed with 78 votes. He also voted against suspending the debt ceiling for three months and against aid to victims of Hurricane Sandy.

He has already flagged his disagreement with the immigration reform proposal by a bipartisan panel of senators. He has already indicated antipathy to the new push for meaningful gun control. During an appearance on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” when he was twice asked about the broadly reviled National Rifle Association ad that brought the president’s daughters into the debate on guns, he more or less defended it.

He’s been quick to seize spotlights like the one presented by “Meet the Press,” and while newly minted senators often keep a relatively low profile, he reportedly holds forth in Senate conferences at great and off-putting length. And he’s drawing unusual admonitions from senior Republicans.

“I think he’s got unlimited potential,” Senator Lindsey Graham told Politico. “But the one thing I will say to any new senator — you’re going to be respected if you can throw a punch but you also have to prove you can do a deal.”

Indeed, the challenge for Republicans now — a challenge that, to limited and varying degrees, Rubio and even Eric Cantor are beginning to grasp — is to be seen and to act as a constructive force, as a party that’s for things, that wants to be inclusive and that operates with a generosity of spirit, not an overflow of spite. With his votes and his vitriol, Cruz undermines that. He brings himself plenty of attention. He’ll bring Republicans nothing but grief.

 Bruni was absolutely correct, of course, and now here we are in an unnecessarily precarious position. Cruz doesn't want to be constructive; he wants to be destructive. Like Megan McArdle, he wants to destroy "Obamacare" to save America and he is absolutely positive he is smart enough to do it. Cruz has a plan for destruction. He does not have a plan for what will happen after he pulls down the government, because reconstruction or reformation is not his goal.

Ted Cruz faced a barrage of hostile questions Wednesday from angry GOP senators, who lashed the Texas tea party freshman for helping prompt a government shutdown crisis without a strategy to end it.

At a closed-door lunch meeting in the Senate’s Mansfield Room, Republican after Republican pressed Cruz to explain how he would propose to end the bitter budget impasse with Democrats, according to senators who attended the meeting. A defensive Cruz had no clear plan to force an end to the shutdown — or explain how he would defund Obamacare, as he has demanded all along, sources said.      

Things got particularly heated when Cruz was asked point-blank if he would renounce attacks waged on GOP senators by the Senate Conservatives Fund, an outside group that has aligned itself closely with the Texas senator.

“It seems that there is nothing the media likes to cover more than disagreements among Republicans, and apparently some senators are content to fuel those stories with anonymous quotes,” Cruz told POLITICO. “Regardless, my focus — and, I would hope, the focus of the rest of the conference — is on stopping Harry Reid’s shutdown, ensuring that vital government priorities are funded, and preventing the enormous harms that Obamacare is inflicting on millions of Americans.”

But as the government shutdown heads into day three, a number of Republican senators privately blame the Texas freshman for contributing to the mess their party finds itself in. And now that they’re in it, they say it’s up to Cruz to help find a solution.

“It was very evident to everyone in the room that Cruz doesn’t have a strategy – he never had a strategy, and could never answer a question about what the end-game was,” said one senator who attended the meeting. “I just wish the 35 House members that have bought the snake oil that was sold could witness what was witnessed today at lunch.”

Obviously Cruz believes or pretends to believe the Megan McArdle of his party, who warn that "Obamacare" will bankrupt the US and kill millions of Americans. Most of all, Cruz seems to believe the McArdles  who warn that "Obmacare" will bring the end of Freedom (TM). 

Once the government gets into the business of providing our health care, the government gets into the business of deciding whose life matters, and how much.  It gets into the business of deciding what we "really" want, where what we really want can never be a second chocolate eclair that might make us a size fourteen and raise the cost of treating us.
I realize that to most people, these are airy-fairy considerations that should be overridden by the many "practical" considerations of the awesomenes of central health care.  Well, I'm actually pretty underwhelmed by that awesomeness, for reasons I'll happily elaborate elsewhere.  But not here, because fundamentally, to me, the effect on the tax code and the relative efficiency of various sorts of bureaucracy are mostly beside the point.  The real issue is the effect on future lives, and future freedom.  And in my opinion, they way in overwhelmingly on the side of stopping further government encroachments into health care provision.

And if it's a choice between freedom and fascist oppression, collateral damage doesn't matter. So what if a few thousand furloughed  people lose their homes or can't feed their kids? It's better than the total destruction of the US. True, McArdle does not want the government to shut down because it would hurt the financial industry, but it's a little too late to put that horse back in the stable. She convinced a lot of people that millions would die with "Obamacare" and now it's too late to rein them in. Ted Cruz doesn't care what Megan McArdles want and he can be just as self-serving, spiteful and argumentative as she can.

But personal satisfaction is only part of the story. By forcing a shutdown, Cruz  has proven to the world that Rafael Edward Cruz is a very powerful man. He has been in office only 10 months and nearly has brought the government to its knees. If you cannot use your power you do not have any, which is why the right is so desperate to get any concession, no matter how minor. Power confers authority and authoritarians will follow anyone with power. (And will stop following them when their power wanes.) Cruz will lead them right over a cliff. His ideology demands it, his career will profit from it, and he will reap all the benefits of increased personal power. The consequences of his actions are irrelevant since he will not be facing them.

In Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Buffy's boyfriend, Angel, turns evil and decides to create a Hell on earth. When he was a (human) child, Angel was belittled and criticized constantly by his overbearing father. He grew up to be a vainglorious drunk, whose needs drove him to attempt to create a brave new world that would compensate for all the miseries of his past. In this world he would be big, important, admired, respected, feared. When he was "good," these impulses drove him to be hero, a leader who helps the helpless and inspires others to do the same. As an evil vampire, it drove him to attempt to end the world. Which did not sit well with the other Republicans vampires, who did not want to destroy the world to "save" it.

SPIKE:  We like to talk big.  Vampires do. ‘I’m going to destroy the world.’  That’s just tough guy talk.  Strutting around with your friends over a pint of blood.  The truth is, I like this world. 
You’ve got . . . dog racing, Manchester United.  And you’ve got people.  Billions of people walking around like Happy Meals with legs.  It’s all right here.  But then someone comes along with a vision.  With a real . . . passion for destruction.  Angel could pull it off.  Goodbye, Piccadilly.  Farewell, Leicester Bloody Square.  You know what I’m saying?

A passion for destruction is a very dangerous thing. McArdle does not have the stomach for destruction; like Spike she enjoys the world the way it is, despite her constant undermining of its institutions. She likes shopping on the internet and bar-hopping and libertarian wingnut welfare. She doesn't want to eliminate the billions of people who need her guidance and instruction via high-paying media gigs. But Ted Cruz is ambitious. Ted Cruz has (part of) a plan. And Ted Cruz, thanks to the short-sided and underhanded tactics of his tribe, has the power to bring about the Apocalypse.

Atlas Shrugged had a plan for America after it was destroyed; it would be rebuilt by the elite for the elite, using nearly free natural resources. Ted Cruz doesn't even have that; after the deluge comes nothing. Just his absolute confidence that remaking the world in his own image will no doubt be a gloriously successful enterprise (for him, at least), no matter how much destruction is created.

Thrilling Update!:

Cruz Won’t Hold Up Vote on Reopening Government

Ted Cruz told reporters he will not hold up a vote on the newly announced plan to reopen the government and raise the debt ceiling, but expressed his dissatisfaction with the deal.
“Unfortunately, once again, it appears, the Washington establishment is refusing to listen to the American people,” Cruz said. The Texas senator commended the House for keeping up the fight over the past few weeks, but sharply criticized the Senate for “doing nothing to respond to the suffering that Obamacare is causing millions of Americans.”

While Cruz vowed to continue fighting Obamacare through different means, he would not delay the current plan. ”There’s nothing to be gained from delaying this vote one day or two days,” he said.
If this is true we commend Cruz on his belated Come To Jesus moment. God only knows what disaster he will come up with next. Also, I would watch my back if I were a Senate Republican. All that spite and ambition did not just go away.

Thursday, October 10, 2013


Speak of the devil and the devil appears.

As the shutdown grinds into its second week, I thought it might be useful to lay out why I think Republicans should look for a graceful exit as quickly as possible, rather than trying to use the shutdown -- or God forbid, the debt ceiling -- to extract unlikely concessions.

Coincidentally, Ms. Megan McArdle decided to write about the shutdown yesterday, the better to educate and guide her devoted followers. When the financial industry is at risk, Bankgirl is always there to lend a hand.  But remember, folks, Bankgirl is a libertarian. She hates evil government giveaways. And don't get her started on student loans, when they are taken out by people who are not Megan McArdle. She is not some schmuck Republican, with their tacky religious tchotchkes and polyester pants and state college diplomas decorating their tiny suburban offices. She follows her own, elite, rules.
I know that many of my conservative readers do not believe this, but I share many of your goals. I would like a smaller government that does less stuff. I oppose the Affordable Care Act.
I do solemnly swear that if McArdle were to find it financially advantageous to sign up for "Obamacare," she would do it in an instant. Just as she (almost) voted for Obama despite his advocation of health insurance reform before he took office.   Yes, McArdle "would like a smaller government that does less stuff" for other people. She, herself, has no problem taking what her nation offers her. She just doesn't want to do anything in return.
Yet I am opposed to the shutdown because I think it does real institutional damage to the country, and because I don’t think it will work. It is damaging the Republican Party’s prospects, while not noticeably increasing the chances that government will shrink.  
I understand the frustration. Government is much bigger, and stupider, than it would be in a world designed by me.
The biggest problem with our wannabe elite today is that they really believe that. Matthew Yglesias thinks that he can make decisions for us. Megan McArdle thinks that she can run major organizations more efficiently. P. Suderman, boy gamer extraordinaire, in between movie reviews thinks he can cogently analyze the health care industry. If everyone would just get out of their way, they could do everything, be anyone, have anything. If only....

It does too much, and too little of it well. Democrats are working on a huge expansion of an entitlement state that we already can’t afford.  
But -- as I frequently say to liberals who get huffy about my opposition to Obamacare -- the fact that there is a problem does not mean that there is a solution.
Video or it didn't happen. We are supposed to believe that liberals frequently flounce over to Megan McArdle and get all huffy in her grill about "Obmaacare," only to be schooled on their political naiveté and fuzzy thinking. By Megan McArdle.
The fact that you are really angry about what has happened over the last four years and passionately wish to undo some of the damage does not mean that a way exists for you to do so. Do not fall prey to that fatal political syllogism: 
1. Something must be done.
2. This is something.
3. Therefore, this must be done. 
That logic is, after all, what brought us the giant Rube Goldberg apparatus of Obamacare.

I thought the Heritage Foundation brought us the giant Rube Goldberg apparatus of Obamacare?

McArdle goes on to earn her daily bread by taking us along on a ride on her train of thought, which is less a Taggart Transcontinental Express and more a choo-choo you would find at a petting zoo.

Reason the First: People wouldn't like a shutdown. The mean old liberal media blames the right, so the right is losing politically, the poor innocent babies.

Reason the Second: Obama will shut down the government before he gives up on "Obamacare." The right will be standing by helplessly, of course, unable to stop Obama from refusing to stop them.

Reason the Third: We should be attacking "Obamacare" as it is rolled out, not the national debt. Priorities, people! Reducing the debt doesn't put money in her pocket. Attacking "Obamacare" does.

Reason the Fourth: The markets will get spooked and lose money. Can't have that. McArdle has a 401k.

Reason the Fifth: People wouldn't like it when they become affected by a shutdown. This presupposes that the government is helping people and that they want it to continue helping them, which only makes sense but pretty much invalidates the entire raison detre  of the Republican party.

The question, then, is how to do it gracefully. My advice, for what it’s worth, is to ask for something you can get, and then settle for that. Be realistic about what Democrats are going to agree to -- and the answer is not “completely dismantling Obamacare,” however wonderful that would be.
McArdle does not understand the mindset of her own people. She is thrilled to get anything, no matter how much or how little. The sheer pleasure of accumulating wealth and possessions is enough for her. Other people, however, cannot afford retail therapy and therefore are a little more demanding of their political party. They want what McArdle already has, and if she and her fellow elite suffer financial pain in the process, well, suffering is good for the soul.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

I'm Not Here

I thought I'd just pop in to remind us all that Megan McArdle is married to a tea-bagger, which no doubt has nothing to do with her decision to ignore the Republican tea-baggers' attempts to knee-cap the economy so the government will collapse into little fiefdoms that must beg for funds from billionaires. Since personal connections to tea-baggers and the various and assorted Koch-created or supported venues that funneled money to our little blogger princess are not the reason, I suppose the biggest economic and political story of the moment simply does not interest her.

However you might say that McArdle is desperate to avoid the subject, going by the feebleness of her recent posts. She still has a grudge against Argentina, which defaulted instead of lining the pockets of the business elite, the way God and nature intended. She warned us that "infrastructure" might not mean what everyone thinks it means and business people are too greedy to trust, at least when they are being paid by the government. She opined thinkishly but vaguely about Asia's economic problems without discussing any actual problems excepting China's no doubt tragic dalliance with reform. And McArdle discussed credit and young adults without addressing the credit cards' bombardment of young people; they are "getting themselves credit cards and then getting themselves into big trouble."

Her only nod to the shutdown is a few posts of the awfulness of "Obamacare." But the old Megan magic does pop up its little head when her personal interests are involved. The free market is not doing its job properly, you see, and Miss Megan might be inconvenienced. The company that makes her bike-share bikes might be going under and a bailout attention must be paid!

Sure, I’d rather it wasn’t subsidized by the government, but this wouldn’t even make it onto my list of Top 100 Inappropriate Subsidies From the Government of the District of Columbia. So my conscience does not pang me too much as I glide through the bike lanes of our nation’s capital.

That's our special little princess.

People are spending a lot of time trying to figure out what the tea-baggers want.  It's not that difficult.

I want a feast.
I want a bean feast!

Cream buns and doughnuts and fruitcake with no nuts
So good you could go nuts
 I want a ball
I want a party
Pink macaroons and a million balloons
And performing baboons and ...
Give it to me

I want the world
I want the whole world
I want to lock it all up in my pocket
It's my bar of chocolate
Give it to me

I want today
I want tomorrow
I want to wear 'em like braids in my hair
And I don't want to share 'em

I want a party with room fulls of laughter
Ten thousand tons of ice cream
And if I don't get the things I am after
I'm going to scream!

I want the works
I want the whole works
Presents and prizes and sweets and surprises
Of all shapes and sizes
And now
Don't care how
I want it now
Don't care how
I want it now

Why do they want all these things? Because they want to make you give it to them. They want to see you submit to them. That's all. Just total submission. They want Black people to be afraid to look them in the eyes. They want women to stay in their place. They want to know the police will keep the scary people away, and they want lots of guns because everyone know the police are not respectful of their status as the pinnacle of civilization. They want everyone to bow before their god and his image on Earth.

But that's all deep in the background, the kind of thoughts that only surface at night before they fall asleep. We must live in this world whether we want to or not, so in the mean time they will be satisfied with any little old display of power. Complete control over their children is a very satisfying substitution. Forcing women to obey their latest whim if they want reproductive services. Undermining schools that mostly benefit the poor and lower middle class, complaining about the poor and their servants, stiffing the waiter--oh, there are a million ways to flex one's power muscles.

Don't care how
I want it now
Don't care how
I want it now

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Thank You, God

I want pie video. McArdle has complained so often of the difficulty of pie crust that her pie video will assuredly become an instant classic.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Lady Ga-Ga

Poor Kathryn Jean Lopez is so shocked by the news that she can't force everyone to obey Catholic doctrine that she is even less coherent than usual.
By HHS count, they received over 400,000 comments on this previously proposed rule, but were clearly not moved by the pleas. Eric Rassbach, deputy general counsel at the Becket Fund calls it “more of the same.” If you provide insurance, you have to provide employees the means to an abortion end. It’s about facilitating the obtaining an abortion. The government says employers have to, period, he said on a call just now.
That's the first time I've ever see words flounce in indignation.

Of course it's not just about abortion, as K-Lo so very c a r e f u l l y spells out every time she mentions the HHS ruling, which she calls the "abortion/contraception/sterilization HHS mandate controversy." K-Lo is every bit as eager to outlaw birth control, in-vitro fertilization, tube-tying, and vasectomies. Every woman must be willing at all times to accept or be denied God's miraculous gift of life because every act of sexual intercourse is not just between a man and a woman.

K-Lo believes that each act is actually a Sacred Threesome, in a which a man and women and God all unite to bring new life into the world. While the man and women are making sacred marital love, God is also always present. After all, the Catholics say that each use of contraception interferes with God's plan for the couple and we must all obey the Catholics. (The Catholics told us so.) If he wants to inseminate the woman with a human soul, God needs to be free to do so whenever he wants or does not want, for infertility is God's will as well. Since God is present at every single copulation of every single man and woman at every single minute of every single day, of course birth control is against God's will.

(It's a good thing he's omniscient or all that porn might turn him into a sex maniac. The Catholics told us that too.)
But here we are. Employers with religious objections to abortion, contraception, sterilization have no religious-freedom claim in the eyes of the Obama administration, despite pleas, despite good-faith discussions, despite assurances by the administration.  
And, yes, the president and the vice president insisted this problem was all solved before their reelection. They lied. Because in this world of increased secularization and sexual revolutionary values, some churches’ teachings on human dignity have no place in the public square (the public square including evangelical schools, Catholic hospitals, religious soup kitchens). Or so the goverment mandates.
This is what happens when people never the leave the Catholic bubble: They begin to believe that their bubble encloses the entire world, instead of their own head. After that happens, reality is purely subjective. You just know that K-Lo talks to her crucifix every night and that Jesus talks back.