Somewhat, yes. But it should effectively refute the idea that the GOP has some magic formula for the economy, especially when you dig into the deficit numbers — and even the military spending, which grows more under Democrats!
Perhaps the scariest thing about the modern Republican Party is this: It has somehow combined people with of two different dogmatic stripes — unquestioned faith in Biblical literalism and unquestioned faith in the free market — into one large group of people with no interest in adapting those faiths to fit reality.
“Some people continue to defend trickle-down theories which assume that economic growth, encouraged by a free market, will inevitably succeed in bringing about greater justice and inclusiveness in the world,” Francis wrote in the papal statement. “This opinion, which has never been confirmed by the facts, expresses a crude and naive trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power and in the sacralized workings of the prevailing economic system.” “Meanwhile,” he added, “the excluded are still waiting.”—Pope Francis denounces ‘trickle-down’ economic theories in sharp criticism of inequality - The Washington Post
Differences between the current GOP and the rest of us
Rest of us: “The current GOP is in denial on science, the suffering of the poor, the Founding Fathers’ thoughts on religious pluralism, the effects of deregulation and many other things that can be defined objectively.”
Republicans: “You’re in denial that YOU’RE A SOCIALIST!”
It points out some common ground between his point of view (libertarian, apparently) and a “liberal” point of view on corporate welfare. Then it goes through a neat history lesson on FDR’s philosophy.
The difference between his philosophy and others is this:
How does your political bent threaten my and my sons’ personal liberty, you ask? In your irrational attempt to classify things such as clothing, shelter, health care, employment, and income as basic human rights, you are placing a demand upon my time, my treasure, and my talents.
I suppose that’s true. But what I don’t understand is this: Does any modern philosophy state that such things are not basic human rights, and that we human beings are not responsible for using our “time, treasure and talents” to help others attain those rights?
Not Christianity. As we do to the least of our brothers and sisters, so we do to Jesus. In fact, I think we can rule out pretty much any religion — I don’t know of one that allows people to live without caring for others. Maybe Scientology. (Hey, I can say it — this is an anonymous blog.)
Not the philosophy of Socrates, who let himself die because he felt his escape would violate the social order. He was wrong, of course, but we have to conclude that he was willing to let his state’s needs override his own.
“Wait, wait …" you’re probably yelling at me on behalf of our hostile blogger. "He says it’s fine for charities to do all that. He just doesn’t want the government to do it, and he’s mad because it violates his liberty to be forced to do it.”
Fair enough. Not all utilitarians think the government is the solution to all our problems. The problem is that charity in the United States isn’t cutting it. For one thing, it’s economically inefficient to treat uninsured people in emergency rooms on an ad hoc basis, but we’ll let economists (if any honest economists remain) explain that.
The reality of the past few decades in the United States is this: The rich are getting way, way richer. The idea, of course, is that such wealth “trickles down” to the rest of the country. But it’s not. You may have seen this startling video making the rounds, and the basic points are backed up in most of the hundreds of sources cited in Wikipedia’s current consensus on the topic. (That topic is income inequality; unfortunately, “wealth inequality” has a less exhaustive entry.)
Some people quibble over the meaning of those numbers, specifically whether the “poor” are really so poor after all. Sometimes, they’re right. Oddly enough, a little-known program of the Bush administration has helped reduce homelessness — at least until the sequester kicks in. (I wonder if our hostile blogger was also hostile was Bush was launching this program.) It’s tough to tell how poor people really are — ride Amtrak through Baltimore, and you will see horrifying and peculiar neighborhoods in which half of one row of rowhouses is literally falling down, while at the other end of the row, a satellite dish is peacefully installed on the roof.
But we know these facts beyond dispute: Hundreds of thousands of families are homeless. Tens of millions of people don’t have health insurance. The government is spending a lot of money on food assistance.
And any chart of wealth, income and taxation will show you that you could easily shift enough money to lift people out of dire straits without a major burden to the “time, talent and treasure” of the upper classes.
Perhaps the government should be the last resort. And in modern Democratic Party thought, it is. That’s why Obamacare grew out of right-wing thinktanks looking for ways to insure more people through private means and personal responsibility.
But whether the help comes from the government, charity or creative private programs, every worthwhile philosophy compels that help to come, even at the cost of one’s “time, talent and treasure.” The government can (and, even in the time of Obama, does) give you more freedom to preserve your stuff than it gives others freedom from need, but no matter what your philosophy or religion, you’re never free to ignore the needs of others.
And sadly, the rest of the hostile blog isn’t as thoughtful. It equates taxation with slavery, a concept that is eloquently refuted at Bleeding Heart Libertarians.
So what I think we’ve shown here is that being hostile toward “liberals” — however one defines it in a day of much lower taxes for the upper classes — is merely shooting the messenger. “Liberals” are actually demanding less of your “time, talent and treasure” than Jesus or any reasonable secular philosopher would demand. And if you say “liberal” policy gives wealthy Americans less treasure to share, well, let’s take a look at those charts again.
Now let’s see what has liberals, utilitarians, former Republicans and everyone else so agitated toward the Tea Party.
1. Rhetoric. Disagree with the Tea Party? You’re socialist (something that greatly amuses people who live in far more “socialist” countries in Europe). You’re trying to take over the country. (By raising taxes to a fraction of what they were in “the good ol’ days”?)
2. Zeal. The extremists in the Republican Party cost us tens of billions of dollars with a government shutdown that the elder statesmen and cooler heads in the party didn’t want. It’s rather frightening to see people who would rather wreak economic havoc to get their way than to accede to the wishes of an overwhelming majority of people in the country, as measured by votes in elections, the concerns of political donors and any poll you can dredge up.
3. Climate change denialism.
4. Evolution denialism.
5. Contraception denialism. (That one’s rather new — we’ve seen people who want to restrict access to contraception. Seriously.)
6. Misinformation. Watch any episode of The Daily Show and ask yourself if people at Fox have any conscience whatsover. Or check with people who have described themselves as conservatives or Republicans who now see a party of nihilists and liars.
Now scan back through this list. Are we the non-Tea Party people upset because others suggest non-governmental solutions to common problems? No. Is it a question of values? Not really, unless you really want to make the philosophically improbable case that the suggestion of helping the poor inhibits your freedom.
What we see are a lot of people using bastardized concepts of freedom as an excuse to belittle those who think we have responsibilities to our fellow human beings. The only reason we’re not as hostile as our hostile blogger is that we’re generally nice people. Well, we try.
“The GOP, at its core, is a religious organization, not a political one. It is digging in deeper on immigration reform, and marriage equality, and abortion. It is not acting as a rational actor in political competition but as a fundamentalist movement, gerrymandering its way to total resistance to modernity’s increasing diversity of views and beliefs. It is emphatically not a socially conservative force: it is a radical, fundamentalist movement, incapable of accepting any political settlement that does not comport with unchanging, eternal dicta.”—The GOP vs Social Conservatism « The Dish
“Before you argue that this infringes on our liberty, privacy, and free speech, consider the Boston Marathon bombing. The attackers were found and caught precisely because we submit to constant surveillance. A photo posted to social networks, combined with CCTV, mobile broadcast signals, and hordes of overnight activists allowed us to find two out of 600,000 people. (To be sure, this very same technology was also to blame for misreporting, possible libel, and potentially another death.)”—NSA/Verizon surveillance: You’re sharing your private data all the time. - Slate Magazine
Any criticism of utilitarianism that argues that using utilitarianism produces bad outcomes or sub-optimal results misses the point and is wrong almost by definition. If an outcome is less than ideal from the perspective of maximizing utility, then utilitarianism cannot point to it as the best…
John Stuart Mill. This is a dude you might be writing a paper on right now. Note: His last name is Mill. If he is possessing something, for instance: “Mill’s theory of utilitarianism”, feel free to use an apostrophe and add an “s” to the end of his name. If you’re feeling more casual, feel free to…
“Philosophy is not science. Knowing how we ordinarily use our concepts of truth, or personhood or causation is important. Wittgenstein was certainly right that philosophers get into muddles by ignoring these facts. Yet even when it comes to the abstract concerns of metaphysics, philosophy can and should aspire to be more than just a description of the ordinary.”—
“How many Americans, for example, are aware that one of the primary drivers of our persistently high unemployment rate is the sharp decline in public sector employment — the massive layoffs of teachers, firefighters, police officers, and other public sector employees over the past two years? We might also ask how many Americans recognize that one of the primary ways President Obama managed to stop the downward economic spiral at the start of his first term was through the funding of public sector jobs via the stimulus funds that were channeled to state and local governments. Indeed, it was the expiration of that federal support, and Congress’s refusal to support the president’s modest request for additional federal dollars to support state and local governments in his jobs bill, that initiated the recent public sector decline.”—Decline in GDP could create a Roosevelt-era recession - Salon.com
“If Americans want a society where schools do not, as the one in Newtown did, have to drill their children in emergency lock-down procedures, more drastic measures should be contemplated. Handgun bans, such as those that operated in Chicago and Washington, DC, before the Supreme Court struck them down, would be needed on a national scale. Gun licences, obtainable only after extensive police and medical review as in most other civilised countries, would be needed for hunting and sporting weapons. Tough police action, coupled with an extensive “buy-back” programme, would be needed to mop up the hundreds of millions of guns that are already held. If, as seems probable, this is held to conflict with the constitution, then the constitution needs to be amended.”—Gun violence in America: Newtown’s horror | The Economist
“The final line for me to cross in complete alienation from the right was my recognition that Obama is not a leftist. In fact, he’s barely a liberal—and only because the political spectrum has moved so far to the right that moderate Republicans from the past are now considered hardcore leftists by right-wing standards today. Viewed in historical context, I see Obama as actually being on the center-right.”—Revenge of the Reality-Based Community | The American Conservative
“But if there was ever a good time to give it a shot, it’s probably now. The labor compensation share of overall economic output has historically fluctuated in a narrow range, but it fell steadily in the post-dot-com era before completely collapsing during the Great Recession. The existence of a glut of unemployed workers during the past few years of recovery has prevented the fruits of economic growth from being shared with most workers. Consequently, after-tax corporate profits as a share of GDP have soared to a record level.
In other words, if there was ever a time when firms were prepared to eat higher costs because of reduced profits that time is today.”—Papa John’s raising prices for Obamacare: Denny’s, Applebee’s, and the pizza chain are angry about health care costs. - Slate Magazine
“Gotta love Deadspin commenters: “Everyone go to your nearest Williams-Sonoma store and grab every catalog (do they call it a catalogue?) they have. Carry at least one around at all times, so the next time any person starts talking about repealing Obamacare and how the government has no place telling rich people how to spend their money, just hand them one of these.”—The Hater’s Guide To The Williams-Sonoma Catalog
“The white establishment is now the minority,” O’Reilly said. “And the voters, many of them, feel that the economic system is stacked against them and they want stuff. You are going to see a tremendous Hispanic vote for President Obama. Overwhelming black vote for President Obama. And women will probably break President Obama’s way. People feel that they are entitled to things and which candidate, between the two, is going to give them things?”—
Bill, you still think everyone is playing the same game you are. You want your candidate to take office so you will get an economic system that benefits you. And you think it’s OK to lie and distort on behalf of your candidate and party. And you think everyone does the same.
Most people care about other people. They see a colossal national debt and realize that cutting taxes on the rich even more that they’ve already been cut isn’t going to solve the problem. They see a warming planet, and they don’t want to hand that problem down to our children. They see people down on their luck who can’t get health insurance, and they realize the only way those folks are getting care today is through a horribly inefficient system of write-offs that makes our health care soar. They see troops looking for jobs. They see seniors worried about the Social Security and Medicare toward which they’ve paid a lot of money all these years.
Some Romney voters want those same things, and they honestly believe the GOP’s approach would help. And the vast majority of Obama voters want those things as well.
At some point, Bill, you’ll have to walk a mile in someone else’s shoes. Then maybe you’ll realize how many other people have already made that journey.
“On Saturday, Republican NJ Gov. Chris Christie and his Lt. Governor Kim Guadagno issued an order that both opened county election offices for Early Voting over the weekend, as well as, most importantly, ordered paper ballots to be sent to those Garden State polling places where power may still be out on Election Day. The state is to be applauded for that.”—
And finally, for the moron CEOs who are threatening their employees if they don’t vote for Romney — despite the fact that under Obama they’ve posted record profits, amassed record cash reserves, watched the Dow double since this president took office, avoided any responsibility for blowing up the whole economy in 2008 AND enjoyed the lowest top marginal income tax rates and corporate income tax rates since the Korean freakin’ War and the greatest income inequality since the days of Jay and Daisy — here’s our response to you:We already had the feudalism-vs.-democracy argument. In 1776. Your side lost. Get the hell over it.
The U.S. abolished peonage a long time ago. Get the hell over it.
WE ARE AMERICANS. WE DO NOT NEGOTIATE WITH TERRORISTS.
For the record, most of the lawn signs in my neighborhood were taken down. Of the ones that were not, the Senate/House signs fared well, while the presidential ones (both candidates) were slightly mangled. Eerie.