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Sean and the Great Republican Propaganda Machine


Today, we hear from a paid Republican blogger who comments on Dr. Paul Krugman’s blog: “Conscience of a Liberal.” This clown is one of several obviously paid bloggers who seem to be on the blog almost daily spouting ridiculous comments, distracting references, insults, pathetic attempts at ridicule—and in all cases comments intending merely to disrupt the flow of the Krugman blog.

Because the Krugman blog is by far the largest and most powerful economic blog on the Internet, it is not surprising that the Neocon response machine should send out these voluble but ignorant bloggers–there are actually several–to try to distract from the issues. Neocons don’t like truth in economics or politics to surface without at least an attempt at some confusion.

But this piece, this one little blog comment tells it all. This is what he (or she ) says on November 18, 2010 in a blog about social transfers in society and their relevance to the European consumption tax system. Europe is pretty universal in having the VAT or consumption tax. The comment tells us more about the Republicans themselves than it does about the subject on which it commented.

Here is the blog comment:

“None of this changes the fact that when you transfer resources from market control to political control, you lower the performance of the economy overall.

Markets are dynamic. Markets are innovative. Markets are efficient. Markets are disciplined. And markets are not corruptible,

Governments are static. Governments are anti-innovation. Governments are inefficient. Governments are undisciplined. And government is intrinsically corruptible,”

(The ending commas in a couple of places were the writer’s for some reason. Not ours.)

So, how should we respond to this? We will respond directly to each of those points. But it is good to observe first that this comment represents the ultimate, prototypical, Neoconservative Republican position. And remember, this position is only popular, only seen and heard repeatedly in the press or on television because it is promoted with hundreds of millions, sometimes billions of dollars. The idea that business should be ubiquitous, should run everything is definitely not the majority political or economic philosophy in this country. It is the minority viewpoint by far. The majority feel that business should run private enterprise and create jobs but a strong and efficient government should run the common areas in which it is necessary that we all participate, roads, streets and security of various kinds…national security, general welfare and retirement and social services, such as health and education.

But the Neoconservative philosophy is promoted by the Super-Rich. There are two reasons that some very rich people promote this political position. One, they pay a lot of taxes and–who could blame them–they don’t like it. Two, they don’t like regulations on business. Since these people own two-thirds of all corporations, regulations are important to them. Regulations often cost them more than taxes. Especially if they do not care much about environments or people.

If that were not the case–that is, if a very powerful group of people were not hurting more vulnerable people, we probably would not publish this blog. The problem is that in trying to get their way, this segment of the Super-Rich damages the lives of tens of millions of American families—poor and struggling, elderly and ill, minorities and the long-term unemployed. Their rather rudimentary solutions are to add to their wealth by taking from the middle class and the poor. The more enterprising alternative…to use their wealth to grow the domestic economy…is too much work.

But they are dangerous to the Middle Class. They want another tax cut and they have enlisted the Republicans…for a price…to get it for them. But it is more than merely a loss of $4 trillion in tax revenues, a loss that would bring the national debt to $17 trillion, basically equal to the Gross Domestic Product, the entire output of the economy. We would then be like someone who makes $100,000 a year and owes $100,000. As bad as that is, it is not the worst part of their activity.

The kampf, that is, the battle, the struggle, is to keep these handful of super-rich greedy, evil people from destroying the vast number of American citizens by completely eliminating the Middle Class. We could go over the countless ways that these super-rich like the Koch family and the Walton and the Scaifes are damaging millions of lives. They promote the gradual strangling of government, the reckless promotion of imported fuels from the Middle East and the continually steep rise in medical care costs and health insurance. They have a vested monetary interest in these things. And their relentless demand for more profits from these areas is literally tearing apart the fabric of the country.

So, let’s address this by responding to the blog post of “Sean from Florida.” You see, these Super-Rich Reactionaries have hired the Republican Party, the Chamber of Commerce, Karl Rove, and the Right Wing media, including their ally, the “immigrant-who-came-to-destroy-America,” Rupert Murdoch. They have hired FreedomWorks, or the Cato Institute or the American Enterprise Institute or the myriad of other “institutes.”

In turn, one of these organizations funded by the Super-Rich Reactionaries has in turn hired this bozo to say the most outrageous, stupid, insulting things to one of the world’s most renowned and respected and learned economists. Naturally, Professor Krugman simply shrugs off the comments, first because they are often nonsensical but also because he is challenged constantly by far more astute minds in the international community. But the comments are only intended to diffuse the message that the country is going down the wrong road economically.

The Super-Rich feel the need to challenge Professor Krugman because of his enormous influence on society…the opposite of what the Super-Rich Reactionaries expect from their lap dog mercenary journalists and economists. His more sensible and current models of economic policy fly in the face of the long-time mantra of the rich…cut our taxes and all will be well. Well…says Dr. Krugman, we’ve cut them in half and kept them that low for 30 years and the only result was 15 million people out of work, 10 million more under employed, 6 million people in foreclosure and a government $13 trillion in debt.

This blog commenter’s approach is to appear knowledgeable and slick…the typical Republican propaganda technique. Like Paul Ryan, he delivers his comments with an authoritarian pose and with a rapid fire presentation. He delivers comment the way the Ann Coulter school of discussion delivers talking points…like a machine gun, with the standard rat-a-tat-tat of the Right Wing. It takes a few minutes just to lift your head to read the comments and sift out the totally preposterous from the merely incorrect.

For example, the Republican propaganda machine now has a dozen different ways to tell their principal Big Lie. The biggest Republican lie, one that still works…even worked in the recent elections in many cases…is that you can have more tax cuts and continue an efficiently sized government. A study under a Republican President and a Republican head of the CBO proved conclusively in the early 1990s that tax cuts NEVER, EVER pay for themselves. So all Republicans know that they are lying.

You may have tax cuts for political reasons. You may have tax cuts simply to make people feel good.
But they will NEVER stimulate the economy. The economy may grow and tax revenues will increase…because our country always gets bigger and we normally have more people working. Until Bush arrived. So, normally, more tax revenues always come in.

But when you cut taxes, you don’t get that money back. So even though government revenues increase…because more people are paying taxes…government is also growing just to keep up with the growth in the population. Consequently if you cut taxes, the greater amount of taxes you collect will be less than you needed to break even and run the government. Therefore, you will have a deficit. And that is what we have had every year…despite Democratic shouts and cries and warnings…every year since Ronald Reagan started the stupid idea that you can spend more and cut tax revenues in half.

You don’t need to be an economist. You simply need to be sane.

Here is the comment. Let’s take these comments one by one.

“Markets are dynamic. Markets are innovative.”

Yes, of course they are. This country is basically built on that fact. We created dynamic markets within a free enterprise system. But without good regulation, those markets failed us many times, most particularly in 1893, in 1929, and again in 2008. Huge disruptions of society were caused by only one thing: total removal of government from supervision of markets.

From 1945 through 1980, our attitude of a marginal supervision of markets gave us the strongest economy in the world, with the greatest middle class, more security and more earnings than at any time in history. Since 1980, the average American has gone downhill economically and the Rich have used propaganda to hide it.

“And markets are not corruptible,” (again, not my comma but the author’s)

Well, this is plainly and obviously false. We could say a lot—many, many examples—but we’ll just say Madoff, ENRON, and Credit Default Swap. If you create a phony insurance vehicle to protect a security that you know is worthless…that is the very essence of “corruptible.”

“Governments are static.” Well, first of all, governments are not static. But they aren’t meant to be aggressive, market-dynamic entities. Governments are meant to provide, above all else, stability and security. Even an aggressive capitalistic, free-rein, market economy like ours requires a stabile society in which to operate. But that is not a negative thing. It is a positive thing, if you are a government.

“Governments are anti-innovation.” This is rather like saying that people are anti-dog food. People aren’t anti-dog food. We just don’t eat dog food. But we like to see our dogs eat dog food. This is one of those irrelevant, incongruent points that Neoconservatives often bring up that are virtually meaningless. The inference is that governments try to impede free enterprise.

It is a take-off on the old Reactionary argument that government regulation will ruin the economy. Untrue. Intelligent regulation insures that no one drills an oil well on your front lawn or next to a children’s playground. Intelligent regulation insures that we don’t eat eggs or milk that is contaminated and kills us. Some of those rich who provide food and energy, hate being regulated.

“Governments are inefficient.” Well, ask the Iraqis if we are inefficient. Ask the Japanese who survived WWII. Ask any small businessman who grew through a small business loan. Ask the people of Haiti, or the people from Tennessee or North Dakota who had floods so severe that many died and hundreds of thousands were homeless. It was the government who stepped in…not private industry…with an organizing effort and direct funds to bring the blighted areas back to normal and provide relief in the meantime.

The Federal government steps in whether it is a hurricane in Florida, a flood in Tennessee or an earthquake in California. Governments are efficient over areas that are too small for individual businesses and those requiring participation of large numbers of citizens.

Ask airlines how their planes get from one place to another in storms and high winds and fog and dense, saturating rain. Ask people on Social Security how they would live without it. Ask truck drivers how long it would take to go from Kansas City to Chicago or Denver to Salt Lake without the Interstate Highway system. It is simply foolish to make the old, failed claim that government is inefficient. Government is good at what it is supposed to do.

“Governments are undisciplined.” No, they are not. Not all governments are run at all times by reckless fools and greedy narcissists like George Bush and Dick Cheney. Do some governments have leaders like Pol Pot, or Trujillo or Nixon or Bush-Cheney? Yes. Sometimes. But the United States government is not undisciplined. Not the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, FBI or any of the hundreds of Departments and offices that run the country. A society is only as disciplined as its people. But a government in and of itself is neither efficient nor inefficient. It is a vessel that carries its standards within, based on the quality of its personnel.

“And government is intrinsically corruptible,” (comma is author’s) Once again, government is not necessarily corruptible. And it is most certainly not “intrinsically” corruptible. This comment, as so many that these Republicans make, comes from a simple lack of intelligence…or honesty. It may be true that they know that a political system is only as corruptible or incorruptible as are the people who operate it, but they choose not to say so. They want to denigrate government so they can shut it down.

These are, in summary, the Republican talking points. “Business is good. Government is bad.” For some of us, most of us in fact, business is an every day part of our lives. We go to work each morning. Government is also a part of our lives. Roads, sources of water, police, schools…all these things make up the daily fabric of our lives. Some work more efficiently than others. But they are not, in any way, “intrinsically” corruptible.

And if your school works less efficiently than you like, or the fire department blocks an intersection now and then…well you can take solace in the fact that—inefficient or efficient—they will never, so long as you and your neighbors pay your taxes—go bankrupt. The same is true at the national level.

So long as we assume that government needs revenues we will be fine. But if we want our federal government to function as we have our local governments function, then we must pay taxes and pay taxes proportionally to the size of our incomes, just as on the local level we pay based on the size of our property.

We need to stop worrying about paying too much in taxes. We are the least taxed advanced country in the world. And by now, over the last 30 years for certain, we have fallen behind other countries in how we treat our citizens. We are primitive compared to many countries of Europe.

Look around. We need more well-paying domestic jobs. We need more retirement security…companies can simply walk away from their responsibilities. We need health care reform and the Republicans want to repeal it. We have a lot to do. If you want to know what is right, just look at the comment above that “Sean” wrote and support exactly the opposite political philosophy.

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