PICK YOUR PARADOX

Why is it that a large number of Americans cling to the belief that lowering taxes will increase government revenue while simultaneously dismissing out of hand the possibility that global warming could manifest not only warmer summers but also colder winters?

There may be no succinct answer to that question, but I strongly suspect it has something to do with the relatively recent spread in popularity of the mindset that The Market must be the sole arbiter of all human interaction – both with one another and with the world around us – and thus anything that does not permit us to travel down the path of least resistance can be motivated-reasoned out of existence.

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34 Responses to “PICK YOUR PARADOX”

  1. Davis X. Machina Says:

    All that is, can be bought and sold.
    All that cannot be bought and sold, is not.
    All that can be bought and sold, must be bought and sold, and at the best price.

    This is now the whole of the law and the prophets — the rest is commentary.

    Blessed be the Market, the righteous judge.

  2. Mo Says:

    Guessing I could wager that 98 out of a hundred Americans couldn't explain exactly what a "market economy" is, and I'd clean up.

    [Aha! I saw that sneak over to Wikipedia, varmint!

    I think for daily inspirational purposes I'll frame a portrait of Jay Gould, that shining beacon for all libertarian laissez-faire swine:

    "I can hire one half of the working class to kill the other half."

  3. devtob Says:

    The current climate change effects are somewhat gradual, and therefore somewhat arguable. For example, are they normal weather variations or something more dire and permanent? We won't really know for sure until there's no water for Central Valley, CA, agriculture and no one will buy and/or insure sea-level real estate.

    Which will be way too late to do anything about it.

    However the verdict is in on cutting taxes to increase revenue — never happened before, and never will.

  4. Mo Says:

    After further mulling over the "Why is it…" question, it seems to relate to the politics of resentment with a sauce of identity politics.

    1) Hatred of being made to feel inferior by smartypantses, a habit inculcated in grade school

    2) The extremely obvious fact that it doesn't take brains to get rich, and that the rich are powerful because [insert Jay Gould's quote here]

    3) Thus it's better to admire rich people than those hated smartypantses, and align one's identity with rich people, even if only as a wannabe, because they can push those smartypantses around, and how!
    "If you're so smart, why aren't you rich?"

    4) If rich people hate taxes, hate government interference, and think all land and resources belong to them and that working people they hire to exploit said resources are vegetables suitable only for juicing, then so do you, because their political identity is your identity, and you're so grateful they hired you to be squeezed. You're part of their team!

    4) The way our brains work, making convenient beliefs extremely hard to root out not merely because of the educational work involved, but also because it's so painfully humiliating and such an assault on self esteem to feel wrong about something. Damn those smartypantses! We thus resist changing our minds even if it kills us. Which of course it frequently does, just not soon enough.

    Thus, The Answer: Resentment and sucking up to the rich and powerful (even if only in one's imagination).

    That explained Reagan and Shrub for me, because that's the attitude I saw in the people around me, relatives included.

  5. J. Dryden Says:

    It bears repeating that the 'voodoo economics' promulgated by its true believers remains the greatest legacy of the Reagan era, in which we were sold a number of extremely pleasing lies, which they quickly have into a catechism of absolute faith–in order to defeat the lie of Soviet communism (which we know to be a lie because of its many victims and its inability to correspond with objective fact), we must embrace the lie of Reaganism (which we refuse to admit is a lie despite its many victims and its inability to correspond with objective fact.) But the important thing is that OUR paradox comes with shiny stuff!

  6. Xynzee Says:

    Anytime I hear a "pro market " type bleat about "climate change lies" I tell them they're not a very good "capitalist". Then go PT Barnum on them:
    People want to buy wind turbines and solar panels. So sell them to 'em, and get a quid or two for yourself in the process. Who cares, and if it saves the planet in the process then that's good too.
    They really hate that, as it shows they really don't know much about either global warming or capitalism, and that they've already missed the boat on this one.

  7. carrstone Says:

    As opposed to what?

    You telling me what to do?

  8. Major Kong Says:

    "If you're so smart, why aren't you rich?"

    I always flip that one around when I'm told that people are poor because they're lazy.

    "If you work so hard, why aren't you rich?"

  9. Xynzee Says:

    This was well timed. Is this your nom de plume?
    http://m.dailykos.com/stories/1363225

  10. Anonymouse Says:

    @Mo: I think you've got it! Don't forget the decades of brainwashing that smart people are bad, and stupid people are the salt of the earth, which leads to people actually taking malignant nitwits like Sarah Palin as "rill 'murkuh!".

  11. John Danley Says:

    Psychopathy and expediency are better traits than intellect when it comes to navigating the fields of avarice; everything else is just inconveniently counterintuitive and will slow you down.

  12. Bess Bibbentucker Says:

    For those who aren't familiar with Martin Gardner's parody of
    the Laffer curve, you might be interested in
    this.
    (If I've messed up the link, just google Martin Gardner Laffer curve.)

  13. c u n d gulag Says:

    "There may be no succinct answer to that question,…"

    Well, maybe it's NOT succinct, but here's the answer:
    Ignorance
    Stupidity
    Bigotry
    Propaganda
    And, gullibility.

    Did I miss anything?

  14. skwerlhugger Says:

    Yes, you missed things- remember this refers to taxes.
    Self-interest
    Greed.

  15. c u n d gulag Says:

    D'OH!!!

    Thanks!

  16. Rich Says:

    Markets are always distorted. That has to be the starting point for considering them. The assumptions of transparency and free access to information are never met. Raw materials, distribution, production, etc. often are monopolized or cartelized. Markets usually wind up being "efficient" for the distorters but for no one else. Libertarians talk a good game but either oppose or fail to actively support anything that would make markets operate that serves the public.

    Some markets are just impractical in terms of ever meeting utilitarian reasoning assumptions. If I'm having a heart attack, I probably can't choose between Cleveland Clinic and some awful community hospital, and my insurance carrier might make it difficult if I could.

  17. SeaTea Says:

    Nicely written, Mo.

  18. Emerson Dameron Says:

    "If it feels good, do it. If you got a problem, blame somebody else." – George W. Bush

  19. Whatver Says:

    When, in mid21st century, that Great Lakes refugia exists known as the Northern Cities Sector (the place what got all the fresh water), the Red State hordes will break like sandy waves upon the vasty fortress walls of the western citadel of Chicago. Go thou foul and fetid privateers, die like the dogs you are in the Great American Deserts, you fucking useless rednecks.

  20. Skepticalist Says:

    The market economy works best when it has the bejeezus regulated out of it. When not, "Panics" ensue as in the 19th century and a good chunk of the 20th. FDR, with help of even a few GOPers, brought us out with serious regs. This worked better than imagined until George Bush & Co. along with the Reagan and Gingrich buildup, finally had a chance to defund or piss away such checks and balances. The market came back in all its former glory. Things fell apart at a level not seen in my six decades.

    There was a story several years ago relating to the designation of our planetary woes. We let some group get away with changing "Global Warming" to "Climate Change." The latter term makes it easy not to deal with. It's only "natural." It really pisses me off.

    Went it comes to stupid, a LOT of Americans, mostly through media I suppose, see they are not alone. UFOs and conspiracy stories get a lot of press and sell Viagra. Cletus likes learning to live like the Unabomber better than getting his brain around something not so girly as science.

    Something help us.

  21. mothra Says:

    As all the above said in addition to the fact that accepting the idea of climate change means that people have to modify their behavior and God knows they can't be asked to do that.

    I have fully given up on the idea that climate change will be addressed at all in my lifetime. Every drop of fossil fuel will be extracted from this planet and burned before any serious effort will be made to address climate change and by then, the only thing that can be done is figure out how to live on a fucked-up planet. I seriously don't understand why people who have the choice are having children these days. Why on earth would you want your kid to live on a completely fucked-up planet where the extremely wealthy are the only ones able to live in any sort of comfort and the rest of the populace have to fight for a gallon of water and a piece of bread a day?

  22. anotherbozo Says:

    Wife and I monitor the NBC News every night. We get our information elsewhere, are mainly curious what The People are being fed. NBC love them some shots of tornado-racked towns, devastated coastal regions, villages obliterated by mud slides generated by not-in-a-hundred years rainfall. But never the question "Why?" or "Is all this unprecedented weather just a coincidence?" NBC devoted 20 minutes to the subject in all of 2014 (and I missed it, darn it all).

    Yes, The People are stupid. But the Infotainment Departments of the networks, which still have viewers in the tens of millions, avoid providing information of any utility, God forbid they get letters. It would be easy and quick to show how global warming fucks with the jet stream, makes the Arctic warmer, Boston colder. But networks don't dare. Buy gas! Buy a new car!

    Aldous Huxley had it right, not Orwell. Soma, not coercion. Americans don't study politics or science because football and Byoncé and Katy what's-her-name take all their free time.

  23. Skepticalist Says:

    Ed Murrow was right. Big business got hold of TV and our news consists of feel good useless information and anything cheap to produce. This is why national late night radio is full of UFO and paranormal call in shows.

    TW cable TV brings us tours of prisons, international poker tournaments, and information on how to reload defunct military weapons…for only $85 a month.

  24. Parmenides Says:

    The money's just the counter. And cheerleaders gotta cheer. Its about men who've gotten everyone else in their lives to jump at their beck and call and wonder why not everyone else. Its not about money as a medium of exchange its about power. The repub office holders get a bit of that for their troubles of sending that money up, thus the wingnut welfare. But if you wonder why someone who has forty billion dollars gives a shit for 3 more, its cause Joe who ownes nevada has 42 and fuck him.

  25. sad Says:

    "…large number of americans…"
    I don't. I'm american.
    Could you be more specific?

  26. Rural Resident Says:

    http://neuroanthropology.net/2010/01/30/solastalgia-and-the-ecopsychology-of-our-changing-environment/

  27. whyowhy Says:

    Riddle me this batman:

    Deficit hawks often couch their trolling about the growing national debt by saying it is dooming our children's future by saddling them with a huge financial bill.

    At the same time, many of those folks could give two shits about climate change.

  28. Mike Says:

    The "market must be right" or "market outcomes must be moral outcomes" is the conservative manifestation of the Just World Fallacy.

  29. democommie Says:

    "Deficit hawks often couch their trolling about the growing national debt by saying it is dooming our children's future by saddling them with a huge financial bill."

    Yes, indeed. They did it from 1960-1972 from 1976-1980; 1992-2000 and 2008–today. In other years, they were strangely silent.

  30. democommie Says:

    Whoops! shouldabin 1960-1968!! We regret the error (although not nearly so much as we regret the years of Reptilican rule).

  31. moderateindy Says:

    The funny thing about the whole "cutting taxes means more revenue" canard is that the man who helped design the concept, Bruce Bartlett, came out a few years ago, and told Republicans to quit making that claim. He actually developed the idea when he was with Jack Kemp, and Reagan stole it.(He eventually became Reagans economic advisor) He said, plain as day, that the idea was never that income tax cuts would bring more revenue, but that certain tax cuts could, over time, generate enough new growth to hopefully make the cuts revenue neutral. He said everyone knew that in the short term that there would be revenue shortfalls, but that nobody expected them to be as large as they were under the original tax cuts. which is why they ended up raising taxes.
    The problem, of course, is that people are morons that don't understand that because of the size of the GDP, as long as it is growing at a normal pace revenues will increase even if taxes are cut. So they see tax cuts followed by increased revenue and think the former cause the latter, not understanding that the one may have had almost no real effect on the other.
    Climate change………….people willfully ignore evidence all the time, look how many folks believe that Noah's ark is a true story.

  32. Todd Ernst Says:

    Cutting taxes to increase revenue works when you are on the right side of the 'laffer curve.' It doesn't when you are not.

    That is why the Kennedy tax cuts actually increased revenue.

    Today we are on the wrong side of the curve to make it work…

  33. moderateindy Says:

    The Laffer curve has jack squat to do with it. And the Kennedy tax cuts, were not the reason for the revenue increases. The Revenues increased because there was a major expansion of the economy, and solid GDP growth going on. The increase in money in the hands of the top earners that were targeted in the tax cuts did very little to bolster growth, because most of that money was just chucked into investments like blue chip stocks, and bonds, which were low risk, and didn't exactly ignite the economy. Most of the real stimulative effect came from introducing a standardized minimum deduction which put cash in the hands of the middle, and lower class, who then went out and spent it.
    But the economy was already so large that the lost revenue from the tax cuts were made up for by the GDP growth. That growth was hardly dependent on the extra stimulus from the tax cut, and the little extra goose to the GDP didn't make up for the billions that the treasury would have collected without the cuts.

  34. Rich Says:

    One of thecomments to the Wisconsin article that is linked:
    "Remember, under libertarian Republicanism there are only the owners and the owned."