For some strange reason, the public thought the past few years might be a good time to save their money instead of spending it, just in case things didn’t miraculously start getting better economically.
Leader Obama and his supporters in Congress, the objective press, and the general populace know that people can’t be trusted with their own money, though, and so trillions have been taxed and borrowed to be spent willy-nilly, as long as it is spent – and spent by government, that massive, homogenizing, non-competitive entity that all good left-liberal people know in their (deeply moral and compassionate) hearts will act more wisely on our behalf than we ever could making our own spending, investing, and saving decisions.
No need to understand economics when your heart burns with goodness! Being a left-liberal is a lot like being a Christian or a Taliban member in that way. Why turn to reality for guidance now? We’ve looked instead to intuitions such as Rawls’s, metaphysics such as Hegel’s, pseudo-historical theories such as Marx’s, childishly simplistic algebraic models such as those of macroeconomics, and the sheer assertion of context-free rights to things at others’ expense – the children deserve a park! – for the past two hundred years. That’ll no doubt see us comfortably through centuries to come.
The free-fall the stock market went into right after the U.S. inked a deal to borrow trillions more must have been caused by the evil taint of Tea Partiers like me upon the deal. Perhaps the market is freaked out by the prospect of the budget being balanced someday? That must be it. (Oh, and George Bush was an idiot.)
•Or maybe this Onion piece about Ben Bernanke is closer to the truth than the paragraphs above.
•And maybe Vol. 23, No.s 1-2 of Critical Review is on the right track with its emphasis on the dangers of intellectuals deploying simple heuristics even when faced with the world’s most complex phenomena, such as the economy. I agree with editor Jeffrey Friedman when he says people mistakenly hunger for simple rubrics such as attributing sheer bad motives to their intellectual opponents – though I do not go as far as he does in claiming there are no evil people at all.
(Indeed, next week I’ll discuss the book The Science of Evil by Simon Baron-Cohen, and though Baron-Cohen would like a fuller, more scientific explanation of sadistic, low-empathy people, he begins from the recognition that they’re indeed out there, in larger numbers than we might wish. One might even be the writer of an article on the cover of your favorite political magazine this week, since they can’t always be spotted easily – even though political disagreement alone should not be the basis of ascribing bad motives. Most sociopaths wouldn’t waste their time trying to do something as unselfish as remake the world, so it’s unlikely the foes you hate – be they Marxists or Tea Partiers – are actually out to screw everybody. You’re going to have to assume they genuinely disagree with you about how to help everyone.)
•Economist Don Boudreaux seems to have the right idea about the debt ceiling.
•And even left-leaning CNBC writers are at least able to recognize that the Tea Partiers are pushing an argument, not just being vandals.
•Sometimes it helps just to see that there is diversity among your opponents, such as not all of them being socially conservative: contrast Perry’s backpedaling call for constitutional amendments banning gay marriage and abortion with, for example, his fellow Tea Party darling Chris Christie’s outrage that anyone would be bothered enough by the appointment of a Muslim judge to start worrying about the imposition of sharia law.
•There may even be some ideological diversity in Hollywood – or at least, Mila Kunis sounds skeptical of communism and casual sex, which at least in the old days were views that marked you as a conservative. (I continue to prefer her to Laura Prepon).
•But if you really want to shoot yourself in the (left) foot, leftists, heed Washington Post columnist Capehart’s advice to Obama to assume your foe is insane and strive to become even more insane. See how that works out. I think Krugman’s already adopting that strategy – and, hey, he’s no dope. He’s got a Nobel.