I really like My Name Is Earl.
It’s a TV sitcom about a bunch of lowlifes, one of whom has a moral epiphany and decides to make a list everyone he’s wronged and do something to make it up to them. In tone, it’s like Arrested Development with poor people.
A few days ago, I saw an episode of Raising Hope, a new sitcom with a similar theme: a bunch of lowlifes start learning moral lessons from raising the bastard daughter of their dim-witted, but comparatively morally elevated teenage son. It’s not as sharply written as Earl, but is pretty entertaining.
When I started writing this post, I hoped I was writing about a long-overdue new trend in TV programming: portraying the poor as the slovenly assholes they really are.
But I just discovered that Hope is the latest brainchild of Greg Garcia, Earl’s creator. So I’ll switch gears and praise Garcia as a lone and important voice.
Both Hope and Earl are crass and outrageous. The Hope baby was conceived from a teenager’s one night stand on the front lawn with a female serial killer, she is later executed–thus setting up the teenage dad premise. Earl is doing penance for things like reaching under bathroom stalls and stealing wallets.
Even if Masterpiece Theater is more your cup of tea, you should check these shows out. Especially you should if you watch too much PBS. How much is too much? Do I really need to say it?
Garcia shows you the kind of poor people your tax dollars are supporting and encouraging. The only difference is that the poor aren’t that fucking funny.
Liberals have a fundamental lack of understanding of economics.
By fundamental I don’t just mean that they avoided the subject in school. I mean that Liberals don’t have intuitions that economic libertarians take as for granted and obvious.
It’s not obvious to a liberal that perpetually supporting the poor will make them need perpetual support. They don’t understand the role of savings in creating wealth (this applies to any liberal who was in favor of Obama’s “stimulus” spending or who has complained that we shouldn’t give tax breaks to the wealthy because they’ll just save it instead of spending it or who thinks that unemployment benefits have a net job creation/economic stimulation effect).
I could go on with other examples, but either you get it already or you’re a liberal.
If I’m right, this means you can fix a liberal if and only if you can get some economic common sense into them. Everything else follows, partly because an appreciation for economics gives you an appreciation for the distinctions between ends and means, incentives and intents, goals and side-effects.
For the next several months I’m going to try an experiment: I will argue political issues only in terms of common sense economic fundamentals. Maybe a few light bulbs will flicker into life in a few liberal heads. More likely, I’ll face bovine incomprehension and boredom, which will be even more interesting to consciously observe.
The recently passed “compromise” tax bill is a failure of nerve by the Republicans. They’re Chamberlainly leadership agree to 2 years of extension of current income tax rates, and gave up ground on the return of the death tax in return for a large social security tax reduction for one year.
(In a vaguely-related rant, I am so sick and tired of reporters not putting numbers in context. “This will cost taxpayers $50 billion. Ok, over how many years? What percentage of the relevant organization’s budget is this? How much does that come to per taxpayer? etc. The “2%” number being quoted about the payroll tax reduction is actually a big deal to most people–it’s likely to be a few thousand dollars extra for most families. It’s a reduction of your FICA deduction every paycheck by nearly a third. I use this example because knowing this would be of great interest to nearly everyone watching the nightly news. It’s not that the media doesn’t put numbers in context because talking more about numbers would be boring–it’s because they’re (1) apathetically ignorant–they don’t know and don’t want to know what the numbers mean and just report them to fill up time, (2) maliciously stupid–they don’t get economics and they don’t get how to make stories about economics interesting, unless it’s something concrete with a villain, like finding mis-priced items at a grocery store and cross-examining the manager about it, and (3) incurably lazy.)
Back to the tax bill.
Republicans should have demanded, among other things, a complete holiday from FICA taxes and lowering the long-term capital gains rate to zero in lieu of anymore “stimulus” money getting spent. A barely acceptable compromise would have been accepting the status quo on taxes as permanent, and then fighting for more later. Instead, they started from the position that keeping the status quo was wild-eyed right-wing radicalism. This is the establishment colluding, not compromising, to screw the rest of us. Obama needed to look like he was moving reluctantly to the center. The Republicans needed to look like they were getting something done. They colluded to create a shitty deal that raised taxes that nobody wants because what they really both wanted was drama to keep their bases interested and mollified as much as possible.
Both Republicans and Democrats pretended it would be disaster if the tax deal waited 2 weeks. Bullshit–think for 5 seconds about this. It would have been great for the Republicans to pledge to do it their way immediately in January. Can you imagine what would have happened to Obama and IRS power if paychecks had actually been reduced on Jan 15? No way would Obama have let the American people feel this pain, but he’d have looked like a dumbass having to order the IRS to back off.
What businesses want is economic predictability over the long run. The 2 year horizon on this compromise means that businesses will likely continue to “hoard” assets against a rainy day, and individuals with any sense will use their extra money to pay down debt and get pepared for bad times ahead. But the Democrats are already spinning this as the functional equivalent of another “stimulus,” so they can point and say, see, tax cuts didn’t help, did they? The extension of unemployment benefits will prevent at least a point or two drop in the unemployment rate.
I’m starting to really loathe Eric Cantor and Mitch McConnell (and, so far, kinda liking Boehner more than I expected to). I don’t believe for one half second that it was defeated because McConnell herded all the Senate Republicans into the locker room and yelled at them. It was because the RHINOs got so many angry communications from constituents that they ran screaming, and McConnell helped them with cover, just like he’s helping Obama: “I didn’t want to, but they made me do it!”
The Republican leadership in the Senate is still deliberately dragging their feet, temporizing and trying to protect the system from the people. Don’t think for a minute they’re on our side, and don’t let up the pressure on them.
Grassroots pressure is the only thing so far that’s made them behave this well. They’re trying to pretend that they’re going along voluntarily, but cautiously, and they’re increasingly refusing to acknowledge and minimizing the feedback they’re still getting loud and clear from us.
Keep on them. It’s working, even if they won’t admit it.
30 Rock said this snickering.
I’m taking it as an anthem.
81 to 19. Only 5 Republicans voted against the “compromise” tax bill.
In a feckless Congress that does nothing more than kick the can down the road, what should I expect?
Here’s what I fucking expect: There was no reason to compromise with Obama. So Republicans shouldn’t have. How can you explain them doing it?
The new brooms were about to sweep in. Let withholding taxes go up for a couple of weeks in January. The Republicans could go Mighty Mouse and save the day.
No, instead, the Republicans demonstrated their loyalty to the system, their willingness to play political games for future electoral advantage.
We’ll see what happens when the new guys show up, but I’m not optimistic. Paul Ryan’s already been co-opted. Hey, Paul, you fucking dumbass–if you play the game at all, you automatically lose.
I’m thinking about doing whatever it takes to kill the Republican Party. The new guys have about 3 months to stop me from working to to get Obama re-elected.
If we’re not going to fix it, let’s bring it down before I’m too old to shoot straight.
Multiple right-wing pundits and talk-show hosts are jabbing President Toonces for his recent “conversion” to supply-side economics as he tries to defend his compromise with Republicans on the tax issue.
I hate this juvenile “gotcha” attitude in American politics. These same assholes are poking at Toonces too because he called Mitch McConnell “Mike” McConnell.
No missteps, no apology, no admission you were wrong, even tacitly, can happen in American politica without the partisan piranha jumping all over you.
Hey, why not thank the President for making a nice start on the bipartisan-ship thing, give him credit for putting the interests of the country ahead of partisan purity, whatever. Why fuck with him and make him sorry he gave an inch?