Thursday, June 16, 2011

Greater Wrongs of The Right

There were alot of fibs, falsehoods, and flagrant lies Monday night. It's expected in American politics that elected officials lie as often as the breathe but the sheer volume this time had to be record breaking. And while there were some real whoppers -- "Reagen Recovery" and everything Bachman said -- I'd like to take the time to examine the lesser lies. The insidious lies that have wormed their way into the collective consciousness and taken on the mantle of conventional wisdom.

First up -- Herman Cain fighting E. coli with downsizing. Besides the illogic of his position that payroll cuts at the FDA would somehow improve food safety, his solution rests on a demonstrated falsehood: cutting employment to boost executive profits and squeeze more work from remaining employees actually does neither. Studies of the downsizing frenzy that's been going so strong since the 80s (or as I like to call it, The Miserable Decade) indicate that not only were remaining employees less inclined to work but that net profits went down.

This is important because Cain is positioning himself as the classic American business success story. Built himself up on pizza chains, looks for practical solutions, all that jazz (though again I must agree with him on his deep dish policy) -- but he clearly embraces a practice that has been empirically proven not to work. Coincidentally, this puts him in the same field as the rest of the contenders who are pushing for a return to the psycho-capitalism of the Bush years that wrecked the economy in the first place.

And on that note, let's take a look at good ol' Ron Paul. I never drank the Paul kool-aid back in 2008 because his economic policies are medieval at best, but Monday night he repeated a falsehood I find particularly grating -- that Medicare is somehow insolvent and won't be able to cover future beneficiaries. This claim relies on the listener being completely ignorant of how Medicare actually functions -- for example, the program already contracts out through private insurance companies and has been doing so for years, one of the proposed "fixes" getting played up in AP stories online. But getting back to the point, Medicare not only is NOT insolvent, it CAN'T be insolvent because it is not some publicly held trust but an active program funded directly by taxes paid today. As long as American society exists and there's someone to tax, Medicare will function just fine.

Ron Paul -- wrong about everything...

Paul's claim to the contrary shows either he is just as mendacious as the Beltway insiders he and his cult so often ridicule, or that despite decades in office this man still has no idea how one of the largest and most popular of Federal programs actually functions. I'm inclined to believe the latter since Paul has also been pimping a return to the Gold Standard as the cure to all modern problems from inflation to slow porn downloads, but this particular bit of crazy isn't just another libertarian lie -- it's accepted as gospel across the political spectrum.

We've come to expect lies from our elected leaders. But when those lies take on the power of conventional wisdom, as a "truth" everyone reflexively recognizes, we're going to start doing horrible things to ourselves for no reason at all. Remember back when the Catholic Church thought it was better to torture someone into repentance rather than let them die with sin upon their soul? That was based just as much in fantasy as the drive to downsize and dismantle the social safety net. Cain, Paul, and really the entire GOP primary field are the modern incarnation of Torquemada. And we're the witches.

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