Monday, January 28, 2008

Really, Clearly Stupid Politics

AKA, the GOP IS Col. Jessup, and they don't give a damn what you think you're "entitled" to.
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Taking a break from pointing out obvious dating issues and my sordid personal life today, instead I thought I'd stroll down a column on RealClearPolitics by Ruben Navarrette (who is clearly no Bill Kristol, as he doesn't even rate a Wikipedia entry.)

The jist of his column is this: the true biggest threat ever to face America (well, this week) is that too many non-rich folks want to be rich for doing nothing.

But let's pick apart his half-assed reasoning for fun anyway.

A stimulus may not work exactly as expected, but it's worth a try. Americans are overtaxed as it is, and anything that gets more of their tax dollars back into their hands is a good thing. And if they spend what they get, it'll be good for the economy.

Wait a tic...didn't we try this stimulus back in Dubya's first term? And here we are facing a recession again? Perhaps, if we try again, this time it'll magically work.

And "overtaxed?" Warren Buffett doesn't think he's overtaxed. The folks who are already millionaires who pay no more than 15% tax on investments (even eight-and-nine figure payouts--only 15%) aren't overtaxed.

When in the history of the US have we cut taxes repeatedly while at war? The last time we had combat missions in multiple fronts/countries was WWII and the top 1% was in a 90% tax bracket then.

But hey, maybe I'm wrong and millions of people buying a Wii will save us from recession. Even though household debt on average is higher now than any point in my lifetime. And the Wii is made in Japan. Not here.

Navarrette says "The No. 1 economic threat facing the United States today isn't globalization, stagnant wages, unfair trade policy or illegal immigration." What happened to that ol' boogeyman "global Islamofacism?" No mention of that. Only that damned sense of "entitlement."

See, if you were really smart, you would have planned on paying health insurance premiums equal to or possibly surpassed by the cost of monthly rent or your mortgage. And you would blame yourself when you're denied coverage because you naively thought the insurance company would cover your risky heart surgery that saved your life--and worse, you didn't save back 120,000 to pay for it out of pocket "just in case."

Fifty years ago, Americans were a heartier bunch. They'd grown up in the Depression and defeated Nazi Germany and the other Axis powers during World War II, and they found honor in doing any kind of work. If they didn't earn enough money doing it, they took on another job, or another one after that. Most of all, they took pride in the idea that -- in this country -- our destiny is in our own hands.

Of course, fifty years ago, wages from the middle class and the top 1% weren't at the near Gilded Age disparity they are today. American manufacturing was the envy of the world and the automobile industry became a hugely booming sector thanks to--wait for it and prepare to gasp--government spending on massive infrastructure upgrades like Eisenhower's Interstate Highway system.

But no, to Navarrette, the Greatest Generation was just better, and it's those damn kids who ruin it for the rest of us: quoth "many members of 'Generation Me' walk into job interviews brimming with self-esteem and expecting to be put on a path to a corporate vice presidency." I must have missed that memo. Also, I could have sworn the "Me Decade" was run by Boomers, none of whom are in their 20s or 30s now...

Navarrette concludes the whole diatribe by felating McCain, ending with this nonsense:

That was awfully brave. But McCain could have gone further. He could have explained that organized labor helped bring about this displacement by pricing autoworkers out of the market. He could have pointed out that many workers went along for the ride because they felt entitled to the same standard of living that their parents enjoyed but didn't want to get the extra schooling or training to achieve it. He could have said that the situation is complicated by the fact that there will always be those who won't move away from their hometowns -- even when the towns are on life support. And, finally, he could have reminded voters that they can't always blame their problems on others and that, sooner or later, they have to grow up and take control of their lives and their destiny.

Yes, that must be it. It was labor wanting too much money that's hurt the Detroit automakers. Not the folks at the top churning out the same basic stuff year after year, while the Japanese automakers offered cheaper, more reliable, and more fuel-efficient competition, and the German luxury makers smoked them on performance. That's the union's fault entirely. If one of the big three actually had some foresight to prepare for a day when oil hits $200 and had come out with a hybrid like Toyota's Prius first, I have this odd hunch that people would actually buy it.

Standard of living? Well, leaving aside that for several generations the standard of living has gone UP each time, an undergraduate degree was usually the end of the line for most of the Boomer generation, with Master's being rare. So why then does it take at least a Master's to equal what a mere Bachelor's degree got you earnings-wise? Is that somehow my generation's fault too? (and don't even go computing inflation-adjusted income to your parents kids, it ain't pretty.)

And in conclusion, is that really the campaign you'd like Sen. McCain to run on Mr. Navarrette? "Vote for me: you may lose your job, move away from a city you lived in for decades, and be poor and destitute, but I'll be honest when I say it's all your fault." Really?

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