Hello friends. I recently finished listening to the audio book version of Paul Krugman’s ‘The Conscience of a Liberal’. Firstly, I would like to say that audio books are the way forward. You can listen to them at the gym, while driving, or even while losing badly at Starcraft 2.
Anyway, the book contains many valuable insights into global economic theory and American politics, and I urge you all to snag a copy.
Of course I don’t have the time, space or inclination to explain everything Krugman covers in the book but the thing that he said that really stuck with me was this: the Republican Party is going to start falling apart, because it makes no sense.
This is a bold statement to make, and one that requires a large amount of supporting evidence. So get comfy, I’ve got 5 to go through.
Number 1: I See Poor People
It is central to Republican doctrine that any kind of support for the poor increases unemployment and that releasing restrictions on business magically leads to a better life for all.
The first thing to note is the simple fact that countries like Sweden and Finland have the best social welfare programs in human history, and their employment rates are only slightly lower than America’s (if at all). So we know the first claim is bullshit.
Secondly, while it is true that a freeish business sector is vitally important for a developing economy there is no reason to believe that more money in the economy automatically means more money for all the people.
This is relevant to this article because the GOP suffers from the ideological need to constantly affirm that the richer the rich get, the richer everyone gets, even when experts in the field know this isn’t true.
According to the citigroup plutonomy report the richest 10% of America possess roughly 60% of the country’s wealth, and this wealth is not being trickled down to anyone else.
Note: this isn’t some sort of pot-smoking, hickory-smoking, salmon-smoking damn hippies we are talking about! This is Citigroup. They’re so Capitalist they make Milton Friedman look like Ronald McDonald!
Anyway, the point is that if they are saying that US wealth distribution is complete screwed (and that they like it like that, just by the way) then we can accept that they know what they are talking about.
So the GOP’s belief that a richer economy means richer people just isn’t accurate.
Another place where the ideological divergence between the GOP and reality can be seen is in the Iraq war. Bush and friends claimed that the war could be conducted on the cheap, even though all of the experts said that this was fantasy. What Krugman points out is that the GOP actually had no choice in concluding that the war would be cheap. Because if they didn’t they would have needed to halt their tax cuts for the rich, something that they could not do, because their financial masters wouldn’t let them.
They had to pretend the war would be cheap because the alternative, while true, was against their ideology.
So the first contradiction that the GOP suffers from is that it is preaching an economic ideology that is simply out of touch with reality, and keeping their followers in the dark about this is unsustainable.
Sooner or later everyone wises up.
Number 2: Vote For Us, You Filthy Parasites.
A large percentage of the GOP’s voters come from the Southern states, and are relatively poor.
This struck Krugman as surprising because the GOP has worked so hard to slash Medicare, Social Security and other “socialist reforms” (lol!) which are used even more widely in the South than elsewhere.
In other words poor GOP supporters are helping the party to remove the very same welfare benefits that many of them rely on to survive. And the party is preaching that those on welfare are “parasites” (both Rush Limbaugh and Anne Coulter have actually used that word in this context) even though the ones they are preaching to are on welfare themselves!
So the second contradiction is this: the GOP keeps weakening welfare, when millions of their supporters rely on welfare for their day-to-day existence.
One by one they are going to realise this and shift their allegiance.