Blog Credo

The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.

H.L. Mencken

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Historical Illiteracy And Economic Innumeracy

Reading the transcripts of the debates is very painful for someone who teaches history and government.

Consider the following statement by Princeton and Harvard graduate Ted Cruz, that there were no boom and busts under the gold standard.  This is precisely the opposite of reality.  The gold standard guaranteed a deflationary episode every decade, as the quantity of gold failed to keep up with the demand for currency.  Bank notes - unregulated and produced by every random bank in the country - took the place of a managed currency.  I can understand Ben Carson not knowing this, but Ted Cruz is ostensibly an educated person.

There was some sort of bizarre exchange about bank bailouts that roughly followed along the lines of "I would not bail out the banks, because Dodd-Frank is bad and we need more regulations, except for the regulations in Dodd-Frank."  It was so freaking bizarre, I still have no idea what was said.

You had Trump inveighing against China exploiting TPP, when literally the only compelling argument for TPP is that it counterbalances China's growing influence in the Pacific Rim.

You had Rubio somehow saying that welders make more than philosophers, which took about 30 seconds of fact checking to go down in flames, yet had to be a prepared line, because....seriously, welders and philosophers?

You had the preponderance of candidates agreeing with Trump's toxic message of, "Your wages are too high" and coming out against minimum wage increases.

You had Trump promising some sort of ethnic cleansing campaign of Mexicans by referencing Operation Wetback, largely regarded by those who give a shit as one of the worst federal actions on civil rights and liberties since World War II.

You had Carson give an answer on Syria so incoherent that I defy you to read it and tell me what the hell he said.

You had Fiorina - who may have yet to say a factually verifiable thing in her entire campaign - complaining about Clinton's lying.

You had several candidates tout their incredibly regressive tax plans, including a VAT tax and a flat tax, that fly in the face of even a partisan accounting of balancing the budget.

And you had Rand Paul and John Kasich every once in a while interjecting some sanity and objective facts into the debate.  As a result, I expect their poll numbers to fall.

These people are insane.  And I mean that in the sense that they are psychotic.  They have no objective grasp of reality.  Or they do and say these things anyway, which makes them sociopaths.

God help us.

No comments: