God instinct


[T]he deepening anti-intellectualism of the political right, both within and beyond the G.O.P., extends far beyond the issue of climate change.

Lately, for example, The Wall Street Journal’s editorial page has gone beyond its long-term preference for the economic ideas of “charlatans and cranks” — as one of former President George W. Bush’s chief economic advisers famously put it — to a general denigration of hard thinking about matters economic. Pay no attention to “fancy theories” that conflict with “common sense,” the Journal tells us. Because why should anyone imagine that you need more than gut feelings to analyze things like financial crises and recessions?

Now, we don’t know who will win next year’s presidential election. But the odds are that one of these years the world’s greatest nation will find itself ruled by a party that is aggressively anti-science, indeed anti-knowledge. And, in a time of severe challenges — environmental, economic, and more — that’s a terrifying prospect.


“I don’t know how much God has to do to get the attention of the politicians. We’ve had an earthquake; we’ve had a hurricane. He said, ‘Are you going to start listening to me here?’ Listen to the American people because the American people are roaring right now. They know government is on a morbid obesity diet and we’ve got to rein in the spending.”

Most observers seem to believe that Bachmann’s 15 minutes are about up.  We’ll see, God-willing.  Meanwhile, newly minted R frontrunner Rick Perry has been re-asserting that Social Security is a “Ponzi scheme.”  Jonathan Bernstein concludes that Perry either doesn’t know what a Ponzi scheme is, doesn’t understand Social Security, or is lying.

Bernstein leaves out the possibility that all three are true, but that it’s all God’s plan – in which case only godforsaken leftists need be concerned, amiright?  Unless “God” is just another name for “gut” (they sound a lot alike!) or “common sense,” and gut and common sense are just other names for Perry’s aides and most influential lobbyists.

My own common sense God instinct tells me that Perry and Bachmann are the punishment, not the hurricanes and earthquakes.

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16 comments on “God instinct

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  1. God alone knows what a woman disrespecting the wisdom of the Founding Fathers and transgressing the National Order of Things by seeking political office will


    Him to do

  2. @ fuster:
    Lowering or eliminating youth minimum wage is an old standard. It’s even been experimented with or is integrated into the laws in some states by way of “Summer work” or other seasonal or work-study or internship etc. exceptions. Not to mention all of the great youth employment opportunities kindly offered by county, state, and federal prison systems.

  3. Though I’m disappointed that the Forbesian didn’t call for making all union organizing illegal and punishable by long-term imprisonment, for corporal punishment of shirkers and back-talkers on the assembly line, and the repeal of all environmental protection legislation to 1967 and prior, you can take a step back from his proposals and those more popular in the center to the left, and have roughly comparable alternative visions for society. You could even stipulate that his business paradise would have positive effects on employment and growth rates, at least in the short term, but still qualify as Hell or at best Purgatory on Earth to very many people.

  4. Next week, President Obama will present one vision, likely built around investing in infrastructure and school construction, which can then be compared against the House Republican vision, built around looser pollution controls. I have a hunch the American mainstream will prefer the former over the latter, if the debate actually reaches any of the public.


  5. @ CK MacLeod:

    Oh, I’ve heard of it, CK. I’ve even had hundreds of those subsidized summer workers through the years. I just figured that the minimum wage was sufficiently low and that creating sub-minimum jobs for kids is less about the “valuable work experience” of doing more for less than it is about a boon for those that own the businesses and don’t need the valuable experience of paying less to kids who end up doing the same job as the older workers, which results in all the workers stayiing at the low end of the wage scale.

  6. @ fuster:
    Yes, much of the Forbesian prescription involves skewing the labor market to the disadvantage of workers, no doubt about it, under the cover of “right to work” and other free-contract libertarianisms. As long as the worker is reduced to an isolated atom, then he can “freely” enter into a contract with the employer atom who just happens to have more capital. Why exactly the worker atoms shouldn’t be free to form their own elements and compounds with each other via socially autonomous self-governance (unions, government, and other associations) is never fully explained.

  7. I think WolfRam & Hart will run the Bank, it is in keeping with Obama’s promise that ‘electricity prices will naturally skyrocket’ that the EPA additional mandates will make you reminisce of those fine days in California between 2001-2002

  8. I had noticed that thing. The guy is less with the idea that they want to have a Christianist state than with the claim (which I hadn’t noticed really being advanced) that they want to use violent means to achieve the thing.

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Noted & Quoted

TV pundits and op-ed writers of every major newspaper epitomize how the Democratic establishment has already reached a consensus: the 2020 nominee must be a centrist, a Joe Biden, Cory Booker or Kamala Harris–type, preferably. They say that Joe Biden should "run because [his] populist image fits the Democrats’ most successful political strategy of the past generation" (David Leonhardt, New York Times), and though Biden "would be far from an ideal president," he "looks most like the person who could beat Trump" (David Ignatius, Washington Post). Likewise, the same elite pundit class is working overtime to torpedo left-Democratic candidates like Sanders.

For someone who was not acquainted with Piketty's paper, the argument for a centrist Democrat might sound compelling. If the country has tilted to the right, should we elect a candidate closer to the middle than the fringe? If the electorate resembles a left-to-right line, and each voter has a bracketed range of acceptability in which they vote, this would make perfect sense. The only problem is that it doesn't work like that, as Piketty shows.

The reason is that nominating centrist Democrats who don't speak to class issues will result in a great swathe of voters simply not voting. Conversely, right-wing candidates who speak to class issues, but who do so by harnessing a false consciousness — i.e. blaming immigrants and minorities for capitalism's ills, rather than capitalists — will win those same voters who would have voted for a more class-conscious left candidate. Piketty calls this a "bifurcated" voting situation, meaning many voters will connect either with far-right xenophobic nationalists or left-egalitarian internationalists, but perhaps nothing in-between.

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Understanding Trump’s charisma offers important clues to understanding the problems that the Democrats need to address. Most important, the Democratic candidate must convey a sense that he or she will fulfil the promise of 2008: not piecemeal reform but a genuine, full-scale change in America’s way of thinking. It’s also crucial to recognise that, like Britain, America is at a turning point and must go in one direction or another. Finally, the candidate must speak to Americans’ sense of self-respect linked to social justice and inclusion. While Weber’s analysis of charisma arose from the German situation, it has special relevance to the United States of America, the first mass democracy, whose Constitution invented the institution of the presidency as a recognition of the indispensable role that unique individuals play in history.

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[E]ven Fox didn’t tout Bartiromo’s big scoops on Trump’s legislative agenda, because 10 months into the Trump presidency, nobody is so foolish as to believe that him saying, “We’re doing a big infrastructure bill,” means that the Trump administration is, in fact, doing a big infrastructure bill. The president just mouths off at turns ignorantly and dishonestly, and nobody pays much attention to it unless he says something unusually inflammatory.On some level, it’s a little bit funny. On another level, Puerto Rico is still languishing in the dark without power (and in many cases without safe drinking water) with no end in sight. Trump is less popular at this point in his administration than any previous president despite a generally benign economic climate, and shows no sign of changing course. Perhaps it will all work out for the best, and someday we’ll look back and chuckle about the time when we had a president who didn’t know anything about anything that was happening and could never be counted on to make coherent, factual statements on any subject. But traditionally, we haven’t elected presidents like that — for what have always seemed like pretty good reasons — and the risks of compounding disaster are still very much out there.

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