Saturday, July 26, 2014

Libertarian dogma in Kansas: the story of the next decade?

Will this be the story of the next decade? Maybe it should be.

After all, trickle-down economics was the American story of the first decade of this century, and it was a complete and utter failure. Everything the Bush administration promised us turned out to be a lie. We're still trying to dig ourselves out of the hole they dug for us.

But these people are faith-based, not evidence-based. They're not going to abandon their dogma just because it isn't true - especially not with billionaires spending millions to get them elected to office.

TPM covered this, too, along with other states where Republicans are "blowing up the laboratories of democracy':
Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback is one of the most notable mad scientists. He’s rapidly taken Kansas to the extreme right, implementing the conservative wish list on abortion, voting rights, and public assistance. His biggest experiment in his laboratory has been a series of major tax bills that shift the impact of taxes down the income spectrum, cutting income taxes and corporate taxes and leaning more heavily on sales taxes.

The only problem? The fiscal disaster his changes created:
“Kansas is now hundreds of millions of dollars short in revenue collection, its job growth has lagged the rest of the nation, and Moody's has cut the state's bond rating. ‘Governor Brownback came in here with an agenda to reduce the size of government, reduce taxes, and create a great economic boom,’ says University of Kansas professor Burdett Loomis. ‘Now there's been a dramatic decline in revenues, no great increase in economic activity, and we've got red ink until the cows come home.’”
Brownback and his allies promised that the cost of the tax cuts would be more than made up for by new economic activity and new people moving to Kansas, but it turns out you can’t save the Economy Fairy just by clapping louder. The likely outcome is more cuts to schools and other state services — and maybe another lost job: Brownback’s own. Surprisingly for a strongly Republican state, Kansas is giving Brownback low approval ratings, and he’s polling dangerously close to his Democratic opponent.

Regardless of the facts, Brownback is happy with the results of the experiment: on yesterday’s edition of MSNBC’s “Daily Rundown,” Brownback insisted that his tax plan would bring economic growth eventually.

Yeah, you don't give up your faith just because it turns out you were wrong. You just say that Jesus will return someday. As long as you don't specify a date, you can keep on believing forever.

I'm particularly interested in this because it's Kansas, our neighbor here in Nebraska, and also because Brownback was once touted as a possible Republican presidential candidate. Of course, with the Koch brothers handing out the checks, there's no shortage of people who'll do whatever they want, regardless of its impact on the rest of us.

But TPM also talks about Louisiana, North Carolina, Texas, and Wisconsin, where rigid ideology trumps reality.
So let’s go back and look at what these laboratories have produced. A simple comparison of the results with the stated hypotheses shows that these experiments haven’t succeeded. As Thom Tillis seeks a seat in the U.S. Senate and Walker, Jindal and Perry all look with one eye towards the White House, we should be asking: have these guys earned the promotion that they’re angling for?

Of course, judging all of these policies against their promised impact — Sam Brownback’s state revenues, North Carolina’s unemployment picture, Scott Walker’s jobs record — is just begging the question. Don’t look at what their experiments are supposed to produce, because you’re bound to be disappointed.

The advocates of the right-wing ideological agenda use job growth and higher revenues as a selling point, but it’s not actually relevant to their goals. The goal is to have government do less stuff for people on the lower end of the economic spectrum, and stay out of the way of the people on the higher end. That’s what they want to build in the laboratories of democracy.

When you put people like Sam Brownback in charge of your laboratory, don’t be surprised when they create a monster.

Good point. Did the Republicans during the Bush years really believe that tax cuts for the rich would create a booming economy and actually raise tax revenue? Did they really believe that the Iraq War would "pay for itself"?

Keep in mind that these were the same people who wanted to "starve the beast," to "drown America in a bathtub." They wanted to bankrupt America, as a way of forcing a smaller government on everyone.

In Kansas, they got tax cuts for the wealthy, as they wanted, but also huge cuts to education, which they also wanted. So,... were they really this inept, or were they just lying about what they expected to happen in the first place?

Or both? I'm not a big fan of conspiracy theories, and I don't think that these people are all that bright, anyway. Plus, they're faith-based. They find it easy to believe whatever they want to believe.

And if the risk is that they have to slash education funding, well, that's not a problem, either, is it?


Jim Harris said...

I put that video on my Facebook page and sent it to friends. You need to read Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty and review it.

WCG said...

Knowing me, I probably wouldn't get it read, Jim. I still need to get back to reading the Bible, and I seem to be behind on everything else these days, too.

But yeah, I've thought about it.