Monday, May 24, 2010

The right-wing memory hole

Paul Krugman points out that the greatest burst of prosperity in American history happened with a 90% top marginal rate and New Deal regulations in the post-WW2 period, and that this was not attributable to the fact that Europe was rubble -- Europe had no money to either buy or sell to America during that era, so Europe basically was out of the equation of American prosperity, so to speak. Meanwhile, Econospeak's Peter Dorman points out that the people saying that Europe's social insurance system is "unsustainable" are full of shit -- Europe's social insurance system was put into place when Europe was rubble, so if it was sustainable when Europe was so utterly impoverished that basic food items were rationed and 1/4th of Europe's male population was dead, it's sustainable today when Europe is far, far wealthier.

And while we're on that subject, the same applies to Social Security and Medicare. Yes, the Baby Boomers are retiring. But America is far wealthier today than in the 1950's when the Baby Boomers were similarly dependent on income produced by others (because they were children, duh), if America could survive the Baby Boomers being children in the 1950's with a far smaller working population, America can survive the Baby Boomers being elderly dependent children now that we are far more prosperous and have a far larger working population than we had in the 1950's (thanks to immigrants -- thanks, immigrants!).

Of course, Paul Krugman and Peter Dorman and I are talking about little things called facts, which means we're totally irrelevant in the right-wing universe, which is all about presenting lies as if they are Unvarnished Truth Handed Down From God, then making fun of you when you point out that, err, their Unvarnished Truth isn't actually true. As that great right-wing voice Stephen Colbert is fond of pointing out, truthiness, not truth, is what counts to right-wingers -- truthiness being what they wish was true, which they confuse with what really is true. So it goes, just goes to show that right-wing stupidity really does have no lower bounds...

-- Badtux the Reality-based Penguin


  1. Man, don't light my "dumbing down" fuse. I've been set on auto-rant all week as my veteran son tries to do college papers and has to come to MY itsy bitsy library cause the college library had NO refs for his topic. The topic? Picasso's "Guernica" ...chosen by teacher. The college library had no data about it other than pictures OF it.

    The right wing wants to poke holes in all memories, if you ask me. Yea, verily, truthiness for all.
    (May I just have Scotch for breakfast, please?)

  2. You don't need "fact" when so many people are willing to believe lies, lies that they think will give them more money or makes them feel better than someone else. In reality, all it does is give the liars more money and power to continue to deceive.

  3. Tux -

    Can you elaborate on the "far wealthier today than in the 1950's" idea?

    The reason I ask is that it appears that all economic gains for he middle class went into low gear, even before Reagan, and poverty increased during Reagan and both Bushs. Living standards at the low end have been in a slow, steady decline.

    For sure, the wealthy are far wealthier. Average wealth might even be up. (I think, without checking, that it actually is.) If the mean goes up faster than the median, things are getting skewed at the top.

    IMHO, a big portion of the wealth of our nation is lying fallow in the pockets of the rich.

    wv: kointrel - Isn't she on of the sex in the city girls?


  4. There is not much to elaborate there, Jazz. We live in larger homes. We have more material goods -- more cars, more entertainment devices, more clothes, more furniture. Obesity is a major problem now whereas malnutrition was a major problem in the 1950's in many parts of the country. And as you point out, the rich have gotten filthy, filthy rich out of all of this.

    Here is 1955: My aunt lives in a 4-room tar paper shack. There is no electricity. There is no running water. The toilet is an outhouse. Water is hauled out of a well with a bucket. The only climate control is a wood stove in the living room. Wash day consists of hauling wash water up from the well until the washtub is full, then scrubbing clothes on a washboard. Baths occur rarely, because hauling water and heating it on the propane stove in the kitchen to fill a bathtub was significant amount of work. There is one vehicle in the family -- a farm truck -- and the field behind the house is plowed with a mule. Meat is eaten once per week, mostly they eat beans and cornbread and greens (turnip, collard, mustard) and potatoes and turnips.

    Here is 1995: My aunt lives in a large modern mobile home. The kitchen has a dishwasher and garbage disposal and microwave and a gas stove. Modern plumbing and fixtures, she wants a shower she goes to the bathroom, steps into the bathtub, and hot water comes out! (You don't know what a difference running hot water makes in someone's life until you have to do without it). Central air and heat that maintains the interior at a constant temperature. Air-tight aluminum windows rather than the drafty wooden windows of the four-square shack. Meat is eaten regularly, and the notion of a shortage of food simply doesn't exist.

    This is a real and quantum leap improvement in the wealth available even at the low end of our income distribution. And as you point out, if we include the wealth that our oligarchs have plundered and hoarded, the situation becomes even more clear that we have no shortage of the wealth required to maintain a reasonable social insurance network. All we lack is the will, not the fundamental wealth as a nation.

    - Badtux the Sustainable Penguin

  5. "Of course, Paul Krugman and Peter Dorman and I are talking about little things called facts, which means we're totally irrelevant in the right-wing universe"

    For all intents & purposes the right-wing universe *is* the universe, especially when our Democratic president is so far to the right of Nixon, not to mention Clinton & Reagan.

    How income tax ever made it to 90% I'll never understand. That won't happen again in a million years. Kind of gets in the way of the top 1% hoarding it all.

    But since we are still relatively prosperous, especially in relation to most of the rest of the world, we still have a long, long way to go before a majority of the people are in dire enough straits to actually want to do something about the increasing wealth gap (tea partiers are working against their own interests here, so they don't count.)

    In other words, it ain't gonna get better any time soon.

  6. So how are you going to fix it? Well, I live like your aunt did in the 50's and I love it and it's dirt cheap to live that way.


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