Meet the New Hate, Same as the Old Hate

Salon has an interesting interview with Arthur Goldwag, author of the new book The New Hate: A History of Fear and Loathing on the Populist Right.  He argues that the racist and conspiracist approach of today’s right-wing nut jobs is “largely the same as it was 50 years ago.”

But what caught my attention was this question and answer because I think it goes a long way towards understanding recent attacks on public workers in Wisconsin.

Why is this resurgence of the “old hate” happening now?

We’re going through a historic shift in this country.  We were on an incredible run of prosperity in the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s, thanks to the New Deal social compact, thanks to big unions, thanks to very strong regulation – thanks to all the things that Glenn Beck’s followers think are the most evil things in the world.  Fairly unskilled, uneducated people were able to earn a good living, and send their children to college.  And that’s changed.  Income inequality is growing.  If you look at American history, the bottom has dropped out of rural people’s lives every five years, but there used to also be a manufacturing class that made a decent living.  There used to be a route for people that weren’t well educated to make a decent living.  There isn’t anymore. There’s a lot of anxiety about our individual positions in our society, and our country’s position in the world. If you’re not educated to be able to understand it, and you’re trapped in a disadvantaged life, you might become really, really angry. (emphasis added)

I believe that this is, fundamentally, correct.  His assessment of the level of anger and vitriol in the undereducated population is being exploited by the right wing of the GOP in ways that are, ultimately, detrimental to their own interests.  Rather than expressing solidarity with public workers who, while not paid as well as private sector workers in general, certainly retained levels of benefits not seen in the private sector since the 1970s.  And that was achieved, of course, through collective bargaining.

You want to see envy in action, here it is.  If you think the 99% envy the wealth of the 1%, private sector workers, many of whom have ceded more benefits and more compensation to their employers demands, are most certainly envious of the benefits of their public sector brothers and sisters.  You can hear it in their rhetoric.  The rich capitalize on this envy through the omnipresent right wing media who stoke these fires of jealousy into action against working-class Americans.  They’ve even convinced these “useful idiots” that “right to work” laws will benefit workers! As Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said,

In our glorious fight for civil rights, we must guard against being fooled by false slogans, such as ‘right to work.’ It is a law to rob us of our civil rights and job rights.Its purpose is to destroy labor unions and the freedom of collective bargaining by which unions have improved wages and working conditions of everyone…Wherever these laws have been passed, wages are lower, job opportunities are fewer and there are no civil rights. We do not intend to let them do this to us. We demand this fraud be stopped. Our weapon is our vote.  (Martin Luther King, speaking about right-to-work laws in 1961)

Instead of standing in solidarity with the public sector and demanding the same benefits from their private sector employers, these cowards resort to jealous tantrums against “pampered” public sector workers.  These class traitors demand that the benefits bargained by public sector workers be slashed to the same meager levels they suffer in the private sector.  All the while, heaping opprobrium onto the very institution, the labor union, that could help raise them up.

Working class people tearing down working class people.  The capitalists have certainly won.

Jay Gould’s dystopian worker’s paradise has certainly come to pass…

I can hire one half of the working class to kill the other half.

Demystifying Libertarianism and Austrian Economics

It’s really not that hard as soon as you realize it’s a cult like the Manson Family, Jim Jones or Scientology.  It helps explain Ron Paul and his acolytes quite nicely, actually.

From The Austrian Disease — Poor Scholarship, A Priori Bias

Despite its efforts to reach a broader audience, libertarianism is a marginal discourse and it probably always will be (political cults without real power are always marginal – because they’re so extreme that the majority will not accept them, but may have them imposed on them by the state). But it lingers around the internet, derailing many economic and political debates.

Libertarians – and their Austrian brethren – since they are, at heart, metaphysicians and cultists, are often proselytizing rather than engaging in a discussion, even about the most mundane and non-theoretical of topics; such as, say, the structure of the modern banking system. Anything that calls into question any of their principles is quickly steamrolled over with either mounds of rhetoric or sophistical arguments.

Let us take an example of a ‘liberty-meme’ that bounces around the internet. There are many of these. One could, for example, deal with the 1920-21 recession that is torn out of context and elevated to mythic status. But that is too nuanced a discussion to have in short form (even though I think the evidence that 1920-21 was no more than an unmanaged post-war adjustment and thus has little bearing upon possible government responses to a massive debt deflation).

The rest of this excellent article is a thorough take-down of the entire libertarian edifice.  Reading this reminds me why the week I spent arguing with the cultists over at Dr. Tim’s House of Thought Conformity was a complete waste of time.

Punk Economics: Episode 1

Great review of the crisis in Europe by Irish economist David McWilliams!  McWilliams has worked as an economist with the Central Bank of Ireland and as a banker with UBS bank and the Banque Nationale de Paris.  He currently does documentary television.

Listen for the bit around 7:30 where McWilliams talks about working in Boston in the 1980s when the Boston & Massachusetts economy took a nose-dive and how the Federal Government stepped in to help with various transfers.  Then remember that we have a governor who is to feckin’ stupid to know how economics works and turned down millions and millions of dollars in transfer payments from the Feds.  When you elect a moron, you get moronic policies.

Free health insurance & pension benefits for public employees?

Uh oh….looks like someone needs to read something other than Scott Walker talking points…

Here’s a question – Why should you get your health insurance and pension for free? What makes you so special?

The “you” Randy Hollenbeck is referring to would be Wisconsin’s public employees.

What’s curious is that I’ve been a public employee for over ten years, and I can’t remember a time where I’ve ever had my health insurance and pension benefits provided to me for free. In fact, the share of my health insurance and pension benefits that I’ve had to pay has steadily risen every year I’ve been a public employee, while my wages have stagnated, failing to keep up with increases in the cost of living. Obviously I can’t speak to whether or not there may have been some public employees who received free health insurance and pension benefits, but the vast majority of public employees that I know have never had free health insurance and pension benefits.

Later in his blog entry, Hollenbeck doubles down on the Republican talking points, saying,

“Furthermore, we will need to offload part of the burden of YOUR benefits off the backs of the taxpayers so you will have to pay a small portion yourself!”.

To borrow a line from Randy Hollenbeck, “Anti-intellectuals are always demonstrating how desperately they need to invent their own demons to throw stones at,” and in Randy’s case his demons seem to be public employees.

Paul Ryan Dishonors Martin Luther King, Jr.

Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’
Martin Luther King, Jr.

On Martin Luther King, Jr. day, a teacher from Racine refused an award because it was given to him by Paul Ryan (R-Wall St.). The same Paul Ryan who has perpetually been adamantly against extending unemployment benefits for the unemployed workers in his district(which has one of the highest unemployment rates in the country), protections for General Motors and thousands of other American jobs and also has his sites set on dismantling Social Security and Medicare as we know it.

Al Levie had this to say about his refusal of the award from Pink Slip Paulie:

“I would not accept the award from Paul Ryan because Paul Ryan is a lackey for the 1 percent,” he said. “Paul Ryan had no business at a Martin Luther King event, it’s totally hypocritical. On the one hand he votes to slash health care, while on the other hand, King dedicated his life and he died for it, for people to have adequate healthcare, to have adequate jobs.”

“King made it very clear that he was on the side of working people,” he continued. “Ryan on the other hand, he has absolutely no affinity for the working class and for him to come to an event where somebody of King’s stature was honored is wrong.”

This tremendously upset the right wing as people like the rights brilliant orator Andy "go to hell" Breitbart labeled this "Liberal Hate".

No way that Paul Ryan (R-$350 bottles of wine) would ever treat anyone with such contempt, right?

Packer/Badger Schedule anyone?

Edible Externalities, Part Deux – The Sugar Edition

Earlier this week I posted about Edible Externalities.  Well, apparently the Europeans were listening to me

PARIS — Sugar should be identified alongside alcohol and tobacco as a health danger, and governments should tax sweetened drinks and food as part of their efforts to combat it.

So says a commentary, published on Thursday in the journal Nature as part of a widening debate among doctors and policymakers about food fiscality and health

Around 35 million people die each year of non-communicable diseases such as heart disease, cancer and diabetes and a wave of obesity is unfurling from rich countries to developing economies, say three US academics who authored the piece.

Tobacco and alcohol are already regulated by governments to protect public health, “but one of the primary culprits behind this worldwide health crisis (is) unchecked,” they say.

A levy on added sugars would help meet the growing costs of meeting sugar-related health problems and discourage consumption, they suggest.

Take that, doubters!  Taxes can manage negative externalities!  And apparently, the United States is on board.

In the United States, the government is currently considering a soda tax that would raise the price of a can of fizzy drink by around 10-12 US cents, bringing in some 14 billion dollars a year of revenue.