Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Warren vs. Ryan

Ryan debates Warren

Paul Ryan makes the claim that there's soon too many takers and not enough makers, to support the notion that we're on the road to where we make it impossible to rise above the lot you were born to.  Subject, of course, to taking the right side in the outcomes vs. opportunities debate, which is, if you're a conservative, that everyone should have the same opportunity, not the same outcome.  Which is why we've been dismantling the welfare state for the last thirty years, even though at the time we started dismantling it most of it was ten years old; because if you screw up your eyes really bad, you can see the welfare state as impacting outcomes by offering opportunities, and so it must be ended because we're opposed to engineering outcomes.  Causation for thee, after all, and not for me. 

Except social security is older: must keep that in mind.  Delenda Est Carthago, as they say at the Heritage Institute, and though that was the rock that definitively wrecked the Bush administration they must continue to attack it, because they still think FDR was a commie.

(Consider that these people think the US went wrong in 1935, with the passage of social security, and its all been downhill since then.  It reminds one of the old Jehovah's Witnesses pamphlets that claimed the world really did come to an end in 1914, see, because that was when WWI started, and WWI was solely responsible for the current modern predicament.  Of course, maybe the Witnesses meant 1870, because WWI was really the inevitable consequence of Paris spoiling for a fight after the humiliation of the Franco-Prussian war; but then again, maybe the world really ended when Napoleon lost the Battle of Leipzeig.  Or maybe its like that Heidegger guy said, and the world ended the day it was born, much as humans begin dying the day they're born.  Or maybe if you think everything was going great until 1935, when Social Security convinced Americans to be lazy, you're just nuts.)

There's a strongly aspirational appeal here, based on the well-known tendency of conservative-leaning independent/low-information voters to support tax policies that work against them because they think someday they might be rich, and then, once they've got there's, everyone else can suck it.  Because that happens, like, once every million citizens or so.  Its lottery thinking, as my epistemology professor said a tax on stupidity, but its prevalent.  Ryan is here hoping the people who think they might strike the lottery next week and don't want to be taxed at rates that take you back to 1992 will vote for him.  Sadly, he's right.  There's a whole post or suite of posts here about the conservative idea that working against my interests is irrelevant and its really all about principles, but we'll save that for later.

Mr. Ryan says its all about ensuring mobility.  The Horatio Alger story must stay intact; any little middle class kid should be able to grow up to be Bill Gates or, uh, Warren Buffet, or, no, wait...  (scratches head and thinks of rich guys who are greedy)...: the Koch Brothers.  Uh oh, too late.  Turns out that mobility has already been prevented.  Looks to be about the time we started dismantling the welfare state.  (Correlation, of course, not causation, we must emphasize, lest the statistics will be attacked by the same people who attack anthropogenic global warming.  Causation for thee, after all, and not for me.)

Maybe we should try something else?  Nah, this is conservativism.  This is an ideology that believes there is, in principle, nothing else to try except for the old stuff, and anything that can't be managed with the old stuff is an act of God.

So there you go: Paul Ryan, using 1970s-era assumptions about social mobility, debating Elizabeth Warren, who uses thirty years of statistics to show the middle class got shafted.  Its a triumph for conservativism.

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