Stupid is never the best word to use, unless you want to start a fight. Its tone is harsh, and its judgment final. So be it, the judgment is deserved.
The first stupid guy was a caller to a talk radio program, a “J…. from Tallassee Alabama” – he is a regular caller, which was apparent by his reminding that host of what he had said during a previous call (so a self important caller, who expects to be remembered). He complained about the threat to Social Security by those who say it has to be reformed. Listening to his complaint, I assumed he was a supporter of Obama, but when asked, he said he’s voting for Mitt, that the election is all about the “Land of the Free, Home of the Brave” – yes, that is what he said. No, I don’t have a transcript, but it is no more than a word or two off.
I am familiar enough with conservative tropes to recognize that the caller receives his talking points from conservative talk radio – where America is presented as being at the edge of a precipice, and if Obama is re-elected, we will have jumped into the abyss. Of course, since the voter was white, aging (he admits to paying payroll taxes for more than 40 years) and from Alabama – my inner voice whispered, a racist too.
Of course the caller has been bamboozled. Near retirement, he wants his benefits –as if he “owns” them. But he doesn’t. His payroll taxes paid for the generation before him, and his (and mine) will be paid by our children. Yes the trust fund does exist, but the fund is essentially a debt – and debts are repaid with future revenues (this is true for Treasury Bills and is true for all bonds – by the way, conservative complain about debt saddling our children, so where were they when George Bush elected to go to war without raising taxes, that too was a debt laid upon our children!)
My guess is that our caller believes in flat taxes, the confidence fairy, and that the poor should pay more taxes (that they are moochers). Sure, I’ve made a stereotype of him, but how else to explain his comment but that he is the typical angry white conservative voter, so a “fool.”
My other fool is David Brooks. Unlike our caller, David is a conservative columnist and a fair one; well educated and up to date on many of the political debates. Still, the other day, he too revealed that he’s bought the party line. Reacting to a mediocre employment report, he said the following?
“The percentage of adults employed is at a three-decade low, and so you've got to do serious things to reduce uncertainty for investors. You've got to simplify the tax code. You've got to give skilled jobs - even in the current situation, they're having trouble finding truck drivers making $50,000 a year. And so the election should be about big things. Instead, it's about little things: how high is the interest rate on the student loans, and things like that.
And what's disappointing is the president doesn't have a big tax reform plan. …”
Simplify the tax code? Investor confidence? The confidence fairy again!
Sure the tax code can always use simplification, but this has almost nothing to do with the sad state of the economy.
What is especially galling is the David Brooks is among the more thoughtful and fair among conservative columnists – and if he represents their best, where do we go for fair criticism of Obama? And where do we go for policy alternatives?
Right now, we stay with the Democrats, even if they remain a gaggle of various special interests. For a moderate Republican, a man without a state in political terms, it’s the best I can do.