Friday, July 23, 2010
Wednesday, July 21, 2010
Ben Stein: The Unemployed Are People With ‘Unpleasant Personalities…Who Do Not Know How To Do A Day’s Work’
Today, the Senate extended unemployment benefits for millions of jobless Americans. Despite the terrible shape of the economy, conservativesresisted extending unemployment insurance for weeks for Americans who can’t find work, launching a filibuster to prevent a vote on the benefits.
Writing at the American Spectator yesterday, former Nixon speechwriter and TV personality Ben Stein downplayed the suffering unemployed Americans are experiencing by writing that the people who are unemployed right now are “generally people with poor work habits and poor personalities.” He claims the unemployed are Americans with “unpleasant personalities…who do not know how to do a day’s work“:
The people who have been laid off and cannot find work are generally people with poor work habits and poor personalities. I say “generally” because there are exceptions. But in general, as I survey the ranks of those who are unemployed, I see people who have overbearing and unpleasant personalities and/or who do not know how to do a day’s work. They are people who create either little utility or negative utility on the job. Again, there are powerful exceptions and I know some, but when employers are looking to lay off, they lay off the least productive or the most negative. To assure that a worker is not one of them, he should learn how to work and how to get along — not always easy.
Of course, saying that the 15 million Americans who are unemployed right now are “generally” people with “poor work habits” is as offensive as it is wrong. The current recession is a global phenomenon caused by the collective bad behavior of the world’s largest financial institutions. Before the recession, the unemployment rate hovered aroundsix percent; it is ludicrious to say that millions of Americans suddenly got lazier and less able to work within the span of a few months.
Unfortunately, Stein is a widely respected voice on the American right who regularly appearson cable news to offer his thoughts on politics and policy. Using the Critical Mention media search engine, ThinkProgress finds that the name “Ben Stein” was mentioned 64 times in major television media networks within the past thirty days alone.
Krugman sums it up:
Fooled Again And Again and Again
So I don’t know if readers have been following the Shirley Sherrod affair. It goes like this: Ms. Sherrod was an Agriculture Department official; a right-wing blogger released clips of a video that purportedly showed her making racist remarks; the clips were featured big on Fox News; and the Obama administration promptly fired her.
But whaddya know, the scandal was fake. The clips were taken completely out of context. It was basically as if I said, “Some people say that violence is always the answer; they’re wrong”, Fox ran with the story “Krugman says violence is always the answer”, and the Times fired me.
What’s shocking here isn’t the behavior of the right, which was par for the course. It’s the seemingly limitless credulity of the inside-the-Beltway crowd. I mean, there’s a history here: ACORN, Climategate, Vince Foster, Whitewater, and much much more. (Someone recently reminded me that the GOP held two weeks of hearing on the Clinton Christmas card list.) When the right-wing noise machine starts promoting another alleged scandal, you shouldn’t suspect that it’s fake — you should presume that it’s fake, until further evidence becomes available.
So now Tom Vilsack, the Agriculture secretary, says that he may “reconsider”. I’d lay even odds that the Sherrod firing stands, even though it was totally unjust, because people in DC are so accustomed to cringing in the face of the right that they just don’t know how to stop.
Saturday, July 17, 2010
Friday, July 16, 2010
Tuesday, July 13, 2010
"Under anti-government conservatives all of these things that our government does to protect and empower us were cut to the bone or just ended"
Cut spending? Wait - where did that terrible idea come from? Government is We, the People and its job is to protect and empower us. Why in the world would we want to cut back on that?
WSJ today, The Bush Tax Cuts and the Deficit Myth, "Runaway government spending, not declining tax revenues, is the reason the U.S. faces dramatic budget shortfalls for years to come."
Wait a minute. Back up. Where did this come from? Who, anywhere, any time agreed to cut government? Why do We, the People allow these anti-government zealots to pre-frame the budget deficit as a problem of government doing too much for us? Which government function is the "too much" part? Reigning in runaway corporations? Consumer protection? Worker safety inspections? Food safety inspections? Maintaining and modernizing our infrastructure? Educating people? The courts? Keeping the water and air clean? There is a long list of things our government does for us. Why would we want less of that?
Imagine if Democrats voted to just put $500 billion a year in rockets and shot the rockets at the moon, and spent the next 30 years demanding that the conservatives do their part and raise taxes to pay for that. Do you think the top 1% would just say, "OH, OK, let's do that." Of course they wouldn't.
But under anti-government conservatives all of these things that our government does to protect and empower us were cut to the bone or just ended, resulting in mine disasters, bank meltdowns, predatory corporations scamming all of us, and the BP oil spill. We, the people got poorer and less secure while the rich got really, really richer.
Why would anyone in their right mind think that was a good idea?
Conservatives cut taxes on the rich, resulting in the greatest concentration of wealth ever. The entire economy turned into an everything-to-the-top vacuum cleaner scheme, filled with scams shaking down and fleecing We, the People of everything we have and delivering it to a few wealthy corporation-owners. And then we get this bamboozlement that "the deficit" is out of control, so we have to cut back on anything that remains of government working for We, the People? I don't think so.
Think about the level of bamboozlement that is going on here. Conservatives cut taxes on the rich, and then spend the next 30 years saying, "OK, now you have to do your part and cut the things government does for the people." The whole thing was a scheme to deliver power to a few at the top. In Reagan Revolution Home To Roost: America Drowning In Debt you can see the step-by-step outline of the plan, in their own words. The deficit plan was right there for everyone to see:
- Step 1: Cut taxes to "cut the allowance" of government so that it can't function on the side of We, the People. Intentionally force the government into greater and greater debt.
- Step 2: Use the debt as a reason to cut the things government does for We, the People. When the resulting deficits pile up scare people that the government is "going bankrupt" so they'll let you sell off the people's assets and "privatize" the functions of government. Of course, insist that putting taxes back where they were will "harm the economy."
- Step 3: Blame liberals for the disastrous effects of spending cutbacks.
So when did We, the People agree to this one-way bargain, cut taxes for the rich and cut what government does for us? We didn't, and we should stop acting like we did.
Every single one of us knows that the deficits are the result of tax cuts for the rich and huge military spending increases. If we want to fix the deficit problem we know exactly what to do.