October 25, 2007

Re: Kate Brewster (And the Price of Self Delusion)

Justin Katz

With little doubt that the observation and conclusions will be misconstrued, I find myself comparing Kate Brewster's Poverty Institute and Planned Parenthood. When people construct their lives such that they profit from — survive by — the evil outcomes of their faulty solutions, accuracy of analysis is apt to be subordinate to a priori prescriptions and emotional dismissiveness. And it does give one a sense of how people allow themselves to slip gently into eternal damnation.

Giving the benefit of the doubt about intentions, such people probably start out with every hope of helping others, but they become so thoroughly convinced of a pat collection of causes and pursuant fixes that they will not see when their work results in harm to those whom they wish to help. They can't let go of their preconceptions.

So, they endeavor to convince the low-end worker that the precondition to subsistence is unsustainable taxation of others and government patronage, combined with employment mandates that can't help but result in fewer workers who pay more for the goods and services that they use. So, they would endeavor to defend abortion to the Lord, Himself.

There's a saying about the pavement on the road to Hell.

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...become so thoroughly convinced so thoroughly convinced of a pat collection of causes and pursuant fixes...

Congratulations, Justin! You've just described every post you've ever written (a touch of hyperbole) with diamond-like precision.

You who live in your gauzy cocoon of right-wing ideology, where all complex problems have a stunningly simple (and completely wrong) solution.

I summarize the basis of your thinking: Cut off their money. Let 'em starve if they don't work.

Why, why, why can't you realize that this "solution" is called Social Darwinism, and that it was the ruling political philosophy for a good 70 years in the US?

Newsflash: It didn't work!!! People did starve; children did die young because their immune system was hoplessly compromised by malnutrition.

Why do you insist that it would be different this time?

What I say is based on actual, factual, and demonstrable history. What you say is based on this pristine faith in free markets--except when you lose your job. Low blow? Perhaps--that is simply and horribly misplaced.

And you could, maybe, see that if you bothered to look at real data instead of postulating what will happen because outdated classical economic theory tells us it should happen.

Here is the reality: Men in their 30s today make less than men in their 30s did in the 1970s. That is what The Reagan Revolution has done for this country. It has driven wages DOWN!

And, please, please don't make me explain the difference between real wages and nominal wages again.

Sorry, but I've lost patience that reasoned discourse will work here. When Tom W told me that the tax burden is higher because the fed budget was bigger, I realized that the opinions here are straight out of Wonderland.

BTW: During the Eisenhower Admin, the top marginal income tax rate was 91%. And yet the US experienced an economic boom like never witnessed in history.

And yet, somehow, a 33% top marginal rate is "unsustainable"?

The problem is, your plutocratic idols are ripping you off. By cutting their taxes, more and more responsibility is falling upon you, my friend. And you're such a chump that, not only do you take their crap, you proclaim it to be our salvation.

It's like the scene in Animal House when Kevin Bacon is being hazed at the frat house. He's stipped to his underwear and being spanked with a pledge paddle. After each smack, he says "Thank you, sir, may I have another?" (Hint: you are playing the Kevin Bacon role.)

I repeat, for the 50th or so time: We tried it your way. It didn't work. Read some history and find that out.

Posted by: klaus at October 26, 2007 2:07 PM

For readers who have not observed for themselves:

For at least a year, now, Klaus has been stopping by from time to time to make the very same argument. Several people have addressed his premises and reasoning, but he never bothers to return for a reply.

Therefore, I'm considering simply having a boilerplate response whenever he comments, to the effect of: Klaus's characterization of my views has only incidental relation to what I actually believe; he's arguing with some figment whom he imagines me to resemble. Since he never carries the conversation, and since I refuse to grant him power to command my time for fruitless responses, I'll let this disclaimer suffice.

Posted by: Justin Katz at October 27, 2007 7:47 AM

For readers who have not observed for themselves, I've been coming here for about a year and reading the same subjective value judgments that are neither supported by facts, nor capable of being supported by facts.

Implying that someone is on the road to Hell is not capable of being supported by fact.

In the meantime, I keep making the same point because it continues to be true. The middle class has suffered greatly under Supply-side economic theory. As Exhibit A, I offer the stagnation of the median wage vs the increase in income of several hundred percent enjoyed by the top 1%.

Since Justin is unable to refute or deny these facts, he calls me names, claims that he never said what he did say, that I didn't understand, or refers to my points as "boilerplate."

I'll leave it to the readers to decide who is most capable of describing reality.

Posted by: klaus at October 27, 2007 1:09 PM

It's too, too appropriate, Klaus that you've so clearly failed to understand what my complaint actually is. (In a nutshell, that responses have been made to your arguments, but that you've never returned to address them, preferring, according to your own admission, to stop by from time to time and throw a bomb.)

Your reading comprehension wasn't even sufficient for you to grok to what I was referring as "boilerplate."

Posted by: Justin Katz at October 27, 2007 1:15 PM


The tone you take in this post has made me lose all respect for you as a blogger and writer.

Posted by: Kiersten Marek at October 27, 2007 2:08 PM


You'll have to take me at my word that I'm not being testy with what follows. Rather, inasmuch as I do not wish to lose all of the respect of somebody for whom I retain some, I'm seeking clarity about what it is that you object to.

I don't believe that your complaint is actually against the "tone" of the post, which is about as gentle as possible, given the point that I was trying to make. If it is, therefore, my beliefs and arguments themselves, I wonder what crosses the line for you.

Is it that I believe that "eternal damnation" exists as a possibility? Or is it that I'm willing to speculate about what behavior can result in that end? Or is it that I believe it appropriately and objectively applicable to characterize outcomes as evil, even when the policies that cause them are well intentioned?

The plain truth is that I do believe in Heaven and Hell and that it is ultimately prideful obstinance that leads us to the latter. I also believe the killing of unborn children and the fostering of poverty to be objectively evil. I would never assert that Ms. Brewster is Hellbound; I don't know her well enough, much less her soul. However, I have concluded that her prescription for Rhode Island is a larger dose of the poison that is killing us, harming (even ruining) the lives of her fellow Rhode Islanders.

I long ago decided not to reward Klaus's bombs with substantive response, but to you I will admit this: I'm absolutely conscious of the fact that I am susceptible to the ideological dangers that I describe. Moreover, as a matter of habitual practice, I strive to apply the models that I derive from those in whom I find errors of thought easy to discern (i.e., people with whom I disagree) to myself. If you don't believe that, then I'd suggest that you haven't read my work carefully enough.

And if you read this response and still have an utter lack of respect for me, then I'm not going to let myself be but so concerned. I have a responsibility to come to my own conclusions and to be honest in presenting them, after all.

Posted by: Justin Katz at October 27, 2007 3:36 PM
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