Monday, October 11, 2010

Watch Out for GOP Populism -

Thomas Frank became one of my favorite writers, and not necessarily because I agreed with him perfunctorily (overcoming my years of supply-side indoctrination & conservative populist propaganda actually required quite bit of quiet study, patient research & careful analysis).  Rather, he seemed to be the only regular voice on the Wall Street Journal's Op Ed page that took issue with the accepted wisdom regurgitated by that particular Rupert Murdoch-owned screed bucket.

Sometimes humorous, occasionally polemic, often cautionary, but always on target, Frank writes some of the sharpest & most principled rebuttals of conservative Republicon philosophy that exists in mainstream media today. And he doesn't spare Democraps, either, when deserved... which is, alas, often enough. Where is a good third party when you need one?

I had wanted to share his final article at the WSJ (Aug. 11, 2010 - "The Economic Crisis: Lessons Unlearned"), both as a sentimental paean to his departure for greener pastures at Harper's, but also because it so neatly encapsulates my own feelings about the coming mid-term elections. Tom, you will be missed.

Unfortunately, the ever profit hungry Shylocks at the WSJ are demanding their pound of flesh by archiving said article in their premium content vault & requiring a subscription to access the full article. So, I chose this one instead.

Watch Out for GOP Populism - "- Sent using Google Toolbar"

What drove me to choose this piece was, among other things, Frank's critical examination of Rep. Paul Ryan's economic proposals, which have received a lot of fawning press from a superficial mainstream media. As most outlets would have us believe, Rep. Ryan's proposals are serious, near-scholarly and above all else bold, fresh ideas hitherto unheard of from the GOP. As Frank exposes (above) they are none of those things; they aren't even internally consistent or founded on coherent logic.

And, as Paul Krugman & others point out elsewhere [here, for instance] Ryan's math doesn't even work.

To be fair, some of Krugman's criticisms are over the top (e.g., check here for a quasi-impartial refereeing of the latest Krugman-Ryan spat); but, hey, that's why I like Krugman... someone has to fire back at these guys with same over-the-top ferocity. Fight fire with fire, I say.

Moreover, it doesn't mean Krugman's analysis is wrong, by any stretch. I'll take the projections of the non-partisan Tax Policy Center over that proffered by Ryan's staff (and/or his unnamed contacts at the Treasury, who haven't been known to be either non-partisan or particularly prescient at forecasting, e.g., Treasury estimates for the Reagan tax reforms and/or the Bush tax cuts [either or both] were dramatically wrong).

Before you find yourself enchanted by Rep. Paul Ryan's economic sorcery, as found in his "Roadmap for America's Future", do some homework.

Just drinking the Kool-Aid may be dangerous to your health (not to mention potentially impoverishing for the rest of us, too)!

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