Thucky: A Case Study In Conservative Intellectual Dishonesty

Posted by Bob Lord

The Thuckmeister is wearing out his welcome here, at least as far as I'm concerned.

Among other things, he's engaged in what seems to me is rank intellectual dishonesty.

But since Thucky's dishonesty is sort of a case study in conservative intellectual dishonesty, let's explore.

Some time back, when ole Thucky first started railing about the evils of our social safety net, he made statements very clearly designed to conjure up images in the reader's mind of lazy welfare recipients sitting on their couches drinking beer and watching their flat screen TVs. And if the lazy person the reader imagined sitting there in front of the flat screen was black, well, all the better. 

But when I began posting about the conservative war on the poor, Thucky morphed into a "compassionate" conservative, overcome with emotion over the damage welfare does to its recipients whom he cares so much about. On my last post, he commented about the harm that welfare does to children in their pre-school years. He'd even counted the number of words they were not hearing before entering school. 

If you took his recent comments at face value, you'd think the Thuckmeister's desire to shred the safety net is driven by his concern for poor children.

Actually, he's just a corporate shill and the concern he purports to have for poor children reeks of intellectual dishonesty.

Let's go back to Thuck's disdain for welfare beneficiaries' ownership of televisions. How do you reconcile that with his concern for the children. If welfare children really are not hearing the right number of words they should from their parents, wouldn't we want them to at least have the chance to see TV shows like Blues Clues and Sesame Street?

If he's so deeply concerned about the children, why does Thucky oppose programs to ensure they get the proper nutrition? After all, the brain of a malnourished child never fully develops, thereby robbing the child of his potential. Would someone concerned about the number of words a pre-school kid hears be willing to risk having that kid lose brain function?

Thucky has commented several times on the effective tax rate of safety net beneficiaries on the first dollars they earn from work. He's actually correct about this, but there are two ways to fix the problem: Reduce or eliminate benefits, even to those in need or, in the alternative, phase the benefits out more gradually for those who find employment. If you cared about the children, you'd prefer the second of those approaches, as it would leave benefits in place for the children who really need them, while still solving the problem of the effective tax rate. But Thucky would prefer to slash benefits. 

If the Thuckmeister really is concerned about the children, why doesn't he share my concerns about inequality? If the dollars currently flowing to the top were flowing to wage earners instead, aggregate demand would increase, causing an increase in the demand for workers, thus creating jobs for some of those welfare recipients.  

If he truly were overcome with concern for welfare children, why have we not seen comments from Thucky pushing for infrastructure spending? That would create jobs, again putting some of those welfare recipients for whom he purports to have so much compassion back to work.

If his overriding concern is welfare children, why hasn't Thucky commented on the need to increase funding for pre-school programs? Surely it would be better for those welfare kids to be in pre-school than sitting at home not hearing any words and having "negative interactions with adults" (his words, not mine). 

Truth is, Thucky's dishonesty is not exceptional. He's just a textbook case of how conservative ideology doesn't square with the concerns conservatives would like you to believe motivate that ideology. And if you keep track of what they say, their remarks become littered with contradiction. You don't need an advanced degree to figure this out. You don't even need to be smart. You just need to pay attention. 

7 responses to “Thucky: A Case Study In Conservative Intellectual Dishonesty

  1. We certainly aren’t experiencing a movement to equality of outcomes that our President promised us. Inequality is absolutely at its worst. That inequality is now especially devastating because outcomes for the poor are going downhill.

    The correlation between wealth for the rich and wealth for the poor is cross sectional by country. Let me assure you that the poor in the US are much better off than the poor in an other country. Our poor are very asset wealthy and consumption wealthy as compared even to typical people in most other countries. But they are not emotionally well off. They are very unhappy, they don’t lead emotionally healthy lives. People with jobs experience much greater happiness, emotional growth and cognitive growth.

    No correlation is absolute. What is going on in our economy is very complex. Owners of small businesses are not creating jobs. They just got hit with a large tax rate increase and a big regulatory hit. The lost jobs would have really helped the poor. Those jobs would have also have really helped the small business owner earn a lot of money. Didn’t happen. The positive correlation was lost.

    Meanwhile, large corporations are brutally squeezing the efficiency out of every single process and making much larger profits. Substituting inexpensive capital for labor at every possible point. All of the 1% are making large untaxed gains through untaxed stock gains. Their gain is, temporarily, at the expense of the poor. They are being subsidized by the actions of the federal reserve at keeping the cost of capital artificially low. This will not go on for much longer, the end is near. We have enough money in the sitting idle to fuel an economy of 50 Trillion dollars. Soon, within the next two years, people will stampede out of money the same way they stampeded out of housing when housing became glutted. Overnite, money will become worth half as much.

    This is still avoidable if the president flips the economy and moves to a set of policies that will get us growing at 4% or greater. Definitely possible. The growth path would affirm the value of the money. The federal reserve could back off and allow this huge pool of cash to fuel capital expansion. Interest rates would rise causing labor to become inexpensive relative to capital and also keeping money from stampeding.

    Nirvana.

  2. I think I can diagnose your condition. You’re an idiot savant. You can read papers written by economists with lots of equations containing letters from the Greek alphabet, but you can’t (or won’t) reason your way out of a paper bag.

    Consider what you said: “Reducing income inequality makes the poor worse off, not better.”

    If that were correct, than the following also would be correct: Increasing income inequality makes the poor better off.

    But that can’t be correct. If the top 1% were taking in 90% of the total income, would it help the poor if the share of the 1% increased to 95%? Of course not, unless the effect of doing so would be to more than double the size of the pie over what it would have grown to in the absence of such an increase.

    So, the analysis here is tougher than spouting out talking points. Talking points are easy. You memorize them, you wait for something remotely relevant to be said, and you spout them out. Reasoning is touger. Show some reasoning skills, Thucky. Don’t just rely on the rantings of some economist you worship. Use your own brain for a change.

  3. Reducing income inequality makes the poor worse off, not better. The outcomes for the poor are very positively correlated with outcomes for the rich. Your entire arguments surround a sharing of the pie concept. Very flawed. The size of the pie exploded after the Reagan tax rate reductions on small businesses. The supply side effect was disputed until the year 2000. Now, no one disputes it, not even Goolsbee, Obams’s economic warrior – read his latest research. He grants the effect of the Reagan tax cuts.

    He further subtley acknowledges its later large effect of encouraging second income earners to be more productive, retirees to return to the work force and human capital to become more productive.

    Jealousy is an important part of this analysis. You are only worse off by the creation of rich people if you are the jealous type. If you suffer from extreme jealousy, the very existence of the rich does damage to you. Most people have at least a modest amount of jealousy, it is a very tribal emotion. Reasearch in the workplace shows workers actively seek a state of compensation dissatisfaction. They start by comparing thei4r salaries with the coworkers and keep working up to professional baseball players and billionaires if they have to.

    Caring about the poor may be really caring about yourself.

    The current environment is just nuking the poor, increasing the pool of the poor at an astonishing rate.

  4. Spot on, Jana. The notion that those confronting inequality are motivated by jealousy is moronic. I seriously doubt Joe Stiglitz or Robert Reich is wanting in any way financially, but they’re the folks leading the charge. I guess my question would be “at what point is it no longer petty jealousy to question the share of the top 1%?” If the top 1% garnered 90% of our wealth and the bottom 98% had only 1%, thus making a top one percenter 9,000 times as well off as a bottom 99 percenter, would someone in the second 1%, who would be pretty well off, still be considered “jealous” if he spoke up for the 98%?

  5. People who are concerned about income inequality are just jealous? Talk about rank intellectual dishonesty. If Thucky was intellectually honest he wouldn’t paint the entire portion of the populace that thinks income inequality is a problem as bunch of petty coveting ninnies. Not everyone who is concerned about wealth inequality is of the opinion that he or she is on the losing side of the equation. Your jealousy rationale goes poooof!

  6. Reduce taxes on small businesses? That’s a talking point with no basis in reality. The overwhelming majority of small businesses are Subchapter S corporations or LLCs. They don’t pay tax. And the income they pass through to their owners is about the only form of income not subject to the 3.8% medicare tax on income over $250,000. And one of the worst loopholes in the tax code is the ability of S corporation owners to avoid massive amounts of employment tax.

  7. I am not concerned about inequality because I am not a jealous person. I have not a jealous bone in my body. I am very concerned about the plight of the disadvantaged. Spent half the day today with the most disadvanted residents of the state.

    Unlike you, I want small businesses to earns gobs more money so they pay gobs more taxes and hire gobs more young people. The 1 percent are getting more than ever before because the are friends of the president, they aren’t paying a Penney more in taxes. The also aren’t hiring.

    We should have a tax on unrealized capital gains and reduce taxes on small businesses. I would love to see Warren Buffet write a check to the federal government for 30 billion.