Sunday, April 29, 2012

Why politics has become much less interesting:

Following up on the previous post that examined the total opposition by Republicans and their violation of institutional norms, some additional thoughts emerge.

As Kevin Drum put it last week, there are "Zealots to the Left of Me, Zealots to the Right of Me" where: (emp add)
It seems like every time I turn around I'm confronted by growing extremism. The Catholic Church is, increasingly, little more than an angry collection of reactionary old men who hate the modern world. The Republican Party is a refuge for bright-eyed true believers intent on tearing down the modern state. The state of Israel, unable to break the grip of its most expansionist zealots ...
What can you say about a party that rejects Keynesian economics? That dismisses the scientific consensus about global warming? That adheres to an empirically proven false doctrine of trickle down economics? That makes absurd claims about how the health care system works? That thinks that force is the solution to just about any foreign policy issue?

Note, these are not social issues about which people can disagree. If you don't like gay marriage, that falls into the category of morals where people are allowed to have their preferences, however disagreeable.

It's the economic and foreign policy area where the complete lack of rationality and acceptance of evidence is most troubling. What is the political observer supposed to do in this case? It's futile for pundits to "argue" the point on issues because there is no common ground of theory or evidence.

Let's look at so-called sensible conservative David Brooks. In a recent op-ed he wrote: (emp add)
In 2009, we had a big debate about whether to pass a stimulus package. Many esteemed and/or Nobel Prize-winning economists like Joseph Stiglitz, Larry Summers and Christina Romer argued that it would help lift the economy out of recession. Many other esteemed and/or Nobel Prize-winning economists like Robert Barro, Edward Prescott and James Buchanan argued that positive effects would be small and the package wouldn’t be worth the long-term cost.

We went ahead and spent the roughly $800 billion. What have we learned?

For certain, nothing. The economists who supported the stimulus now argue the economy would have been worse off without it. Those who opposed it argue that the results have been meager. It’s hard to think of anybody whose mind has been changed by what happened.
Stop. Right. There. *

Brooks ignores the historical record, going back to the 1930s demonstrating the efficacy of Keyneisn economics. There are even data sets from the last five years on this! Instead, Brooks points to some people who haven't changed their mind, as if that makes the case that we don't know if the stimulus helped.

This is typical of how someone like Brooks works to prevent accountability on his side. We have results, but look, some people haven't changed their minds. That must mean the issue is still unresolved. Hence, no changing of policy positions, no compromise, just continue the fight until Brooks' team takes over.

This has been the situation for a while but it's intensified since Obama took office. There is no dialogue to be had with Brooks or his wilder compatriots. There is nothing to be said. It's a waste of time and energy dealing with a cult-like party, which is what the Republicans have become.

(* The essay continues with Brooks citing global-warming-obfuscator Jim Manzi hilariously arguing that we should conduct controlled experiments in artificial environments and heed the results. That's merely a prescription for Kevin Hassett -style bullshit about DOW 36,000 or John Lott's manipulative statistics.)


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