The Transformation from Feudalism to Capitalism to Attentionalism
Losing by Losing

Tax Policy 101

Right-wingers who mislead on issues of public finance: stupid or dishonest?

Matthew Yglesias writes:

Learned Helplessness | TPMCafe: Jon Chait says our disagreement about conservative thinking -- or lack thereof -- on taxes comes down to the classic conundrum of "stupid or dishonest" and he sides with stupid. I like to think I have a more nuanced view -- it's not dishonesty, it's willful ignorance. Or, as Irving Kristol put it in his accounting of the coming-together of the Reagan coalition,

Among the core social scientists around The Public Interest there were no economists. (They came later, as we "matured.") This explains my own rather cavalier attitude toward the budget deficit and other monetary or fiscal problems. The task, as I saw it, was to create a new majority, which evidently would mean a conservative majority, which came to mean, in turn, a Republican majority - so political effectiveness was the priority, not the accounting deficiencies of government."

I think this counts as a kind of deliberate ignorance that exists at the top levels of the conservative movement. There's a desire to avoid looking too closely at some of these tax policy questions. And that trickles down. People who are characterologically inclined to remain ignorant prosper. Charlatans prosper. People who are neither charlatans nor disinclined to look at the question wind up not becoming conservative pundits.

Duncan Black chimes in:

Eschaton: Really. It's not a choice. Conversations with wingers about tax policy and economics generally as well as the output of their various mouthpieces in the media generally begin with a poor comprehension of about two weeks of Econ 101 and end with pure bullshit.

I'm with Duncan: stupid and dishonest.