Rich People Don’t Change When They Aren’t Punished

Rich People Don't Change When They Aren't PunishedEarly Monday, Jonathan Chait wrote, America Hates the Republicans, and They Don’t Know Why. Since this is a badly written sentence, let me translate it: America hates Republicans who don’t even know why.

Chait goes on to talk about the negative stereotypes that America has about the two parties. Democrats work to counter these negative stereotypes (eg, “Democrats are spendthrifts”), but Republicans don’t (eg, “Republicans just want to give away money to corporations and the super-rich”).

Why Care About Bad Stereotypes

There are a couple of things to think about this. The first thing is that most of the negative stereotypes about Democrats are not based on facts. The Democrats are not spendthrifts. Despite most people thinking the Republicans are fiscally conservative, they aren’t. Whenever they are in power, they start expensive wars they don’t pay for, and give away huge amounts of money to the rich that they don’t pay for.

So given that the bad stereotypes are based on lies, why would anyone believe that telling America the truth would matter? Bill Clinton gutted traditional welfare in this country, and most Republicans I know still think that poor people can stay on welfare their whole lives. America has bought a bill of goods and nothing will stop them from believing them — regardless what the facts are.

When the Democrats were in power, they provided healthcare for the country because the positive stereotypes are correct: they are compassionate and generous. But they paid for it.

When the Republicans decided to give big tax breaks to the rich, they didn’t pay for. They cost the US government at least a trillion dollars. And note: that’s the absolute lowest estimate based on the most rosy assumptions. My bet (ask me about it in ten years) is that unless the Democrats get back in power fast and reverse things, this tax bill will be more like five trillion dollars.

Why Bad Stereotypes Don’t Change

When the bill for the tax cut come comes due, it is likely that the Democrats will be in power. And you can bet that Republicans will be on all the television shows talking about what spendthrifts the Democrats are. They will probably even blame Obamacare (which was paid for) or Social Security (that comes from a different revenue stream, and is also paid for). But don’t expect any journalists to push back on this other than to say, “But the Democrats say…” As though it is just a matter of opinion.

Look at the History

The Republicans new tax bill is nothing new. Republicans have been doing this for decades. Remember in 1980, Ronald Reagan criticized Jimmy Carter for the federal debt, even though it had been going down Carter’s entire term? Then what happened? Reagan was elected. He cut taxes for the rich and greatly increased spending on the military. The result: the debt went way up.

Now I don’t actually care about the debt. But Americans do. They just didn’t notice. Carter didn’t get credit for reducing the debt and Reagan didn’t get condemned for increasing it. America doesn’t care.

This happens again and again.

Look at the Facts on the Ground

Right now, Republicans control Washington. Even if Clinton had won the presidency, that would still be true. And they control most of the states.

So why should Republicans care that they are doing all these things that America hates? If it hurts them, it will only affect them for one (and in rare cases two) election cycles.

So I don’t believe Chait. I think Republicans know what they are doing is extremely unpopular. They just don’t care. They are getting a big win. And it might — Might — hurt them in 2018. Most likely by 2020, all will be forgotten, and the Republicans will get to gerrymander the districts so they will have another 8+ years of almost total political control of the nation.

Until the American people get hurt really badly and start paying attention to what’s really happening they might as well get all the goodies they can. And if the country regains its sanity, the Republicans will go back to being a traditional conservative party, and that will be the end of it. There will be no long-term harm done to them. Meanwhile, look at all the goodies they gave themselves and their friends.

Meanwhile, we liberals just need to hit the streets and limit the damage they continue to do.

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About Frank Moraes

Frank Moraes is a freelance writer and editor online and in print. He is educated as a scientist with a PhD in Atmospheric Physics. He has worked in climate science, remote sensing, throughout the computer industry, and as a college physics instructor. Find out more at About Frank Moraes.

6 thoughts on “Rich People Don’t Change When They Aren’t Punished

  1. Tickle us, do we not laugh? Prick us, do we not bleed? Wrong us, shall we not revenge? There can be no more of Obama’s “Look forward and not back”. It cost him 2010 and everything after. Liberals must grab as much power as we can and inflict harm on the wealthy to the extent that is possible. They deserve death, or worse. I will settle for taking enough of their money that they can’t buy elections and their heirs have to get a job.

    • I sometimes believe this way — they deserve death, or worse.

      Because I think of people I loved, whom they’ve killed. And I become angry.

      But then I realize — they are, simply, not that bright. They aren’t clever enough to think in terms of humans. They think in terms of their heroes from lazy fiction works.

      I do not think they deserve death.

      I think, vastly, that they deserve the shittiest jobs imaginable. For five years, or so.

      That is the cruelest penalty I can honestly wish onto another human person. And, even that seems harsh.

      However, I am not above anger, and not above wanting revenge. Clean the fry grills for a few years, you assholes.

      Ultimately, I doubt that revenge accomplishes anything. Doesn’t make me less angry, though.

    • Actually, I think a future administration should investigate the George W. Bush White House for war crimes, and also the Obama cabinet for crimes against humanity. The crimes are of lesser scale in the second case, but some might be prosecuted at the Hague.

      Emergency Tax and recompense, as Obama should have done in 2009.

      Problem: this will cost a lot of money to guys like Jonathon Chait and the ever right-wing Rahm.

      • I was thinking, the other day — what does it take to be a “center-left” columnist? Not somebody like Jonathan Bernstein, who’s far to my right yet actually knows a shitload about political history. No, I mean the Chait sorts.

        What it basically involves is implying motive, writing with the confidence of an “insider.” “What Democrats are hoping to achieve with this stance on policy X is…”

        I’ve written my fair share of sports articles over the years, and if I typed, “Bobby Bobson is hitting more homers this season because it’s his contract year,” I’d be ridiculed off the blogsite. Presuming you know more about what’s going on in a player’s head than anyone else? Preposterous.

        And yet people are paid to write this gibberish. Yes — explain politics to me. My feeble little mind can’t figgur’ all those wheelins & dealins.

        It does make you want to fart in their general direction.

        • It’s a little unfair and anti-intellectual, but our sort need sometimes to strike back a little unfairly, even without really believing it, sometimes.

          So, speculate on the inside of Chait’s head. Oh, he wants a right-wing polity because he benefits financially from school privatization. Just keep saying that. Oh, sure it’s a little unfair, but is it very unfair? It’s a little over-simplified, but is it massively over-simplified?

          Just say it. Chait is a right-winger who seeks to profit by looting the welfare state, same as the Republicans. Easy!

          Don’t bother with the very difficult task of how someone can identify as liberal and still take this ridiculous line which is against available evidence, but which would expose the moral and intellectual bankruptcy of his position. The only available answer is the very base one given in the previous paragraph.

          • I hear ya. There’s little more annoying than a rich apologist for all that’s worst in our society presuming to tell us how should be grateful for what crumbs we’re allowed to beg for.

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