A Friday Morning Rant

Via Tyler Cowen, a link to a nice article on the Laffer Curve by by James Surowiecki. Surowiecki notes that despite the facts and evidence, the current President, the current Vice President, and everyone vying to be the Republican nominee have all declared that cutting taxes raises revenues:

This supply-side orthodoxy is striking in a couple of ways. First, it requires Republican politicians to commit themselves publicly to a position that is wrong—and wrong not as a matter of ideology or faith but as a matter of fact. Saying today that tax cuts will increase tax revenues is not like saying that bombing Iran constitutes a sensible foreign policy, or that education vouchers will wreck the public schools. It’s more like saying that the best way to treat sick people is to bleed them to let out the evil spirits. Second, despite the fact that the supply-side faith has no grounding in reality, within the Republican Party there is little room for dissent on the subject…

And its a widespread belief. But the danger of being able to believe in things that contradict the facts is not limited to that mistaken belief. Someone who can avoid the facts in one area can avoid the facts in others. And will.

Consider other widespread beliefs among the Republican faithful… Republicans are the Party of Economic Growth. Or Republicans are the party of fiscal responsibility.

We’ve covered all of these topics here at Angry Bear… in fact, regular readers know I’ve beaten both those topics to death, with a graphical summary of the results here. For those in a do-it yourself mood, wander over to OMB Table 7.1. The last four Republican Presidential administrations – GW, GHW, Reagan, and Ford – have each increased the Federal debt held by the public (as a percentage of GDP). In some cases (cough, Reagan, cough) by quite a bit. By contrast, the last Democratic Party President to do so was FDR, and he was fighting WW2.

Which brings us to the comment at Betsy’s Page:

Democrats just can’t believe that sometimes, people actually like Republican ideas but must just be fooled by a deceptive message.

But what happens if Republican ideas are a load of BS? BS that sounds very good, and very appealing. BS supported by “experts” – Harvard Professors, Business School Deans, etc. – who provide assurance that yes, it really is true, there really is a free lunch.

Who bears the blame, then, for the fact that “people actually like Republican ideas”? To some extent, the suckers who fall for it. But most people are busy, and don’t have time to pay attention to everything. So they must rely on the experts. Which means… those who have the time and wherewithal to check the facts, but instead continue selling snake oil are to blame. The experts, but also the bloggers and reporters and editors who hide from the facts and repeat things they have to at least suspect is BS, or they’d be checking the data themselves. And as a result, they’re to blame for a debt that is higher than it should be, for economic growth that is slower than it should be, and for the lives lost due to the lack of innovation that has resulted.