Saturday, March 4, 2017

David Brooks and Ross Douthat, NY Times Conservatives – Still Crazy After All These Years

And Reaching New Levels of Incoherency

You gotta give the NYT credit for trying to present different points of view.  The paper has given over part of its OP/Ed pages to conservatives.  But year after year, conservative after conservative the effort fails because there don’t appear to be any conservatives who purport sanity.  Here is one of the blithering buffoons, David Brooks from a recent opining.

In a press conference, Cotton offered a rationale for his bill. “There’s no denying this generation-long surge in low-skilled immigration has hurt blue-collar wages,” he said. If we can reduce the number of low-skill immigrants coming into the country, that will reduce the pool of labor, put upward pressure on wages and bring more Americans back into the labor force.
It seems like a plausible argument. That is, until you actually get out in the real world.
Cotton and Perdue’s position, which is now the mainstream Republican position, is based on the unconscious supposition that American society is like a lake, with a relatively fixed boundary. If you cut the supply of fish coming from outside, there will be more food for the ones born here.
The problem is that American society is actually more like a river. Sometimes the river is running high, with a lot of volume and flow, with lots of good stuff for everybody, and sometimes it’s running low.
Really, that is word for word.  Can’t say we have every heard of the American economy being like a lake full of hungry fish.  That is, if we understand what he is saying correctly, which is doubtful because he probably doesn’t understand what he is saying.

But the prize goes to Ross Douthat, who has decided he will pass on some half baked ideas as wisdom.

So as an experiment, I thought I’d write a few columns (an intermittent series, as events permit) floating genuinely radical visions of how policy makers might respond to our order’s slippage toward something worse than stagnation.

Okay, that sound intriguing, except for this.

These will not be ideas that I find entirely convincing, they will not be fully fleshed-out,

And to prove that point he goes on to propose this.

So an emergency response would set a more ambitious goal: a swift boost in work force participation and family formation, using a few sticks and a lot of very expensive carrots.
The carrots would include a large wage subsidy and a large per-child tax credit and a substantial corporate tax cut and an employer-side payroll tax holiday to encourage hiring. They would also include an infrastructure bill written to include a certain amount of make-work spending, and an increase in government hiring in traditionally-male fields — more military spending earmarked for recruitment, more federal cash for hiring cops.
The sticks would include cuts to disability and unemployment benefits and tighter Medicaid eligibility rules for the able-bodied — not as “pay fors,” but simply to make sustained worklessness less pleasant.
Well let’s see.  First of all we already have a large wage subsidy, the Earned Income Tax Credit.  Okay, good idea to raise it, but that’s nothing new.  And a larger per child tax credit?  Well the policy is to address men who aren’t working, and taking care of children is not the reason why.  More hiring for the police, gee an idea that Bill Clinton came up 25 years ago with and successfully implemented.  Tighter Medicaid eligibility for the able bodied?  Apparently Mr. Douthat has no idea how strict Medicaid already is.  And of course with ACA, staying out of the workforce to get health care is no longer an issue, but will be once his Republicans repeal ACA.

Cut unemployment benefits?  Well if Mr. Douthat thinks he could live on unemployment pay we welcome him to try.  We give him a week.

And here’s what to look forward from Mr. Douthat.

The scale of spending means this proposal gores more conservative oxen than liberal ones. But that’s only because I’m saving a related proposal to ban pornography and video games for a later installment in this series — which I promise will only grow more outlandish as it grows.

Seriously?  Now outlandish is fine but shouldn’t there be just a little thought behind what one writes for the Times.  Well getting a conservative with a little thought may be beyond even the capacity of the Times.

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