Friday, March 28, 2008

It's not just poor Republicans who vote against their economic interests...

It has been well documented that poor white Republicans consistently vote AGAINST their own economic interests. Thomas Frank wrote a book about this strange phenomenon titled, What's the Matter with Kansas: How Conservative Won the Heart of America.

It's also been well documented that the economy does better under a Democratic President than under a Republican President (the distortions of the Republican noise machine notwithstanding). See for example, here, here, and here.

So I was fascinated this week when the Wall Street Journal ran a front page story titled, Stocks Tarnished by 'Lost Decade.' From the article:

The stock market is trading right where it was nine years ago. Stocks, long touted as the best investment for the long term, have been one of the worst investments over the nine-year period, trounced even by lowly Treasury bonds.

The Standard & Poor's 500-stock index, the basis for about half of the $1 trillion invested in U.S. index funds, finished at 1352.99 on Tuesday, below the 1362.80 it hit in April 1999. When dividends and inflation are factored into returns, the S&P 500 has risen an average of just 1.3% a year over the past 10 years, well below the historical norm, according to Morningstar Inc. For the past nine years, it has fallen 0.37% a year, and for the past eight, it is off 1.4% a year. In light of the current wobbly market, some economists and market analysts worry that the era of disappointing returns may not be over.

It's not just poor Republicans voting against their economic interests -- it's also the pinstripe wearing, MBA toting, Wall Street Journal writing (and subscribing) Republicans who vote against their economic interests. Indeed, if people voted their economic interests, Republicans would get exactly 1% of the vote every election -- because the richest 1% are the only people who benefit from Republican governance.

A couple points about the article.

The 2,000 word article by E.S. Browning NEVER MENTIONED George Bush, government spending, the federal budget, or the Iraq War. I kid you not. Seriously, the guy tries to make the claim that this stuff is just cyclical, just a coinkydink, without ever making the connection that the dismal economic performance of the last 8 years is the fault of George W. Bush and his Republican enablers in Congress and at the Wall Street Journal.

Let me say that a different way:
  • The Wall Street Journal day in and day out bangs out a maniacal tribal beat proclaiming the evils of Democrats and the virtues of Republicans.
  • The 2000 election was decided by 500 votes (and a little help from Diebold). The 2004 election was decided by 100,000 votes in Ohio (with a LOT of help from Diebold).
  • It's safe to say that no Wall Street Journal, no George W. Bush in the White House.
  • Bush then gives $1 trillion in tax breaks to the super rich, invades the wrong country after 9/11 (which is costing taxpayers $3 trillion), runs up record budget deficits (which lead us to borrow massive sums of money from the Chinese), and FAILS TO REGULATE ANYTHING leading to the Enron disaster and the current housing market collapse.
  • At the same time, Bush fails to invest in road, bridges, hospitals, ports, schools, teachers, and universities -- you know, the sorts of things that actually CAUSE economic growth.
  • All the while, the Wall Street Journal keeps up its drum beat "Good job George! Kill more brown people in the Middle East George! Tax cuts good George! Don't worry about global warming George! Pollution is a sign of progress George!"
  • Then 8 years later the assholes at the Wall Street Journal look around and go "hunh, how come the stock market sucks right now? Must be just a random variation."

Seriously, reading the Wall Street Journal is like listening to a fascist version of Lennie Small from Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men. They kill the economy and then wonder, "whut happind?"

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