So yesterday, I revealed my difficulties grappling with the fact that there are truly stupid people in Congress. I have touched on it before, but I have yet to wrap my mind around it. My brother, who is brilliant in his own right, has struggled with the same issue as to dealing with the people around him.
Here is a vastly simplified example: The outrage over the AIG bonuses. Yes, I am picking on them again. For a day or two, most people were up in arms. Then, there started the trickling-down of backlash. It went from “AIG execs is teh evil” to “Well, what about the government regulation that wasn’t?” So you then had two camps. The former wanted to pin all the blame on AIG, whereas the latter wanted to exclusively blame the government’s lack of regulation.
At the time, I wrote that I could be pissed off at both groups, plus the media, and the public to boot. To me, I don’t see why I should have to focus my ire on one group. I mean, like Lewis Black, I am an equal-opportunity angry person. I think it’s easier for some people only to look at one side of an issue than to deal with the complexities, but I also believe that some people cannot think on multiple levels.
I am conflating two problems. The first is that it’s much easier to get your news in sound bites and to simply regurgitate what it fed to you than it is to actually think about an issue and come up with a coherent belief of your own. To that end, people will turn to FOX News and unquestioningly digest whatever Sean Hannity, et. all, spew in their direction.
By the way, Sean Hannity as a twelve-year old was in my dream the other night. Talk about your nightmares! It’s comforting to believe that you are completely right and anyone who says differently is a commie pinko, socialist, fascist, tree-hugging, gun-banning, America-hatin’, French lovin’ Nazis. When the world around you is changing at a rapid pace, most people tend to stick with what they think they know. That is one kind of stupidity.
The other kind is actual lack of brains. Rachel had Ana Marie Cox on the other night, and she said she admired Senator Grassley because he says what he actually thinks. Yeah, he might be misguided, says she, but he believes what he says. She says this as if it’s a virtue. Put aside the fact that Ana Marie Cox has a disturbing tendency to go gaga over crotchety old men who Tweet (her own admission). What had Senator Grassley said that led to this discussion over whether he was just grandstanding or whether he actually believed what he said? This. In a nutshell, we need to have a spending freeze to help the economy, and Obama is moving in a socialist direction.
Senator Grassley is the top Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, and he’s spouting this shit. If, as Ana Marie suggests, he actually believes what he said, then he needs to step off the Senate Finance Committee. He doesn’t get bonus points for being honest if what he is suggesting is honestly stupid.
Let me be clear. I am not using stupid in a dismissive, perjorative sense–well, not completely. I am using it in its literal sense–without much intelligence. You may be saying, “But, Minna, many Americans are worried about what will happen to our children’s future if we keep spending the way we have been.” If so, then the Republicans are smiling in satisfaction because you have just reiterated one of their main talking points. Never mind the fact that they were all for pouring billions into the war, hundreds of billions, mind you, for no discernible outcome. There is no “growing” of our economy this way (by the way, I hate using grow in that fashion, so I will not do it again), but very few congress people said peep while happily forking over obscene amounts of money for an amorphous “war” that goes on to this day.
Ahem. I digress.
Here is the thing. If we want to make our economy robust again, we have to have people spending money. Now, I have issues with the fact that what is good for the economy is not necessarily good for the individual, but I will tackle that issue another day. For now, let’s just take it as a given that we need to spend to stimulate the economy. If we have a spending freeze, that means no new jobs. Possibly, we will have to lay more people off, especially if there are tax cuts along with a spending freeze (the money has to come from somewhere). If more people lose their jobs and/or don’t find new ones, then they will be less willing to spend. This is a gross oversimplification, but it’s cuts to the heart of the matter. You need to spend money to make money.
Here is where the question of intelligence comes in. If some of the Republicans are merely spouting the party line and don’t actually believe that tax cuts and a budget freeze are the way to solve the economic crisis, then there’s a chance at getting them to see reason. Highly unlikely it’s true because they are doubling down on being the obstructionist party, but at least they have the mental capacity to grasp that they are venal, soulless partisan hacks who will whore themselves out to get back into power again. Sad as it is to say, I can deal with that.
If, however, the Republicans spouting this shit actually believe what they are saying, then there is no way to bridge the gap. We are not at the same starting place–we aren’t even in the same country. They are simply too stupid to be in charge of getting this country out of the financial mess we are in. They don’t have the mental capacity to actually grasp what may work and what definitely won’t work (because it hasn’t for the last thirty years), and that is something I have a hard time accepting.
I don’t know how to make it so that you at least have to have a functioning brain to work in government, and I’ll save my personal struggles with idiocy for another day.
P.S. I added a picture of Lewis Black to this post just because I can.