Saturday, October 1, 2011

QED: Republican Voodoo Economic

"These capitalists generally act harmoniously and in concert, to fleece the people."
--Abraham Lincoln

This morning the Portsmouth Herald carried a letter from Patrick Abrami who is a delegate to the New Hampshire House of Delegates for Stratham, Exeter and North Hampton. Mr. Abrami argues to over ride a veto of a bill called "Right To Work," saying that the American People have voted with their feet, by leaving states which do not have a Right to Work law and resettling in states where such laws exist. He then spiffs up his otherwise lame argument with a Latin maxim: Quad erat demonstrandum, which means "We have proved the proposition we set ou to prove."

I am guessing he's a Republican.

How could I know he's a Republican?

Because he engages in that pathognomonic (from the Greek) behavior of Republicans to draw their conclusions not from whence their data leads them but from their own fantasy of how life should be and then to search out data, however bogus or irrelevant to "prove" they are right. (Pathognomonic in medicine is a sign or symptom of the disease so characteristic, it makes the diagnosis.)
This is the classic case of True/True/Unrelated.
But first, let me digress. One thing you have to admire about Republicans is their capacity for naming. The tax on the wealthy which claims back for the society a portion of wealth which society helped the individual create is not called "The Estate Tax, "but Republicans call it "The Death Tax," as in, "This tax is the death of the economy," or the "Death of the Republic tax."
Now to Mr. Abrami's argument: He sets out in detail which states lost population and thus Congressional seats in the last census, and because 11 states with a Right to Work law gained seats and only one state which had rejected this type law gained, while 10 states which reject the law lost seats.

Then, triumphantly, Mr. Abrami exults: QED, I have proved my point! People moved from Non Right to Work States to Right to Work states and voted with their feet.

Of course, he makes the classic mistake the uneducated man makes: He fails to look at other possible explanations for the migration. He so badly wants the reason each of those families migrated to be his reason, he is blind to all other explanations.
Let's look at those states: People moved away from Louisiana, New York, Massachusetts, Michigan, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Illinois, Ohio.

Can you think of any other reason people might have left Louisiana? Can you spell Katrina?
Michigan, well there's this thing called the auto industry which, had the Republicans had their way, would have totally imploded, but for the action of the Democrats (which gave rise to the Republicans derisive name Government Motors--oh they are so good at names.)
Then there are those "rust belt" states, which have been ravaged by the shift of manufacturing from the USA to China, well before the economy tanked, a trend which dates back decades through good times and bad.

And, oh yes, there's Massachusetts, which, if anything should give Mr. Abrami pause, it's a state where the economy has been relatively untouched by the hard times, but people are still fleeing pockets of poverty.

Let's look at the states which are growing: Texas, ah yes, Texas. Rick Perry is currently claiming his shining state is drawing in workers like a giant job magnet. Of course, 25% of Texans have no health insurance and most of the jobs there are low wage jobs for the desperate, many of them the flooded out victims from New Orleans.

Then there are the rest of the states, all Sun Belt states in the South or Southwest, to which people have been streaming dating back to the Carter administration and beyond. The reasons for this migration have been the subject of academic theses and fodder for PhD's for decades. Explanations have ranged from the better weather to places with low cost of living and attractiveness to retired people, who are not likely to be much concerned about whether or not unions or Right to Work laws exist there.

Fact is, some people do follow jobs, but the reason jobs went to the Sun Belt is the factories in the North and Midwest closed down as America lost manufacturing to Asia, not because unionized workers made companies uncompetitive but because nobody could compete with the slave wages paid in China, India and Indonesia.

What Mr. Abrami does not touch upon is what exactly the Right to Work law means: I cannot claim to know its details. I have to confess to judging it mainly by knowing Republicans like it so it's probably bad for the common man. I suspect it's an attempt to eviscerate the unions, probably by saying to prospective employees, well you don't have to join the union, we have both types of workers in this factory. But, of course, you know which type of worker we want to hire.

What really strikes me is the nature of Mr. Abrami's mind, as revealed by his argument. New Hampshire is a state of roughly 1.3 million people. For this small state, there are 460 members of the House of Delegates, who represent roughly 3,000 citizens each. One would think those 3,000 citizens of Exeter, Stratham and North Hampton could have come up with someone better educated than Mr. Abrami. Someone who has some clearer understanding of cause and effect.

Then again, I live in Hampton and our House of Delegate representative once explained at a meeting of citizens his plan to solve the budget crisis in New Hampshire: He would lower the cigarette tax. See, what this would do is it would lower the cost of a pack of cigarettes, so people would buy more cigarettes and the state would make more money. Why, he exclaimed, people from Massachusetts and Vermont would flood across the border to buy our cheap cigarettes and we could solve our fiscal crisis quickly.

Then someone asked: So you want to solve our money problems by exporting cancer to Vermont and Massachusetts? And what about New Hampshire smokers? Don't we have to pay for their lung cancer? Well, no he explained, only in Massachusetts does the state have to worry about paying for its citizen's healthcare. But, he responded brightly, what's the problem? Cigarettes are legal. We might as well profit from the trade.

Talk about having lost a moral compass. But then again, in the world of commerce, where the Republicans live, maybe a moral compass is not something they much need.
In the end, this Republican said, "Look the voters have spoken. They sent us to the legislature to cut taxes, pure and simple and we are going to do that."

There you have it: cause and effect. He knew what those votes meant. Everyone else is still trying to figure out what that vote meant, but he knew what he wanted that vote to mean and that's his story and he's sticking to it.


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