Wonks Anonymous
Simple Policy for Complex People
Wonks Anonymous

Reasons To Be Cheerful

As a trained Keynesian Economist Wonks Anonymous must confess that we are, as a lot, woefully ignorant of the realities of politics and the general corruption of this Glorious Capitalist System that we live under.

He will note the middle class and upper middle class background and a sheltered life lived among the groves of academia can explain a great deal of this ignorance. Most working class students exit their principles classes early.

He is therefore cheered to see that, for all the misery that it has caused, our current crisis has ombued a number of excellent economists with almost revolutionary sentiments.

Anything that radicalizes Paul Krugman cannot be all bad.

Deficit Reduction

The United States currently pays $20 billion dollars per year in direct farm subsidies. Most of the money goes to corn which mainly goes into the corn sweeteners that make us all fatter and push many people into type 2 diabetes. The second biggest crop is cotton which is grown mainly in the Central Valley of California with subsidized water.

As the glorious biPartisan Deficit Commission sets its sights on the Home Mortgage Interest Deduction and the tax exemption for employer provided health care because these represent aid to people who are not in dire poverty and distort economic choices we should note these forgotten sources of waste and inefficiency.

Why are we paying large landowners to do things that emphatically do not need to be done? Why are all of our "Free Market Economists" and assorted very serious people so silent on this particular form of domestic Crony Capitalism. Where are agricultural subsidies in Paul Ryan's Roadmap For America?

Wonks Anonymous imagines that the dinners thrown by the agricultural lobby for the folks in D.C. must be very grand indeed.

The Brief for Secession

While the nation turns toward Republicans and austerity the SF Comical notes the the GOP in California actually suffered major defeats. They lost the Governorship and two seats in the legislature and the ability to hold up the state budget with the nay votes of only one third of the legislator.

The Comical, being the Comical, goes on to report the usual blather spouted by GOP operatives about reaching out to Hispanics and touching the suburban voters and so on but Wonks Anonymous believes that there is a more serious divide operating here.

Here in California we have become another country, dividing from the rest of the nation. We have moved apart in the only way that nations and people move apart. We have crossed a spiritual divide while the rest of the nation has chosen to stay where they were.

Denominations and creeds do not matter that much, they are not the essence of spirituality, what does matter is the fundamental view of the world.

The old spirituality is founded on the belief in limited good. There are only a certain number of places in heaven. Love must be guarded and limited by laws since it is only spent and never renewed or enlarged. Prosperity also must be held tightly or it too will vanish.

God has created a narrow chartered world and we must obey his laws and submit to him if we want any hope of love, prosperity and salvation. If gays are allowed marriage then there will be less love for straight people. If workers are paid more then there will be nothing left for entrepreneurs. If the rigid rules of conventional JudeoChristian religion are not enforced by the state then believers will no longer be assured that they have places in heaven.

In this religion there is no room for human love or creativity because we are fallen and our hearts can create nothing but evil. There can be no renewal and growth because the wellsprings of growth have been blocked and condemned at every turning.

By contrast the Left Coast has developed its own haphazard spiritual orientation, compounded of scraps and patches of Paganism, Christianity, Psychology, 12 Step Programs and Tree Hugging Dirt Worship.

And, whatever form it takes, this spirituality recognizes one fundamental thing. That is that human love and creativity are good and that they have infinite potential. We are not sinners in the hands of an angry God. We are good, working in cooperation with whatever gods there may or may not be to improve ourselves and to create a better world.

Welcome to humanism, secular or otherwise.

And now, more than ever, we face a fundamental social and economic crisis that is rooted in the selfishness and restrictions of the old spirituality, Thousands sit in enforced idleness because the nation fears to spend hoarded tokens of value and these tokens, unspent, become meaningless pieces of paper and metal. For the economic details of this see Krugman's excellent blog.

The rest of the nation is destroying itself with its belief in human evil and limited good. We do not believe in these things. Is there any reason that we should go down to hell with them?

Defining Devience Down

So the ever ready with an excuse, Debra J Saunders of the SF Comical tells us why we should love Carly Fiorina:

The senator also is going after Fiorina for laying off 30,000 workers and outsourcing jobs when she was at HP's helm - then taking a $21 million severance package when the board fired her.

Which makes Fiorina guilty of - what? - having been a Silicon Valley CEO.

So my candidate sent thousands of jobs off, mainly to a repressive regime that routinely arrests dissidents and harvests their organs to sell to rich westerners. So she forced the board of a large corporation to give here $21 million to get rid of her thus making the corporation even less able to generate jobs. Everybody in her circle does stuff like that.

Sure my client just killed 10 innocent people but hey, that's what serial killers do! What do you expect?

Besides, Society made Carly do it. Here she was, ready to create jobs and prosperity, another John Galt. Listen to her own words:

Fiorina doesn't run away from her record. At the only televised debate of the race, Fiorina told a former HP employee, "This is the 21st century. Any job can go anywhere. And what worries me deeply is the jobs we lose now may not come back. And so we have to fight for every job. The truth is that California has a higher than average unemployment rate" - it's 12.4 percent - "because we are destroying jobs and others are fighting harder for our jobs.

If you guys would stop asking for decent pay, pensions and public services we could just roll up our sleeves and get to work creating an upper class paradise with low taxes and a competitive economy. Then we could really live well like the rulers of China in our walled compounds with plenty of cheap servants and lots of people to look down on.

Why Obama Will Never Be a "Christian"

Even a blind sow stumbles on an ear of corn every once in a while and Wonks Anonymous notes that Ross Douthat has come a cross a serious, important observation on American Christianity.

Readers may remember that there has been a great deal of recent controversy over the shocking ignorance of devout believers of the main points of their faith and the doctrines of other faiths. Which ignorance ill intentioned atheists have roundly mocked.

Ross has an answer quoted from someone who is on the faculty of Calvin College:
I continue to be suspicious of such surveys and reports precisely because they reduce religion to “knowledge.” … But what if religion is not primarily about knowledge? What if the defining core of religion is more like a way of life, a nexus of action? What if, as per Charles Taylor, a religious orientation is more akin to a “social imaginary,” which functions as an “understanding” on a register that is somewhat inarticulable?
Now Wonks Anonymous wholehearted agrees with this idea and he would go on to describe the social imaginary of activist modern American Christianity. The sort of religion practiced by The Catholic Church and most Evangelical sects.

First that the distribution of wealth and power in this world is, with some few exceptions, divinely ordained. Except for Hollywood and George Soros, the wealthy are given their wealth and their dominion over us by God and only on the rare occasions when Democrats do get into office is there a reason to question God's providence in the political sphere.

Likewise poverty and disease are God's punishments for sin.

Second, in all matters of faith and morals the masses do best by blindly obeying the teachings of religious professionals. This is explicit in Catholicism. Despite evangelical traditions of dissent it is also true of Protestantism. pastors of each television ministry may have slightly different interpretations of scripture but the masses had best follow.

Third there are only two sins: disobedience and disobedient sex. Which sins are quite naturally tied to the deepest and most ineradicable human impulses, autonomy and pleasure.

For American Christianity - no I do not include the Unitarians or the milder sects that take the peaceful teachings of Jesus seriously - we are all damned from the start and only a life of misery in submission to the churches and the rich can purify us of our stiff necked rebelion and make us worthy of heaven.

Hence the increasingly moralistic approach to our increasingly miserable and dysfunctional economy and the continued propagation of hate against sexual minorities.

No matter how hard he may try Obama believes in people, he believes that the misery of this world can be lessened. He believes that the distribution of power and wealth in this world can be made to serve human happiness and do not represent the ineffable plan of an uncommunicative God with anger management issues.

Obama does not get it and he should stop trying. Better to be hung as a neopagan than try to feign an inhuman and damnable Christianity.


God's Punishment

For several years now we have had a perfectly good vaccine for HPV - that would be the virus that causes genital warts - but it has recently come to Wonks Anonymous attention that this vaccine is not approved for men over a certain age.

Which can be an issue since genital warts appear on areas not covered by condoms.

The thinking behind this, if we may call it "thinking", seems to be that most men of a certain age will have caught the virus during their misspent youth and, if they have not, they really ought to just settle down, follow social norms, and shut up.

Indeed the threat of an embarrassing, disfiguring but not necessarily fatal retrovirus should serve well to keep our society moral.

As to women of a certain age who have contracted HPV, why they should either be in a monogamous relationship or off in a nunnery repenting their sins.

Sigh!

Profiles In Waffling

So candidate for governor Meg Whitman - I made a bunch of money as a crony Capitalist now let me run your state - has kind of come out sort of strongly against Marriage Equality. I quote from an article by Carla Marinucci and Joe Garofoli in today's SF Comical:

Whitman's first definitive statements on how she would handle the issue as governor came hours before she spoke at the opening of the three-day state GOP convention in San Diego, where she is facing open hostility from conservatives over her positions on illegal immigration and climate change.

"I think the governor of California and the attorney general today have to defend the Constitution and have to enable the judicial process to go along ... and an appeal to go through," Whitman said. "So if I was governor, I would give that ruling standing to be able to appeal to the circuit court."

Whitman was referring to District Judge Vaughn Walker's decision earlier this month that struck down Proposition 8, California's same-sex marriage ban, as unconstitutional. It is being appealed to the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, where neither Schwarzenegger, the GOP governor, nor Brown, Whitman's Democratic rival for governor, is defending it. In an unusual circumstance, the organization that sponsored Prop. 8 is defending it in court.

Now Marinucci and Garofoli are fine political reporters but I can hardly agree that the statement reproduced above is definitive. Rather it seems designed to convey some kind of vague legal posture that seeks to relegates gays to second class citizenship while placing the blame for this barbaric discrimination on California voters.

Indeed, if it were not surrounded by the context provided by our reporters, the statement would be perfectly incomprehensible.

I would do my duty and enforce this law even if I, nudge, nudge, wink, wink, think it is silly and maybe even hurtful. Because why? Because the initiative process is sacred and anyway I need to throw some red meat to the brown shirts who form my political base.

Note that Whitman never said that she thinks gays are out to destroy the family or that she supports the intent of Proposition H8. If she said that she would lose all of the gay Republican vote.

Instead Whitman would like to have it all, gays and fundamentalist fanatics.

When I am not certain if someone is lying to me or to someone else I find it a good rule of thumb to assume that they are lying to me.

Love Wins A Battle Against H8

So Judge Vaughn Walker has ruled on California's little experiment in bigotry and found, as a matter of fact and law, the Proposition H8 - remember the one that sought to prevent gays from marrying like everyone else - is unconstitutional. This is reported by John Schwartz in the NY Times

Better still the opinion is careful and devastating to the case for Prop H8. Reviewing the evidence presented by the proponents of Prop H8, Walker finds no reason for preventing same sex marriage other than personal moral disapproval of gays and lesbians by the proponents of the proposition. His task was made easier by the failure of proponents to present any case beyond "God made Adam and Eve not Adam and Steve and besides we are in a majority."

He rightly observes that personal moral disapproval is insufficient to enact discriminatory laws.

Now Wonks Anonymous has had some rather serious personal experiences that have led him to conclude that Christians of the sort that supported proposition H8 are immoral hypocrites who actively recruit children to their perverted cult. He prays for the day when a majority share his views.

If that day comes Wonks Anonymous will be sorely tempted to ban Christian marriages. He thanks Judge Walker for preventing this possibility and he would recommend that the proponents of Proposition H8 thank Judge Walker as well. You will not always have as many votes as you do now.

Piety

Every day I wake up and pray that Paul Krugman will be shown to be profoundly, spectacularly wrong.

It's not that I don't worship and adore the good professor. It's just that life would be so much better if all of his dire predictions did not have a habit of coming true.

Is it too late for the Vulcans to land with an insatiable demand for our quaint products?

It Gets Better

I just noticed the final paragraphs of the piece on the revolutionary from Tuolumne County who just paid a visit to the Bay Area and got involved in a little fire fight with the Highway Patrol.

A quote from his mother, whose guns and truck he used:

Janice Williams said she kept the guns because "eventually, I think we're going to be caught up in a revolution." But she said she had told her son many times that "he didn't have to be on the front lines."

She said she had no explanation for his actions.

Read the full story by Bob Egelko and Henry K. Lee here .