A couple of days ago Digby drew my attention to Paul Krugman’s definition of the term “derp”:
Derp” is a term borrowed from the cartoon “South Park” that has achieved wide currency among people I talk to, because it’s useful shorthand for an all-too-obvious feature of the modern intellectual landscape: people who keep saying the same thing no matter how much evidence accumulates that it’s completely wrong.
Based on that definition, many of you may notice that there’s lots of examples of derpiness around SMP in the past few days as well. I allude to all the posts about the doings of Kansas Governor Brownback and the economic disaster that he has created in Kansas with his tax-cuts for the wealthy friends of the GOP (see here, here, and here). Nevertheless, in spite of the emergency created by epic budget shortfalls and ranking 44th in job creation this year, there are those who persist in their embrace of derp, claiming that the “Kansas experiment” has been at least a moderate success, or, given time, will succeed colossally.
Notable among Kansas-disaster deniers is billionaire Rex Sinquefield who set out to buy himself enough compliant politicians to take Missouri down the same road. Sinquefield wants the Kansas experiment to be successful so badly that he doesn’t scruple to re-engineer the facts as he did in a recent Forbes Magazine article. Of course maybe that’s an example of plain garden-variety dishonesty rather than derp.
Sinquefield’s dollars though have had their effect on many of the Republican members of the Missouri legislature who passed their own gift to the very well-heeled, S.B. 509, last year. The standard rationale for ignoring what similar cuts did to Kansas: it’ll take more time for the positive effects of the Kansas tax-cuts to be felt. In other words, unless you belong to the intrinsically deserving 1%, you should suffer now since we’ve heard that there’ll be pie in the sky someday. Maybe. This is classical derp, folks.
The same kind of derpiness makes Scott Walker a viable Republican presidential candidate. Walker cut taxes for Wisconsin corporations and the wealthy by almost $2 billion dollars over his tenure, and, in spite of trying to pay for the cuts on the backs of the poor and middle class via massive cuts in education, other public spending, and tax “reforms” that cost the poor and seniors, he is facing a $283 million budgetary shortfall this year alone. He also failed to create more than half the jobs he promised would follow his tax-cuts.
How can we still regard the Republican economic philosophy as
financially fiscally responsible when it leads a governor to put his state into debt default as Walker has done? What responsible, clear-thinking individual could even entertain the thought that after destroying the prosperity and endangering the public well-being of Wisconsin, Walker should be entrusted with the keys to the White House? But hey, he’s still singing the same tune and he won re-election. Derp at its best.
Examples of red-state tax-cutting failure abound. Most recently, we’ve read about how Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindall and his Louisiana legislative cohorts are begging Grover Norquist, instigator of the GOP endorsed anti-tax pledge, to let them off the hook so that they can salvage the Louisiana economy from the effects of their tax-cuts.
Want another example? Here in Missouri we’ve recently been learning about how the municipal courts have been used to generate revenue for small jurisdictions that would be unable to pay the bills otherwise. But what about a whole state that works on a similar principle? I’m talking about Albama here:
AL.com points out some of the examples of costs that are now paid for by court fees, not tax revenue: “In Chambers County, drug offenders pay into the fire and rescue fund. In Madison County, since 2000 fees for serving court papers have paid for county employees to get a raise. In Lawrence County, court costs help fund the county historical commission, so ostensibly future generations can learn about a time when Alabama adequately funded its court system.”
The State of Alabama has become so dependent on money extracted from increased court fees that, in 2014, Cleburne County officials were apoplectic when they realized that construction on nearby I-20 had cut traffic tickets in half.
The result? Working class people are paying for the cost of giving tax cuts to the wealthier residents of these states.
That last sentence? It’s true about Kansas, Wisconsin, Missouri, and red states everywhere. What allows this situation not only to persist but to become even more prevalent? Which is to say, how does the wrecking crew get re-elected? Easy-peasy. Misinformation: think Fox news, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, spin and outright lies from elected officials. Deflection: steer the conversation to abortion, guns and gays (did it ever occur to you that Obama took so much heat for a similar observation because it hit too close to home?). Fear: ISIS is coming, or Sharia law, or the U.N jack-booted troops. And last, but not least: derp: if you don’t wanna believe the facts, don’t; if they’re inconvenient, disregard them.