I watched the 3rd Republican debate with great amusement. As comedy it was pretty entertaining I must admit. But as a rational debate of public policy it was pretty sad. Beyond all the usual comments about their performance art, a few things jumped out at me.
First, you may have noticed that all the candidates seemed eager to step over each other to scramble to the top of the Bernie Sanders bandwagon with rhetoric about how all of the money has been sucked out of the middle class and into the hands of the ultra-wealthy. Ok, they’re right there even if they’re finally now saying this only because the Tea Party Conservatives agree with Bernie on this.
However whenever asked about the possibility of expecting any more from the ultra-wealthy they are all quick to point out that “you could take all the wealth from the rich and give it to the poor and it wouldn’t make a dent in the wealth inequity.” Now, I’m confused. If as you say the ultra-wealthy have all the money, all the money the middle class used to have when they were an actual middle class, then how is it possible that the wealthy could not make a dent in the wealth gap? Something seems fundamentally illogical here.
Then there was another example. On many occasions they insisted that we absolutely, positively must free business from all those terrible, crippling regulations that force them to do things, you know like produce safe and ecologically responsible products. Or you know, like pay living wages.
But then when asked what they will do when businesses run amok and put their own profits ahead of the social good, as they do more often than not, the answer these candidates give is “that’s no problem because we have or should pass regulations to guard against that!”
I’m confused again. Remember the “I Norman” episode of Star Trek? The one where Kirk and Mudd defeated the logical, well-meaning robots by forcing them to try to process illogic until their circuits fried? The robots cried out to their central computer Norman for help processing these contradictions with the plea “Norman Coordinate! Norman Coordinate!”
I feel a lot like Norman trying to process Conservative logic.
The wealthy have all the money but they have no money but regulations are bad but regulations protect us but we must eliminate regulations but we must institute them but the poor must pay but the poor have no money but the bible is the source of economic knowledge but the bible says anything but the bible says nothing but… Norman Coordinate! Norman Coordinate! Illogical Illogical! Shutting down!
So, if we ever encounter a planet of ultra-powerful robots dedicated to saving us from ourselves, we only need to send some Conservatives out to explain their public policy positions and those poor logical robots end up with their circuit boards fried like Norman and me.
UPDATE FROM THE 4th DEBATE:
Apparently the candidates got the message that you can’t claim that we need to end all evil regulations at the same time that they say that regulations are the remedy to corporate excesses. This time, Ben Carson said:
“Well, I think we should have policies that don’t allow them to just enlarge themselves at the expense of smaller entities. … And I think this all really gets back to this whole regulation issue which is creating a very abnormal situation.”
So apparently regulations are bad but policies are good. But don’t we need regulations to enforce policies? Norman Coordinate!