Benjamin Studebaker

Yet Another Attempt to Make the World a Better Place by Writing Things

Tag: Paul Ryan

Paul Ryan’s Convention Speech Analysed

Paul Ryan’s convention speech went over pretty well on the right in the United States. Jim Geraghty of the National Review had this to say about it:

 This speech, and his warmth and sense of connection when delivering it, almost unnerved me. I started worrying that I was seeing what I wanted to see, that I was hyping a pretty good speech delivered pretty well in my own mind. Except my Twitter feed was exploding. The delegates were going nuts. And it just seemed to be getting better and better as it went on. Conversational, direct, funny, detailed . . . this was Reaganesque, guys. I was a kid when Reagan was president, so I got lulled into a false sense of what American presidents were — I thought they were all that good. This felt like that.

You can read his full post here. Perhaps this was indeed the case for Mr. Geraghty. I myself was struck by the sheer number of untrue, openly fallacious claims in it, and today I would like to highlight them.

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Stimulus vs. Austerity: USA

I keep seeing a certain political sentiment expressed. It goes a little something like this, from James Pethokoukis of the New York Post:

So what’s the problem with the Obama recovery? Why is it the weakest since the Great Depression?

Maybe it’s the Obama policies, like a stunning disregard for the trillion-dollar deficits that are likely already a dead weight on growth. Or maybe it’s the Obama guarantee of more tax hikes and regulation that makes US business too worried to hire and invest.

But it’s not too late to start shrinking unproductive government, cut debt and reduce penalties on work and investment — just like in those recoveries that we used to know.

Then there are the political cartoons, things like this:

Here’s the structure of the idea:

  • The economic recovery has been insufficiently strong
  • Therefore, we should do the opposite of what Obama has done
  • Ergo, vote Romney/Ryan 2012

The first point is correct, the other two points are simplistic and anti-intellectual, and I intend to illustrate both how and why.

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Misconceptions: “Medicare is Going Bust”

Lately it has become fashionable among political pundits to declare that the US Presidential election has devolved into a negative slug fest in which both Obama and Romney are equally culpable, lying and distorting and refusing to accept fundamental realities. This is a sort of professional centrism–taking it as an article of faith that both sides are equally to blame. The trouble is that this centrism doesn’t reflect reality and consequently, in order to maintain it, these “centrists” have resorted accepting blatantly false claims from the American political right. Chief among these is the claim that “Medicare is going bust” and that Paul Ryan’s proposal to turn Medicare into a voucher system is some kind of bold, serious solution. Today I set out to examine and refute that claim.

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Job Creators or Leisure Class?

A lot of people on the right have been exalting the virtues of “job creators”, agitating for policy changes like the lowering of taxes on the wealthy, the relaxing of regulations, and the augmentation of corporate subsidies so as to facilitate their special talents. Today I would like to juxtapose this view with that of Thorstein Veblen’s notion of the leisure class.

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Paul Ryan’s Magical Fantasy Budget

So Mitt Romney has chosen Paul Ryan to be his running mate in the US Presidential election. It is a very telling choice. As regular readers will know, Mitt Romney proposed a tax policy that was more or less mathematically impossible without inflicting severe tax penalties on the bottom 95% of tax payers. It just so happens that Paul Ryan is guilty of precisely the same magical thinking. Let’s explore.

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