A Level Gaze

"What effect must it have on a nation if it learns no foreign languages? Probably much the same as that which a total withdrawal from society has upon an individual."
--G.C. Lichtenberg



Links


New Email Address! levelgaze@gmail.com

Blogs

NoWarBlog

The Lefty Directory

The Agonist
aintnobaddude
alicublog
Alas, a Blog
Altercation
Ambivalent Imbroglio
AmericaBlog
American Street
Amygdala
Anger Management
Angry Bear
Armed Liberal
Bad Attitudes
Barney Gumble
Bartcop
Beyond Corporate
Billmon
Blah3
Body and Soul
Booman Tribune
Brad DeLong
Busy Busy Busy
Buzzflash
By Neddie Jingo
Calculated Risk
CalPundit
Chase me ladies
Chris Nelson
Contested Terrrain
Cooped Up
Conceptual Guerilla
corrente
Counterspin
Crooked Timber
Daily Howler
Daily Kos
Decembrist
Demosthenes
Driftglass
D-Squared Digest
Electrolite
Eschaton
Ethel
Ezra Klein
Fafblog!
Fanatical Apathy
Firedoglake
First Draft
Fistful of Euros
get donkey!
Globblog
The Hamster
Here's What's Left
Horowitz Watch
Housing Bubble
Hullabaloo
Intl News
Istanblog
James Wolcott
Jesus' General
Juan Cole
Junius
Lean Left
Left Coast Breakdown
Letter from Gotham
Liberal Oasis
MacDiva
MadKane
Mahablog
Majikthise
Making Light
Marginal Revolution
Mark Kleiman
Matthew Yglesias
MaxSpeak
Media Whores Online
Michael Finley
Michael Froomkin
MyDD
My Left Wing Nathan Newman
Off the Kuff
Oliver Willis
Orcinus
Pandagon
Pen-Elayne
Pfaffenblog
PLA
The Poor Man
R.B. Ham
Raed in the Middle
Ragout
Raw Story
ReachM High Cowboy
Rittenhouse Review
The Road to Surfdom
Roger Ailes
Rude Pundit
Ruminate This
Seeing the Forest
Seize the Fish
Self Made Pundit
Sideshow
Sirotablog
Sisyphus Shrugged
Skippy
Slacktivist
South Knox Bubba
Steve Gilliard
Talking Points Memo
Talk Left
The Talking Dog
Tapped
TBogg
Ted Barlow
Testify!
Thinking It Through
Through the Looking Glass
TNR Online
Tres Producers
TRR
Two Tears in a Bucket
uggabugga
Unknown News
Vaara
Wampum
War Liberal
Winning Argument
Wonkette
WTF Is It Now


General Interest

BBC News
The Economist
Metafilter
RealPolitik
Robot Wisdom



Bob. A damn fine comic.

Archives


This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?
Saturday, March 12, 2005
 
Attack of the Imaginary Naysaying Racists

Last Thursday, Bush said of those opposed to his Social Security plan “They say certain people aren't capable of investing. … Sounds to me like a certain race of people living in a certain area.” It's the exact same formulation he used last April 13 in defending the Iraq war's then-emerging new justification:
Some of the debate really center around the fact that people don't believe Iraq can be free; that if you're Muslim, or perhaps brown-skinned, you can't be self-governing and free. I strongly disagree with that. I reject that, because I believe that freedom is the deepest need of every human soul, and, if given a chance, the Iraqi people will be not only self-governing, but a stable and free society.

Instead of talking about this problem that has these characteristics, and therefore needs to be fixed in this way, his appeal is to the fact that (mythical) people say his chosen 'solution' cannot possibly succeed (for appallingly stupid reasons), while neglecting to respond to the arguments his critics have made. Which leaves only an appeal to a general, undifferentiated desire to see Bush have his way. The very idea that someone out there would try to frustrate poor George's plans by saying they're impossible, well, that's just unfair, even if no such thing was ever said.

The whole argument hinges on the idea that what he's trying to do is unquestionably right and good. Oh, and, as I pointed out the first time around, on racism:
It's about getting the words "different," "color," "brown," "white," and "Muslim" out in the open. They're not like us. It's nothing we don't already know, but the repetition in the context of the possibility of having democratic government is useful to Bush. Setting up a dichotomy between white democracies (are we, really?) and brown dictatorships/theocracies is a rhetorical device that equates the supposedly neutral "white" with the unquestioned good of democracy. Nice trick, that.

(I should have added that it would be interesting to hear his analysis of what went on behind the Iron Curtain during the Cold War, when all of those nice, white folks lived under totalitarian regimes.)

What is being said is that certain people, poor people, aren't currently capable of investing because they don't have any money to invest. That's true regardless of what "race" they are, or the "area" in which they live. It's interesting to note that, in Bush's mind, 'poor' resolves to 'people of a different race living in certain areas.' It makes plain that he takes for granted that the assumed race for all Americans is white, and that other races can be assumed to live in other 'areas.' Given that Bush has repeatedly made reference to blacks getting a raw deal under Social Security, it's apparent which 'race' he's talking about.

Independent of all other considerations, yes, it would be nice to see the poor, of whatever race, able to take advantage of the benefits of investing enjoyed by their wealthier fellow citizens. As Bush has vastly reduced the burden of taxation on investment income relative to wage income, it's practically a moral mandate that the poor be allowed to share in the benefits. However, under his proposed private accounts, effective taxation is vastly higher than on any other form of income: all principal and interest, up to 3% above inflation, merely replaces a like portion of the previous level of defined benefits.

Under his proposal, the entire "investment" scheme is tightly scripted and controlled: people decide how much of their Social Security contributions, up to 4% or $1,000/year, they would like to put into private accounts, and into which of a few very conservative options they'd like this money to go. Does Bush really mean to take the idea that blacks can't handle these simple decisions seriously to the extent that he feels he has the duty to go before the American people and say it ain't so?

He's the first one, the only one, to even allude to this line of 'reasoning.' He doesn't address any of the actual objections to privatization, i.e., that it does nothing to fix the system's finances, that many people could find themselves worse off because of it, that it would force huge amounts of additional borrowing, that it has the potential to seriously distort financial markets, etc., this argument must be what he imagines his opponents are thinking. As such, it says a lot more about how his own mind works than it does about those of his opponents.