Upton Sinclair Was Right

There’s a famous quote by Upton Sinclair, It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends on his not understanding it. I’m adding corollaries: It’s difficult to get someone to perceive bigotry when his own bigotry depends on not perceiving it. And, it’s difficult to get someone to perceive reality when his ideologies depend on reality not being real.

Along those lines, wingnuts for the past few years have been babbling about the great things Chris Christie has done for New Jersey and Scott Walker has done for Wisconsin. But it’s all air. Elias Isquith:

In part because the New Jersey economy has performed so poorly during Christie’s tenure (it’s ranked 48th in the country in private-sector job creation, tied with the economic powerhouse known as Mississippi), the state’s finances, which Christie used to brag about fixing, are in utter disarray. Its debt, for example, has been downgraded by Wall Street rating agencies six times under his leadership — three times in 2014 alone. Christie now faces a budget gap for this and the coming fiscal year that is nearly $3 billion; and because the state constitution mandates that the government balance the budget by June 30, Christie has now been forced to find the money by reneging on a key part of his landmark pension reform agreement, taking funds that were supposed to go toward public workers’ pensions and using them to fill the budget gaps instead.

Remember, he began his tenure by halting a tunnel project that had already begun and for which the state had received millions of federal dollars the feds then wanted back. He’s been killing one job after another and screwing state finances since he took office.

Trying to tie down factual job growth data appears to be like trying to catch lightning in a bottle, particularly since so many media outlets reporting it clearly are spinning for somebody, and looking at raw numbers from any one particular month can be deceptive. Still, if a politican (say, a governor) gets elected by claiming that he would bring 250,000 jobs to his state (say, Wisconsin), and as his first term draws to an end it appears fewer than half of those jobs actually materialized, and the governor (say, Scott Walker) tries to fudge by claiming that 17,000 new businesses that are hiring people were begun during his tenure, and it turns out he’s getting the 17,000 number by counting Scout Troops and condo associations, then I’d say he failed. One could argue that governors really can’t do much to create jobs, but then all that nonsense about busting public employee unions and laying off teachers was justified by promises that, somehow, this would grow jobs. Eventually. Magically. Maybe it would at least appease the Fiscal Austerity Fairy.

Elsewhere, the meme has thoroughly taken hold in Wingnut World that the Isla Vista shootings can’t be blamed on misogyny because the shooter was mentally ill. I’ve already explained why this is a bogus argument, but it’s an argument fervently embraced largely by men who appear to share some of Rodger’s social pathologies. No amount of logic or factual argument will get them so see otherwise, and anyone who so much as mentions misogyny is immediately accused of misandry. Misandry is the misogynists’ new favorite word this week. It is their new security blanket.

Brad DeLong is publishing The Daily Picketty, linking to people debunking Chris Giles’s “debunking” of Thomas Picketty. “I still do not understand what Chris Giles of the Financial Times thinks he is doing here…” Brad DeLong says. But Paul Krugman says it’s just standard inequality denial. Truly, it is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends on his not understanding it. Eh, Chris Giles?

On a different note — I’m so pleased My Book got its first customer review! Was that you, Swami? I hope that if anyone else has managed to slog through the thing and can say something nice about it, please put this on Amazon. If you didn’t like it, though, please keep it to yourself. 🙂