Kathleen Parker recently posted another of her celebrations of ignorance in the Washington Post the other day. In it, she yet again promotes her claim that ignorance is okay. Unfortunately, our problems are very complex, and what seems intuitively correct is often effectively wrong. The “common sense” that Ms. Parker cites isn’t what she thinks it is.
For instance, the cry that we have to tackle our debt problem by cutting spending overlooks two important facets of the problem: If we don’t have any income then we can’t repay our debt, and cutting spending doesn’t repay it. We also know from long experience that cutting taxes is a very ineffective stimulus, whether it’s to create jobs or increase consumer spending. In fact, the massive tax cuts that we have showered primarily on the rich have done nothing to help our country and have caused a dramatic increase in poverty. Quite the opposite of that is the actual “common sense”: If we invest in truly job creating endeavors — even if it means short-term borrowing for those investments — then we can increase our incomes. As our incomes go up, we can repay our debts and cut back on public investment as private investment is re-invigorated.
Of course, we must also increase revenue without hampering private investment. To accomplish that, other non-intuitive “common sense” must be employed, but to understand it, we have to understand our problem: Private investors are not investing in job-creating activities right now because they have no incentive to. They don’t have to invest because tax and interest rates are so low that they reap next to no benefit from such investments. It’s much easier just to sit on their massive wealth, and it’s more profitable to gamble on non-productive derivatives — and we all know what happened the last time they got carried away with doing that. But if we increase their taxes while providing deductions for when they actually do invest in job-creating endeavors, then we get the best of both worlds: more jobs and less debt.
Whenever I see a commentator invoke the words “common sense”, I am too often disappointed to find that she really doesn’t have any. Our problems actually do require education, and the ignoramuses on the right can’t help us with our problems because they don’t understand either the problems or the solutions. In fact, the result of their ignorance is the economic catastrophe that we have today. Kathleen Parker’s excusing of their ignorance exposes hers.