“Anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that ‘my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.’” – Isaac Asimov
“when are we going to toss this muslum f**k out of the white house???” – Actual Facebook post from a local Keys resident (expletive deleted)
It’s not surprising that the United States federal government teetered on the brink of default this past week. Voters around this great land have sent Congressmen (and women) and Senators to Washington, many of whom who are just plain stupid. I wish this weren’t the case. But a lot of the people in charge of the government of the world’s leading economy couldn’t tell you the difference between Friedman and Keynes, much less Marxist vs. market economics. Ignorance may indeed be bliss, but when those in charge are the ignorant, the consequences are tragic.
Over the past few years, a special breed of the ignorant has managed to get voted into elected to Congress by spouting all sorts of misinformation, deception, and outright lies. They join the ranks of the ignorant already roaming the halls of the Capitol. People like Rep. John Shimkus from Illinois, on climate change and carbon dioxide: “It’s plant food. So if we decrease the use of carbon dioxide, are we not taking away plant food from the atmosphere? So all our good intentions could be for naught. In fact, we could be doing just the opposite of what the people who want to save the world are saying.”
People like Rep. Joe Barton from Texas, on wind-generated electricity: “Wind is a finite resource, and harnessing it would slow the winds down, which would cause the temperature to go up.”
People like Rep. Louie Gohmert from Texas, on decorated war hero Senator John McCain: “I heard just before I came some senator from Arizona… a guy that’s been to Syria and supported Al-Qaeda….”
People like Rep. Ted Yoho from Florida, on the consequences of not raising the debt ceiling: “I think, personally, it would bring stability to the world markets.”
People like Rep. Marlin Stutzman from Indiana on the shifting rationale for the government shutdown: “We’re not going to be disrespected. We have to get something out of this. And I don’t know what that even is.”
And people like Rep. Michelle Bachmann from Minnesota, reacting gleefully to he government shutdown: “We’re very excited. It’s exactly what we wanted, and we got it!”
The government shutdown – exactly what Michelle Bachmann wanted – cost our economy some $25 billion of GDP over the past 15 days. If the United States government had actually defaulted, the resulting downgrade of the nation’s credit rating would have resulted in additional hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars diverted to debt service on the rising interest rates the government would be forced to pay. Credit card and mortgage/loan interest rates for consumers and businesses would also have increased.
Thankfully, a group of Republican and Democratic senators started acting like adults and passed legislation averting this catastrophe. Even more thankfully, the House of Representatives actually allowed an up-or-down vote on the Senate bill, which (thankfully) passed. Still, 18 senators and 144 representatives voted against it – which means that 162 elected officials who swore an oath to uphold and defend the Constitution and government of the United States actually voted to send the nation into default. They voted to send our economy into a tailspin and cause immeasurable pain and suffering among the people they are supposed to represent.
If we are to ever hope to regain some measure of civility, comity, and a working government in Washington, the people need to quit voting radical idiots into Congress.
We already know the first 162 who need to go.