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George Will's column today laments the degradation of American thinking. For example, the political class has an "infantile refusal to will the means (revenues) for the ends (government benefits) they demand."

Yet the (federal) government literally creates the money. It does not require revenue for new programs. It can't. Where would people get the dollars to pay taxes if government didn't spend them first, without waiting for revenue? It's not "tax & spend"...that's the fiscal policy for a currency user like a household, not a currency creator. Sovereign fiat currency creators spend first, then retrieve dollars in taxes.

What do we call the dollars not retrieved, still out in the economy? Answer #1: the dollar financial assets of the population. Answer #2: the national 'debt.' Both answers refer to exactly the same thing. It took a Republican (Dick Cheney) to say it, but "Reagan proved deficits don't matter."

Will goes on to say "disorganized families" are "entirely absent from current discussions about poverty, race and related matters." The point of this particular whine is to throw all responsibilities onto individuals and families, and ignore public policy that has been sabotaging them for generations now, as there's been a bipartisan effort to defund social safety nets. Will helpfully points out Black families are worse off than the good...er, I mean white ones.

Led by the likes of the Kochs, there has been a generations-long movement to defund not just health care and education but the public realm in general

Finally, Will laments that "a significant portion of the intelligentsia...cannot think....much of America's intelligentsia has become a mob." Will then goes on to lament the "groupthink" promoted by modern campuses.

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I won't quarrel with that one. A mature society understands that an educated public is an asset--human capital, if you will. Therefore, it subsidizes education. Yet in the U.S, the federal subsidy for higher education has diminished 55% since 1972. States have cut their universities' budgets even more.

The rise in tuition and student debt was the result, but even more subtly, professors can no longer fail the incompetent for fear they will make their institution less financially viable. The net result is for our educational system to issue certificates rather than educate the competent.

Led by the likes of the Kochs, there has been a generations-long movement to defund not just health care and education but the public realm in general, not to mention de-regulating, and disqualifying any government claim to authority. Will's attacks on the "lumpen intelligentsia" is just part of this campaign. As a matter of course, Americans are now openly scornful of any government claim of authority, and wonder why we lurch from systematic crisis to systematic crisis, with no remedy in sight. Here's a hint: only intelligent, timely collective action (i.e. government) can solve systemic crises.

Meanwhile, Thailand, which has roughly double the population of California, just recorded its sole COVID-19 case and it was from someone travelling there, while in California (up 33 cases just yesterday), and the U.S. (up 39,475 yesterday) infections are still on the rise.

Consistent with the attack on the public realm, Trump administration has been defunding the Centers for Disease Control, specifically disbanding its pandemic response team. Gosh, I wonder why a third world country is beating our pants off in pursuit of public health?

defunding the police is a start

Mark Dempsey
It's Easier Than It Looks