The Moment of Truth — February 14, 2009

Cato, The Think Tank That Would Rather Tank Than Think

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Wow, the Cato Institute. I don’t think they’re long for this world. They’re like the windmills of the mind, like a circle in a circle, like a wheel within a wheel. Like a bee bumping against a closed window over and over, trying to get outside, the Cato Institute is a beast unwilling to alter its incorrect strategy. Cato is just going to keep on hitting that Bulova watch with that sledge hammer until it’s fixed. Yep. That is one tenaciously mistaken institute.

In case you’ve been shacked up in the Pacific Ocean with a volley ball for the last forty-odd years, the Cato Institute has been and remains the noisiest braying ass for laissez-faire capitalism in the history of the world. And that’s a Guinness record they clearly don’t want to give up, despite the fact that Cato’s continued demonization of socially responsible public-sector investment has led to nothing more productive than the siphoning of buying power from wage earners. And for what? For the sake of high numbers flashing around the NYSE and lovely but hollow portfolios for a class of people who believe in getting money for nothing.

Cato, we’re listening. Please tell us what the Bush tax cuts bought us. Your so-called pro-business legislation, i.e. the disemboweling of what little Reagan and Clinton left of the regulatory function of government, tell us what that got us. Those policies meant trillions of extra dollars for private enterprise. Show us the prosperity we got for the trillions you liberated. Did we double our money? No? What did we get, fifty cents on the dollar? No? Thirty cents? No? A dime? No? A nickel? A penny?

What do you mean, “We can’t afford to mint pennies anymore?”

I’m sorry, did you say negative three dollars? On every dollar? Wow, we must have bought ourselves some kind of glistening utopia with all that money. Right? No? Are you saying you put us in debt for three times what we invested in your pro-privatization, anti-public sector policies and we don’t get a utopia out of it? Do we get anything? How about free soda from soda machines? Couldn’t you have swung that for us?

Man, Cato, you are really not at all good at what you do. Your people are not good at their jobs. Didn’t you hire some ex-Pinochet advisor to be your labor policy guru? So, labor, that’s like jobs, right? Yet we have ten, eleven percent unemployment, the highest since the Great Depression. Oh, the Pinochet guy was just figuring out how to help incompetent think-tank guys keep their jobs. So, at least that policy’s working.

Surely there is something we’re overlooking. We got to own houses for a half-decade. Those were great years, huh? But those houses are gone now. Tell us what we have now that we didn’t have before. I’m assuming you’re not going to point to Gulf War II as one of our acquired assets. How about a destroyed lower Ninth Ward of New Orleans? Is that worth something? I mean, non-negative something?

Maybe the money is stored up in pension plans to pay the lucky workers who don’t lose their jobs and don’t die before retirement. No? That’s all gone? Well, at least we have medical insurance - oh, that’s right, 41 million of us still don’t, with more losing it every day. Good lord.

Who’s paying you guys to be so consistently errant? It’s got to be someone with money to burn. Our money.

We do have the wealthiest oil companies in the world. Too bad the companies that make the cars that run on that oil are financially destroyed. Not that it matters. The money would just have gone to decorate an office in the private jet of some executive anyway.

The USA is bankrupt thanks to the policies the Cato Institute championed. And the bankruptcy of Cato’s economic “philosophy” is now so plain that only those with a powerful will to be ignorant of it can remain so.

But these are men with strong wills, these Cato hacks. Bush’s trillions of dollars in tax cuts are now completely worthless. But why should Cato reexamine its libertarian ideology when what they’re really good at is ignoring the evidence of their senses, preferring instead to live in the reality they’ve fabricated in their heads?

That money could have been employed intelligently. It could have built jobs, rebuilt schools, subsidized health care, examined Chinese toys for poison, examined spinach for E. coli, helped guide the country to the next technological phase in energy and transportation. With intelligent use of public resources the USA could, right now, be a generation ahead of the rest of the world in transportation and energy.

At the very worst we could have used it to stimulate the economy you assholes fucked up. But maybe you needed all that money to give the economy that ultra-extreme-Australian rules anus-torquing we’re still hemorrhaging from.

Cato Institute, what you should be doing is figuring out what intelligent distribution of those trillions should have looked like. Shut up about tax cuts. Tax cuts are for wage earners, not for whoever pays your bills. And yeah, since the government is the only one left with any credit, there’s going to be at least some public spending for the benefit of the actual public. We’ve thrown so much money at the wrong problems, the least we can do is throw a little at the right ones.

You got it wrong, Cato. So, so, so very wrong. Good lord, did you get it wrong. You couldn’t have got it more wrong if someone had had a gun to your heads forcing you to get it wrong. Admit it, analyze it, understand it, and then rebuild your thinking accordingly. And don’t send your Republican sock puppets back to Congress until they have useful ideas to pretend they came up with.

That’s how you move forward. It would certainly behoove the Norquist-Cato-Limbaugh-American Enterprise Institute-Fox News contingent to learn from their own past before darting out into traffic again trying to direct it. The adults have to get to work, guys. Last thing we need is another pile-up caused by bumbling economic glue-huffers staggering around in the road thinking they’re traffic cops. You’ll notice we’ve all taken the “I brake for bumbling economic glue-huffers” stickers off our cars. You haven’t noticed? Why am I not surprised?

This has been the Moment of Truth. Good day!