The Second Coming of Jesus of America

Posted in Culture of Lickspittle, WhiteManistan at 2:55 pm by George Smith

Can we push it to 700 views?!

From the Washington Post, yesterday, on Jesus of America:

“The [federal government’s anti-poverty programs] effectively discourages [those who are recipients] from making more money.”

Medicaid, which provides health coverage to low-income families, is the object of a sharply worded review. “Medicaid coverage has little effect on patients’ health,” the report says, adding that it imposes an “implicit tax on beneficiaries,” “crowds out private insurance” and “increases the likelihood of receiving welfare benefits.”

As he crafted the report, Ryan — a former adviser to the late Jack Kemp, a longtime GOP voice on poverty issues — consulted with a diverse group of conservative thinkers. Ryan counselor Yuval Levin, a policy analyst, played an instrumental role, as did the American Enterprise Institute’s Arthur Brooks …

Ryan also huddled with Iain Duncan Smith, a former leader of Britain’s Conservative Party. Smith is well known in the United Kingdom for his attempts to better connect conservatives with the poor.

“We’ve been paying very close attention to the Tories and their think tanks,” Ryan said. “They’ve done a lot of work already, and we can learn from their experience, both their mistakes and their successes, so we can rework our welfare system and get people out of poverty and onto lives of self-sufficiency and dignity.”

Before becoming a beneficiary of Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion, for many years I paid for what is now referred to as a “junk” health insurance policy from a private sector vendor. It was policy that came with high premiums, one that returned nothing. If you got sick, the deductibles and you-pay-for-it loopholes were so large the insurance provider was essentially extracting a fee from you for guaranteeing no access to health care.

The American Enterprise Institute’s Arthur Brooks comes in for special mention because I used a quote from him yesterday.

The essence, envy of the wealthy is bad for America:

[We] must recognize that fomenting bitterness over income differences may be powerful politics, but it injures our nation. We need aspirational leaders willing to do the hard work of uniting Americans around an optimistic vision in which anyone can earn his or her success. This will never happen when we vilify the rich or give up on the poor.

Only a shared, joyful mission of freedom, opportunity and enterprise for all will cure us of envy …

Like Paul Ryan, Arthur Brooks is just another wealthy libertarian dickhead.

He is most famous for writing a series of books promoting the insipid idea that only through entrepreneurship can all Americans know true happiness and freedom.

In other words, those who run their own small businesses are the most happy of Americans. Of course, Arthur Brooks has never been an American entrepreneur, making his living only writing that it is the best thing in life, over and over, for a right-wing business institute.

But never you mind that. As a logical Brooks extension, people who are Christian, centrist-to-right and supporters of totally free markets, are the most happy of all.

Brooks’ biography, on Wikipedia, presumably ghost-written by an American Enterprise Institute staffer, gives one the flavor of the philosophical grab bag.

It is unintentionally hilarious:

Conservatives, he writes, are twice as likely to call themselves “very happy” than liberals. Those with extreme political beliefs, right or left, tend to be happier than moderates—although their provocations lower happiness for the rest of society. Devout people of all religions are much happier than secularists …

[In The Road to Freedom (this is a play on the Austrian libertarian Friedrich Hayek’s Road to Serfdom)], Brooks argues that only free enterprise encourages true happiness based on earned success … Next, Brooks claims that only free enterprise creates true fairness by rewarding merit. Last, Brooks states that only free enterprise lifts up the poor and vulnerable. For this last section, Brooks cites many statistics regarding world poverty reduction from increased trade and globalization, as well as statistics concerning limited government breeding charity.

Therefore, yesterday’s lollipop of free market optimism from Brooks — “It means regulatory and tax reform tailored to spark hiring and entrepreneurship at all levels, especially the bottom of the income scale” — makes perfect sense.

All that needs to be done is to stop being angry with the 1 percent and become, too, an American entrepreneur.

“Brooks believes America is locked in a culture war in which either America will continue to be an exceptional nation organized around the principles of free enterprise, limited government, a reliance on entrepreneurship and rewards determined by market forces, or America will move toward European-style statism grounded in expanding bureaucracies, a managed economy and large-scale income redistribution,” continues Wiki.

Moving along to Ryan’s assertion about taking inspiration from Iain Duncan Smith and the Tories of the Cameron government in Blighty, this is prelude to further recommendation of American adoption of the former’s Universal Credit plan.

Ryan never mentions Universal Credit in his new Congressional report on poverty, but on the opinion pages of the Wall Street Journal, about a month ago, he explicitly did so.

Universal Credit’s aim in England, and British readers please correct me if I’m wrong, was to place all social welfare programs in one big new bag so they could be more easily slashed. This was marketed as the conservative effort to show empathy for the disadvantaged.

Universal Credit appears to be a failure.

Ryan’s affinity for the Universal Credit scheme is easy to grasp. It puts all the social welfare programs for the poor, the 47 percent, those he disdains, into one easy to destroy sack. One big program is far easier to slash than many nationally distributed programs.

Since Paul Ryan is Jesus of America, today it took only a couple hours for Paul Krugman to crucify him. Twice.

Early in the morning:

I took Paul Ryan’s measure almost four years ago, back when everyone in Washington was determined to see him as the Serious, Honest Conservative they knew had to exist somewhere. Everything we’ve seen of him since then has confirmed that initial judgment. When you see a big report from Ryan, you shouldn’t ask “Is this a con job?” but instead skip right to “Where’s the con?”

And so it is with the new poverty report …

What he offers is a report making some strong assertions, and citing an impressive array of research papers. What you aren’t supposed to notice is that the research papers don’t actually support the assertions.

In some cases we’re talking about artful misrepresentation of what the papers say, drawing angry protests from the authors.

And a few hours later:

Now, as it happens the best available research suggests that the programs Ryan most wants to slash — Medicaid and food stamps — don’t even have large negative effects on work effort. There is, however, some international evidence that generous welfare states have an incentive effect: America has by far the weakest safety net in the advanced world, and sure enough, the American poor work much more than their counterparts abroad …

In fact, the evidence suggests that welfare-state programs enhance social mobility …

I mean, think about it: Do you really believe that making conditions harsh enough that poor women must work while pregnant or while they still have young children actually makes it more likely that those children will succeed in life?

Jesus of America sez ‘Don’t feed the poor!’
If you do, they’ll come right to your door.
They’ll wind up like stray cats, shedding on your floor.

Republican Jesus, he’s our favorite guy!
He believes in markets, sing praises to the sky!
If Jesus said it, you know it must be true!
So now it’s time to whip the poor, you know what to do!

“[We need] to bring the poor in — to expand their access to our country’s free enterprise and civil society. Luckily … other countries are doing just that…

“In welfare, rely on simplicity and standards. In 2012, Great Britain approved a far-reaching reform called the Universal Credit. The government is now putting the program into practice, and it’s going through a rough patch. But the basic concept is sound. Britain collapsed six means-tested programs into one overall payment…But the payment isn’t a giveaway. Every recipient, except the disabled, must either have a job or be actively looking for one.” — Paul Ryan, the Wall Street Journal, Jan. 25, 2014

Some recent news excerpts on the inspiration to Paul Ryan, Tory Iain Duncan Smith:

Nearly 70,000 job seekers have had their benefits withdrawn unfairly, making them reliant on food banks, the right-of-centre thinktank Policy Exchange has said .

The intervention is the first by a respected rightwing voice claiming that something has gone wrong with the administration of benefits.

A chorus of churches, charities and Labour has been warning the work and pensions secretary, Iain Duncan Smith, for months that the administration of benefit sanctions has become too punitive.

On Sunday, Cardinal Vincent Nichols, the archbishop of Westminster, repeated his criticisms of the welfare system, saying that “some of the priests who are right there on the ground say it comes across as punitive”.

— The Guardian

Sick and disabled people trying to claim a new benefit introduced by Iain Duncan Smith are facing “distress and financial difficulties” because of mismanagement by civil servants and the outsourcing firms Atos and Capita, a spending watchdog has found.

The National Audit Office discovered that the new personal independence payment, which will replace the disability living allowance, will cost almost three and a half times more to administer and take double the amount of time to process.

Iain Duncan Smith tonight stepped up the Tory war on the poor by turning his sights on society’s most vulnerable.

The penny-pinching Work and Pensions Secretary wants to slash winter fuel allowances for pensioners and scrap their free bus passes and TV licences in a move that would spell misery for millions of people.

His cruel cuts could mean OAPs having to choose between heating their homes or eating as they lose up to £300 in cold weather payments.

And the over-75s would also have to fork out £145 for TV licences.

Mr Duncan Smith’s move finally destroyed any claim the party had to being caring Conservatives. — The Mirror

Paul Ryan, Jesus of America, when mentioning Iain Duncan Smith, counts on American disinterest in whatever is happening in other countries to render the stupid, including reporters for the Washington Post, oblivious to the fact he’s drawing ideas from someone roundly condemned for attacking the poor in British society.


  1. Ted Jr. said,

    March 4, 2014 at 9:51 pm

    “Britain collapsed six means-tested programs into one overall payment…But the payment isn’t a giveaway. Every recipient, except the disabled, must either have a job or be actively looking for one.”

    Sure no problem. Go to youtube and look up the artist taxi driver.
    About 15 minutes will inform you more than reading a day’s worth of online newspaper drivel.

    And the disabled are expected to work – for free, for oligarch companies who are too damn cheap to pay workers.

    It’s no game.

    And please don’t refer to the aforementioned dickheads as “Christians”.
    Jesus wouldn’t recognise any of them if he tripped over them.

    He would call them modern day Pharisees, however.

  2. George Smith said,

    March 5, 2014 at 8:16 am

    Pharisees is fine. American Christianity does require a new word, though.

    US-Christians, short ‘u’, might work. The last time Ryan invoked his faith, he’s Catholic, a group of American bishops rebuked him publicly. I was reminded of this when reading how the archbishop of Westminster just came out quite loudly against Iain Duncan Smith.

    The other trend in the British press, if “trend” is the right word for it, are stories on people who are declared “fit to work” in England who are actually profoundly ill or disabled. They then are hassled, have their benefits, their only lifeline, revoked, are called “lazy wankers” by some low level official, and die.

    I don’t understand enough about British politics to get why the Tories were elected. I suppose it’s much like why the Tea Party Republicans were given power in 2010.

    Scotland should probably revolt.