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Bad Liberal Ideas?

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Catherine Rampell is EXTREMELY CONCERNED that Democrats are going to think they have a mandate after the election. She wants to make sure that doesn’t happen. So she lists all the horrible ideas of “the left,” although she means liberals.

These are proposals such as bringing back Glass-Steagall, a banking law whose repeal actually had nothing to do with the 2008 financial crisis. Its resurrection is perplexingly popular on the left.

Or banning genetically modified organisms.

Or instituting a $15-an-hour minimum wage nationwide, even though that’s higher than the current median wage in four states and three territories.

Or free college for all, including rich people.

Or arbitrary tax carve-outs for items such as tampons (which constitute a giveaway to rich people, too, and ultimately require raising tax rates on everything else, which can disproportionately hurt poor people).

Well that’s a weird list. I hope we can all agree that indeed banning GMOs would be a stupid idea. Anti-GMO activism is second only to anti-vaccination as the worst idea floating around the left. Of course, there are problems around GMOs based around patent rights and corporate monopoly and that’s part of the GMO worries. But what motivates most of these people is concerns about pure bodies, which should be shunned.

But otherwise? Arbitrary tax carve-outs is a major goal of liberals? I mean, I don’t mind ending taxes on tampons, but no one is saying this is a major policy goal. Plus, a) we already have all sorts of arbitrary tax carve-outs and b) more important we have all sorts of ways rich people avoid paying taxes which should receive significantly more attention than small ways to help the poor.

Glass-Steagall? Is there any actual downside to bringing back this law? OK, it might not have stopped the housing bubble and Wall Street collapse, but it certainly wouldn’t hurt. I don’t see how this is a terrible idea.

And as for the $15 minimum wage and free college, these are GREAT ideas, including for the rich. Yes, raising the minimum wage high enough to reduce inequality is something that should happen. If that requires a serious raising of other wages, then great. That’s precisely what has to happen if working people are going to live a dignified life. And including the rich under programs of free public college is exactly what needs to happen to get such a program passed. There is nothing wrong at all with that idea, unless your real concern is low taxes for the upper class. It’s not like Rampell doesn’t do quality work at times, so I don’t really get what this is all about except her own delusions about what the left is actually advocating.

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  • Crusty

    I fully agree that any “free college” program or policy should include the rich. It should include everyone. If college is one of the things that levels out society, it shouldn’t further divide society. I hate this income cutoff crap in most policies. We have an educational system that works or we don’t.

    • CP

      This.

    • Srsly Dad Y

      But the next thing you know, they’ll want free high school, where does it end?

      • Government takeover of the criminal justice system?

        • Crusty

          Public fire brigades!

      • LosGatosCA

        Head start

      • koolhand21

        But, but how will the charter school grift work? Asking for a fiend.

    • farin

      And if it leads the rich to start buying their kids’ ways into public flagships instead of private colleges, so much the better.

      • Manny Kant

        Those kind of people will be going to Ivies or fancy liberal arts colleges or expensive big city private schools regardless.

    • Linnaeus

      During the Democratic primary, I heard the “college for rich people” argument lodged against Sanders, and I have to say that I was rather puzzled by it.

      • MPAVictoria

        I mean every argument against free college for rich people could be used against free primary education for rich people.

      • azumbrunn

        As I remember the argument was that Sanders’s plan was half baked and would not achieve its goals even if he got it enacted by Congress (because education is a state affair and Republican states would just refuse to cooperate, just like with the Medicaid expansion–and the federal bribe in Sanders’s idea was nowhere near as large as the one in Obamacare!).

        I heard nobody on the left who made an argument against free college on grounds of principle, only practicality.

    • DrDick

      Exactly. The old California system, or even something more inclusive, for public higher education (which is present in many European countries) should be our model.

    • ironic irony

      I’m inclined to disagree, if only because it will still mean that rich kids will still have the leg up getting into college. In other words, it doesn’t address the disparity of the quality of education at the K-12 level. But that’s about K-12 education and not about free college, so *shrug*…

      • Jackov

        Currently, a huge percentage of poor kids do not even apply to college because of the cost. Additionally, a large percentage of highly qualified poor students do not apply to any selective colleges due to cost. Free college (along with better information ~ the Hoxby experiment) at the very least gets those kids into the application pool.

        In a higher education system in which students from families in the top income quartile are over represented at every quality level beyond community colleges, free public college is a good start. Once established, you could also attempt to adopt the ideas/methods of Cashin/Gaertner/Kahlenberg/Reardon to increase the number of poor kids. (Of course, this also does not address K-12 disparities though it might be a bit more likely to happen.)

    • Anna in PDX

      Agreed, it should be like social security. No means testing. It’s for all, because it’s a social good that helps the whole country, having an educated populace.

      • Pat

        You only get Social Security as a retirement benefit if you’ve paid into it, Anna.

        • Anna in PDX

          True, not like it in that respect, just like it in the respect that it’s not means tested.

          • Pat

            Actually, it is means-tested. Recipients only receive benefits if they aren’t employed over a certain level. Make too much money, your Social Security benefits go away.

            • DrDick

              Not quite the same at all, actually. Social Security is a retirement benefit and the rule is that you do not count as retired if you earn more that a set amount in wage income. You still qualify, regardless of income or assets, if you have less than the threshold for wage income.

    • Ronan

      Im ambivalent on this, although I used to be supportive. Ireland had(basically) free third level when I was going through college. My understanding is that it worked as a subsidy to the middle class(rather than the rich), with those whose children didnt go to college paying for those(skewed wealthier) who did. (This is complicated a bit by the fact that people on low incomes dont pay, relatively, a lot of income tax in Ireland, and pre 2008 paid even less. So you could say the middle class were ‘subsidising’ themsleves)
      Still, There was no increase in attendance for those from lower incomes, and those who did go to college from those demographics would have been covered by the grant system anyway. Im starting to think(in a world of limited resources) some of that money put into third level(and in Ireland anyway this is a major plank of development policy, to develop a well educated workforce to attract FDI and compete in international labour markets) should be put into the primary system (early childhood development, secondary schools etc)

    • AMK

      Depends how the free college is structured. Like healthcare and the student loan system, it won’t work if “free college” just means government money in a “marketplace” without any kind of controls on the drug prices tuition rates. You would in fact just accelerate the problem that already exists, where the schools extort everyone for Trump-aesthetic amenities and deans with 7-figure salaries.

    • addicted44

      The income/age cap stuff is supported by 2 groups of people:
      1) Liberals who cannot do math and think that they will save MASSIVE sums of money by preventing rich people getting access to government services. This is laughable, because
      a) Inequality, by definition, implies that the number of people above a reasonable cutoff line is a small proportion.
      b) The cost of ensuring the cutoff cuts significantly into the money saved by the government.
      c) The cost to society for preserving the cutoff almost certainly exceeds the money saved. In order to ensure that you don’t pay for college for a small sliver of the population you make sure 100% of the applicants have to bear additional costs to prove they should get what they are entitled to.
      d) You create a 2 tier system, because when the rich are gonna pay for it anyways, why wouldn’t they have a separate better system?
      e) You make it a politically weaker program since now everyone isn’t invested in it.

      2) Smart Assholes who don’t want the program to be successful.

  • I have not noticed much of a movement to ban GMOs in the US. GMO labeling laws crop up from time to time, and they’re misguided too, but I don’t see the point in imputing to “the left” a more extreme position than is commonly heard.

    • farin

      Just gotta get a jump on reaffirming the universal truths of punditry that liberal politicians are (1)always illegitimate and (2)never more reasonable than conservatives.

    • Foster Boondoggle

      It’s still mainly a left coast thing, but it’s there. Sonoma county (CA) is proposing to do it (after rejecting it a decade ago). Jackson county (OR) did it last year. Humboldt county (CA) and Boulder (CO) have done it recently. So there’s not a national groundswell in places where it would really matter (like the plains states), but it’s a real thing on the left. And it really is about the poisoning and impurifying of our precious bodily fluids.

      • Oh, I see: it’s a ban on growing the crops, not on selling products containing GMOs. I’m not sure which is more pointless.

        • Sly

          The point is that you can never trust a greedy patent troll like Monsanto.

          Sent from my iPhone

          • witlesschum

            Nice.

          • Foster Boondoggle

            I wrote a long response, then noticed the “Sent from my iPhone”. That was clever, as your nom-de-web implies.

            • Linnaeus

              Really, Monsanto faces far too much regulation as it is. Let the market decide!

              • los

                sent from your Air Tractor

                (found via lgm x-32 post)

          • IM

            No problem – we can trust Bayer. Had a patent on Heroin yes, but they never stifled heroin use and we all know how that worked out.

            • Linnaeus

              What are you, some kind of communist?

      • John Revolta

        You forgot France
        Germany
        Greece
        Austria
        Denmark
        Hungary
        Italy
        Poland
        Luxembourg

        Buncha stupid hippies

        • Origami Isopod

          Greens are a lot stronger in Europe than in the U.S., and the downside of that is that their pseudoscientific purity crazes get more legislative attention.

          • John Revolta

            P.S. Russia
            Bulgaria
            Peru
            Ecuador
            Venezuela
            Madagascar
            Turkey
            Saudi Arabia
            Bhutan

            • Origami Isopod

              I’m not sure what this list is supposed to prove.

    • Anna in PDX

      I think there is a complicated picture on this.

      First of all, labeling so that people know whether or not there’s genetic modification afoot to me is not that horrible of an idea. A lot of countries already do this. That way a consumer can choose not to buy a product, if they care. I personally don’t think genetic modification is much different than regular farming where you breed plants and animals for various traits over time. But also I don’t see why someone who thinks this is important shouldn’t be able to be protected from buying something they don’t want. E.g., I’m Muslim and if they decided not to label pork just because they think my prohibition on pork is stupid, I would not like that.

      As for banning GMOs, I think that’s anti-science, stupid, and counterproductive.

      The whole issue around who owns organisms is really problematic and I wish we could divorce it from the GMO banning stupidity so we could have a real intelligent conversation around it. It’s not OK with me that big agro companies who get a lot of access to taxpayer funded research get to own plants and not allow third world farmers to hold back seed, etc. That’s just wrong, like other consumer issues such as Nestlé’s infant formula marketing.

      So I do think this issue is nuanced and I wish it could be talked about more intelligently.

      • OldScold

        Intellectual property is theft.

        • Origami Isopod

          So artists (e.g.) should work for nothing, then?

        • rea

          All property is theft. :)

      • Foster Boondoggle

        “if they decided not to label pork just because they think my prohibition on pork is stupid, I would not like that”

        Since GMO/nonGMO is about process, not substance (e.g., GMO and non-GMO sugar are chemically indistinguishable) a better analogy might be to kosher labeling. Kosher rules concern the process as well as the content. Coca-Cola is labeled as kosher because the company has paid a rabbi to certify their process. But this is a voluntary label. There is no law requiring manufacturers to label their products as kosher or halal (or not). The anti-labeling-law folks that I know of are opposed only to the legal requirement. No one cares if the rubes want to shell out for certified GMO-free Himalayan salt.

        • Anna in PDX

          Actually, I’d support that as being close enough. We (Muslims) have a similar process-oriented label, “halal” which is identical to Kosher except not as strict. Many Muslims buy their products from kosher stores if they are more convenient or there are more of them.

          Kosher and Halal are both about ingredients (e.g., no pork in kosher gelatin) and process (slaughter methods of meat, etc), actually.

        • GeorgeBurnsWasRight

          If it’s “voluntary”, what’s to prevent a company from saving the cost of the rabbi or whoever certifies something is halal and simply putting the word “kosher” or “halal” on their packaging?

          • B. Peasant

            Nothing, as long as they’re not faking a certification mark, I suppose. Though Jewish and Muslim media would probably be very quick in condemning the practice.

      • gccolby

        The argument against GMO labeling is two-fold. First, there’s the issue of defining what a GMO is. Without getting into the details, this gets pretty hairy. You can probably get close enough, though; the bigger issue is that the labeling is fundamentally misleading to the lay public. For one thing, GMOs are fundamentally safe, and in that sense labeling is simply redundant. More problematically, labeling implies that GMOs aren’t safe, or at the very least that the safety and/or health effects of foods containing GMOs vary on a case-by-case basis and consumers need to have that information to make informed choices.

        The fundamental reason anyone is trying to legislate GMO labeling is to undermine consumer confidence in GMO safety. In a broader sense, I find the GMO labeling movement troubling because it’s part of a broader effort, deliberate or not, that makes consumers believe that food safety is their responsibility, not the responsibility of the companies and regulatory bodies that are actually in the best position to control food safety. The least nefarious possible outcome of that shift is people increasingly feel they can’t trust that the food they buy is safe. That’s not a good outcome IMO.

        The whole issue around who owns organisms is really problematic and I wish we could divorce it from the GMO banning stupidity so we could have a real intelligent conversation around it. It’s not OK with me that big agro companies who get a lot of access to taxpayer funded research get to own plants and not allow third world farmers to hold back seed, etc. That’s just wrong, like other consumer issues such as Nestlé’s infant formula marketing.

        I agree with the general point, here. I just want to point out a common myth about seed stocks embedded in here. There’s a lot of concern about farmers no longer being allowed to hold seed stocks and replant every year. The problem is there was never a time in modern agriculture where stocking seeds on any kind of scale was really practical. Many of the most common crop varietals in the world don’t actually produce useable seed at all, either because they’re propagated vegetatively (potatoes, for example) or because they’re hybrids, or because you need to harvest before the crop goes to seed anyway. For farming at a subsistence level, yes, seed stocks are important. For almost any commercial level of production, even at small scales, I don’t think holding seed is usually economical. I might be missing something here, but my understanding of the situation is that the ship has long since sailed on seed stocks for most crops, from long before direct transduction of genes was possible.

        • Anna in PDX

          That part about seed stocks is really interesting, thanks. I am not really an expert on this issue obviously. I remember the seed stock discussion in regards to subsistence farmers in India, several years ago.

        • los

          hybrid
          seed sellers contract with farmers to grow the hybrid’s parents. Obviously someone maintains (or improves) the “seed stock” (line, strain) of each parent.

          • Brien Jackson

            Yes…but only if you’ve specifically contracted to grow the seed stock.

        • los

          health effects of foods containing GMOs vary on a case-by-case basis

          I won’t search for this, but think I saw it in an old USDA yearbook: “traditional” (manual cross-pollination) produced a toxic child. One parent was common and produced non-toxic common crop of the same tissue type (fruit, tuber..). I don’t recall if the non-toxic parent was tomato (Lycopersicon) or potato (Solanum).

          non traditional crosses are wider/wilder and often aimed at poisoning pests, thus the “risk probability” is higher than traditional crossing, such as of two Pyrus or Vaccinium (huckleberry etc) for the purpose of soil compatibility, etc.

          • heckblazer

            Are you thinking perhaps of the case of the Lenape potato? Good old fashioned selective breeding produced a potato perfect for making chips but unfortunately also kinda toxic.

            • los

              Probably.

              https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lenape_(potato)
              Lenape (B5141-6) is a potato cultivar first released in 1967 and named after the Lenape Native American tribe.[1] It was bred by Pennsylvania State University in collaboration with the Wise Potato Chip Company[2] from Delta Gold and a wild Peruvian potato (Solanum chacoense) known for its resistance to insects

              Samples grown at 39 locations around the US had an average of 29 mg per 100 g of potato but ranged from 16–65 mg compared to an average of 8 mg for five other varieties

        • azumbrunn

          This seems a little glib in some points.

          You say GMOs are fundamentally safe. And this is true from a consumer’s point of view–at least for the ones introduced so far. But for the environment as a whole you’d have to admit that the jury is still out–and will be for a while since scenarios for this are slow.

          My other point is this: GMOs were pushed into the market without any proper debate at a time when nobody could guarantee there would be no problems. Now you say labeling would undermine consumer confidence. Nice bait and switch here!

          Generally GMOs don’t solve any problem in agriculture for which there are no other solutions. And the main beneficiary of the technology is Monsanto, not farmers and certainly not consumers. Opposing GMOs is not nearly as bad as opposing vaccinations. Not even close.

          • heckblazer

            The last paragraph is incorrect. Not all GMOs are commercial, and some do solve hard problems such as disease susceptibility. For example, the Rainbow papaya was engineered to resist the Papaya ringspot virus at the University of Hawaii and is available to farmers at cost, and likely saved the Hawaiian papaya industry.

          • gccolby

            You say GMOs are fundamentally safe. And this is true from a consumer’s point of view–at least for the ones introduced so far. But for the environment as a whole you’d have to admit that the jury is still out–and will be for a while since scenarios for this are slow.

            Not really, no; any environmental concerns with GMO crops are essentially the same as environmental concerns with traditionally cross-bred crops. Let’s not mince words, here: traditional, large-scale agriculture is tremendously environmentally destructive. And there are absolutely GMO products intended to enable the continued use of highly destructive agricultural methods. But this isn’t a GMO-led issue. There are many more traditionally pred crops made with the same intent. Transgenics allow much more precise control over which genes are introduced in the breeding process. You don’t end up with a product that’s somehow inherently more environmentally dangerous than a traditionally-bred crop.

            My other point is this: GMOs were pushed into the market without any proper debate at a time when nobody could guarantee there would be no problems. Now you say labeling would undermine consumer confidence. Nice bait and switch here!

            What constitutes “proper debate?” I’m not being glib, I’m asking a serious question. I’m sympathetic to the idea that there should be debate, for obvious reasons. The problem is that the “debate” is led by people who either have no real understanding of the science, or are willfully distorting it. The only reason people are so blasé about conventional agriculture is because it’s the way things were being done since before they were born. And boy howdy, should people be less blasé about agriculture, because it’s a balancing act we have to deal with. But I digress.

            The point is, whether or not GMOs are involved, food safety and environmental management in modern agriculture are tremendously complex, highly technical problems. Do we expect the public to to debate the details of how dairy products should be pasteurized, stored and transported to grocery stores? No! That would be absurd! And yet, the safe storage and transportation of dairy has huge public health consequences. So much of our modern food safety apparatus exists because the dairy problem had to be dealt with. And of course there are eggs, meat products, even vegetables can be deadly if not properly transported and stored.

            The question is, do we have trust in the scientific and bureaucratic apparatus that we have in place to keep our food supplies safe? The complaints about lack of public debate essentially amount to an argument that this apparatus is working acceptably right up to the point that GMOs are involved. GMO products don’t have unique or different safety concerns from other food products. They are evaluated, correctly, in the exact same way. So if our food safety system is failing us on GMO’s, due to lack of debate or whatever, it’s failing us on everything else, too. If you feel that way, fine – I don’t agree, but you could make a case there. But that’s no longer a problem with GMOs, it’s much bigger than that.

            Generally GMOs don’t solve any problem in agriculture for which there are no other solutions. And the main beneficiary of the technology is Monsanto, not farmers and certainly not consumers. Opposing GMOs is not nearly as bad as opposing vaccinations. Not even close.

            That “generally” is doing a hell of a lot of work for you, here. For all that heavy lifting, this is still incorrect – as noted by heckblazer, there are hard problems that GMOs do solve where other efforts have failed. There are other cases where, sure, you could argue that there are are other solutions. Golden Rice is a great example, in fact – you could point out, correctly, that nutritional deficiency in Southeast Asia could be solved without GMOs if people grew a greater diversity of crops for subsistence with more nutrients than you find in rice. And of course if local and global governments would take steps to reduce poverty, and so on. And all that’s true, and desirable but guess what? That isn’t happening nearly fast enough, and introducing Golden Rice (another non-commercial product, by the way) could let us start reducing preventable child deaths from rickets right now. It would be wishful thinking to claim Golden Rice would immediately magically solve the problem of Vitamin A deficiency, but it’s a tool we could be using and we aren’t because of anti-science bullshit. Rickets kills half a million young children every year. Not as bad as anti-vaxxers? I wouldn’t be so sure.

      • Linnaeus

        So I do think this issue is nuanced and I wish it could be talked about more intelligently.

        Same here. There really is a discussion to be had here, particularly about the social context in which GMO research and development is situated. But it seems that relatively few people want to have that discussion, because it’s complicated and difficult. It’s much easier to boil it down to either “frankenfoods!” or “science!”

        • Gregor Sansa

          And, if you’re Loomis, a side order of “hippie purists must die”.

      • Brien Jackson

        Well, one issue is that “GMO labeling” is really impossible. If you’re a “non-GMO” farmer with a field across from someone who’s buying regular old GMO seed from his supplier, there’s no way to keep the two plants from cross-pollinating.

    • heckblazer

      Three counties in Hawaii have banned growing GMO crops (with an exception for GMO papaya because otherwise ringspot virus would wipe out the crop). Last I hears those laws are tied up in litigation over whether the counties are preempted by state and federal law.

      • PohranicniStraze

        with an exception for GMO papaya because otherwise ringspot virus would wipe out the crop

        So they recognize the value of GMO crops, but decided to mostly give in to the purity-fetishists anyway.

  • Murc

    There’s a certain kind of liberalism that’s massively offended by any giveaways to what they perceive as people having enough money to pay their own damn way.

    People can arrive there from two directions: from being so incandescently enraged at the grotesque leechery and parasitism of the 1% that they don’t want them to receive anything else, ever, even if they’re broadly socialized benefits everyone will get. This can lead to “throw the baby out with the bathwater” thinking, like the folks who want to means test Social Security because they’re morally and personally offended that even after all his enormities, Mitt Romney will get a check from the government every month when he retires. A bigger check than a lot of working stiffs, to!

    The other directions is people who just hate, HATE, the thought that someone, somewhere, might be getting a handout they don’t deserve in some way. It’s the safe attitude you get from conservatives who think everyone on welfare rolls is a scammer, but when you combine it with someone who has enough of a social conscience to be liberal or liberal-ish, you get “why are we handing out public goods to those who can pay for them.”

    • Rob in CT

      Yes, and we saw this from HRC in the primary in response to Bernie’s free college idea (I’m not sure it really rose to the level of a plan, so I’m going with idea).

      It’s wrong, but I’ve felt that pull myself.

      • Brien Jackson

        Meh, that doesn’t seem like a terribly unfair campaign attack all things considered.

        • NeonTrotsky

          Honestly at this point it comes off as rather boring

      • Origami Isopod

        It’s a very widespread if not quite universal human impulse, with roots in both altruism and selfishness.

    • Srsly Dad Y

      But then the same people will say about stuff like freeways and public high schools, “Damn right I deserve them, I fucking pay taxes.”

      • los

        I Charles Koch deserve ALL OF them, I fucking pay taxes
        /teacuck on “food stamps”

    • TroubleMaker13

      I think there’s a more practical objection too– recognition that budget hawkery will be with us in both parties and so expenditure that benefits people who are fully capable of paying their own way may compete politcally with programs that could make a bigger overall impact by assisting the truly needy.

      • LeeEsq

        The most enduring welfare programs in every country with welfare programs are the universal ones though. A welfare state that is based solely on taxing the relatively to very affluent in order to help the truly needy is never going to have enough political support. You need a welfare state that everybody could benefit from even if it seems absurd.

        • los

          a welfare state that everybody could benefit from

          Donald Trump could be sued out of a home at anytime. no assets = no loans.
          “food stamps” and homeless shelters are there for Donald Trump.

          (Unless President Trump offers something to his Master Putin in exchange.)

      • JKTH

        The good thing about the rich is that there aren’t very many of them. When you get to the point of the income scale where college tuition isn’t that much of a burden, you have very few people so cutting them out of the system doesn’t do much. If you cut off lower down the income scale, then you’re just screwing people.

        • lizzie

          Yeah, I was going to say the same thing. College has become so expensive that the number of people who are fully capable of paying their own way is very small. Even if people can manage it, it is a huge lifetime financial hit that seriously impacts everything else, particularly retirement.

    • Crusty

      I know some people who are reliably liberal, but also feel that they exist in a category of people that gets perpetually screwed, e.g., they make good money but not so much that they pay capital gains rates instead of just the rate you pay when you have a good paying job, they’re not the rich that republicans want to lower taxes on, they’re the slightly less rich who have phased out of lots of tax credits and deductions. They also feel that they bust their asses to pay their mortgage and are concerned that the day they finish paying off their mortgage, after years of sacrifice, there’s going to be some kind of giant forgiveness program for everyone else.

      • Rob in CT

        Ah, my people!

        And, if the topic is how they’re screwed in comparison to .1%ers, I’d absolutely argue they (we) have legit grievances.

        But the amount of whining about other people getting free stuff… that gets the world’s tiniest violin.

      • LeeEsq

        I see myself as a member of this group sometimes.

        • Crusty

          Me too. And to add on to the list of fears and grievances, paying for college- after years of reliably socking money away in the 529, junior will go to college and the day after they graduate it will be free for everyone.

          • lizzie

            You might find this amusing: My high-school senior recently half-jokingly blamed me for not waiting 10 more years to have her, because surely college will be free by then! I told her I timed her birth for maximum financial damage because there is no limit to a parent’s perfidy.

          • Pat

            As my daughter likes to say, “What’s wrong with leaving the world a better place than how you found it?”

          • Jackov

            There appears to be an age and perhaps class divide.
            Some of the most vocal supporters of free college
            are young college grads hampered with high student loan debt. They support overhauling the system in the name of fairness despite being the group most recently impacted by the current financing system.

      • Linnaeus

        Thing is, there has to be a starting point for a program somewhere.

    • djw

      On the free college question, there’s another reason to prefer Clinton’s “modest tuition for the well off, free for everyone else” model–depending on how the taxes that actually pay for college are collected and who tends to go to and graduate from college, free college could end up being a fairly significant upward redistribution of wealth, in a way that other universal benefits, like SS/Medicare, do not. Plenty of people recognize making the overall distributional effects of taxes and government spending less regressive as a major progressive policy goal, and a free college scheme could pretty easily run afoul of that. That’s not necessarily dispositive, of course–there are other reasons to prefer a “free for all” model that might outweigh that particular worry, but it’s a reasonable thing to weigh against the model.

      (Myself, I think the strengths and weaknesses of Sanders’ and Clinton’s proposals for college shake out pretty similarly, and while I’d obviously take either, there are perfectly reasonable and progressive reasons to prefer Clinton’s plan.)

      • sonamib

        I would be fine with a system where only the well-off pay if it’s actually only the well-off that pay. Way too often, when those kinds of plans are proposed, the parents’ wealth is used to determine if the student is well-off or not. That might create unnecessary complications if the parents happen to hate their child (e.g. because they’re transphopic and the child is trans*) and refuse to pay the tuition.

        The only way to guarantee that only the well-off pay is to have some sort of progressive payback scheme, where well-off alumni pay some sort of progressive tax to their alma mater. Only significantly wealthy alumni should have a nonzero college payback rate.

        • Crusty

          One gripe I see some of the well off lodging and that I could support is if a significantly well off alumnus becomes that way in spite of, and not because of, their alma mater.

          • sonamib

            So basically your position is that no one should pay for college, no exceptions. Which is a fine position, I share it too. I was just explaining the only “make the wealthy pay” scheme that I would find acceptable.

        • djw

          This is a problem for existing forms of need-based Federal Aid, such as Pell grants. Unless it’s changed in the last 15 years or so you need to report your parents income in applying for such aid until age 23. (There’s also the problem of having parents who make a good living but carry a lot of debt and/or aren’t good with money, a population probably larger than the one you mention.) I think it’s possible to create a way for people in this situation to have their reality recognized that’s designed in such a way that it won’t be easily gamed by wealthy parents who are willing to pay, but I could be wrong about that.

          • Brien Jackson

            Nope. I was 22 years old, living in a different state than my parents, married with kids, and I filed FAFSA as an independent student, and did not even have to report any parental income, let alone have that counted. And this was a decade ago.

            • djw

              Yes, I’d forgotten, but getting married before 23 is another way you could file without parental income. (There were jokingly contemplated FAFSA marriages, among those with high earning but low supporting parents)

              • Brien Jackson

                Yes, but even if I hadn’t done the paperwork, so to speak, I don’t see anything that would have prevented me from doing the same. Worst case I get audited, in which case I’d have had no problem demonstrating I wasn’t getting any meaningful level of financial support from my parents.

        • Pat

          There’s the Oregon model, where students pay a small percentage of their salaries for 20 years.

        • Brien Jackson

          In so much as Clinton’s plan was basically to take the current FAFSA related EFC number and make it a “hard” number, I don’t see where this is a problem. An 18-19 year old high school graduate who’s that estranged from their parents could file as an “independent” student, in which case they’d get an EFC of $0 regardless of parental wealth.

        • JL

          Yeah, I’ve talked before on here about how many people I knew in college whose parents abused them or cut them off. I remember bringing this up to the university administration when I did student government stuff, that I thought it ought to be easier to get the university to treat you as independent from your parents in those cases, and it was a nonstarter. I was told that if it were easier, a bunch of well-off parents would pretend to disown their kids for the financial benefit.

    • Linnaeus

      This can lead to “throw the baby out with the bathwater” thinking, like the folks who want to means test Social Security because they’re morally and personally offended that even after all his enormities, Mitt Romney will get a check from the government every month when he retires. A bigger check than a lot of working stiffs, to!

      Which is strange in light of the arguments against “purity” that often come up in the same context.

  • DAS

    The problem with “free college for all” is who is going to pay for it and what they will ask for in return. After all, a mandate to the states to make their public colleges free isn’t necessarily a mandate for the states to spend more money on those colleges to make up for those colleges no longer being able to charge tuition. And even if the Feds kick some money to the states, there is no guarantee that the states simply won’t pay less of their own money to colleges.

    Also, with more state funding will be more pressure for colleges to do what the state wants. The state wants you to not teach about climate change? Well, then, you better not teach about climate change or there goes your funding.

    • ChrisS

      I’d be more concerned with administrators seeing free college for all as an easy way to siphon more and more public funds into their pockets.

      Oooh, bummer, looks like costs have gone up again this year …

      • muddy

        Maybe they need a rule about what % is allowed to go for administration, as in health insurance.

        • DAS

          The problem is defining what gets counted as going for administration. If you look at my university, our administrative ranks (and hence administrative costs) have barely expanded. Where we’ve had a big growth in costs is in professional and technical support staff. Part of that growth is, admittedly, some junior level administrators being reclassified as professional staff and some professional staff being reclassified as technical support staff: i.e. hiding administrative growth by gaming the classification a bit. The major part of that growth, however, is due to the college having to provide more things for students — more support for students increasingly unprepared for college, more money for computer systems and staff to support them, etc.

          How would a rule about what % is allowed to go for administration be able to limit costs if administrators can be reclassified as staff? OTOH, if spending on support staff is limited, then how do you account for the need for more support for students?

          • twbb

            “however, is due to the college having to provide more things for students”

            No, it’s the college WANTING to provide more things for students. And wanting to admit unprepared students because tuition dollars and apparently bigger schools are more prestigious for the administrators who work there. If you admit people who can do college level work and don’t incessantly build amenities that are not actually necessary, all the other expenses scale nicely — maintaining a wireless network and a few computer labs is cheaper per capita for 10,000 students than for 1,000.

      • djw

        One thing I really liked about Sanders’ college plan is he was proposing imposing a bunch of rules on colleges about how the money gets spent designed to avoid that.

        • NonyNony

          yes – there need to be rules on public universities that accept Federal money that are similar to the rules that the ACA has on insurance companies and how much they need to spend on care vs. “overhead”.

      • The Lorax

        We need to hire an Associate Vice President to look into that.

        • (((Hogan)))

          S/he can work in the office next to the Vice Provost for the Proliferation of Vice Provosts.

    • Also, with more state funding will be more pressure for colleges to do what the state wants.

      The states have already combined lower state funding with more pressure to do what the state wants.

      • They certainly have in Wisconsin. Also, they changed the way the Board of Regents operates to make it more political.

        • los

          that’s guberbmint abuse11!! I toadl you liberels we need to pryvitize11!1

           
          Vote trump to stopp the bad wetleaks emale!!
          Ernest T. Blogger

    • Murc

      The problem with “free college for all” is who is going to pay for it and what they will ask for in return.

      Is this not a problem with all publicly funded education, at all levels? It doesn’t rise to the level of making free primary and secondary education a bad idea, so why does it rise to the level of making free post-secondary education a bad idea?

      Also, a number of countries provide free college education to their citizens, in a variety of forms, and they seem to do okay. Although people don’t seem too grateful for it; two generations of postwar citizens in the UK got free college, and they responded to that by kicking the ladder away behind them.

      • The Lorax

        They read their Wittgenstein during their free college days.

      • GeorgeBurnsWasRight

        I wonder if the difference isn’t that K-12 schools are run by “local school boards” while colleges are either run by states or private boards. And there’s an assumption among many that local school boards are inherently superior because local people are always superior to those darn state or other elitists.

      • Just_Dropping_By

        Is this not a problem with all publicly funded education, at all levels? It doesn’t rise to the level of making free primary and secondary education a bad idea, so why does it rise to the level of making free post-secondary education a bad idea?

        You really don’t see the logical flaws in declaring, “We pay for existing program X, so therefore there should be no problem in paying for completely new program Y”?

        • Murc

          Providing free education is not a “completely new program.” We’ve been doing it for decades. We’re not amazing at it but we kind of do know what we’re doing.

          • AMK

            ….and we do it by making the rich pay more for better service. That’s basically how the property-tax K-12 system works.

      • twbb

        A lot of countries who provide free college to their citizens don’t just give it to whoever wants it, which is with a few exceptions the US model. Are we going to start shunting students into vocational programs in high school? Personally I think a lot of students will be much happier and better off if we do that, but I know I am in a minority on this point, at least on the left.

        • JL

          I favor expanded vocational ed opportunities, but not coercing people into them (both out of a general opposition to coercing people in that way, and because I believe that that would be applied disproportionately against poor and working-class students, students with English as not their first language, disabled students, and many grounds of students of color). And I favor vocational students still having access to college prep work.

          Massachusetts actually seems to have a pretty good vocational ed system, with the network of regional vocational schools that each serve a bunch of towns or cities, but a lot of people in my orbit don’t know it’s there. I live in the small middle-and-maybe-some-working-class part of a town that is otherwise full of rich people and known for being full of rich people, and the local politics thing that sent me into a rage recently was when there was a vote across the 16 towns in our vocational region on whether to fund a new building for the vocational school, whose building is becoming decrepit, and my town was not only one of two that didn’t vote in favor, but also opposed it something like three to one. I had a whole rant about how this is why I’m embarrassed to tell people where I live.

    • delazeur

      We’ve got a lot of problems like this that would be solved by doing away with the federalist system. It’s an anachronism at this point, as far as I’m concerned.

      • witlesschum

        Some of the layers of local government seem possibly similar anachronism. Especially local elected government. There might be such a thing as too much democracy, if it ends with even fairly informed people casting ill-informed votes for, say, school board, sheriff or, my favorite, drain commissioner.

        • delazeur

          Yes: all of those are jobs that should be done by experienced professionals, not politicians.

        • los

          my favorite, drain commissioner.
          mine to11!

          Joolyin asssinge will drain the swap11!!!

           
          Vote trump to stop the bad wetleaks mial!!
          Ernest T. Blogger

      • The Lorax

        Federalism is great if you’re in California, say. We’ve got a good thing going over here. And while the GOP continues to screw things up at a national level, we’re forging ahead with our socialist hellhole.

        • gccolby

          Think so? I can’t say I regard California state politics with envy. And I live in Massachusetts.

          • los

            drought hit the red regions hard.

        • Origami Isopod

          The referendum thing is kind of a mess, though.

    • Chetsky

      Also, with more state funding will be more pressure for colleges to do what the state wants.

      Ehh. I think it’s well-demonstrated by this point, that the only alternative is colleges doing what well-funded corps and richies want …. which is objectively worse on every measure.

      At least with the state, there is a putative path to democratic accountability.

    • Marc

      I basically had free college from the University of Texas in the early 1980s. The world did not end.

      One of the most depressing things about the current environment is that people can’t even imagine things that we used to take for granted in the past.

      If we’re worried about rich people getting breaks, it seems as if the solution is a progressive income tax (so that they pay a bigger share of the costs.) Means-testing everything adds a ton of waste, cost and overhead to programs.

      • LosGatosCA

        Excellent point.

        Progressive taxation is means testing at the front end. Even if you had a dedicated flat tax, like Medicare the rich will pay much more, 1% of $1m is way more than 1% on $65k. To repeat it at the back end is unfair.

        Say the $1m income earner has 2 kids and pays $10K for 25 years while I earn $65K with 3 kids, paying $650 a year.

        Even without progressive rates, my family is coming out way ahead financially even though the rich kids might use a voucher to defray a private college education at an elite institution while my kids go to UC and CSU schools.

      • Just_Dropping_By

        Except that increasing taxation on the rich penalizes them even if they don’t use the service. Means testing works like a user fee for those with “means,” and thus only penalizes the actual users.

        ETA: As someone with a child enrolled in the Denver Public Schools, I am personally subject to a form of means testing for preschool/kindergarten tuition. I think having to pay a substantially higher tuition for for my child to attend public school is a much fairer system than raising taxes on people who might not even have children and receive no benefit from the program.

    • tsam

      The problem with “free college for all” is who is going to pay for it and what they will ask for in return.

      Infrastructure, K-12 education, law enforcement and defense all have the same exact problem.

      • los

        DAS says:and what they will ask for in return.

        tsam says:all have the same exact problem.

        as does Trump’s cocaine supplier.

  • njorl

    Free public college and free college for all are very different things.

    • Rob in CT

      True. I like the former.

      • Crusty

        Free public college would have enough positive effects that its worth doing even if rich people will still be able to pay for Harvard or at the other end of the spectrum, one of those crap colleges that is way worse than the local state U but way more expensive.

        • The real losers in this scenario are 2nd and 3rd rate Catholic schools that don’t actually do anything that a public school doesn’t do for less money.

          • BiloSagdiyev

            I’ve been assuming for a few years now that certain folks send their children to Catholic schools to protect them for the corrupt, sinful, secular world. (And/or, the blah people.)

            (And I’ve always marvelled at how much of the same exact shenanigans such kids still get into at such schools.)

            • NonyNony

              Ah – you’ve got the wrong mental model. The target audiences for the 2nd and 3rd rate Catholic schools are parents who are very concerned that their little Johnny/Mary find a nice Catholic girl/boy to marry and push out 17 children with.

              Sending their kids off to a public school or a private non-Catholic school would raise the possibility that young Johnny/Mary would bring home some Jewish girl/boy. Or possibly boy/girl. Or even worse, some kind of Protestant!

              • Origami Isopod

                There are those types, sure, but there are also parents who send their kids to Catholic schools because those are the only safe schools in their area. Which says less about the quality of Catholic education per se than it does about how badly the public schools have been screwed.

            • djw

              I’ve been assuming for a few years now that certain folks send their children to Catholic schools to protect them for the corrupt, sinful, secular world. (And/or, the blah people.)

              At my particular employer, the first motivation seems clearly wrong. When the administration contemplates various concrete steps to curtail the ‘party school’ reputation we’ve got, alumni pushback (and they’re the parents, we have a ton of second generation students) is generally seen as a major obstacle, as we don’t want to do anything to interfere with their happy party memories.

              (On the second proposed motivation, there’s a broad perception that diversifying our overwhelmingly white student body would help with recruitment, and while I’m not sure I think that’s true, our enrollment management division is pretty data-oriented, so they have some not terrible reason to suspect it to be true.)

          • Crusty

            Sometimes those schools charge more reasonable tuitions, at least more reasonable than the tuition at what I think of as a crap rich kids school.

          • NonyNony

            So people who deserve to lose then?

      • njorl

        Same here. If the government foots the bill for anyone getting into Harvard, it isn’t going to change who goes to Harvard very much. If it pays for people to go to schools like Rutgers, it could do a lot of good.

        On a more general note:
        In the past, I think it was clear that we were passing on a country with more opportunities to the next generation. There might be short term ups and downs, but life was generally going to be easier for children than it was for their parents. That isn’t obvious anymore. We are certainly going to keep getting richer, but that wealth is concentrated in the hands of a few, who tend to be old.
        So in lieu of passing on a country with more opportunities, I say we take a more direct route. Provide young people with tuition assistance, or with interest free loan guarantees for starting a business (uncle sam is your partner, but you can buy him out for a pittance if your business succeeds). And even those who just get a job working for someone else right out of high school, make them eligible for a refundable tax credit for four years so they can get a good start in life without incurring a burdensome debt load. It seems wrong just to give a leg up to people going to college.

    • Lost Left Coaster

      Oh yes. I hope that we’re talking about free public college. As long as we have free public college that provides quality education, I couldn’t give a rat’s ass what private universities charge.

      • Crusty

        If attendance at private universities serves as a gatekeeping function in society to certain professions or the ability to earn a decent living, I damn well care what they charge.

        • DAS

          Part of the problem is the degree to which private universities are gatekeepers in that way. And it seems that the few people we do allow to be “elites” that come from outside the Ivy Leagues can only manage to break into the elite by being even more deplorable than the private university grads. We would do better as a society if we had a greater diversity of educational backgrounds in our “managerial class” (to use an oft misused term).

          • los

            … few people we do allow to be “elites” that come from outside the Ivy Leagues can only manage to break into the elite by being even more deplorable than the private university grads

            “Why do you hate Americans like Boris Epshteyn, l Capone, Paul Manafort and Sniff Wharton?”

            /the rise of the Nouveau Deplorable

            • los

              (Al Capone)

  • FMguru

    Ah, here it comes – the tidal wave of stories from the Village media about how 1) Hillary’s victory doesn’t really count because it was against a risible orange clown so she has no mandate to do anything, and 2) it’s her responsibility to reach across the aisle and show leadership and heal the partisan divide. As predictable as the sun coming up in the east every morning.

    • farin

      Thanks to climate change, that’s no longer a tidal wave; it’s just the new sea level.

      • los

        no longer a tidal wave; it’s just the new sea level.

        Stuppid liberels ar stipid agaen111 The ricing see will smother the globil warming of th sun11!
        Yu shuld lern to let natechur taek caer of us11! Ist gods wille11!

         
        Vote for Dunnole to stop the muslin Vins Foster wetleaks male!!
        Ernest T. Blogger

    • Wapiti

      In my opinion, the Republican members of the Senate owe Clinton 100% of their votes on her first Supreme Court pick. That’s the will of the voters. If they give her anything less than 100% yes votes, she owes them nothing.

      • los

        That’s the will of the voters
        Thats righte!! Muh Connil is rieght11!

        But you foregot yor math11!!
        We nead to let the voaters deyicid in 2092!11! Theyr are futire are are futire11!!

        Annd this is a reepuplick not a dimmawkrissi11!

         
        Vote for Dunnold to stop the mouslim Vins Foster wetlerks hemale!!
        Ernest T. Blogger

    • erick

      Yep, is a Rep loses the popular vote and wins the EC because of a dubious Supreme Court ruling they have a mandate to do everything they want. If a Dem campaigns on passing healthcare as their top priority and wins decisively in both popular vote and EC they can’t actually propose exactly what they campaigned on because, “reasons”

    • tonycpsu

      Impressive how they can effortlessly switch from “she’s a corporate hack and military hawk” to “she’s Jill Stein with a public service record.”

  • rea

    Is there a federal tampon tax presently? I don’t think so, but I don’t buy all that many tampons.

    • farin

      They’re not exempt from sales tax in many states, and Jerry Brown just vetoed a bill that would have made them so in California.

      • Cassiodorus

        Sure, but I’m not sure why not taxing tampons is so radical in jurisdictions that don’t tax things like Rogaine.

        • sam

          This was the argument that won the day in NY – which didn’t tax other “medical necessities”, but for some reason feminine hygiene products were considered luxury items.

          So there was no tax on condoms. or bandages. or a plethora of other things.

        • Just_Dropping_By

          Are there jurisdictions that don’t tax Rogaine where such an exemption isn’t just part of a general policy of not taxing prescription drugs?

    • erick

      Yeah not sure what she thinks the federal government has to do with local sales taxes.

    • Captain Oblivious

      Or arbitrary tax carve-outs for items such as tampons (which constitute a giveaway to rich people, too, and ultimately require raising tax rates on everything else, which can disproportionately hurt poor people).

      I don’t Rampell was specifically referring to the federal government only. She was just setting up some straw lefties to knock down.

      In any case, taxes on tampons and sanitary napkins are clearly discriminatory and punitive. So lefties really ought to be against this tax.

      Second, no, removing the “tampon tax” doesn’t require raising taxes on “everything else”. The revenue shortfall can be made up for by raising taxes on specific other goods or, better still, raising income taxes on the rich.

      There should no sales tax on essential hygienic items, including tampons, sanitary napkins, diapers (including adult diapers), condoms, toothbrushes, toothpaste, shampoo, and bar soap (tax the hell out of liquid hand soap and body washes).

      • Cassiodorus

        It’s discriminatory if the state provides an exempt for similar products not used by women, but taxing tampons isn’t discriminatory in and of itself.

        • Captain Oblivious

          Wrongo. A tampon tax pretty obviously targets women alone. That’s the textbook definition of gender discrimination.

          • Gareth

            I knew it wouldn’t take long before we got transphobic comments.

            • Gregor Sansa

              Oh, please. Pointing out that there are men who need tampons: great, that would be awesome. Accusing others of badthink because they neglected to mention this small minority (not even all transmen menstruate regularly): DBAD.

              • JL

                Based on past comments I’m guessing that Gareth is being sarcastic. Gareth, apologies if I’m wrong.

                Either way, yep, there are men and nonbinary people, and some number of intersex people of various genders, who need tampons or pads (ISTR some conservative outlet not long ago getting all upset about a university putting tampons in its men’s rooms for this reason, possibly even discussed on this blog), and the people who don’t care about women’s wellbeing generally don’t care about their wellbeing either.

          • Just_Dropping_By

            Only if the tax is specifically greater or different in some manner. As far as I’m aware, the issue is jurisdictions applying their standard sales tax to tampons, not that tampons are specially taxed.

      • sonamib

        tax the hell out of liquid hand soap

        Why?

        • NonyNony

          Luxury good, not a necessity, is typically the argument.

          I actually want to know which one is worse for the environment, then tax that one, but that’s just me.

          • Wapiti

            I’d bet donuts to dollars (have you priced donuts lately?) that the liquid soap with the plastic dispenser (and non-recyclable pump mechanism) is worse for the environment than the bar soap with the paper wrapper. But maybe the manufacturing of bar soap is nastier.

            • sonamib

              Yeah, I do think a carbon tax would fall more heavily on a liquid soap than on a bar soap. It’s fair to tax the liquid soap more.

            • los

              have you priced donuts lately?

              Have yu ever pryced dollirs laetly ever or evin ever ever//? i thot not11!
              Ahunnurt dollirs coss more than a dounut11!!
              Its all becus liberil gubvemint keeps printing doanots11!!
              Obaamma maed the ickognomey a mess11!

               
              Vote for Dunmold to unsttart the mowslim sharrya doanouts!!
              Ernest T. Blogger

          • Captain Oblivious

            The environmental impact depends on what you’re measuring and consider important.

            Bar soap is mostly vegetable oil with some lye stirred in. So there are considerations of the agriculture impact as well as the production of lye (sodium hydroxide).

            But most of that also applies to most mass-produed liquid soaps, plus you have the environmental impact of all the plastic packaging.

      • los

        no, removing the “tampon tax” doesn’t require raising taxes on “everything else”. The revenue shortfall
        About half of every store here is full of tampons! They can’t keep tampons on the shelf.
        This is a tax of which I shall not pay.

        — Prince “Necessity” Charles (where’s my musket?)

  • DAS

    Anti-GMO activism is second only to anti-vaccination as the worst idea floating around the left.

    I dunno. I am sure, given more time and more caffeine, I could think of some other ideas floating around the left that are in contention for “worst idea floating around the left”. Support for reactionary nationalist movements simply because (a) they are in opposition to not necessarily reactionary nationalist movements the left happens not to like and they also manage to use the correct left-wing code words when they have to do so or (b) they are anti-American and we all know America is the worst country ever … that’s pretty bad. As is the idea that some lefties have that they get to decide who is “underprivileged” and who is not and that we don’t have to listen to anything those who are deemed not underprivileged have to say even if those people doing the deciding are themselves in positions of great privilege to which they are themselves quite blind.

    • witlesschum

      White leftists who sneer about “identity politics” and insist loudly that class is more important than race and that’s the end of the discussion its not more complex than that laalaalalaalaalaal seems like a real contender. And I say that as the caricature of a white leftist who at least starts from a standpoint of wanting to like what I read in Jacobin.

      But the GMO fear stuff is real stupid, too.

      • Arla

        You’re not wrong, but I think even those dumb white leftists who view everything through the lens of class and disregard “identity politics” aren’t suggesting that racism/sexism/etc. don’t exist, but rather that they’re primarily a function of classism. They’re wrong, of course, but I think you’d be hard pressed to find any leftist who wouldn’t say, yes, racism is bad and ideally it should go away.

        By contrast, the anti-GMO activists are actively pursuing a bad goal. The same is true of anti-vaxxers (though I would note that anti-vaxxers are about equally likely to be right wingers as idiot leftists, whereas anti-GMO sentiment seems to be exclusively a left wing phenomenon). Ditto the reflexive support among some left-wingers for anything that happens to be a thorn in the US’s side, regardless of its actual merits.

        • witlesschum

          That’s a pretty fair point, yeah. And so’s your final one, which I always think of as “the Nation/Putin alliance.”

          And thanks for highlighting the antivaxxer research. I find that study more persuasive than the zipcode-based one people use to push the idea that antivaxxers are mainly lefties.

          ETA:
          For those who don’t click

          “But really, political ideology didn’t have a large overall impact on vaccine denial in the study. The study found that the really big contributor to distrusting or disliking vaccines was not political ideology at all, but rather, having a conspiratorial mindset, which can occur on both the left and the right.”

          • ASV

            This is absolutely true about anti-vaxxers. I study this from a social identity perspective, and there’s simply no relationship between political party or ideology and vax beliefs. There is a relationship with religiosity (primarily on the political right) and environmental identity (primarily on the political left). My most recent dataset is from late 2014, so maybe Trump has managed to change this, but I haven’t seen any such evidence.

            • Origami Isopod

              Anti-vax got started on the left, but it spread like wildfire among the megachurch set for entirely different reasons, as you mention.

          • Anna in PDX

            I thought the conspiratorial mindset thing was really well illustrated by the recent SNL black jeopardy sketch. Everyone agreed that the election was rigged, for example. “Just because I’m paranoid doesn’t mean they’re not out to get me.”

            I could wish that people had more confidence in the system because I see how lack of confidence helps the right wingers who want to get rid of the government functions they don’t like, but it’s hard and depressing to keep the faith when things like Standing Rock are happening.

            • JL

              it’s hard and depressing to keep the faith when things like Standing Rock are happening.

              Yeah. I think it is important to develop a politics that understands that the government in some form is the right mechanism to perform various functions, while also acknowledging that the government, as it exists in the world, does a lot of bad things in addition to the good things it does. There’s a kind of genteel liberalism (or center/center-right-ism – Bloomberg had a lot of elements of this in his politics) that I encounter sometimes that treats government as a thoroughly benign force, and I can’t relate to that, even though I am somewhere in the social democrat/democratic socialist realm of ideology.

          • addicted44

            I think this needs to be repeated a lot more. While its true anti-vaccine stuff started from the left, it’s not being kept alive on the left.

            When it became an issue, it was because of an information vacuum that was filled with hacks who wrote papers in reputed medical journals supporting the anti-vax viewpoint (hello Wakefield and the Lancet). Since then, as the science has become clear, it’s persisted only among those who were invested in it, and those parents who have been scared by those invested in it.

            The real growth has come on the right, largely the religious right, because of their strong anti-science views.

        • Sly

          Anti-Vax produces and has produced real harm, but the Anti-GMO campaigns in the U.S. and Western Europe pretty much don’t, because in these countries malnutrition is a function of transportation and market logistics and not crop failure. No one is going to go hungry if California mandates GMO labeling. If the Anti-GMO campaign somehow managed to get within a country mile of a worldwide GMO ban, we’d be talking a different story. Then we basically have to pick a billion people to starve to death (hint: they won’t be living in the U.S. or Western Europe).

          Being cowards in the face of racists, however, does produce harm. At a minimum, it prefers common cause with people who sanction state violence against their fellow citizens over the victims of that violence, excusing it as some kind of false consciousness brought on by neoliberal perfidy or whatever. “Neoliberal” is always in there somewhere.

          • gccolby

            Um. There’s substantial GMO resistance among both Western and local activists to the introduction of GMO crops in places like India and Southeast Asia. It’s safe to say anti-GMO success in preventing the deployment of Golden Rice, for example, has resulted in very real, avoidable harm to millions of people. The success of anti-GMO sentiments in th industrialized West has very real consequences for the international poor.

          • Gregor Sansa

            GMO crops are part of a system of production. If you take out the GMO without adjusting the system, then sure, something breaks, and people starve. But in a lot of cases, the GMO is just enabling (or standing in for) overdependence on pesticides, and it would actually be healthier to do integrated pest management (crop rotation and mixing, encouraging beneficial species that prey on pests, etc.). Also, GMO use tends to reduce biodiversity, which makes the system more fragile to various shocks that actually increase starvation.

            I’m not an expert. But I’m far from convinced that “ending GMOs as they currently exist” is a bad idea. Sure, golden rice is awesome and I support it. But Bt and roundup ready genes are not, as far as I can tell, actually doing good for the poor on net, even if you count their impact on food prices. Or at least, I remain far from convinced that the net effect is good rather than bad.

            So yeah, a lot of anti-“frankenfood” activism is ascientific. But that doesn’t mean that reducing GMO use, at least in the case of the most common GMO genes, is actually a bad goal.

            (Now that CRISPR makes doing GMO much, much cheaper, I think that “open source GMO” might become a thing, and while that is obviously the stuff of science fiction nightmares I think in practice it could turn out to be better for the poor than the Monsanto model has been. But that’s all speculation.)

            • gccolby

              GMO crops are part of a system of production. If you take out the GMO without adjusting the system, then sure, something breaks, and people starve. But in a lot of cases, the GMO is just enabling (or standing in for) overdependence on pesticides, and it would actually be healthier to do integrated pest management (crop rotation and mixing, encouraging beneficial species that prey on pests, etc.). Also, GMO use tends to reduce biodiversity, which makes the system more fragile to various shocks that actually increase starvation.

              These are important concerns, but largely independent of whether GMOs are involved or not. Biodiversity is often raised as a criticism of GMO crops, but this is absurd; lack of biodiversity in major food crops long predates transgenics and I’m not at all convinced that GMOs have made this problem worse than it already was. Lack of genetic diversity was a major problem by the 19th century in several crops, and was an important factor in the Irish potato famine, for example.

              It’s difficult to maintain genetic diversity in crops because it is in direct conflict with the desire to be able to plant a very large number of plants that will grow and respond to your treatments in predictable and uniform ways. When you buy a packet of seeds, by golly the resulting plants had better look like the picture on the packet. More biodiversity in crops means it’s more work to manage them, and you have a less uniform product. So of course industrial-scale plant breeding has tended toward making them more genetically uniform. Again, that has nothing to do with GMOs, it’s a process that long predates our ability to directly manipulate DNA in plant breeding. The very process of crop domestication has unavoidably reduced genetic diversity of our food crops compared to their wild ancestors. A tomato species that doesn’t reliably produce a large, tasty fruit isn’t so useful to us. We can do better on crop biodiversity, but not by avoiding GMO use.

              And that, by the way, assumes that we’re talking about a crop that’s grown from seed. Lots of crops are vegetatively propagated. You have a field full of identical clones that you’ve purchased from a company that just endlessly divides the same plant in greenhouses and then sells the little bits for planting. Not a lot of genetic diversity there, and again, a technique that predates GMOs by centuries.

        • mds

          I think you’d be hard pressed to find any leftist who wouldn’t say, yes, racism is bad and ideally it should go away.

          Quite so. The more organized American left-wing groups at least pay lip service to the notion of racial and gender equality. In particular, the Democratic Socialists of America and the Socialist Party USA are fairly explicit about their support for feminism and anti-racism. There seems to be a noisy subset of left-anarchist types and the like, however, who along with certain far-left European parties are extremely reductionist about class. (When they aren’t full blown racist or sexist: The Socialist Workers’ Party of the UK handled sexual harassment really abominably, for example.) For some reason, a whole bunch of these people seem to comment at Crooked Timber.

          In many cases, it’s apparently necessary for their “not a dime’s worth of difference” shtick. Nowadays, it’s hard to argue that one US party is indistinguishable from the other on racial issues and women’s rights. So those issues have to be reduced to the level of “distractions” from the real fight.

          • PJ

            For some reason, a whole bunch of these people seem to comment at Crooked Timber.

            OK, so it’s been a while since I’ve read their comment section, but this explains a lot.

          • JL

            In my experience it hasn’t mostly been left-anarchists who are extremely reductionistic about class, but a particular subset of socialists, who (if they do on-the-ground activism rather than or in addition to theory/writing/online discussion stuff) tend to gravitate toward coopt-everything-we-touch socialist organizations like Socialist Alternative and ISO. Online they seem to gravitate toward certain spaces too.

      • Origami Isopod

        White leftists who sneer about “identity politics” and insist loudly that class is more important than race and that’s the end of the discussion its not more complex than that laalaalalaalaalaal seems like a real contender. And I say that as the caricature of a white leftist who at least starts from a standpoint of wanting to like what I read in Jacobin.

        While the white leftists are considerably worse IMO, there is most definitely obliviousness toward class issues among the so-called “identity politics” crowd. That statement about online harassment that Brianna Wu et al. came up with earlier this year? Class was conspicuously missing from the list of axes of oppression.

        As DAS says, a lot of this is rooted in unwillingness to examine one’s own class privilege. The very language of privilege springs from academia, and its accessibility is highly class-dependent.

        • JL

          Agreed. I don’t see that obliviousness as much when I’m with people who work with me doing rape or domestic violence crisis stuff, people who show up for Black Lives Matter marches, etc. But I see it more (definitely not universally, but more) among people who talk anti-oppression online, and particularly among people who are famous for doing so. And for whatever reason I’ve seen more of it than usual this year.

          • Origami Isopod

            I’d like to be generous and speculate that it’s mostly in reaction to the manarchists… but, in truth, this blind spot has existed for years.

    • sonamib

      Support for reactionary nationalist movements simply because (a) they are in opposition to not necessarily reactionary nationalist movements the left happens not to like and they also manage to use the correct left-wing code words when they have to do so

      This is code for Israel/Palestine, isn’t it?

      • rea

        Or Russia/Ukrania

        • DAS

          Or both ;)

        • Origami Isopod

          That’s how I read it, but I/P applies. Antisemitism is a problem on the left, even if it doesn’t approach alt-right levels. It would help if some in the U.S. would stop attempting to cram everything into a one-size-fits-all template of ethnic interrelations.

          • Origami Isopod

            I should clarify that I did not mean to imply that any criticism of Israel whatsoever is antisemitic. I oppose Zionism, myself. But there are ways to express it that are not antisemitic, and there are ways that are antisemitic.

    • njorl

      Free Mumia?

      • BiloSagdiyev

        (Limit one per customer. Offer not valid outside Pennsylvania.)

  • Pete

    I’m pretty skeptical about the unintended consequences of the “free college” idea — as well as the value of a standard liberal arts college education for each and every student (but that’s a different issue). On the one hand, even though my student debt (about $36,000) was pretty small by current standards, it took me many years to pay off and restricted my career options while I did so even though I found a solid job right out of school.

    On the other hand, I seem to recall tuition beginning to skyrocket (college and graduate school) by the late 1980s and early 1990s when the federally-gauranteed student loan programs and federal grants becamemuch more widely available. The devil is in the details of the program, I suppose. But if decades of guaranteed and subsidized loans have led to much higher cost for not much more overall value (including subsidizing the existence of many mediocre-to-crappy or outright scam schools), what will an nearly unlimited fountain of cash do? (If that’s not what we have already?)

    • sonamib

      But if decades of guaranteed and subsidized loans have led to much higher cost for not much more overall value (including subsidizing the existence of many mediocre-to-crappy or outright scam schools), what will an nearly unlimited fountain of cash do? (If that’s not what we have already?)

      Who said it would be a “nearly unlimited fountain of cash?” The government can drive a hard bargain if it wants to (see public healthcare, anywhere). Instead of automatically throwing money at universities through student loans, they can say “you get a budget of x M$, do your best”.

      • Jackov

        Right. Before “free college” hit the mainstream, much work was being done on evaluating colleges based on value and outcomes,
        particularly for Pell Grant students. Action was mainly limited to the creation of college scorecards and scrutiny of for-profit colleges, but the methodology is already in place and it is fairly adaptable when considering the vastly different student populations across colleges.

    • Marc

      State universities haven’t increased in real cost all that much; they’ve just had their costs shifted from the state to the students. We just made a political decision to cut taxes, spend more money on things like prisons, and spend less money on things like universities.

      The liberal case against it amounts to asserting that college students are more affluent than the general population, which is of course true. However, we don’t charge for K-12 education for a reason. Offloading college costs to the students has had a real and serious impact on generational income mobility, and we can fix the distributional impact of the extra costs by adjusting the structure of the tax code.

      • SamChevre

        I do not think this is accurate:it’s my understanding that the actual costs have gone up dramatically, with the support staying roughly constant relative to state GDPs. (I’m pretty sure Paul Campos posted about this, with numbers, but I can’t find the post.)

        • addicted44

          I think this is correct. But a major part of the reason (I am pretty sure this is supported by research, but anecdotally, was very evident in my 5 years in college in the late aughts) is that colleges have started behaving like corporations that need to market themselves to their student consumers. This has led to an absurd amount of money being spent in building pretty buildings, while cutting back on things that are of actual value, such as teachers, assistants, labs for non specialized sciences, etc.

  • Crusty

    While I’m a big propenent of free public college, I’d be totally cool with it if college were priced at levels where you could pay for it with the earnings from a summer job. So not free, but reasonable, like it was for many, many, many years. And then maybe that would be more palatable to all the people who have some kind of gut level problem with freebies.

  • Ending taxes on tampons may not need to be a major platform plank, but we do need to burn at the stake the notion that tampons are luxury items.

    • MPAVictoria

      Agreed.

    • Aaron Morrow

      It’s bad enough to assume that sales taxes are progressive rather than regressive; in reality, taxes on tampons fall more heavily on the poor than the rich.

      The idea that the tampons are for the rich is disgusting.

    • djw

      And I was quite befuddled by Rampell’s apparent claim that not taxing tampons and making it up through a slightly higher sales tax on everything else would disproportionately hurt the poor, given that:

      a. Women, who are on average poorer than men, use almost all the tampons, and

      b. Rich and poor women alike probably use a similar quantity of tampons, while rich people buy a lot more of all the other things.

  • Foster Boondoggle

    The other thing wrong with Rampell’s piece is the notion that the disappearance of a moderate right wing is going to create space for the loony left to take over. That’s not how it works. The disappearance of the moderate right at the national level creates space for the Democrats to *ignore* the loonies, since they no longer need their votes to win.

    • BiloSagdiyev

      And what if the corporate/sensible/moderate/previously normal Republican elite types move into the Democratic Party? If they migrate (not necessarily on the ideological spectrum, just, into the party) they might change it some, too. Whee.

  • Jake the antisoshul soshulist

    When exactly did civil liberties become a concern of the right. Except for the handful of sane libertarians?

    • farin

      Property rights are the only true liberty!

      [Alternate answer: Why would they say “liberty” so much if they didn’t care about it?]

      • Jake the antisoshul soshulist

        “I’ve got mine, get your own damn liberty.”

  • Cassiodorus

    While I’d like to see the minimum wage increased, $15 is probably too high at the national level.

    • Murc

      No. It is, if anything too low.

      The minimum wage needs to be a living wage. Not just subsistence living; comfortable living. Middle-class living. That should be the floor. If you work your forty a week, you can support yourself and your family and have money left over for savings and luxuries. Fifteen an hour ain’t that except maybe in some of the very poorest and lowest COL parts of the country.

      If the economy will not provide this standard on its own, it should be made to provide it. The economy exists for the benefit of those it serves; we do not serve it.

      • mpowell

        Wishful thinking is not policy. I realize that this isn’t wishful thinking in your opinion, but you have to recognize its a question open for debate. I don’t know Cassiodorus’ view in particular, but many people left of center consider $15 too high nationally. And it doesn’t actually make you less liberal to think a min wage higher than the prevailing median wage in a region will have very deleterious impact on that employment market. You don’t seem to be engaging that argument with your response. What is feasible really has nothing to do with what you consider comfortable, but do take note that in many of the markets/states in question, $15/hr is a much different lifestyle than in, eg, NY or Seattle. Part of why a high national minimum is just not a workable approach compared to state-by-state policies – the highest reasonable minimum wage in Mississippi is not adequate in many states. So you really need a state by state approach.

        • Murc

          I don’t know Cassiodorus’ view in particular, but many people left of center consider $15 too high nationally

          Do those people have a different idea that’s both better and equally or more politically feasible?

          Because if they don’t I’m prepared to give 15 an hour a try. Lets actually maybe, possibly overreach for once instead of being cowardly fucks.

          And it doesn’t actually make you less liberal to think a min wage higher than the prevailing median wage in a region will have very deleterious impact on that employment market.

          Lets see if that actually happens first, instead of quaking in fear that the allmighty job creators will withhold their largess.

          • xq

            Do those people have a different idea that’s both better and equally or more politically feasible?

            Somewhat smaller than $15 federal min wage + local action in high-wage markets where a higher minimum wage is beneficial?

            • Cassiodorus

              I fully support raising it to $15 (or higher) in wealthier jurisdictions. I’m just concerned about the employment effects in more rural areas.

          • Do those people have a different idea that’s both better and equally or more politically feasible?

            Expand the EITC. The minimum wage is not our only tool for transferring money into the pockets of the working class.

            For what it’s worth, the argument I’m most sympathetic to (albeit not convinced by) against a $15 minimum wage is that it might have the effect of further accelerating Walmartization. A local hardware store in Cow Bonk, Nebraska has less of a profit margin to dig into than Home Depot.

        • MidwestVillager

          Minimum wage is a rather awkward policy issue because setting it at a national or state level fails to account for very real differences in the cost of subsistence (set aside a living wage there are places where a one bedroom apartment rents for more than the minimum wage) but setting it at a municipal level creates an interjurisdictional competition problem especially in places with lots of little suburbs (there at least used to be a shopping mall that straddled a border that meant one side of the mall had to pay higher wages than the other). I’m inclined to favor an UBI and housing benefits that take into account local costs but that seems like a much heavier lift than raising the minimum wage and really has to be done at the national level which runs up against the House seeming to be permanently Republican.

      • UserGoogol

        You’re conflating two very different issues. Minimum wage laws are not about making the economy provide a certain income. They are about specifically requiring employers to. This has certain pros and cons.

        There are two questions: how much do people need in order to live a decent life, and what do we have to do in order to accomplish that. It’s ridiculous that on this issue people seem to pretend the second question doesn’t exist, and act like minimum wage laws are the only way to guarantee a floor for incomes.

        • rjayp

          Such as some form of federally guaranteed income?

          • Murc

            It seems worth noting that a guaranteed income would form a de facto minimum wage, because nobody would be able to reasonably offer a job paying less than it.

            • farin

              My understanding is that GMI is independent of other income. It would, if anything, allow for lower wages because no workers would have to support themselves exclusively through wages.

              • leftwingfox

                Yeah, there’s different takes on it. I prefer a universal income that’s guaranteed instead of a minimum wage, so you don’t have the issue of people trying to balance the amount of hours they can work to maximize welfare benefits. (Something I experienced while working in a car wash in Canada.)

              • xq

                It would take people out of the labor market by making it possible to live without working. That would tighten the labor market and increase wages.

                • Pat

                  This is true. It would also enable people to do things for themselves that they currently pay others to do. Elder care, child care, disabled care, the like.

          • UserGoogol

            That’s an option I’d like, yes. But there’s plenty of other options. (Wage subsidies, EITC, job guarantees, even just stimulus.)

            The main thing is just that people need to stop acting like “$X is too high for the minimum wage” and “$X is too low for workers to survive on” are contradictory statements. If it’s not sustainable to achieve a liveable income via minimum wage laws, then all that means is we have to look elsewhere. Minimum wages are politically easier so that would be unfortunate, but people often act like if you don’t support a minimum wage of such and such dollars you are a traitor to workers which is… overly reductive.

    • Anna in PDX

      Oregon passed a measure last year which is a tiered system so that the minimum wage in high-cost-of-living areas (Portland and surrounding area) would go higher over time than the rural areas. They will all go up over time, but it’s sort of correlated with the cost of living across the state.

    • rjayp

      If you adjust for productivity gains since the 60’s, the minimum wage should theoretically be north of $20/hr.

      • Bruce B.

        It always makes me happy to see this talked up. The current distribution of profits between the bosses and everyone else is not a law of nature, and it’s a valid thing to say “bosses are going to have to learn to live again on the share they got when the country’s economic health was better”.

  • quarternine

    Not really on the national radar, but I’d like to nominate opposition to new housing construction in expensive cities as the worst idea floating around the *left* (and not the center-left) these days.

    • Foster Boondoggle

      Yep. Especially in “progressive” places like the Bay Area. It usually flows from some mishmash of opposition to gentrification, peculiar economic theories, and the fear that someone, somewhere might make money on a project.

      • Lost Left Coaster

        A lot of this shit is just well-off people protecting their equity, I think.

        Selfishness, in other words, that has been gussied up with some half-baked theories about how new housing hurts the neighbourhood, or whatever.

        • addicted44

          This. That’s equivalent to John Kerry fighting against Wind turbines off the Mass coastline. It’s selfishness. Hardly a leftist plank.

          • quarternine

            In SF and NYC, “progressive” community organizations resist new housing as reliably as rich white homeowners do. See, e.g., http://48hills.org/2015/06/14/why-market-rate-housing-makes-the-crisis-worse/

            As far as I can tell, these arguments have hardened into lefty dogma over the past few years. See https://twitter.com/jacobinmag/status/733628624138469376

            • Jackov

              If affordable housing is only sometimes affordable, and public housing construction has stalled, then how will luxury condo development keep cities affordable for poor and working-class people? It won’t, of course. But the idea that the crisis can be solved by letting the free market build penthouses masks the need for government intervention through massive construction of new housing.

              A writer calling for massive new housing construction is probably not against new housing construction in expensive cities.

              • quarternine

                Fair enough, though I think you’re giving the writer too much credit. I see a significant difference between arguing (a) that we should build more public housing, because new private construction won’t solve the affordability crisis in expensive cities on its own, and arguing (b) that permitting new private housing construction “masks the need for government intervention,” and thus warrants opposition. I hear a lot more of argument (b) than argument (a). But perhaps I’m being uncharitable.

      • Origami Isopod

        (reworded & reposted)

        I’d be fine with limiting construction of new housing when it comes into conflict with preservation of historic buildings, which have not only intrinsic value but help drive tourism. That said, I agree with everyone else in this subthread overall.

    • Gregor Sansa

      Yes. This is not as bad as anti-vax, but also more accepted within the mainstream left. And it’s really, really regressive.

      (Excessive parking mandates, over-luxurious code that essentially forbids small apartments, and the like go hand-in-hand with this.)

      • Lost Left Coaster

        I think that this is a reflection of economic stratification within people on the left. Trust me, renters like me in expensive urban areas are not generally the ones opposing new development.

        • Linnaeus

          Depends on the development, maybe. Here in my area, there’s been some anxiety among renters because of replacement of older housing (which they can afford) with either newer housing (which they can’t afford) or commercial development (which they can’t live in anyway). Which doesn’t mean that there shouldn’t be development, but I can understand how a renter would see development as a mixed bag without some other necessary changes.

          • quarternine

            It’s an understandable response where new market-rate development will actually replace older housing. Arguably it’s counterproductive even in that situation, because rich people are just as happy (probably happier) to gut rehab an old two-flat and turn it into a million-dollar rowhouse. But I can certainly understand why people don’t trust the market to work for the benefit of all in that situation.

            But “progressives” in the Bay Area resist new housing even where *zero* existing units will be eliminated. See, e.g, http://48hills.org/2014/06/13/campaign-16th-mission-project-escalates/ (opposing new housing proposal that would replace a one-story retail building located next door to a BART station). Last I heard, activists were still opposing that project even though a quarter of its units would be deed-restricted/reserved for lower-income families. See http://missionlocal.org/2016/06/major-housing-project-at-16th-st-bart-restarts/

    • djw

      God, yes. Terrible for the environment, and for people who didn’t win the time & place lottery for acquiring housing in those areas.

  • liberalrob

    Glass-Steagall, a banking law whose repeal actually had nothing to do with the 2008 financial crisis.

    And here I thought its repeal in fact had plenty to do with the 2008 financial crisis:

    The oldest propaganda technique is to repeat a lie emphatically and often until it is taken for the truth. Something like this is going on now with regard to banks and the financial crisis. The big bank boosters and analysts who should know better are repeating the falsehood that repeal of Glass-Steagall had nothing to do with the Panic of 2008.

    In fact, the financial crisis might not have happened at all but for the 1999 repeal of the Glass-Steagall law that separated commercial and investment banking for seven decades. If there is any hope of avoiding another meltdown, it’s critical to understand why Glass-Steagall repeal helped to cause the crisis. Without a return to something like Glass-Steagall, another greater catastrophe is just a matter of time.

    Even if it wasn’t the primary cause, repeal still probably had some effect on the crisis (making it worse than it would have been):

    The Depression-era regulation that separated Main Street banks from Wall Street investment firms had a huge impact on the finance sector.

    The repeal of Glass-Steagall may not have caused the crisis — but its repeal was a factor that made it much worse…we can say that Glass-Steagall’s repeal allowed the credit bubble to inflate much larger. It allowed banks to be more complex and difficult to manage. When it all came down, the crisis was broader, deeper and more dangerous than it would have been otherwise.

    So I’d say no, reinstating Glass-Steagall is not an example of the “bad ideas booming on the left.”

    • liberalrob

      Also, I am utterly unable to recall a time when a commitment to civil liberties was a “core pillar of the Republican platform.”

      What planet is this Catherine Rampell person from?

      • rea

        You have to remember that for a Republican, “civil liberties” means (1) guns, (2) religion, in the sense of compelling everyone to follow their rules, (3) speech, in the sense of no one being allowed to criticize anything they say, no matter how hair-raisingly bigoted. And in that sense, clearly “civil liberties” really are a core Republican value

        • liberalrob

          So it’s in the same sense as their commitment to “entitlement reform.”

      • PJ

        I swear people need a right-wing euphemism dictionary.

        Smaller government = So the gov’t won’t take my money and give it to Black people/illegals without my consent

        Entitlement reform = So the gov’t won’t take my money and give it to lazy Black people/illegals

        Civil liberties = so I can be racist/sexist/bigoted/threaten violence with impunity from the government or big-media liberals; alternately: so the gov’t won’t take my money and give it to Black people/illegals without my consent

        • Origami Isopod

          Tort reform = so greedy Black people/illegals/poors can’t sue the poor beleaguered job creators.

  • Brien Jackson

    Somewhat O/T, but ironic: We got a dozen phone calls from a blocked number last night threatening to assault my step son and three other kids at school…and Verizon apparently cannot even legally tell me what the number that called MY phone to make threats of violence is. Thanks Greenwald!

    • Pat

      Did you call the police?

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