Malevolent or Stupid?



Is Paul Ryan as evil as he appears to be? Or is he simply brain dead?

This self-appointed budget guru persists in advocating a spiteful society in which the government tramples its most vulnerable citizens in order to enrich the elite.

His budget, adopted by the Republicans in Congress, savagely slashes programs that benefit struggling Americans – including $137 billion from food stamps, $732 billion from Medicaid and $125 billion from students’ grants — while giving millionaires hefty tax cuts. This, he insists, is the way to prosperity.

And he has the nerve to try and justify his twisted logic to the Black Caucus in Congress. Indeed, he attempts to portray his policies as a panacea for poverty!

He talks about encouraging self reliance and makes up stories about generations of welfare families bred to live off the government. Ryan cites white supremacist author Charles Murray, claiming that “inner city” families are mired in a culture of dependency and need to be weaned off government assistance.

Surely, he must know better.

I once interviewed a Canadian millionaire in Toronto, and I will never forget one of his quotes. “It’s easy to climb the ladder of success,” he told me, “when your father owns the ladder.”

It’s also true that it’s impossible to climb the ladder of success when you can’t get access to the ladder.

And that’s often the way it is in the ghetto – even today after a half century of civil rights progress. Black and Hispanic Americans are still falling behind in the economic rat race. They bear the brunt of the unemployment blight. They suffer most from a frozen minimum wage. They are still on the outside looking in.

Surely, the government’s job is to make life as fulfilling as possible for as many people as possible, not to punish the poor and coddle the rich?

Ryan points to some balanced budget Valhalla as justification for a savage assault on the social safety net that Americans have stitched together over generations.

The sad irony is that Ryan’s budget is not a blueprint for prosperity but a recipe for economic disaster.  History has repeatedly debunked the notion that prosperity can be achieved by slashing taxes to the rich. States that have tried this approach – Kansas for example – are floundering financially.

It doesn’t take a mathematical genius to recognize that the more productive citizens a society has the more prosperous it will be. By providing the poor with temporary aid in hard times and access to the means of improving their lot in life over the long term, governments can create a vigorous economic base that ensures continued expansion. That’s the real way to avoid massive deficits and crippling debt.

Austerity is the way to create an economic death spiral as budget cuts shrink productivity and breed ever-deeper cuts.

If Ryan can’t – or won’t – see that, he must be extremely obtuse. Or deliberately malevolent.

Click for more on Ryan’s budget.

Click for more on Ryan and Murray.