Comedian Bob Newhart once based a routine on the thesis that if we equip an infinite number of monkeys with an infinite number of typewriters, eventually they will write the great books. As I inspect the now 17 Republican presidential candidates, I have begun to suspect that this is a null hypothesis.
Newhart is checking the infinite monkey results: “twzzz.lkrrrnttttyyy.” No, nothing there. “abababhabqb.” Hmm? Hey Jim, I think we’ve got something here! “To be or not to be, that is thegamaiqillpicffffc.”
I recall this whenever I see Republicans campaigning for president by trying to tap into economic populism. They start with appropriately grandiloquent anger about the moral depravity of income inequality and indignation about what the hucksters did to the personal economies of a whole generation. But when it comes to solutions, it turns into gibberish.
Here’s Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas): “The rich and powerful, those who walk the corridors of power, are getting fat and happy under the Obama economic agenda. (Sic) The top 1 percent, the millionaires and billionaires who the president loves to demagogue, they earn a higher share of our national income than any time since 1928.”
OK Mr. Occupy! But the remedy? On Cruz’s website you will see that his agenda is to repeal Obamacare, make it easier for corporations to pollute, shut down the Federal Government, and destroy the Medicare prescription drug program. thegamaiqillpicffffc.
Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) worries over income inequality and recommends a flat tax system and repeal of taxes on capital gains – ideas that dramatically increase inequality.
How about former Texas governor Rick Perry trying to channel Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren?
“The American people see a rigged game,” he declares. “where insiders get rich, and the middle class pays the tab. There is something wrong when the Dow is near record highs, and businesses on Main Street can’t even get a loan. Since when did capitalism involve the elimination of risk for the biggest banks while regulations strangle our community banks?”
To his credit, Perry almost endorsed laws to wall off banking from speculative investment, but not quite. He then immediately came out for a tax cut for corporations and refused to support the idea that the big banks should be broken into smaller pieces.
To regulate vigorously or not to regulate vigorously that is thegamaiqillpicffffc.
We need a strong, effective central government to keep the avaricious from totally ripping us off. But these crypto-populists are merely being demagogic about the problem while spouting gibberish about the solution.
Bill Daley is legislative director for the Alliance for a Just Society.