Inherent Ignorance; Juneteenth; Republican schemes about tariffs.

Another three tracks for today.

  • Are some people so ignorant that they believe the creation of the world (and the US) happened 2023 years ago? An example from Facebook.
  • How Juneteenth suggests considering the relationship between MAGA and the Old South;
  • How Republican animosity to income taxes, in favor of tariffs, have led some of them to dismisses all US economists as communists.

Here’s a graphic from Facebook. What point should we take from this? Ostensibly this item, posted on a Facebook group I subscribe to called America’s Cultural Decline Into Idiocy (which isn’t necessarily about America per se, but never mind), portrays someone who thinks the current calendar year is based on the creation of both the universe and the United States. I suppose if you’ve never been to school or read a book, it’s a plausible mistake to make.

Some of the comments suggest the post is fake, a spoof, to ‘own’ people who like to laugh at other people’s stupidity. At the same time, there are plenty of those person-on-the-street interviews in which a guy with a microphone asks a random person “How many states are there in the United States” or “If you’re 20 today how old were you seven years ago” and people give nonsensical answers, betraying ignorance both of history and society and of elementary arithmetic.

So, is it plausible that someone could think that the year 2023 refers to both the age of the Earth and of the United States? Some people seem to have no clue that the world, or history, exists beyond the United States, the only nation in the world that matters. And certainly many people apparently believe, based on what they’ve been told by people who claim to have ‘interpreted’ Biblical history, that the world is only 6000 some years old. Never mind all the evidence otherwise. Many people don’t believe in “evidence,” unless it supports the stories they’ve been told since they were children; contrary evidence must surely be a fabrication of the “devil.” Stories are always to be preferred over such “evidence.”

On the other hand, here’s the point I draw. You can live your entire life, even in modern day America, hold a job and raise a family, without knowing the slightest thing about the age of the Earth, or of the United States, or even needing to compute how old you were 7 years ago. (Who cares? Who would ask?) These things need to *be taught*. The cumulative wisdom of our species depends on transmittal of knowledge from generation to generation. Very little about reality is apparent at face value; conclusions compiled over centuries have to *taught* to each new generation, or they will disappear.

Still, most people prefer the stories that bind their communities together. Fine. But they’re missing out on so much. Reality is much richer, deeper, and more complex, than the stories imagined by our ancient ancestors.


Stories, and more broadly narratives, define entire cultures, who are therefore resistant to letting them fall before facts, or education, lest those cultures be destroyed, or absorbed.

The New Republic, Thom Hartmann, 19 Jun 2024: On Juneteenth, Let’s Examine the Link Between MAGA and the Old South, subtitled “We face a second insurrection in this country today, and most people have no idea how closely it’s modeled on the first one.”

His context is what I’ve noticed in recent months:

Have you noticed how rarely Republicans talk about actual issues? They rant about brown people pouring over the Southern border but refuse to even discuss what could be done about it. In fact, when the Senate came up with a workable solution, Republicans killed it at the insistence of Donald Trump. No policies, no solutions other than a Nazi-like roundup of 11 million people and a series of concentration camps.

They complain about the state of affairs, but offer no solutions to ameliorate them. (Trump promised this or that great plan to fix everything in two weeks, over and over during his reign, and never delivered. His only purpose was to stoke anger among his followers.)

They complain about the state of the economy but have no arguments about what can be done to enhance the economy other than more tax cuts for billionaires, who are already paying a pathetic average 3.4 percent income tax.

They whine that our students aren’t doing well but refuse to engage in any serious discussion about how to take us back to the era when America had the newest and most successful public education system in the world. They’ll yell about prescription drug prices and the high cost of insurance, but their only policy suggestion is to end Obamacare and Medicaid. They love to slander Black Lives Matter and big cities with large Black populations but refuse to even entertain a conversation about healing the racial divide in this country; instead, their efforts are directed toward outlawing or decertifying Black History classes, as just happened in South Carolina.

All of this is because the GOP is now a post-politics party.

This fits neatly with my thoughts in recent months, including Steven Pinker’s comments yesterday, about how human nature is inclined toward authoritarianism. Despite those elitist thinkers of the Enlightenment, who invented both democracy and science, most people would prefer a strong-man to tell them what to do. You see this in polls. And so now even America is now sliding back.

The reason why is simple and straightforward: The people who’ve captured the Republican Party envision a day when they won’t have to even pretend that they’re engaging in good-faith political discussions or negotiations because they will have outlawed, sidelined, or intimidated their opposition into impotence and silence.

They’re using our political system this election year, in other words, so they can seize enough power to destroy our political system. And they have a model they’re using for what they want to replace it with: the Confederacy.

Then follow some comparisons between then and now. And a list of the goals of the “brave new world run by Citizen Trump and the MAGA GOP”. Including, incidentally, the preserving of Confederate names and monuments, as we’ve seen.


One more.

Washington Post, Catherine Rampell, 18 Jun 2024: Opinion | All U.S. economists are communists now, says the GOP. Who knew?: “Republicans are rushing to defend Trump’s bone-headed tariff threats.”

Republicans are so opposed to income taxes, especially for the wealthy, now they’re promoting a crazy scheme to try to fund the government without them. No reputable economists think this is remotely plausible.

Apparently, nearly every economist in America is a communist now.

At least so says the Republican National Committee. Anna Kelly, an RNC spokeswoman, recently declared: “The notion that tariffs are a tax on U.S. consumers is a lie pushed by outsourcers and the Chinese Communist Party.”

Kelly was responding to warnings from legions of economists that Donald Trump’s proposed tariffs would be paid by regular Americans. Their conclusion is based in part on the former president’s previous rounds of trade wars; multiple careful studies found that the costs of those tariffs were either mostly or entirely passed on to Americans in the form of higher prices. A more recent analysis estimated that his new tariff proposals would cost the median U.S. household an additional $1,700 per year.

But the modern GOP being what it is, party apparatchiks must defend every bone-headed idea their presumptive presidential nominee utters. Thus, critics must be “outsourcers” (which seems unlikely for most economists, who rarely own manufacturing plants) or, naturally, Marxists.

Much more.

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