Tuesday, March 09, 2021


You may forget over time how awful Megan McArdle is, especially since she took her perch as Peggy-Noonan-successor-in-waiting at the Washington Post and could be safely ignored while she pupates. You scan the column titles and they seem anodyne enough -- for example, "The looming disasters we don’t prepare for." Then you read the thing and you realize it's McArdle defending Texas' decision not to winterize its electrical grid (or make arrangements to share the load with other states during heavy use periods or protect consumers from massive emergency charges) because what if the same thing happened to your liberal states, not winter storms because obviously you do have those and so you plan for them but what if it was something unexpected like "climate change or asteroids or supervolcanoes," aha, then you'd be the laughingstock because your voters don't like to spend money to prepare for these things, that is they don't like to pay taxes because, like McArdle, they haven't changed since Reagan.

Ugh. Then you perversely check more recent columns to see if they, too, stink. The title "I get the indignation. But where are the ideas, Republicans?" suggests a gentle tsk-you-Trumpers thing, but since it's McArdle she starts out beating up a liberal state -- again on behalf of Texas! 

It happened again last week: Blue America unleashed a storm of media attention and righteous fury when Texas and Mississippi announced they were lifting all their COVID-19 restrictions, including their mask mandates — only to be embarrassed when true-blue Connecticut announced that it, too, would be lifting most of its restrictions, though the mask mandates would stay. Connecticut, predictably, got a bit less attention, and a lot fewer epithets like “reckless.”

It's like the Cuomo thing: Much if not most of "Blue America" thinks Cuomo's a dick and wanted Cynthia Nixon to kick his ass and not only a bunch of Democrats and even the Democratic state senate majority leader are now demanding his resignation, yet conservatives act as if we all love him and are trying to prop him up. Similarly McArdle thinks we're all fronting for Connecticut, the Shame of the Blue States. Number one, show me anyone who is; number two, unlike Texas, which Abbott opened and unmasked universally and immediately, Connecticut is only opening select facilities (churches, gyms, libraries etc.) on March 19, and is still calling for restaurants to maintain an 8-person table capacity and bars to stay closed, and 25/100-person caps at private/commercial indoor facilities. And everyone's required to wear a mask -- a universal precaution which conservatives still think is better handled by the private sector on a voluntary what-about-my-rights basis rather than by meddlesome public health officials. 

After that cock-up McArdle passive-aggressively tries to reason with the Trumpkins. "Arguments and indignation are starting to define the limits of conservative ideas," she says, "and defiant gestures are increasingly what the party has in place of policy." You don't say! But it turns out she's mainly mad because these guys are devoting energy to culture war that she'd rather they spent on denouncing the Democrats' COVID-19 relief bill -- about the most popular legislation of the past 10 years -- because it  "bails out bankrupt union pension funds, offers blue states a federal piggy bank," and other such offenses to McArdlehood.  Shit, if I were handing out free advice I'd say the GOP might expect better returns from their cancelculture crybaby shtick than from talking down a relief effort with a 70% approval rating. 

But her latest column -- "Stimulus checks are the most indefensible part of the covid relief bill" -- is just classic:

I don’t say, of course, that no one will be helped by getting a $1,400 check. But the same can be said of almost any policy you can imagine, including leaving fully loaded Lamborghinis at randomly selected intersections with the doors unlocked and the keys inside. Giving away sports cars would still be a poor use of government funds; it would cost far more than any conceivable benefit to the car recipients, and the help most likely wouldn’t go to those who need it most.

Tee hee, Lamborghinis are for makers, not takers! (I wonder if she had "Cadillacs" in the first draft.) 

Upshot: The stimulus won't stimulate, because "the people who are out of work are home largely because we want them to be" and "giving money to someone who still has their job doesn’t make them more likely to go out to dinner if the reason they’ve stopped going out is that they’re afraid of the deadly virus." So they're just going to invest those checks in stocks or mutual funds rather than spending it on food, clothing, etc. Finally, she warns, the stimulus "may well do more to seed the next economic crisis than to fix the current one." 

Which is hilarious as McArdle is also the author of "No stimulus makes no sense" from October 2020, when Republicans were offering a gigantic program and she thought "there are good reasons for even a deficit hawk such as myself to support an aggressive stimulus." Looks like the deficit hawk has spread its long-folded wings once more!

Let's check back in a year or when Noonan clears her perch for her, whichever comes first.  

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