Here is the cost of the current GOP tax bill placed in the context of other really expensive things. Although it’s not quite enough money to solve world hunger, it’s enough to end US homelessness four times over or fund nine simultaneous Apollo Programs.
I’m writing this post sort of as penance. During the primaries, I wrote a post arguing that Sanders’ college plan was bad. And compared to any reasonable use of the money, I still think that’s true.
But I worry that people – including me – focus way too much on the kind of bad idea that tries to help people but ends up being too expensive, and not enough on the kind of bad idea where there’s only the thinnest veneer of a claim anyone will be helped at all. If Sanders had been elected, and we were debating his college plan, people would be worried. The affordability of every piece of it would get run over with a fine-toothed comb. Its irresponsibility would be noticed.
Well, instead of Sanders we got Trump. I won’t say nobody’s talking about the tax plan – the problems with it have been all over the news – but are our fiscal irresponsibility detectors being triggered twice as strongly as they would if it was Sanders’ college plan we were considering?
There must be a toxoplasma effect going on here, where things that are possibly bad get debated to pieces, because debating them is so much fun – but things that are definitely bad, things that nobody likes, get through much more easily. Even more pessimistically, if Sanders proposed free college for everybody, it would get a lot of resistance precisely because the fact that so many people would benefit would make sure everyone knew about it and was thinking about it a lot and understood how big a deal it was. Since nobody except a few corporations benefits from the GOP tax plan, how do we even get a feel for how big and important it is?
Next election, if he’s running, I’m probably going to support Sanders, who seems like a decent person who really wants to help the poor. This is going to be a weird choice for someone who flirts with identifying as libertarian, given the whole socialism thing. But the thing is, we have antibodies to socialism. When people push socialism, we give it the scrutiny it deserves. I’m more worried about the things we don’t have antibodies to, and one of them is going to be passed by a joint session of Congress in the next week or two.