Tuesday, January 06, 2004

Republicans of the ilk of Dubya and DeLay are four square behind two apparently contradictory policies -- preserving and adding to major entitlements (e.g. Medicare), while at the same time cutting taxes. And it has reached the point where the fiscal future of the nation is in jeopardy. It's common enough, on the left, to view this as part of a cynical plot to destroy government services -- in part because that is the avowed goal of influential Republicans like Grover "strangle government in a bathtub" Norquist. But we should also consider the possibility that some of the people who advocate this nonsense do so because they sincerely believe it.

How is that possible? Consider this tale, relayed by Michael Froomkin, of two unexpected guests at a Live Action Role Playing party. The LARPers had been given a corner of the grounds of a country club, which was hosting a wedding reception elsewhere, but had been told in no uncertain terms not to disturb the other guests. In typical fashion, this restriction was incorporated into the rules of the LARP -- a swords and sorcery type scenario, in this instance -- with the result that when two guests from the wedding party wandered into the LARPers' den, they were immediately confronted with stark warnings from numerous, strangely garbed people about the dire consequences of traveling back across "the edge of the world". And believed them. Indeed, as none of the LARPers would break character for long enough to explain to the hapless mundanes what was going on, they got increasingly desperate, to the point that one offered the entire contents of his wallet for transit back to "his world".

This sounds crazy, but it seems there are people who will believe the most idiotic things if they are repeated often enough by people who seem to believe them earnestly. Now, consider that the typical Republican Congressman spends all day surrounded by colleagues who seem to earnestly believe that, by some unexplained fiscal alchemy, cutting taxes somehow raises government revenue...


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