Chances are good that somewhere in the United State there is an American with schizophrenia claiming that alien worms have infiltrated our bloodstreams. The correct response is to support people with mental illness as they navigate their way through society. But it wouldn’t be correct to engage their assertion on the worm thing. It would be wrong to devote space in the Democrat and Chronicle Speaking Out page discussing the worms. It would be wrong for Rachel Barnhard to do a series on the worm theory. At some point we need to have some sort of intersubjective agreement about what gets discussed in civil discourse and what counts as reality.
Yes, you are entitled to your own opinions, but not your own facts.
This point was driven home yesterday with the New York Times coverage of the Tea Party’s darling in Florida, Marc Rubio. According to Rubio, “This is the only society in history where your future is not determined by where you were born.”
OK, United State, land of opportunity, etc. In Rubio’s defense, this notion is quite widespread. But the Emperor, in this case, really is buck naked. The reality of naked Emperors should count for at least a flag down on the play.
Matt Yglesias points to the Center for American Progress data on the subject, “By international standards, the United States has an unusually low level of intergenerational mobility: our parents’ income is highly predictive of our incomes as adults. Intergenerational mobility in the United States is lower than in France, Germany, Sweden, Canada, Finland, Norway and Denmark. Among high-income countries for which comparable estimates are available, only the United Kingdom had a lower rate of mobility than the United States.”
So, Marc Rubio could be right, except for the fact that he is wrong. There’s just nothing true about what he said. Plenty of other societies have people move beyond where they were born and in fact our American economic system is comparatively mediocre at allowing people to move up. So instead of being the “the only society in history” etc, we’re more like a C+ behind a bunch of other folks doing it better.
So, the truthiness of the situation is that reality has a well know liberal bias. Except that the Tea Party folks aren’t laughing.
Let us not forget how these Tea Party folks came together. Last year, as the Obama administration was moving to confront the global economic meltdown unleashed by Wall Street’s binge on worthless housing derivatives and Bush and Greenspan’s complete and total denial of the housing bubble, just as Obama is coming in with a mop and pail to wipe it up with some federal stimulus, that’s when these folks showed up at the bridge on Main Street to dump tea in the Genesee River.
They were against the federal stimulus. And it wasn’t that they wanted Obama to do nothing. They came together to call for continued cutting of the estate tax and capital gains. They assembled to loudly call for more Reaganomics. More trickle down tax breaks for the wealthiest 1% of Americans. This was Why They Came Together and here, here, here and here. Next time a Tea Party person opens their mouth, please try to remember this fact.
Which brings me back to the alien worms. At some point along the continuum between the guy talking about the worms and nobel prize winning economists like Larry Summers, you need to pull up the drawbridge and say, “Yeah, no, we’re not going to spend a lot of time discussing that.” Somebody has to make sure we’re talking about what we agree on as Reality.
Tin foil hats really are tin foil hats.Tags: Jim Lawrence, Marc Rubio, naked emperor, Rachel Barnhard, tin foil hat