By Matthew Rothschild on August 13, 2012

Paul Ryan?

Other than the fact that someone appears to have stolen all his ties and he doesn’t own a sharp razor, America doesn’t seem to know a lot about him.

But it if you look at his policies, you’re not going to like him.

He’s against abortion even in the case of rape, incest or the life of the mother.

He wants to cut taxes on the rich and corporations, while gouging programs like food stamps that help the poor.

Ryan is hailed by fellow Republicans as a kind of economic whiz kid. But he’s actually a fool. He blames FDR for making the Depression worse, when, in fact, FDR reduced unemployment from 25 percent to 10 percent. And he voted against Obama’s stimulus program and said, over the weekend, that it didn’t do any good, when, in fact, even John McCain’s former economist, Mark Zandi, has acknowledged that the stimulus program (insufficient as it was) created 2.7 million jobs.

And, as Paul Krugman has repeatedly pointed out, Ryan believes in voodoo economics—the theory that if you just cut the taxes on the rich and corporations, the economy will somehow take off all on its own.

Ryan has called Social Security and Medicare part of a “collectivist system” and is intent on destroying them.

He insists that Americans will have to work beyond the age of 65, and he wants us to invest some of our retirement savings on Wall Street. He also wants to replace Medicare with a voucher system for the private insurance companies. This would end up costing seniors more than $6,000 a year!

Still, he’s a better snake oil salesman than Romney, a better peddler of the myths of unbridled capitalism.

Not that these ideas have helped his constituents in his Wisconsin district, who lost between 30 and 54 percent of their manufacturing jobs while he’s been in office voting for free trade agreements, as Roger Bybee has reported for The Progressive (“The Truth About Paul Ryan”).

When Romney chose the Janesville Republican, Ryan might as well have said that he can see China from his back porch because that’s where plenty of those jobs have gone.

But don’t underestimate Ryan. He’s got the personal skills that Romney lacks, and he does retail politics very well.

Unless Obama hammers home the pitfalls of the Ryan approach, Ryan will be a winner for the rightwing, and a winner for Wall Street, whether he helps Romney get to the White House or not.

To read more about Paul Ryan by The Progressive, click here.

Follow Matthew Rothschild @mattrothschild on Twitter

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By Wendell Berry

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more 
of everything ready made. Be afraid 
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery 
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card 
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something 
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know. 
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord. 
Love the world. Work for nothing. 
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it. 
Denounce the government and embrace 
the flag. Hope to live in that free 
republic for which it stands. 
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man 
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers. 
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.


Say that the leaves are harvested 
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus 
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion—put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come. 
Expect the end of the world. Laugh. 
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts. 
So long as women do not go cheap 
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy 
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep 
of a woman near to giving birth? 
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head 
in her lap. Swear allegiance 
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos 
can predict the motions of your mind, 
lose it. Leave it as a sign 
to mark the false trail, the way 
you didn’t go. Be like the fox 
who makes more tracks than necessary, 
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Wendell Berry is a poet, farmer, and environmentalist in Kentucky. This poem, first published in 1973, is reprinted by permission of the author and appears in his “New Collected Poems” (Counterpoint).

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