Winner Take All Politics

One of the quixotic problems of US politics is how the Republican Party can be so blatantly elitist in policy as it caters to the very rich; yet establish the smear of being elitist onto the Democrats. It is almost as if they can blame the Democrats for the GOP’s  loyalty to plutocrats who they represent … a remarkable  PR feat. The book by  Hacker and Pierson,Winner Take All Politics, sheds not a little light about that almost magical trick by conservatives and the GOP.

In this wry column, Paul Krugman describes how pathologically contemptuous the Republicans are of elementary economics and  simple math in their support of continuing tax cuts for the very wealthy. Forget that ever increasing US   income inequality for the past 25 years has killed the golden economic goose that provided prosperity for all Americans  – a middle class big and financially viable enough to support a strong domestic economy. Instead the US is succumbing to the Zero-sum mentality that currently pervades economics and politics in the US . The zero-sum attitude assumes that all economic transactions are win vs losing –  that is my gain must mean your loss. Where as in fact economics theory argues effectively that a win-win, non-zero sum  policy is easily attained and guarantees that both sides can prosper  in efficient economic transactions.

So the analysis in Winner-Take-All shows financial elites always acting in a zero-sum fashion- their wins must always be at others loss. Bipartisanship is a a fools trap in their winner take all approach.  This is a relentlessly unforgiving proscription for politics and policy making  and goes a long way to explaining the relentlessly grim turn that politics has taken in  21st century in Washington.

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