Friday, 23 June 2017

"Magic money trees" and the spreaders of economic illiteracy


Anyone who has ever used the term "magic money tree" in earnest has marked themselves out as a spreader of economic illiteracy. Some people are too thick to realise what they're doing, but others like Peter Oborne are definitely intelligent enough to know that talk of "magic money trees" and other economic idiot fodder is economically illiterate rubbish, but they do it anyway because deliberately spreading economic illiteracy is a way of providing cover for socially and economically ruinous Tory austerity dogma.

Keeping people stupid

There's no two ways about it. "magic money tree", "living within our means", "bankrupt Britain", "there's no money left": They're all economically illiterate platitudes designed to keep people stupid and uninformed about the way the economy actually works.

Programming people to believe in a set of simplistic and desperately misleading economic platitudes is a fantastic way of keeping the public stupefied because platitudes like "where's your magic money tree?" are so much easier to memorise and repeat than basic macroeconomics.

The deliberate proliferation of economic idiot fodder programmes intellectually lazy people into using these mindlessly rote learned phrases to defend socially and economically ruinous Tory austerity dogma, and attack sensible investment-based economic strategies.

Pompous right-wing blowhards 

We probably all know a member of the Dunning-Kruger club (a work colleague, a neighbour, an elderly male relative) who thinks that because they've rote learned a load of these trite right-wing phrases about the economy, they're somehow an economics genius who has a duty to angrily shout down anyone who tries to actually talk any economic sense.

Pompous right-wing economic blowhards with heads full of economic idiot fodder are a very serious problem, because they tend to shout down anyone who tries to talk sense and infect political and economic discussions with the stupid misleading platitudes they're mindlessly rote learned from the right-wing press. They're usually male, they're usually aggressive, and they usually react extremely badly to hearing any political or economic opinion that doesn't conform to the nonsense phrases they've mindlessly rote learned in lieu of actually trying to research and understand political and economic issues for themselves.

Deliberate economic illiteracy spreaders

The bigger problem is people who are clearly intelligent enough to understand that phrases like "magic money tree" are misleading economic idiot fodder, but who use them anyway.

Theresa May famously patronised a nurse by spouting economic idiot fodder about "magic money trees" at her, but she is such a directionless charlatan it is genuinely difficult to tell if she was being deliberately deceptive, or whether she is actually so economically illiterate that she doesn't even understand how piteously stupid the "magic money tree" argument actually is.
When it comes to people like Peter Oborne then there is no doubt at all. The guy is clearly intelligent enough to understand that spouting "magic money tree" isn't a counter-argument to investment economics, it's a deliberate act of debate-wrecking by the method of lobbing economically illiterate idiot fodder into the discussion.

There's something deeply worrying about politicians and journalists being thick enough to actually believe in the economic idiot fodder that is designed to delude the masses, but the ones who are smart enough to know that they're deliberately spreading economic illiteracy are very much worse.

These people know that their ruinous hard-right economic agenda is unjustifiable from a rational perspective so they know that the only way to con people into supporting it is by deliberately fostering economic illiteracy.
They believe in stupefying the public, in stupefying you, in order to provide cover for their otherwise unjustifiable hard-right economic agenda.

Austerity dogma

Economic illiteracy spreaders know that austerity has spectacularly failed to eliminate the deficit as they promised us it would, but they also know that debt-fearmongering was only ever an excuse to obscure the true agenda, which is snatching as much wealth and opportunity as possible from the majority of the population in order to give vast handouts to corporations and the mega-rich.

Austerity is, and always was, a massive con, and the only method right-wing propaganda merchants have of defending it is the deliberate spreading of economically illiterate tropes like "magic money tree".

A reverse kite mark

If you ever hear anyone earnestly use the phrase "magic money tree" (or other examples of economic idiot fodder) then you can see it as a reverse kite mark. 

Whoever uses these phrases has branded themselves as a dealer in the dark arts of economic illiteracy.

They've either mindlessly rote learned the idiot fodder platitude they just spouted which means they're gullible and unreliable, or they know perfectly well that it's idiot fodder, but they're saying it to you anyway because they're assuming you to be an idiot, which is worse than being gullible.

Whatever their motivation for spreading economic illiteracy, the conclusion is inevitable.


People who spread economic illiteracy need to be ridiculed and permanently discounted as serious economic commentators until they apologise for their role in helping to spread economic illiteracy.

Time to apologise

Although I respect Peter Oborne for his very sensible foreign policy views, I will be holding absolutely everything he says about the economy in absolute contempt until he apologises for spreading economic illiteracy by using idiot fodder terms like "magic money tree" and "living within our means".

Unless people who have been guilty of spreading economic illiteracy explicitly apologise for what they've done they should be treated as economic pariahs.

What we can do

Contact your MP: If you have an MP who spreads economic illiteracy you should contact them to ask that they stop. If you have a more sensible MP you could ask them to do more to counter the tactic of spreading economic illiteracy by calling it out for what it is. 
Contact mainstream media: Contact politics shows and individual mainstream media commentators and ask them to consider doing more to combat those who deliberately (or unwittingly) spread economic illiteracy. 
Call it out: Don't be afraid of right-wing blowhards. If you hear anyone using economically illiterate baby talk to defend Tory austerity dogma you have a responsibility to call them out. Tell them that you know that they're spreading economic illiteracy and then ask them if they're doing it because they're economically illiterate themselves, or whether they're doing it deliberately under the assumption that anyone listening to them is stupid enough to fall for their economically illiterate idiot fodder. 
Demand apologies: Here is a link to Peter Oborne's Twitter account. Why not send him a message asking him to apologise for deliberately spreading economic illiteracy?

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