Tell Grover Norquist that Pink Unicorns DO exist
NPR’s Mark Memmott quotes Grover Norquist as saying “Pink unicorns aren’t real” referring to the unlikely possibility of real entitlement reform and spending cuts, in “Grover Norquist: Pink Unicorns Aren’t Real And GOP Won’t Break Tax Pledge“:
Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, for instance, imagines being willing to accept some increases in tax revenues if “Democrats would agree to fundamental reform of entitlements,” Norquist told Morning Edition host Steve Inskeep. But such reform, he said, is something Democrats “haven’t done in oh, I don’t know, 60 years.”
It’s like imagining a “pink unicorn,” Norquist said. “If you had a pink unicorn, how many dollars in taxes would you raise to trade for the pink unicorn? Since pink unicorns do not exist in the real world, it’s never occurred to me to worry about the senator from South Carolina. He’s not going to vote for a deal because the kind of 10-1 ratio deal he’s talking about with real, iron-clad spending cuts is never going to happen.”
But of course Pink Unicorns are real. Well they are as real as zombies. They exist as fictional character and metaphor. And in a way, this kind of existence is as much as the electron has. They exist in discourse, amongst members of certain communities, to discuss them with certain properties. Now we may have clearer rules for the prediction of electrons but that doesn’t mean the other less predictable stuff doesn’t exist.
Note the old internet debates of Invisible Pink Unicorns. Like with the zombie economy, solutions become questions of belief and faith not discussions of actual evidence. But regardless of whether you believe in the Flying Spaghetti Monster or a coming end of days, surely we can agree that taxes should not go up for people making less than $250,000, right? It seems the only reason they can’t agree on that is because both sides want to hold the middle class hostage.
Because if “pink unicorns” don’t exist, then neither do “fiscal cliffs“. There is no cliff. No ledge we are all going to fall off. It’s monetary policy, it’s taxes, and government spending, it’s inflation and unemployment but it’s obviously not a cliff. And yet, of course, it is, that’s what they are calling it. It’s all social construction and wordplay. It’s metaphors that make the world go round (“round” is an embodied metaphor).
There are most certainly pink unicorns. And zombies (duh!). And yesterday, a supernatural wolf at the Supreme Court — See Justice Breyer’s dissent with whom Justice Ginsburg and Justice Sotomayor join, dissenting to denial of certiori in JOHN JOSEPH DELLING v. IDAHO: (story found in ABAjournal article by Debra C. Weiss) Justice Breyer writes:
Idaho law would distinguish the following two cases. Case One: The defendant, due to insanity, believes that the victim is a wolf. He shoots and kills the victim. Case Two: The defendant, due to insanity, believes that a wolf, a supernatural figure, has ordered him to kill the victim. In Case One, the defendant does not know he has killed a human being, and his insanity negates a mental element necessary to commit the crime.
In Case Two, the defendant has intentionally killed a victim whom he knows is a human being; he possesses the necessary mens rea. In both cases the defendant is unable, due to insanity, to appreciate the true quality of his act, and therefore unable to perceive that it is wrong. But in Idaho, the defendant in Case One could defend the charge by arguing that he lacked the mens rea, whereas the defendant in Case Two would not be able to raise a defense based on his mental illness.
Case one sounds like ‘American Werewolf in London’ where after shooting a werewolf, he turns back to a dead human and the killer might be taken as insane by authorities if tell the truth. Case two implies a voice in the defendant’s head of imagined third-party, a wolf spirit animal or like Son of Sam getting instructions to kill from his neighbor’s demon-possessed dog.
The question is ideal for law school classrooms to discuss whether the defendant could have the requisite mens rea intent to kill but nevertheless be not guilty by reason of insanity. (Recall M’Naughton from 1L). In yesterday’s dissent, Justice Breyer cites his supernatural wolf hypothetical to “a similar example of how mental illness may rebut mens rea” from Clark v. Arizona, 548 U. S. 735, 767–768 (2006), wherein Justice Souter, writing for the Court:
If it is shown that a defendant with mental disease thinks all blond people are robots, he could not have intended to kill a person when he shot a man with blond hair, even though he seemed to act like a man shooting another man.
I guess that’s “similar”, supernatural wolves and robots (?) — put them together what do we have? Zombies: mindless hungry pack animals…?
But I digress, this was supposed to be about pink unicorns and entitlement reform – reasonable tax increases in exchange for responsible cuts in spending. It’s not impossible. These things really can and do exist. I know it’s ‘easier said than done’, but so is every thing. Talk is cheap and Grover is all talk. So go ahead, be a nihilist and turn everything to nonexistence (the “middle” class doesn’t exist either) OR how about we get some actual elected politicians to get back to work doing what they are supposed to do, which is more than just talk and pander to monied elite, it’s work to find agreement because it is agreement that creates; the unicorn, the zombie, the reasonable tax policy – these exist when we agree that they exist – and the same is true of “America”.
Three closing questions:
1) How can we focus on what we agree on and at the very least get that accomplished?
2) Why did none of the other six justices want to hear Delling’s case?
3) Are we all sort of insane (see p-zombies) and if you think Grover Norquist is insane, is it more like case one or case two?
From → economics