WC is really, really tired of hearing Republicans talk about things “in the long run.” They use it is an excuse for inaction, or, if they want to try to be cute, they point out that “in the long run we will all be dead.” They pretend that inaction is an effective solution to problems, and misquote John Maynard Keynes in support of the claim. What Keynes actually did was point out that the “long run” argument is a cop-out. Writing in A Tract on Money Reform, he said:
But this long run is a misleading guide to current affairs. In the long run, we will all be dead. Economists set themselves to easy, too useless a task if in tempestuous seasons they can only tell us that when the storm is long past the ocean will be flat again.
– John Maynard Keynes, A Tract on Monetary Reform, p. 80 (emphasis in original)
“In the long run” the United States infrastructure will collapse from inadequate maintenance. “In the long run,” increasing health care costs will bankrupt the U.S. economy if the Affordable Care Act is repealed. “In the long run,” there will be a revolution if gross income inequality isn’t addressed. “In the long run,” the sun will expand to consume the earth and all living things upon it. “In the long run,” the universe will die a slow heat death.
So what. Pretending that not doing anything will solve intractable problems is stupid. Politicians, like economists, are useless if all they do is tell us that after the firestorm, the fire will stop.
WC gets that part of Burkean conservatism is caution in making change. But you know what? The world is changing any way. Faster and faster. Failing to adapt to those changes is a ticket to join the dinosaurs.
It’s also delusional. Like pretending we can somehow magically expel the 12-20 million people who are in the United States illegally.
Mostly, the whole” long run” argument, like the “I’m not a scientist” non sequitur, is an admission by the Republicans that they don’t have a solution. They have painted themselves into a political corner, trapped between their unwillingness to recognize reality and the consequences of their inaction.
It’s not going to end well.