Friday, January 28, 2011


On Fox News a couple of nights ago, Sarah Palin said that what America needs is not a "Sputnik moment" but a "Spudnut moment" -- a quip that was meant to be a clever way of championing private industry over government spending, but that came off as infantile. Unable, as usual, to walk away from a fight, Palin takes to Facebook to defend what she said -- and, well, she's not getting out of the hole with her further attempts at digging:

...Now, in a recent interview I mentioned analogies that could relate to solutions to our economic challenges, including the difference between a communist government's "Sputnik" and the private sector's "Spudnut." The analogies I mentioned obviously aren't comparable in size, but highlight a clear difference in economic focus: big government command and control economies vs. America’s small businesses.

If you're near Richland, WA, you should stop by The Spudnut Shop, where you'll find an all-American success story of a family owned small business that for over 60 years has been serving up a product that people want to buy. Businesses like this coffee shop don't receive big government bailouts. They produce something with their own ingenuity and hard work....

So we go to her link -- and this is what we see (emphasis added):

... The Spudnut Shop was established in 1948 by my dad, Barlow Ghirardo, and my uncle, Jerry Bell. With one $50 check, they bought a franchise and 100 sacks of Spudnut flour. The shop was originally located in the Richland Wye and operated primarily as a wholesale business. When the highway was built in 1950, The Spudnut Shop moved to its present location in Uptown Richland....

So this Spudnuts shop is just a plucky little small business ... that's thrived for half a century after parking itself next to a highway newly built with government money. (SEE UPDATE BELOW.) This happened at the dawn of a golden age for the American middle class -- a golden age made possible to a large extent by progressive taxation, and by such programs as the interstate highway system, the GI Bill, and the FHA.

Oh, and as Wikipedia notes in reference to the shop's location:

Richland was a small farm town until the US Army purchased ... 640 sq mi ... along the Columbia River for the war effort.... The army turned it into a bedroom community for the workers on its Manhattan Project facility at the nearby Hanford Engineering Works (now the Hanford [nuclear] site). The population increased from 300 in July and August 1943 to 25,000 by the end of World War II in August 1945....

When the Soviet Union developed and tested their first nuclear weapon in 1949, the U.S. nuclear program was reinvigorated. A second post-WW II expansion began in 1950 as a result of the war in Korea. Richland's Cold War construction boom resulted in Richland's population growing to 27,000 people by 1952....

Richland's financial dependency on the federal Hanford facility changed little [subsequently] because Hanford's mission as a weapons materials production site continued during the Cold War years.

This is Sarah Palin's shining example of the glories of private enterprise and the disastrous economic consequences brought on by government spending. Right, Sarah. Got it.

You just make it too easy, Sarah.


UPDATE: A commenter tells me that I misunderstood the reference to the highway:

I grew up in Richland, so I feel the need to correct a portion of your article.

While it is true that the entire town wouldn't exist without government spending on the Hanford project, your interpretation of the highway issue is wrong. The Spudnut shop would have had to have been moved from its old location because the built a highway where it used to be. It was subsequently located in an area near downtown Richland away from the highway. It didn't move to a highway, it was forced to move because of a highway.

My error. But I stand by what I said about the nature of the town and the importance of government to its economic health.

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