Sunday, February 12, 2012


Before this big New York Times article came along, it was obvious to anyone who was paying attention that tea party supporters and other right-wing heartlanders hate government, yet avail themselves of government programs just the way the rest of us do. What we see from the article is how they feel when the contradiction is pointed out to them.

Hardly any of the good people of Chisago County, Minnesota, will acknowledge that maybe we ought to come up with a tax structure that will pay for the services they and the rest of us readily use. Agreeing to that would contradict the one constant in all right-leaning heartlanders' belief systems: that "less government and lower taxes" is the answer to every political question that doesn't involve killing brown people overseas.

Forced to acknowledge the contradiction, some express a willingness to throw themselves and their families under the bus rather than have another dime go to the hated government:

The government helps Matt Falk and his wife care for their disabled 14-year-old daughter. It pays for extra assistance at school and for trained attendants to stay with her at home while they work. It pays much of the cost of her regular visits to the hospital.

Mr. Falk, 42, would like the government to do less.

"She doesn't need some of the stuff that we're doing for her," said Mr. Falk, who owns a heating and air-conditioning business in North Branch....

Mr. Falk ... said he did not want to pay higher taxes and did not want the government to impose higher taxes on anyone else. He said that his family appreciated the government's help and that living with less would be painful for them and many other families. But he said the government could not continue to operate on borrowed money.

"They're going to have to reduce benefits," he said. "We're going to have to accept it, and we’re going to have to suffer."

Some literally burst into tears:

Barbara Sullivan, 71, moved last year to the apartments above the Chisago County Senior Center in North Branch. Waiting on a recent Friday for the hot lunch, which costs $3.50, she watched roughly 20 people play bingo for prizes including canned soup and Chef Boyardee pasta.

"Most of the seniors around here are struggling to make it," she said.

She counts herself among them. She lives on $1,220 a month in Social Security benefits and relied on Medicare to pay for an operation in November.

She believes that she is taking more from the government than she paid in taxes....

But she cannot imagine asking people to pay higher taxes. And as she considered making do with less, she started to cry.

"Without it, I'm not sure how I would live," she said. "With the check I'm getting from Social Security, it's a constant struggle on making sure that I pay my rent and have enough left for groceries.

"I haven't bought a Christmas present, I haven't bought clothing in the last five years, simply because I can’t afford it."

You have to read more than ninety paragraphs into the article to find someone -- a woman described as "a centrist Democrat" -- who thinks someone, perhaps, ought to pay more in taxes because the services are needed:

Barbara Nelson has little patience for people who say they will not need government help. She considers herself lucky she has not, and obligated to provide for those who do.

"Catastrophes happen in life," she said, sitting in a coffee shop in Taylors Falls....

Ms. Nelson, 61, who describes herself as a centrist Democrat, also dismisses the claim that people cannot afford to pay more taxes.

"Anyone who can come into a coffee shop and buy coffee is capable of paying more," she said. "If someone's life can be granted, in terms of adequate health care, if that means I give up five cups of coffee a month, that is a small price to pay."

Even economic right-centrists (David Frum, for instance) acknowledge that government social programs are ingrained in American life. Government programs actually make it easier for capitalism to function in many ways, by softening the shock of layoffs and reducing the burden workers feel when there's illness or infirmity in their families, to name only two examples. But that notion has disappeared from Main Street conservatism. Heartland rightists would rather see themselves punished than admit that maybe government isn't evil.


Bluesborn said...

This article saddens me and angers me.These are obviously good people who because of constant ideological conditioning have been made to feel that accepting any kind of help is morally wrong even as they sink further into helplessness and despair.It seems virtually impossible to get through to these folks.Even the pro fair taxation comments of America's most successful Capitalists like Gates and Buffet hold little to no sway with this set.Surely this says all you need to know about the effectiveness of right wing media and the melding of FOX with the GOP.

c u n d gulag said...

I see that Gabby Johnson's "genuine frontier gibberish" has gone mainstream over the last 30 years.

Just how f*cking stupid are these people, that they can't even imagine asking wealthier people who can afford it to pay just a bit more than they do now, and thus help improve the lot of people like themselves?

Government is like insurance.
We all need some form of insurance - like car insurance. Some people get more out of it because they had an accident, or something else bad happened to them, like they ran into a house.
I've paid for car insurance for over 35 years, and I think the only time I got any money is when I got into a fender-bender about 30 years ago, and got a about a hundred bucks for repairs. In the meantime, I've paid much, much more than that on 3 1/2 decades.


Anonymous said...

I don't have that much sympathy, actually. IMHO they may _say_ they themselves they get too much benefit, but that's just an attempt to intellectualize their views. What they know in their hearts is that Other People are getting over on them, getting handouts and a free ride they haven't earned, and the government should cut _them_ off. Once that's done, the economy will improve and none of the Good People will have to be on the dole anymore.

daveX99 said...

the answer to every political question that doesn't involve killing brown people overseas.


That's adorable.

Ten Bears said...

Yes, Dave, isn't it.

JoyousMN said...

Blues I think the part about Fox and right wing media is HUGE.

Someone is feeding these people all this misinformation, and we know who it is. But the NYT certainly won't go there. Remember how berated the Obama administration was for trying to raise the topic? The media went nuts and the admin bacled down.

Bluesborn said...

Joy is there anything more noisome than the constantly smoldering "liberal Media" charge? If there ever was any substance to it,the last 2 or 3 decades have exhausted its credibility.I think key moments like FOX alone predicting a Bush Presidency,or Phil Donahue and his anti war views being summarily ejected from the airwaves(leaving only pro war cheerleaders like Limbaugh and Hannity to "catapult the propaganda")perfectly illustrate the gutting of the so called Liberal Media.The dominant media forces now actively prey on the fears and dislikes of the working class(what "middle class"?)effectively weakening their voting power and solidarity.
I wish I could think that things will improve but the right continues to gather up more power and money with no end in sight.

BH said...

The misinformation is indeed being fed, and has been being fed for decades & decades... but, the fact remains that no one has forced any of these folks to swallow it. I tend to agree with flipyrwhig above. My sympathies are reserved for the people who get victimized by these stooges and the pols they sucker for.

c u n d gulag said...

These poor stooges don't know any better.

They turn on their corporate-owned car radio stations - and there's Rush/Sean/Glenn, etc.
Find me the Liberal radio stations. I dare you. You'll waste a lot of time looking. They're there - just nowhere near as ubiquitous as rigthie ones.

They turn to their corporate-owned newspapers, and there Kristol/Krauthammer/Coulter.

They turn on the corporate-owned TV news, and there's FOX, or CNN - aka FOX Lite.
MSNBC? Sure - for a few hours every evening.

So where are people supposed to get real information from?

Ending the "Equal Time" rule was a stroke of genius for right, and the beginning of the final tolling of the bells for democracy.

And that, boys and girls, is why they want to end Net Neutrality.

The internet, with blogs like this, and real news sites, are the only things stopping the corporations and the Oligarchs from controlling ALL forms of mass communication.
And if there's no free mass communication, then the masses have no communication, and are on their way to being propagandized sheep.

And we are almost there.

Ten Bears said...

Kool-Aid, gulag, the Ambien, Prozac, Viagra and crotch-shots on Fox Television Kool-Aid. Barefoot rubes blindly following a charismatic 'leader' to suicide.

I oft tell folks who spout the liberal media canard "If you think The Times is Liberal, you don't read it."

Bluesborn said...

"..then the masses have no communication, and are on their way to being propagandized sheep."

Or perhaps patients "etherized upon a table"?
Your comment about the "equal time rule" is an excellent one.Of course it didn't hurt that the right went after institutions like the FCC, stacking the deck with corporate lobbyist douche bags like Michael Powell,or saturating PBS with wing nut free market malarkey.I think the Oligarchies biggest fear is that somehow Democracy might break out in some obscure corner of the Heartland investing the "little people" with a sense of empowerment
which could lead to dangerous nay,RADICAL feelings of ..wait for it..."Hope".

JoyousMN said...

Did anyone else see Bill Moyers new show on sunday night? I only caught the tail end of the interview with Bruce Bartlett. But they were talking about this very thing and bruce bartlett in particular spoke out against fox news.

I continue to push the meme to my relatives on the right about how they're watching too much Fox News. It probably doesn't do much but it's the least I can do and maybe, just maybe, it will get them to think