Saturday, February 06, 2010
At The Washington Post
Every political community includes some members who insist that their side has all the answers and that their adversaries are idiots. But American liberals, to a degree far surpassing conservatives, appear committed to the proposition that their views are correct, self-evident, and based on fact and reason, while conservative positions are not just wrong but illegitimate, ideological and unworthy of serious consideration.I wonder why WaPo printed this?
One of the oddest facets of current US politics is that so many are dismissing the tea party crowd as a bunch of right wingers, when the reality is that many of these people have been pretty consistent Democratic voters. In no way does fiscal responsibility require a particular political bent. Look at Canada - it got itself into fiscal trouble decades ago and then adopted a policy of fiscal conservatism which has largely been followed by liberal and conservative politicians.
As far as I'm concerned, the tea party movement is a third party at this point - probably produced by the cooperation between the GOP and Democrats to bar third party candidates from presidential debates. Thus both parties insulated themselves enough from gnawing concerns among the citizenry to produce a large pool of voters who were disaffected and concerned over the national direction.
Not only that, but the reality is that we have to pay for what we want, and this country has enough entitlements already to ensure that reckless spending threatens most citizens' welfare. The theory that they are too stupid to know that is just, well, stupid.
The tea party movement might be the response to the theory that the fatal flaw in democracies is the power of the voters to "vote themselves largesse"; the problem for voters is that once they have got the largesse, they now find they have an interest in continuing it. There is little sense in robbing the bank that you expect to pay your pension.
A hot and unpleasantly nasty discussion in the comments on the article.
I had a graduate student, PhD candidate in history, working for me,who supplemented his Teaching Assistant income with shade tree mechanic work. There were times when he would patiently put his fingers together with that "Now, Mikey, this is something that you'll probably understand better when you're older, but let me try to explain," tone, and tell me about something that happened before he was born, but well within my adult lifetime. I have had physics professors tell me about health care. I am a nurse, and there are objective measurements that say that I am smarter than John Kerry, to cite just one example. I have dealt with Medicaid, and often beaten them, as an advocate for a patient. I know what happens to patients when they don't have me to got to bat for them. Now these 'geniuses' tell me that I just do not understand the wonderfulness of putting all the bureaucracies together. WTF?!
He just can't wrap his mind around the failure to address the problems with "climate science". He said last night that he thought we were reaching a tipping point, and that if we didn't back up and reassert the necessity for science to be grounded on evidence that we would experience a general cultural decline.
Political policies can't be worked out by throwing invective at each other, just as scientific theories can't be proven by asserting that they already have been.
However the rules of basic courtesy do address a lot of these bad but universal human failings. When it breaks down we are more like a society of toddlers or teenagers than adults.
We've got painful choices to make. We need debate over them, so we can all understand that a utopia is impossible, and that the bigger the hole we dig, the more we all must suffer.
I think what disturbs me the most is that the debate isn't happening. Not so much the divergent views and beliefs, but that we apparently aren't even willing to discuss the fundamental problems. Do we fear all possible solutions so much that we think it's better not to even try?
But it's not just liberals. There are still conservatives out there who believe we can somehow cut taxes and ignore the debt. I don't know what they are thinking - it is not enough to point out the failings of the other person's argument. Just because the other person's solution is wrong doesn't mean that yours is right. Nor is it even possible for one person or one institution to wholly understand our nation's difficulties, which are comprised of the varying needs and opportunities of very diverse people in very diverse communities.
I think one overlooked factor in retail employment
has to do with tax season. All of the tax prep companies had been hiring from December into
early January. If you are getting money back from Uncle Sam you tend to file early. If you owe, then later.
This "stimulus" also provide a small bump in retail sales now, followed by a decline in April. I think this
will become very evident this year.
The Tea Party crowd doesn't impress since its real easy to be for lower taxes but the issue becomes what programs to cut in order to get the budget in line and its hard to get much agreement on that except to cut out the big banks!
As to the tea baggers, you know, I begin to question whether either the Dems or the GOP are a viable party at this point. Normally our system works by one party or another absorbing the new consensus as it develops. I am seeing little sign that this is happening in either party.
It will not be until we get the truckdrivers, etc into it that we will force some reality recognition into DC. How that will happen I don't know.
My guess is that voters will fire anti-incumbent shots across the bow in the next election. I am planning to vote against both of mine on the grounds that they haven't been paying attention to the business at hand. One is Republican and one is Democrat, but neither seem to feel the need to actively participate in legislative solutions.
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