Who Hijacked Our Country

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

“A Tale of Two Moralities”

That’s the title of a recent Paul Krugman column. I have to take issue with this column. There isn’t anything I disagree with. But it’s way oversimplified; it leaves out too much.

He’s talking about the great political divide that’s tearing the country in two. The Left believes it’s “morally superior” for “the affluent to help the less fortunate.”

And the Right “believes that people have a right to keep what they earn, and that taxing them to support others, no matter how needy, amounts to theft.”

And this is why his column is too simplified. The people on the “Right” he’s talking about are Libertarians. They make up a tiny portion of the Right Wing. He doesn’t mention anything about “Christian” snakehandlers and Salem witch-hunters who want to take America back to the 1700s. Or the warmongering rednecks who want the U.S. to invade and occupy dozens of “backward” countries because we know what’s best for them. (And because We WANT the natural resources that God mistakenly put under their soil instead of ours.)

Of course, Republicans and conservatives all pretend they’re Libertarian. Judging by their political slogans, you’d think they really do want “the government off our backs,” and believe in “self-reliance,” “personal responsibility” and “the right to be left alone.” Those soundbites are a lot more appealing than “I hate queers, minorities and everybody who doesn’t go to my church” or “we oughtta just bomb all them third world countries back to Kingdom Come.”

But unfortunately those last two categories make up the vast majority of today’s Republican Party. They all screamed “Freedom died today!” when Obama signed the health care reform bill last Spring. But these same freedom-loving individualists were stone silent when we invaded Iraq under false pretenses, and when Dumbya established massive domestic spying programs and eliminated Habeas Corpus. When our government spends trillions of dollars on wars and the Prison Industrial Complex, the Right mysteriously forgets about their “right to keep what they earn.”

And I disagree with his description of liberals. I can’t speak for anybody else, but the reason I’m in favor of a public safety net (or “the nanny state” as wingtards like to call it) has nothing to do with whether it’s a “moral” issue or “the right thing to do.” I believe in having a safety net because it works. It’s better for the whole country. As the saying goes, “When everybody wins, we all win.” (Or whatever the exact wording is.)

When millions of Americans are unemployed, destitute, homeless, sick and not having access to health care — the entire country gets pulled down. I would assume that the rest of the industrialized world has become “socialistic” for practical, pragmatic reasons; not because of “morality” or “right and wrong.”

When a huge percentage of a country’s population is poor, scared shitless and pissed off — it means the system is NOT Working. Tunisia, anyone?

So that’s my quarrel with Paul Krugman’s column. The Left favors a safety net (“robbing Peter to pay Paul,” whatever you want to call it) because it makes the entire country a better place; not because it’s “moral” or “the right thing to do.”

And the Right is sure as hell NOT made up of freedom-loving individualists who just want the government to leave us alone.

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Blogger Demeur said...

You forgot the real motivation behind it all. It was for corporations to privatize profits and socialize losses. Wouldn't you just love that system when you went to your local casino?

January 19, 2011 at 1:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

“This deep divide in American political morality — for that’s what it amounts to — is a relatively recent development. Commentators who pine for the days of civility and bipartisanship are, whether they realize it or not, pining for the days when the Republican Party accepted the legitimacy of the welfare state, and was even willing to contemplate expanding it. As many analysts have noted, the Obama health reform — whose passage was met with vandalism and death threats against members of Congress — was modeled on Republican plans from the 1990s”

Not only that, but even Nixon was working on a health plan, only slowed down by a bad economy and eventually Watergate.

One point that keep getting passed over is that when FDR took over he and others saw something that frightened them. In spite of the constitutional protections that made it hard for a revolution to change the government by vote only (20 years minimum), the Idea that the American (now) poor could now be pushed for violent revolution was a reality, like France and other countries - In other words “if you don’t do something now, our heads may literally roll”.

For those who think a welfare state means just throwing a bone at people, they do have a point. But the real underlying fear is that by doing nothing you may invoke a violent revolution and we MUST keep the rich in charge. I think today’s conservatives and rich may have forgotten that or they may think that bringing the church in to make it a moral issue may keep the poor sedate.


January 19, 2011 at 2:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


I don’t think there any Libertarians any more, even the ones I hear (like Cato and supposedly Ron Paul), sound more like extremist conservatives then Libertarians. In the days when Conservatives and Liberals were more Libertarian in view they could come to agreement. Libertarians stress less Government interference, to the Conservatives that meant less corporate regulations and to the Liberals it mean less stupid laws on sex, pornography, drugs and abortion. There were a lot of things they could agree on back then and Government (more the most part) Worked. Even the Southern Rednecks liked it, because Libertarians were for local control (read: States Rights) and that meant the Federal Government wont interfere with their rights to violate the constitutional rights of their nigras. Look at the conservative icon’s back then like Barry Goldwater, Everett Dirkson, Bob Taft and Richard Nixon and compare them to today’s crowd ..gets you kinda sentimental doesn’t it?

But along came Ronald Reagan and this Conservative think that said “my way or the highway:” and they did the one thing the Libertarians would never do, they dragged the (their) church into it which means any sort of reasoning that could be worked out back then was replaced by bible thumping and demands for total compliance. Can anybody tell me what’s considered moderate these days?


January 19, 2011 at 2:05 PM  
Blogger squatlo said...

Krugman is a very astute man, and I listen when he speaks. Your concerns are well-founded, though. He's oversimplifying and by doing so is giving the wingnutters a pass they certainly don't deserve.
The GOP is the party of "I, Me, Mine" and to them selfishness is a family value. Whenever you hear a teabagger bitching about "them" getting a share of their tax dollars, you just know in your heart who they picture when they say "them". Minorities. Pure and simple.
It all goes back to the Southern Strategy, Reagan's "Welfare Queens" rap, all that. Those on welfare or public assistance are ALWAYS portrayed in their minds as black, weave-wearing mumu mamas with two hundred dollar nail jobs and spinning hubs on the Caddie. Fact is, most of the welfare recipients (by fucking far) in this country are lily white like themselves.
You have a right to be offended by the tone of that column. I think Paul tries too hard to keep from alienating the rabid right.
I couldn't care less about hurting their 'feelings' so I'm free to say and write what I please.
You seem to have the same lack of filter on your commentary.

January 19, 2011 at 3:08 PM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

Demeur: "Privatize profits and socialize losses" -- Mission Accomplished.

Erik: I've heard that same thing, that when FDR first took over, there was a very real possibility of a violent overthrow of the government by millions of poor outraged people.

And I think you're right that instead of throwing a bone to the riffraff to keep them quiet, they're bringing in the church instead; using a bunch of phony "family values" slogans to distract the peons.

I think there are some Libertarians still, but they're getting fewer and further between. Rand Paul is a perfect example of somebody starting out as a Libertarian but then getting seduced by Pentagon VIPs.

Squatlo: I agree wholeheartedly that Krugman's column is "giving the wingnutters a pass they certainly don't deserve."

And the Right has certainly brainwashed their minions with all those welfare stereotypes.

And you're right at the end of your comment: I definitely don't use any sort of "filter" in my rantings. I just turn my id loose on the keyboard and let fly.

January 19, 2011 at 6:34 PM  
Anonymous S.W. Anderson said...

This is a really good discussion. Erik, your comments ring true and are very informative besides.

I'm going to play devil's advocate for a moment about Krugman's piece.

"The people on the 'Right' he’s talking about are Libertarians. They make up a tiny portion of the Right Wing."

All puppies are dogs, but not all dogs are puppies. Meaning, that while big-L Libertarians are extremely few and small-l libertarians aren't much more numerous, the core belief about the government having no right to tax Peter to keep Paul from starving, or going homeless, or dying for lack of medical care, runs deep and strong throughout the political right. There are right wingers who don't know a libertarian from a librarian who believe that.

Sure, it's a bigger consideration with some on the right than others. You've got some for whom outlawing abortion is Job 1 and others whose main focus is war and conquest. Then, you've got your racist resenters. These notions are not mutually exclusive.

But question the lot of them and you'll get few disagreements about the government having no moral right to take their money to give to others.

January 19, 2011 at 7:51 PM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

SW: Excellent point. Practically all Republicans/conservatives abhor the idea of their tax dollars being used to help other people, regardless of their views on military invasions, the war on drugs or "family values." I agree.

January 19, 2011 at 8:57 PM  

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