Saturday, November 22, 2008

Contradictory Republicanism

Republicans sell a pretty simple message, smaller government, less intrusive government, lower taxes, fiscal responsibility, moral behavior -family values. They've sold that bill of goods with success for 30 years. Maybe what works is the short punchy "platform." What surely doesn't work is lining this stuff they say up with what they do.

Smaller government, you know the Reagan line - the scariest words are I'm from the government and I'm here to help. Once you're not the Federal Government you are a smaller entity, much smaller even in large states. There are things that are just out of the reach of smaller entities - a Katrina is out of their league. What is it that the Republicans think you do about issues that span the nation? If it's gay marriage...

There it is, intimately involved in their small government idea, a less intrusive government, but what is they mean by less intrusive? Certainly they mean all this governmental mucking about with environmental issues and regulating greed. That stuff has to go, the current booming economy shows why. Ah, yes, less intrusive government, someone might ask Michael Schiavo about less intrusive when the Republican Congress set its sights on him and Terry - alone. The Republicans seem to think that a Constitutional Amendment is required to define marriage - their way. That would be an amendment to a document that worked very hard to keep concentration of power out of single hands and tyranny away from the majority. The Republicans lock stepped with GW Bush on his version of a Presidency and stripping of Constitutional guarantees to the citizenry, somehow warrantless wiretapping seems intrusive.

They tout the concept of States Rights as the cooking pot for innovative public policy, the Fed shouldn't interfere...not as long as the cooking pot is churning out RNC ideas. When a state like Oregon comes up with a State policy regarding Assisted Suicide it becomes a criminal matter. What this comes down to is that States should do what they want in that regard as long as it hews to the RNC line and their idea of family values.

Family values is one of those terms that gets flung about with little regard to how it reads if any real attention is paid. Family values in their context amounts to Bible values and there to a narrow reading of the Bible and more about traditions than actual words. They don't get real specific about what immodesty involves, or actually modesty. Evidently burkas aren't quite required, but then the Romans were pretty lax in their "dress codes," so apparently historical references don't play. Oddly enough, Janet Jackson's titty moment occurred at half time in a glorification of organized mayhem and violence called football. The Christ they keep dragging into the national dialogue seemed to have a bit of a thing about violence, in the regard of not liking it. There is something family about outlawing abortion and approving death penalties. It is a bit more troubling that their isn't anything family about a living wage or a guaranteed health care plan. Somehow it is family to have babies and let them suffer from easily treated maladies because of the sound of socialized medicine. Somehow taking sentencing discretion out of judges' hands enhances the families who lose a member to extended prison stays.

Lower taxes are something to be desired, by all of us. The problem with lower taxes is the disconnect between low taxes and services provided. There certainly is waste in government, there is waste in any endeavor involving humans and if politics is thrown into the mix that is amplified. There has to be a connection between low taxes and societal benefit from programs. One certain measurement of cost benefit analysis comes down to a simple question, do the problems addressed by the tax payments cost more or less over time if addressed or not. This can get pretty involved but there is a direct relationship between quality of education and earnings. Low earnings, beyond having lower tax returns, generate a whole host of directly measurable costs and some that are speculative but fairly acceptable. Rotting infrastructure drives up costs, potholes alone cost a fortune much less closed bridges or ones that collapse. Everyone in the nation pays for the increased maintenance caused by potholes alone. If one proposes to have a superior military force and then use it, an astronomical cost is incurred. There is a inherent assumption that it is in the nationally interest to do so, and yet it is not the nation's responsibility to actually pay for that?

It may be counter to the theme of contradictions to bring up the reasonableness of a progressive tax, but there is a Republican mantra of taking from the producers of wealth through tax that is virtual nonsense. Somehow their economic model postulates that personal wealth constitutes national productivity. In this scenario the top one percent of income creates the economic security of the nation. It certainly takes a sizable investment to build a factory, but there is a great gaping hole in the idea that the factory creates productivity. The factory is pointless without purchasers for the products and to be a purchaser one needs funds, coming from working. Wealth exists due to the efforts of the masses, not the other way around. The structure of the managed capitalist system is to enable wealth to exist and prosper in a socially stable environment. Wealth can exist in a fairly peaceful environment because the system is structured to allow it and the primary beneficiaries of that system are the wealthy. It is not unreasonable for those who take the most out of a system to pay the most back into its maintenance.

Thirty years of propaganda have had an effect on the national viewpoint, and the failures of the system of "thought" behind that propaganda are not laid at its feet. There is always an excuse for its failure and the sad part is that there seems to be national amnesia when it comes to that. The dangerous part is if the left starts to think that winning elections based on not being the other guys means the dialogue has shifted.


KISS said...

What is the difference between the repugs and the dimmos? Not much when it comes to Joe six pack. The repugs did have a way to connect to the misery ,real and surreal, to Joe. Both sides run away from taxing corporations and the wealth attitude is prevalent on both sides..could it be because of the wealth of the elected?
The bureaucrats, like many school teachers, are interested in a great retirement at an early age and the service they perform is minuscule, adding to the frustration of the voter, who are forced to deal with them day to day.
As I said, the repugs sang a better song, now it is the dimmos doing the singing and in 30 years???? Not to worry, the corporation will still be the winners.

Chuck Butcher said...

I"m scarcely proposing that any politicians hands are entirely clean of contradiction or being misleading. You have to start somewhere and chances that the Republicans will ever do squat that isn't in the interest of plutocrats are small.

realbtl said...

Chuck- While I agree that the current Repub line is full of paradoxes, I think this is symtomatic of their focus on marketing their brand rather than putting forth their policy. There is quite a bit of "old" Republicanism that I kind of agree with; less intrusive government, fiscal responsibility, etc. But if you are marketing something, you have to keep upping the ante (New! Improved!). I believe this led to the disconnects we now see, as you discussed in the post.
OT but I agree w/you re: San Diego. I grew up there in the 50'2 and 60's and, like a lot of California, it used to be a nice place. It's so damned crowded there now I can't stand it. In fact I just sold my mom's house there. It would have been a nice escape from -25 January here in Montana but I just can't take the sheer number of people. After about 3 days I start wanting to drive around in a D9 Cat.