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Wednesday, September 14, 2011

What's up with all the haters?

Will people who hate the government get increasingly pissy and eventually dismantle the whole grand experiment?  They have nothing to gain by helping government to be successful, because their entire point is to prove that it’s a wasteful, sucking, harmful, intrusive machine.  The more they make that true, the better they look.  It’s like negotiating with a recalcitrant four-year old, who, when you try to take a walk, get’s all zombie-legged and whines, “But I can’t.  My legs don’t work….”  And of course it becomes true, because for legs to work, the person attached to them has to be willing to try. 

The democracy idea assumes that reasonable thoughtful people will honestly show up at the negotiating table ready to listen, learn, understand, compromise, and stand firm when that’s the right thing to do.  Who would have envisioned that we’d elect a bunch of nay-sayers who just want to stop everything?

Will the tea-partiers, who claim to have “Christian values” demonstrate even more blatantly that they couldn’t give a rat’s ass about their neighbor, especially if he has ever been down on his luck, or worships a different (or no) god? 

Do they truly not get that government is the only way to provide things we all rely on, like highways, a justice system, fire protection, roads, safe drinking water, disaster planning, healthcare for senior citizens, parks, and free public education?  When did all of that get such a bad name? 

Besides the ignorance, bullying, and lack of commitment to the truth, I think it’s the hypocrisy that bugs me the most.  (That, and the bad hair.  But let's leave that out of it for now.) Have these people ever had a relative on social security?  Would they accept unemployment if their job ended?  Of course they would.

Have they ever used a medical treatment or a pharmaceutical that was funded in part by government research?  Or had a car accident that was less severe than it could have been due to those intrusive seatbelt and speed limit laws?  Of course they have.

Did they care when Bush wracked up the debt through unwarranted war?  Um, no, it didn't seem to be a problem when Bush doubled the national debt, or Reagan tripled it.

I get worked up over all of this, but then I succumb to outrage fatigue.  How long can we sustain anger at the extreme hypocrisy of the right-wing without wanting to just switch the station, crack open another beer, listen to some music, focus on something a little more positive and hopeful?

Because it’s just so maddening.  The people who want Obama to fail don’t care who they take down with him, even if it’s the entire, reasonably successful dream of a democratic government that’s actually done pretty well for 230+ years.  They aren’t interested in dialog or honest negotiation.  Collaboration has been labeled “weak” (didn’t that used to be called statesmanship?), changing your opinion based on new information is called “waffling”, and science has become a pansy-assed pursuit of the Ivory Tower intellectuals who have no relevance in the real world.  They purport that evolution hasn’t been proven, scientists are still debating climate change, and all government spending is a waste of money.

Fine then.  Go sit at home in the dark eating tainted beef and reading the federalist papers.  Just don’t call me a liberal hater because I’m okay with being regulated, and I actually believe that government is the only entity that can and should tackle certain aspects of our health and well-being, and can make even the tiniest dent in leveling the playing field so that people who weren’t born into good circumstances can still have a crack at a decent life.

Seven percent of the population in the US is employed by the government.  Besides the obvious (those people have jobs, pay taxes, buy stuff, hire consultants, contractors and service people), they’re also paid to care about things that you don’t have time for, like groundwater decline and massive flu epidemics and contaminated soil and fair working conditions and how to number the streets so that 9-1-1 can find you.  Things that the right twists to sound all weird and golden gavel-ish, because to study anything scientifically, there are a many dead ends, or a few things where the practical application doesn’t become understood until later.  That’s what science is.  If you already knew the answer and where you were going, they’d call it the bible.

A weird sidebar: there’s a new resident at Lake M. who’s been shooting at beavers from the shoreline of their giant new house.  They are undeterred by kids swimming in the water nearby.   Picture the Clampetts, but without the baling twine belts. Why am I’m bringing this up here? I don’t know.  I guess since I’m already on a tear about ignorance, I might as well mention them.

I’m just wondering how the hell everyone suddenly got so weird and ignorant.  Seriously, you buy a lakefront home and then shoot the wildlife that lives in the lake?

Maybe I’m getting old. But I remember thinking as a naïve little kid, “wow.  All this is free.  This is pretty cool.”  Then I learned about all the other stuff, like corporate greed and corrupt politicians, but still, it seemed like a damn good system, because Nixon freakin’ resigned.   Right?  Not that no one does anything wrong, but the system works.   Of course it’s not perfect, and there are a million things wrong with the way government does business.  But it’s a start, and it's a system that allows for self-correction.

I don’t think I had a green grape until I was out of the house, because my mom did whatever Cesar Chavez said to do for the workers.  At least there was something to do, even if it was just not eating grapes.

Now, I can’t think of a single thing to do.   This rabid group isn’t interested in data, facts, reason, hearing another side.  These are people who don’t think evolution should be taught in schools, because they don’t “believe” in it.  What’s to believe in?  We can watch it happen.  Think penicillin.  There’s no discussing stuff with people who think that the fossil record was placed by god to test the strength of belief.  Really? If there is a god, why would he/she give us these great brains, put out a giant puzzle, and then punish us if we assemble the pieces to understand an exquisitely consistent, remarkable story -- the history of the universe?

Can we change this mean-spirited culture?  Sure.  Remember when it was normal for people to smoke inside private homes and restaurants?  Or when recycling was just something that weirdo tree-huggers did?  But now, people would be pretty embarrassed to get caught tossing a can out the window.  Maybe we can make it that awkward to hate the government.

I’m going to, in my own tiny way, remind people that we’re pretty damn lucky to have a government that we get to vote for, that has a bunch of excellent programs that work. Every day, as much as I can slip it in, I’m going to say, “wow, that’s good government.”  Because a million times each day, that would apply - - buying safe food, getting a book from the library (any book, even if it’s about overthrowing the government!), being able to look at a map online of meth labs or superfund sites, having someone to call when the neighbors are taking potshots at the beavers with a handgun, having the school children safely transported to the free schools.  Maybe people have forgotten what we get for our ridiculously low taxes.  Maybe people will start feeling embarrassed about complaining, and instead, would see the problems and engage in solving them, because what else is there to do?

That, and contacting your congressperson about the Jobs Act.

End of rant.  For now.

16 comments:

  1. Rant on, darling.......when you get hoarse, call me.

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  2. What you said! Could not have ranted it better.
    Regarding your comment to me, I got the blog back up, but I don't like it as much as I did before. New template, new photo viewing, change is not always bad but this time it is. We were unaware of the Redmond watershed, will look it up. Thanks for the tip.
    Great post, this.

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  3. I'd love to see this post on the op-ed page of every major newspaper. But nobody reads newspapers anymore. I'm beginning to think that most people don't read anything anymore. My kids always ask me how I know so much - I read and that makes me curious so I read some more. My geeky science brain cannot process the latest batch of political whores and snake oil salesmen in the spotlight. They believe their nonsense. And the debates are boiling down to a major controversy over the HPV vaccine? Seriously? Poverty rates at unpredecented levels, hungry kids, failing schools, crumbling bridges, and all the alwful truth, and they are sidetracked on a vaccine? We've gone from Minutemen to Minutaemen, who blame Obama for everything wrong while refusing to cooperate on any level to make improvements for the people. We the people. Wonder what happened to us?

    I like my government infrastructure and I like people like you who work in the system and try to make things better despite the insanity.
    I feel like we are on a cusp of something major socially in America, I just hope it doesn't end up being something awful.

    Thanks for yelling in the wilderness.

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  4. I agree with 95% of your rant. Sadly, the few good things the govt actually bothers to do for us lowly citizens, it does poorly. Take the post office or Amtrak. Bless them both! But are they as good as they could be? No! Your right-wing haters will blame the agency, and use it as an example of why government can't be trusted with anything. My take's different. The corporados would love to PRIVATIZE our national railway system and our postal system, so they starve them of funds. We can expect to see a massive coordinated attack on the postal workers union soon, as a first prong of decertifying the union. What would make more sense is to stop wasting money on things that go boom and invest that money into our infrastructure. Why not have a world-class rail system? End of rant.

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  5. I tried to make the same argument to my Republican cousin across the border.....unfortunately, it just doesn't sink in - even if what you say makes sense. There is some kind of blockage that prevents common sense.
    On the other hand, they are one illness away from bankrupcy, and they take advantage of all the social system that exists there.

    It just doesn't make sense to us Socialized Canadians.

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  6. Nice rant. I agree with it. I also don't know what to do, say, or... think... about the sorry state of those who send me random racist jokes about Obama, or (faked videos of) monkeys firing machine guns as evidence that black people are stupid, or insist that creation - ism (WTH?) must be taught next to evolution ... or ... any of those things that make me feel as though a large fraction of our nation has gone batshit crazy... But thank you!

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  7. You read my mind and articulated it so much better than I ever could have. Would you consider a run for President?

    Rich Johnson (friend of Jack Brand)

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  8. Take out the F bombs and send this to the editorial section of (any) newspaper. Well said!!

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  9. It's so hard for me to start a rant of my own because I'm afraid I'll never be able to stop. So it was good to read yours. We're out here, and we need to get together and make some noise. I'm not sure cheap gas is the best thing government can do for us, but I'm a huge fan of everything else. The government is US.

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  10. Oh yes, and I'm going to my house right now and stick you on my tiny blogroll.

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  11. Thanks everyone! And Murr, it's funny that you're the first to mention the cheap gas; I'm sure everyone else was thinking it. I don't even believe in it myself except in a twisted way, like I believe in methadone clinics run by pushers. Pity we're so addicted, but here we are. Better if the treatment were moving us away from the addiction, but thanks for alleviating the suffering a bit. (Oh, this metaphor isn't working out at all, but I think you get my point, and thanks for giving me a chance to clarify that.)

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  12. Excellent, Betsy. It's upsetting but so true! Issy

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  13. Evan,
    I loved your rant. I am happy that there are such wonderful young educated people who care about our country and the world. I agree with the other post that maybe you should run for political office. I too am frustrated, but I see hope in future educated generations. I am much older than you and was educated in the late sixties and expected our country to continue to evolve in a positive way with peace and love for our fellow human beings. Most of us wanted to do some positive things for our country and humanity. It is hard to see this sentiment in our country now. On the other hand there have been some great progress in civil rights in some areas that are specifically important to me. It has been so upsetting to fight for logic, positive issues, truth and the acceptance of educated lessons of history and be met with such ignorance. The deterioration in media ethics and literacy is crazy. I could not have imagined the subtle racism against President Obama and I do not understand the demonizing and the unpatriotic name calling would be tolerated about an another American President. Why do people believe the media's editorial sound bites that are presented as truth.
    Your comments give me some hope to keep fighting and campaigning. Otherwise, I hate to say it, but I wonder about moving to another country.

    Hopefully, you will continue to see the world view and experience some positive progress in other parts of the world. Please try to maintain some of your hope and positive expectations. Find friends who support your views and love you. I have learned that you must put away your shyness and take every opportunity to reach out and surround yourself with loving supportive people! You have the power to make a loving expanded world family and take the time to experience love and friendship and new experiences which will bring you strength and great joy and satisfaction and the ability and energy to help make the world a better place. Keep in mind your generation will contribute many positive contributions to the world in your lifetime. Consider what scientific discoveries are to come in many areas such as medicine which will help millions survive or live a better life.
    Peace & Love!
    Michael
    PS: I hear from many world travelers that the US Post Office is the cheapest and most efficient one in the world. Experience the post office in France if you dare!

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  14. Hi Michael,
    Thanks for your comment, and for reading my blog but I think you meant it for someone else?
    All the best,
    Betsy

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  15. love your blog and your politics...Please, could you print it in black? Red is a difficult print for a gal of eighty to read.

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    1. Oh, why thank you! Thanks for reading. I changed the font for you; I hope this is a little easier on the eyes!
      ~Betsy

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