December 26, 2011

The poor 1%

Merry Christmas, everyone. Back to blogging about politics, I guess, but really I am most interested in the economics of conservatism--or what have become the economics of conservatism. One Huffpo columnist suggested that conservatives really want to make all of America into the Pottersville of "Its a Wonderful Life." Perhaps.

My interaction with conservatives over the last few years suggests that most Republican voters don't want that kind of community, but don't seem to see a connection between good community and an active government. Same could be said about the middle class. Those things just "happen" in conservative minds because of the "free market." Yet, I see no evidence that the "free market" would create anything of the sort. That kind of approach is good at creating very rich people and very poor people, but not terribly good at building a middle class. Also not good at doing things that are not profitable. You know, like giving us clean water and air, or building libraries and hospitals.

As I have said before, I think most of this has to do with conservative voters conceptualizing government programs as handouts to poor and lazy people. If, in fact, most of our federal dollars went that direction, I would understand the anger. But it doesn't. Food stamps, for example, constitute about 1% of combined state and federal budgets.

I just had an exchange with a stranger on a friend's facebook wall that basically reiterates the point. This person claims to pay over 400k in taxes, but has no sympathy for middle class people who are in over their heads in home ownership, or their kids who frequent malls and buy nice cars.

Government money that has helped me, if I acknowledge it at all, is justified because I work for it. Those who get handouts don't. Simple as that.

The Huffpo piece is on point with this. Republicans have successfully appealed to the "I've got mine," crowd who don't really care if others have the same opportunities. That short-sighted approach, however, will be our economic undoing.

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