I give up.
Seriously, I've had it. For years, I've been howling into the wilderness, trying to explain why the whole Republican agenda will destroy America. I have used logic, rhetoric, humor. I have devoted God knows how many pointless hours and how much energy--hours and energy that I am never getting back--to worrying over the direction the Tea Party is dragging this flawed but well-meaning country. And it's just not worth it!
Today's Times features a lengthy front-page article all about all the federal financial benefits that go to some of the most vocal anti-government zealots ("Even Critics of Safety Net Increasingly Depend on It"). The article focuses on the residents of Chisago County, Minnesota, whose residents were largely responsible for sending a vocal Tea Party-type, Chip Cravaack, to congress last year. While the residents of Chisago are not, generally, "poor" (at least by federal poverty standards), they do struggle to make ends meet. Federal money helps residents there pay for everything from school activities to medical care to daily living expenses. At the same time, when asked whether such spending is a good idea, many residents say it is not. Nor should taxes be raised on anybody.
I suppose I should thank these folks. After all, I live in a state (California) that constantly pays more per capita in federal taxes than it receives in federal services. Interestingly, the article points out that it is the residents of states like California and New York--net losers when it comes to federal support--who consistently advocate policies designed to strengthen the federal safety net. Meantime, many residents of Chisago County say they neither need nor want these services. I could point out that, in many cases, they could simply choose not to use these services, but somehow that doesn't seem to be happening.
What's amusing about these folks' reluctance to raise taxes on anybody is that, in many cases, they are not paying any taxes to begin with. Many of them receive the earned-income tax credit, which actually means they get money back from the federal government at tax time--and not a refund, either; effectively, they pay negative taxes.
You know how Tea Party darling Michelle Bachmann and her ilk make political hay out of the fact that nearly 50% of Americans pay NO federal income taxes? And how everybody should pay something? Well, guess what Chisagoans: YOU'RE WHO SHE'S TALKING ABOUT! You don't think anybody should pay more taxes? If Tea Partiers have their way: YOU WILL BE PAYING MORE TAXES! If it makes you feel any better, though, folks like Michelle Bachmann and Rick Santorum and Mitt Romney and other one-percenters will probably pay less: And then you won't have to worry about hypocritically accepting government safety-net services, either, 'cause those will be gone!!!!
What's the point? I'm turning Republican: Maybe at least then we Californians and New Yorkers can stop subsidizing the supposedly independent folks in the Rust Belt. Sure, by voting Republican, I risk being cut out of my father's will, but as a lifelong liberal Democrat, he doesn't have much of an estate to leave behind anyway. Now, where can I get me a Rick Santorum lawn sign?