Sara Robinson of AlterNet is unhappy. Red states take more government money than blue states, which Ms. Robinson thinks is ironic, since the red states are full of right-wingers who admire Ayn Rand. She thinks the productive blue states should “Go Galt” against the parasitical red states.
Now, a state is a large political entity with all types of people in it. There are people who work hard and pay their taxes in every state. There are parasites in every state. So Ms. Robinson is pitting two collectives against one another in ways that have little meaning. A state might have two Republican Senators merely because they got 51% of the vote. Moreover, being Republican hardly means you stand for limited government, much less the laissez-faire capitalism advocated by Ayn Rand.
But let’s play along with Ms. Robinson, however little this exercise has to do with reality. She has a list of ways blue states could go Galt against the red states. Let’s see what happens when a liberal stops helping parasitical right-wingers.
First off, dear Red Staters: If your town’s economy depends on a nearby dam, canal, harbor, airport, military base, interstate highway, national park or monument, or prison, just STFU. Because you are, in every way possible, a parasite, living off something the rest of us paid to build.
Wait. I don’t think Ms. Robinson understands Atlas Shrugged. John Galt withdrew the sanction of the victim. That means he stopped sacrificing to the parasites. It doesn’t mean the parasites must STFU. They have the freedom to say what they want. John Galt does not care what they say.
As for the list of infrastrucure items, the military bases and prisons are proper government functions; the rest should be privatized. But this is probably the kind of talk Ms. Robinson wants to STFU.
Second: If you are a homeowner who takes a mortgage interest deduction — which is how the rest of us subsidize your house, and with it your status in the middle-class — we don’t want to hear another word from you about how you made it all on your own. And that goes for those of you who got your education via the GI Bill, or took out an SBA loan, or went to well-funded public schools back when such things existed. You are what you are because we believed in you, and invested in you. And we’re deeply insulted that you refuse to even acknowledge that fact.
Again, liberals going Galt means right-wingers have to shut up? You’re “deeply insulted” because the right is not grateful for all they have gotten, whether they wanted it or not, from the welfare state, so you demand they shut up?
How about we get the government out of the economy and let everyone say whatever the hell he wants?
Third: Don’t come crawling to us to support those kids you couldn’t afford to have, but refused to allow contraception or abortions or actual fact-based sex education to prevent. It’s just that simple. Our blue-state babies are better off in every way that matters because we plan our families. A failure to plan on your part does not create an obligation on ours. Your policies force women to have kids, even when they’re patently not ready to have them. Now (as you’re so fond of telling women who find themselves unhappily pregnant), you get to live with the consequences of those choices.
So you want to end welfare, WIC, and myriad other programs for families? Fine with me. Somehow I think your emotions of fear and loathing for the benighted right are getting the better of you and you don’t really mean it.
Fourth: Don’t ask us to pay to educate your kids if you’re not willing to have us teach them what we know about the world. We believe in free, comprehensive, rigorous and reality-based public education because it’s done more than any other government service to make us rich, powerful and successful; and we want the same for you.
Let’s have freedom in education. That way, if you want us to conform to your methods of eduction, you must persuade us. You can’t use the government to force your educational ideal on us. Oh, and if we’re to have a rational discussion about education, it means we don’t STFU. You’ll have to listen to us, too. Perhaps you’ll learn something.
We realize some of you aren’t too keen on public schools. It’s great that you want to take on more personal responsibility for educating your own kids. Just be warned: if you don’t teach them real science and real history — including evolution, climate change and the actual contents of the US Constitution — we’re probably not going to hire them. So we hope you’re also ready to take responsibility for that, too, which will probably mean supporting your grown kids in your basement until you die.
So the blue staters will only hire people who have gone to government schools? Okay. Good luck with that.
Fifth: Between federal water reclamation projects and farm subsidies, we are paying you zillions of dollars to grow stuff we’d actually rather not eat. Don’t look now, but those of us in blue cities and states are moving away from your petrochemical-saturated GMO-bred CAFO-grown industrial “food” products as fast as we possibly can. There aren’t enough organic and community-supported farms to feed all of us yet — but we have taken responsibility for this, and are working hard on the problem. You can either get on this train, or holler at it while it flattens you. What you cannot do is yell at us because we don’t want to eat what you choose to grow.
Notice, too, that the only reason we’re having to subsidize you in the first place is that the all-holy free market does not bless you with profits on this crap. In your own book, that makes you a capital-L Loser. In ours, we’ll settle for “parasite.”
You think farms must be subsidized because the free market failed? Have you ever read a good economist? Read Mises. In the meantime, let’s end the Department of Agriculture, and get rid of the vast library of regulations that add billions to the price of farming, and let’s see what happens.
Sixth: We are so over your bigotry. Again: we know from our own long experience that including women, gays and minorities makes us not only culturally richer; it also makes us more economically productive as well. And the recent economic meltdown has shown us that monocultures run exclusively by rich white men tend to stagnate into breeding pools for all kinds of social and financial parasites, who then come forward to prey on those least able to resist — like you.
Diversity isn’t just an idealistic fetish for us: we do it because we think it makes us richer on every front that matters. If “parasite” is just another word for “people who willfully make bad choices that keep them poor and ignorant,” then your prejudices by definition make you parasites. And we are not, therefore, obliged to deal with you.
Fine. Deal with whomever you want. That’s the whole point of freedom. But let’s get rid of OSHA and all the other multiculti regulations and let everyone choose to deal with whomever he wants. Some will choose unfairly. It sucks, but that’s the way freedom works.
And finally: If you want to pretend global warming isn’t happening, you do not get to come whining to us when you get hit with droughts or floods. We’re not going to send FEMA to bail you out. We’re not going to build canals to give you our water. We’re not going to fund your levees. If you’re so sure God will provide, go ask him to keep your reservoirs full and your cities dry. Because we resign.
Great. Let’s dismantle FEMA now. Or are you just making promises you don’t really mean?
Thus ends Ms. Robinson’s agenda, but she’s not done. She has five demands that red staters must meet before she’ll call it over.
1. Stop taking more money from the federal government pot than you put into it. If you believe in paying your own freight, then do it. If you can’t, that’s fine — we’ll go back to helping you out — but , because you’re simply not entitled to it.
How does one stop taking federal money when one has no say in it? But when you write “you have to let go of that producerist superiority crap,” this demand is really about shutting up people who disagree with you.
2. Admit that we were right. Admit that nobody in America ever makes it on their own, and that we are all in this together, and that there’s such a thing as the common wealth and the common good. Admit that regulation is necessary to keep the unprincipled strong from preying on the weak. Admit that there has never in history ever been any such thing as a free market: markets are created by governments, and need to be overseen by them. And finally: admit that your conservative leaders got us into this economic mess, and don’t know squat about how to get us out of it.
Again, you are demanding ideological conformity. Going Galt seems to mean to you shutting up people with different ideas.
3. Join the reality-based world. Accept that America’s prosperity utterly depends on how well-educated its kids are, especially on topics like science and history. Accept that evolution happened, and that climate change is happening now. Embrace nuance. Learn something about how to assess evidence and think rationally, without a pre-determined conclusion. Remember that God only helps those who’ve gained the real-world skills to help themselves.
You believe in God? I don’t, but that’s okay. You can think what you want. I agree with you on evolution, disagree with you on climate change, and laugh at your demands that I conform to your thinking.
4. Admit that we love our country every bit as much as you do — and that, given our much greater success at creating strong families, productive 21st-century industries and excellent places to live, we might actually know more that you do about how to make it work better in the future.
I don’t care what you love. I care that your collectivist vision for America will destroy it, despite your love for it. Government intervention is the road to serfdom.
5. Last but by no means least: Knock off the hate-mongering, threats and name-calling. Your heroine, Ms. Rand, predicted rightly that parasites invariably despise the producers they feed on; you should be embarrassed that your own behavior bears her out so clearly. And, just once, say thank you to us for all the contributions we’ve made (or, at least, tried to make) toward your well-being. We don’t ask for much, but a little gratitude now and then wouldn’t hurt.
Who is hate-mongering? All I hear from the left is lies, smears and character assassination. All wealth is produced by individuals in what remains of the free market in our mixed economy. The government just steals the wealth and redistributes it. Are we to thank you for holding a gun to the producers in our name? Is that the kind of gratitude you want? You’re like a mafia boss saying to a store owner, “You know, you oughtta thank us for protecting you.”
“The State is the great fiction through which everybody endeavors to live at the expense of everybody else.” — Frederic Bastiat