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If you want to save New Orleans, read this …

Posted by schroeder915 on July 7, 2006

New Orleans is like a patient on a respirator — and how New Orleans fares in the next decade will be a measure of how the rest of the nation fares in this century.

So if you want to save New Orleans, then you have to care about saving America.

And if you want to save America, then you have to care about liberals winning elections.

Why?

Because we have to defeat the depraved conservative ideology currently running our country into the ground by starving out of existence the public institutions that provide social security in all of its variants, by destroying the middle class, and by allowing our infrastructure to crumble.

Here’s George Lakoff:

The conservative vision for government is to shrink it – to “starve the beast.” …

Given this philosophy, then, is it any wonder that the government wasn’t there for the residents of Louisiana and Mississippi in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina? …

The response to Hurricane Katrina — rather, the lack of response — was what one should expect from a philosophy that espouses that the government can have no positive role in its citizen’s lives. This response was not about Bush’s incompetence, it was a conservative, shrink-government response to a natural disaster.

Another failure of this administration during the Katrina fiasco was its wholesale disregard of the numerous and serious hurricane warnings. But this failure was a natural outgrowth of the conservative insistence on denying the validity of global warming, not ineptitude. Conservatives continue to deny the validity of global warming, because it runs contrary to their moral system. Recognizing global warming would call for environmental regulation and governmental efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Regulation is a perceived interference with the free-market, Conservatives’ golden calf. So, the predictions of imminent hurricanes — based on recognizing global warming — were not heeded. Conservative free market convictions trumped the hurricane warnings.

You want protection from future hurricanes? It’s going to take some hard cold cash brothers and sisters, and that is going to require some long-term vision, and long-term investment, by Washington.

Before anyone criticizes me for advocating a “liberal” tax-and-spend ideology, I’m not. I’m advocating a “right” tax-and-spend ideology. I’m asking the rich to pay for the services that make their wealth possible. Why shouldn’t they pay their fair share? The rest of us do. But they get more for what they pay, and it’s far less painful to them.

If our government (Congressional Republicans and spineless Democrats in bed with them) didn’t lavish tax cuts to the elite sliver at the top of the economic ladder, and if our government didn’t have to finance military adventures so that energy companies could tap the oil reserves of other nations, there would be plenty of revenue available to finance our domestic needs.

Oh … what’s that called? “Fiscal conservatism?” It seems the Republicans in Washington have dropped that expression, because starving the government is their game.

From here, I refer readers to the following post by Conceptual Guerilla posted in Daily Kos (cross-posted in Conceptual Guerilla). The article provides a crystal clear strategy for winning the debate for liberals.

A small sample:

Their bumper sticker slogans are much more than slogans. They point to an ideology, that is instantly recognizable to millions of Americans. Where is our ideology? The only version of our ideology recognizable to the voting public is the straw man version THEY tell the public about. We don’t tell them ourselves. Because many of us don’t fucking know.

Now let me anticipate, right now, the response to this. We don’t have an ideology, because well, we’re not “ideologues.” We’re practical and pragmatic. We appreciate nuance and ambiguity. Having an ideology would turn us into the same kind of stiff necked, willfully ignorant idiots that we oppose. …

Their ideology is a post hoc justification. Their policy preferences came first. Government “has no business” improving wages and living standards, for example, because conservatives DON’T WANT government doing that. They can’t say that up front, so they stitch up an ideology that says that government “can’t” do it. …

Conservative ideology is pathetically easy to defeat. I have done so by coming up with a handy moniker that summarizes their ideology in a nutshell. They call us “big government liberals.” Well they are “cheap labor conservatives.” I have gone on to demonstrate the important relationship between public infrastructure and private fortunes. I have undermined the “less government” meme by showing that conservatives are very particular — and inconsistent — in how they use that meme. … We will come up with no “magic bullet” slogan, no set of policy preferences, no list of Republican scandals that will be effective in the long run, until we destroy their ideology. When somebody asks why jobs, wages, living standards, critical infrastructure, and generally promoting prosperity is “the government’s business,” we need to be able to tell them. …

Until then, we will continue to lose.

I’m serious. Read the post (and the comments). It’s really worth your time. I don’t think the argument is complete until you read “Defeat the Right in Three Minutes.”

(Hat tip: Suspect Device).

Related:

Lolis Eric Elie:

In an essay written for The New York Times less than a month after Katrina, Harvard University professor Michael Ignatieff analyzed the response to the disaster in terms of a government’s duty to its citizens.

“A contract of citizenship defines the duties of care that public officials owe to the people of a democratic society,” he wrote. “The most terrible price of Katrina — everyone can see this — was not the destruction of lives and property, terrible though this was. The worst of it was the damage done to the ties that bind Americans together.”

All those old stories about the greatness of America’s past accomplishments are cheapened when compared with the mediocrity of its current callousness. The history of America’s shining moments means nothing, absolutely nothing, unless it informs and guides our behavior today.

(Hat tip: Markus, Wet Bank Guide)

Tags: Bush is a moron | Impeach Bush | George W Bush | Worst President Ever | Iraq |  |  |  |  |  | 

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5 Responses to “If you want to save New Orleans, read this …”

  1. Lenny Zimmermann said

    Here, here! Well, sorta. Except I would say vote for Classical Liberals, Jeffersonian Democrats, aka Libertarians. 😉 That’s where you’ll find folks who mean it when they talk about fiscal responsibility. Starve the Beast just don’t work (Repugnicans seems to use it to mean tax cuts without concurrent cuts in spending, kind of like taking a pay cut, but continuing to spend as much as you do now… yeah, that’ll work.)

    I would take umbrage with one thing here, though. The idea that somehow the federal response would ever have worked for Katrina. It’s not Republicans OR Democrats who would have ever been able to get it to work, IMHO. The fact that so many people just EXPECTED an overbloated institution like the federal government to actually respond with any kind of speed or efficiency is really rather beyond me.

    This is a country built by people pulling up their bootstraps and getting it done, not by our government doing that. If anything our forefathers very much expected our government wouldn’t be able to take care of us. Vigilance is our price for freedom. Vigilance to ever look out for and work for ourselves and our communities.

    Hypothetically if Louisiana were to secede from the Union today, what would really happen? What services does the Federal government really provide us that we couldn’t handle ourselves? Admittedly some laws I don’t agree with at all would suddenly be enforced (like the recent Abortion ban), but overall, societally, would we really be in such terrible shape? Not that I am advocating secession, per se, especially not if the Feds shrunk back down to their Constitutionally limited size, but really think hard about how badly we really need Federal assistance, and think again how much goes OUT of our state to the Federal government. If all of that revenue (100% of oil royalties, anyone?) I think we’d be in a BETTER position to handle the issues facing Louisiana with more responsive local governments and charities that are already doing the job better than government has been able to muster.

    (Remember, now, libertarians may believe in “free markets”.. well actually free PEOPLE, but that doesn’t mean unregulated markets, which I find many folks seem to misunderstand about the libertarian position. Right now corporations seem all powerful, but that is because they are being upheld to that ability by a fascist government. Libertarians would pull the rug out from under the corporations with no corporate welfare, no special legal protections and so on. That is quite different from the neocon version of what they seem to think a “free market” is.)

  2. adrastos said

    Excellent post, Schroeder. The first comment is goofy: voting libertarian will NOT shift power in Congress and that’s what is needed.

  3. Lenny Zimmermann said

    Not as long as we constantly fall for the fallacy of the “wasted vote”. Besides shifting power only requires shifting away from the majority. So far gridlock is better than having all power in one party’s hands (perhaps most especially so when we are talking about the current theocratic corporatist oligarchy.)

    Reading the posts linked in this article certainly point out one thing, the abdication of certain ideas by the Republican party and warping them to their own ends, which I won’t disagree sure seems to be “cheap labor conservatism”. Unfortunately the Democratic alternative is a socialist regime unwilling to accept the concept of fiscal and personal responsibility.

    Let’s face it Republicans claim they want a small, fiscally responsible government, but their having the majority rule in the this country has well disproved that. Not to mention that they have never hidden behind their totalitarian ideals od legislating morality.

    Dems have done only a tad better, at least they admit they care less about fiscal responsibility (or at least care about it only in terms of taxing even further to pay for an ever-growing government.) At least there are claims of interest in personal freedoms and civil liberty, but even those have gone often to the wayside.

    Libertarians are the only ones declaring a firm belief in the ideals that allowed a country, for one of the few times in all of recorded human history, to change the standard socio-economic structure from the shape of a pyramid (wealthy and powerful few on top, smaller middle-class and lots of lower-class to trod upon) into far more of a diamond shape (few rich, massive middle-class, and one of the smallest populations of poor we’ve ever known and a transient population of poor at that, often moving up into the middle-class with opportunities almost never available in other human societies.) Certainly that society is not perfect, but it’s vastly superior, IMHO, then what we have had for over 99% of human history.

    Of course if you want to keep voting against the ideals that have allowed us to get to this capability, feel free. I’m sure Einstein would agree that continuing to do the same thing and expecting different results would be the sane thing to do. 😉

  4. potlikker said

    Lenny, I just have to say that your scorn of Democrats not practicing fiscal responsibility isn’t borne out by the record of the Clinton administration.

  5. Partially true. But Clinton also had to deal with fighting a Republican House and Senate. On of those places where gridlock seems to be a good thing. Let me fully admit that if I have only to choose between a Democrat and a Republican I am far, far more likely to choose and trust a Democrat. At least Dems are a bit more willing to give lip service to civil liberties, even if they don’t always follow through. Obviously any given candidate should be looked at based on thier own merits, of course, but speaking in generalities that I certianly how I feel. That lone example, however, doesn’t hold out well enough at the State level here, anyway. Nor nationally on a more historic basis.

    Even so, overall, I might agree with all of 20% of a Republican position, 40% with a Democratic position, but I’m far mor likely to agree with 90% or more of a Libertarian position. So tell me why I should be voting Democrat? Other than the whole “wasted vote” thing, that is. (And if our legislature ever got the cahones to pass something like IRV legislation (http://www.fairvote.org/?page=19) then we might even be able to really see some true choice in American politics. Wouldn’t that be something!

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