How Conservatism Is Destroying America

California is on the brink of financial collapse. Jennifer Steinhauer writes for The New York Times,

The state, nearly out of cash, has laid off scores of workers and put hundreds more on unpaid furloughs. It has stopped paying counties and issuing income tax refunds and halted thousands of infrastructure projects.

This crisis has many causes, but addressing it has been rendered nearly impossible by Republicans in the state legislature who block any form of tax increase. Hilzoy says,

They need three (3) Republican votes in each house. They can’t get them. And this despite the fact that the Republicans who have been negotiating have gotten a lot, including, according to the LATimes, “tax breaks for corporations”.

Really. I am not making this up. With the state budget $41 billion in deficit, Republicans held out for corporate tax cuts, and then aren’t even supporting the resulting bill.

Stopping building projects is costing Californians millions of dollars. Borrowing money to keep the government going is going to cost Californians millions of dollars.

As the stimulus bill becomes law today, we learn that a number of Republican governors are lining up to support it. It may be too little, too late for California. But a number of other states, both red and blue, may be pulled back from the brink of disaster by federal dollars — in no particular order, New York, Virginia, Iowa, Tennessee, Missouri, Ohio, etc. etc. Add your state here.

States are in trouble for a lot of reasons, but an immediate one is the loss of revenue by retailers. City and state budgets are breaking all over America.

Florida Governor Charlie Crist, a Republican, explains,

“It really is a matter of perspective,” Mr. Crist said in an interview. “As a governor, the pragmatism that you have to exercise because of the constitutional obligation to balance your budget is a very compelling pull” generally.

With Florida facing a projected $5 billion shortfall in a $66 billion budget, and social costs rising, the stimulus package “helps plug that hole,” Mr. Crist said, “but it also helps us meet the needs of the people in a very difficult economic time.”

And it appears Americans on the whole are glad Congress came through.

So, who’s not happy? Well, we know, don’t we?

As there weren’t enough Republicans in Washington to provide fodder for the story the New York Times wanted to write – they simply took it on the road to those Republicans Governors who also happen to be the ones most hat in hand when it comes to Federal dollars. Yep, quite a “conservative” bunch this crew. Or so the Times would have one believe. …

… How about if the Feds didn’t suck the money out of states to begin with only to wastefully plow it back in?

If you are wondering how the feds are sucking money out of states, read the comments to the rightie blog post linked above. They’ve noticed that poor New Jersey only gets back 70 percent of what it sends to Congress. Yes, and this is something I’ve written about in the past. The wealthier, more industrialized states (nearly all of which are blue) tend to pay more in taxes than they receive in federal dollars. Poorer, less industrialized states (nearly all of which are red) pay less in federal taxes than they receive in federal dollars.

In other words, for many years blue states have been carrying the load for red states that won’t pay for their own messes.

Now, if the conservatives who run the poor red states want to be real conservatives and stop grabbing money out of the hands of New Jersey taxpayers, I wouldn’t object. Let the freeloaders in Mississippi pay their own bleeping taxes, heh?

Of course, in the real world what would happen is that there would be a belt of states sunken into Third World style poverty by their idiot GOP state government, and this belt would stretch across the southeastern U.S. and reach up to the more rural western states. And in the long run it would hurt the U.S. as a whole more than it would help.

Right-wing economic “theory” is destroying America. It’s doing a bigger job on us that al Qaeda could ever have dreamed.

27 thoughts on “How Conservatism Is Destroying America

  1. the real world what would happen is that there would be a belt of states sunken into Third World style poverty by their idiot GOP state government, and this belt would stretch across the southeastern U.S. and reach up to the more rural western states.

    Jim Kunstler has a cute name for this belt: “The Moron Crescent”. You’ve described its geographic reach perfectly. What galls me is that a rural state like Wyoming has the same number of senators as do the heavily populated states, and so the Morons among us have far more influence than they should. I seem to remember that in 1900, about 25% of us lived on farms (it’s now around 4% or less), and so this arrangement may have made sense in colonial days, but it’s ludicrous now.

    I won’t go into all the details of why CA is in the mess it’s in. It’s almost ungovernable, given the extremists, but especially because of structural issues, such as the need to have a 2/3 majority to pass any tax increase. This allows a minority to take the state hostage. Were it not for this requirement, the Democratic majority could easily blow past the Republican holdouts and there’d be a budget.

    Interestingly, there’s been a proposal recently floated by a rural Republican to divide the state in two – into a blue coastal state possessing the major cities, from San Francisco to Los Angeles, and a rural, interior state comprising of the majority of counties. The rural state would also get San Diego, which is the most conservative of the big cities, and a big seaport and naval base. They would also get liberal Humboldt county, home to the Emerald Triangle, where a certain illegal crop is grown that could be taxed to solve any state’s budget problems. This whole thing was spurred by Proposition 2, which forbade cruel treatment of animals, and which passed last November. This was seen by the rural areas as a huge infringement into their way of life. As a liberal coastal dweller, I voted against Prop 2, because while noble in intent, it seemed excessive.

    But this is the kind of thing – dividing up the state – that has happened before and will continue to happen. I am a little bit nervous that Obama continues to channel Lincoln. He’s extremely smart, and I wonder if he sees civil war ahead.

  2. I have been saying for a long, long time that the Republican Party Leadership has been intentionally working to destroy the US economy since Reagan was installed as Acting-President.

    We are seeing the fruits of that effort today. California, and now Kansas, are dying and the GOP in those states are not letting up on the choke-hold. The republicans in California clearly have as their goal the total destruction of the state government. What else could it possibly be?

  3. random thoughts:

    I went to Disneyland this past weekend (not showing many of the signs of the economic crisis short of not opening the ice cream stands before 11:00, but it is Disney) and talked with a few of my friends who live in the Bay Area. They concur: the state is indeed tanking in a way that all Californians can see.

    Remember when Schwarzenegger swore that Gray Davis was a horrible governor for the whole Enron thing and promised to balance the budget? Yeah, me too. I’m in education, bottom of the tax cut barrel, and I saw the writing on the wall. I got out before it got really bad.

    A petitioner wanted me to sign a petition yesterday to limit the amount the state could raise taxes in WA, and couldn’t understand why I refused to sign. I would happily pay more taxes if it meant my neighbors could be employed and taken care of in these times. I’m lucky that I have money to spare.

  4. I am reminded of Christian Scientist parents who watched their child die rather than allow modern medicine treat an ailment which science could cure. Such is the damnable fixation some Republicans have about tax cuts; they will sacrifice all society at the altar of low taxes.

  5. Let me see if I understand. California and Kansas (both run by Democrats–who have brought them to this point of financial disaster) are complaining because Republicans won’t go along on the same disasterous path? The Senators from small (population) states, like Wyoming don’t seem to come up with crazy, defying common sense kinds of solutions that Senators from small and less significant states like Delaware seem to propogate. Being from the midwest (Nebraska), I can live and enjoy life without almost anything that comes out of New York–but they can’t eat without us. Just a few random thoughts–Oh, by the way, Nebraska has a Republican governor that is running a surplus–because he knows how to lead a state.

  6. Pingback: The Real Terrorists to the US — Conservatives « The Crone Speaks

  7. California has a Republican governor, btw.

    True. But to a true believer, not so much: he’s married to a Kennedy and has recently started talking clean air and green energy. And (the killer) he’s looking for federal handouts to keep his state afloat. The party that requires so very many rationalizations to keep their heads from exploding can easily rationalize Arnold into an ersatz democrat, or at least republican light.

  8. Hey, not all Nebraskans are stupid.

    Nebraska frequently has budget shortfalls. But our Republicans don’t like to talk about the fact that there’s never enough money for health care for poor children. They’re the “Life Begins At Conception (and Ends At Birth)” crowd.

    Furthermore, it’s blatantly false to say that Kansas is “run by Democrats.” At the moment, Kansas’s Republican-majority legislature is putting on a really tedious revival of Budget! Clinton versus Congress (music by Billy Ray Cyrus, lyrics by Newt Gingrich). Down in Topeka, it’s 1995 all over again! Yaaay! My sister, a teacher in the Shawnee Mission school district, could lose her job, and it won’t be Gov. Sibelius’s fault.

  9. True believers like the Moron Crescent dweller above are sum and total the problem with American conservatism. They believe things to be true that are demonstrably not. As a Californian (by choice) for the last 37 years I have seen the crop of radical “destroy America first” republican ideologues raised here and foisted on the nation. Nixon, Reagan, Jarvis, Connerly. Our republican Congressional contingent (think Issa, Roerbacher) sits somewhere to the right of Francisco Franco. And the republicans in the state house make these guys look absolutely reasonable. The policies started here, under Reagan the governor, have brought us to where we are now. The confluence of radical conservative “me first-ism” and greed-head yuppydom in the 1980’s served as the slow cooker for the vile stew we find ourselves in now. And some – notably the well named Moron Crescent inhabitants – think that we need to continue this. No. The best that could happen for California and America is to finish helping propel this traitorous bunch into political extinction.

  10. California’s situation is complex – I’ll try to keep it short.

    Yes, Ahnold is a nominally a Republican. When he first came in, he put six far right propositions on the ballot, to get around the Democratic legislature – let the people decide, and all that. All of them failed in a special election, which cost the state $50 million. He simultaneously managed to antagonize the police, firefighters, nurses, and teachers – as he went around pretending to be a populist. The failure of his propositions made him rethink his future, and now he governs like a Democrat, to the consternation of his own eviscerated party.

    Being married to Maria Shriver – IMO the brains of the outfit – surely helped him see the light. I personally still don’t trust or really like him, but I am impressed with the way he has lent his celebrity and position to push for alternative energy + curbing greenhouse gasses – in sharp contrast to the flat-earthers in his own party who refuse to grasp that global warming is real.

    There are structural elements in California that hamstring governance, many of them put there by the right. Requiring a 2/3 majority to raise taxes is one. Prop 13, which capped property taxes is another – this puts a lot of strain on state government to make up the difference. As is common throughout the US, our districts are gerrymandered so that most of them safely favor one party or the other, which means the most extreme, polarizing candidates win. There is also a bit of self selection going on – even without gerrymandering, districts are usually blue or red, and this also favors extreme candidates.

    Finally, it’s true, being a blue state, we do vote – either through the legislature or through propositions – to enhance the quality of life here – acts which unfortunately were often done through an endless series of bond measures, or measures that dedicate a certain percentage of the general revenue stream. Being a blue state, we believe that people can pull together to make things better, and being a wealthy state – up till now anyway – we’ve had the wherewithal – up till now – to pull it off.

    Beside the structural problems just mentioned, I don’t believe California has anything like a rainy day fund, or even the “radical” notion of budgeting for more than one year at a time (some states budget two years). And so, our budget process traditionally is feast or famine, manic-depressive, with severe shortfalls appearing regularly. When things are well, we’re optimistic and voting for all kinds of enhancements; when things head south, the cupboard is truly bare, and disaster lies dead ahead.

    Whether you want to live in such a crazy state is a matter of personal taste and economics. I grew up in a sensible state like Pennsylvania, but got tired of the dullness of the red/blue stalemate, tired of the brain-drain, and became frustrated with my increasing inability to find people who thought like I did. I’ve never regretting moving to the Golden State with all its creative and visionary souls, and truly fun and wacky ways, but the time may be coming to move again.

    I often think that the conservatives who complain about taxes and conditions in California are rather ingenuous – they complain a bit too loudly. If it was so goddamn awful here, why don’t they move to Idaho or Mississippi? Some do leave, but not enough.

  11. I live and grew up in the Seattle-Tacoma, Washington area (God’s country); and, we used to have the following saying based on the idea that Southern California was going to slide into the Pacific Ocean because of the San Andreas Fault. We said that California deserved to slide into the Ocean because they gave America Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan. Now, it looks like the Republicans are even worse than the threat of the San Andreas Fault.

    I think the “no tax” crowd should not be allowed to use any thing that taxes have paid for starting with the U.S. Highway system.

  12. And so, [California’s] budget process traditionally is feast or famine, manic-depressive, with severe shortfalls appearing regularly.

    That statement would almost perfectly describe Nebraska’s fiscal history. Well, except for the “feast” part. In fat years, we celebrate with… tax cuts for corporations! Wheee!

    I’ve detected a common theme in the current state-budget crises: “We’re bygod not gonna spend money on public schools!” It’s no coincidence that this attitude comes from people who’ve declared war on the very idea of public education.

  13. If I’m not mistaken, California is the 5th largest economy in the world. What does its collapse mean to the rest of the US and the World? Catastophe!
    These people don’t live in the moron crescent (God, I love that). They are the star adjacent to that crescent.
    Splitting that state in two does make some sense. You’d have the agricultural backwater in the east, and the money makers in tech and industry along the coast.
    But, that is of no help now. Currently, the state is held hostage by middle-class, white, Osama Bin Laden’s.
    And yes, Osama is on the brink of successfully destroying America.
    From Ronald to Ahnold, 4 decades of shame (Jerry Brown not included)…

  14. I fear the no-tax crowd will have to learn the hard way. Juan Cole noted this doesn’t bode well for the rest of the states if California goes belly up.

  15. Forget, please, “conservatism.” It has been, operationally, de facto, Godless and therefore irrelevant. Secular conservatism will not defeat secular liberalism because to God both are two atheistic peas-in-a-pod and thus predestined to failure. As Stonewall Jackson’s Chief of Staff R.L. Dabney said of such a humanistic belief more than 100 years ago:

    “[Secular conservatism] is a party which never conserves anything. Its history has been that it demurs to each aggression of the progressive party, and aims to save its credit by a respectable amount of growling, but always acquiesces at last in the innovation. What was the resisted novelty of yesterday is today .one of the accepted principles of conservatism; it is now conservative only in affecting to resist the next innovation, which will tomorrow be forced upon its timidity and will be succeeded by some third revolution; to be denounced and then adopted in its turn. American conservatism is merely the shadow that follows Radicalism as it moves forward towards perdition. It remains behind it, but never retards it, and always advances near its leader. This pretended salt bath utterly lost its savor: wherewith shall it be salted? Its impotency is not hard, indeed, to explain. It is worthless because it is the conservatism of expediency only, and not of sturdy principle. It intends to risk nothing serious for the sake of the truth.”

    Our country is collapsing because we have turned our back on God (Psalm 9:17) and refused to kiss His Son (Psalm 2).

    John Lofton, Editor,
    Recovering Republican
    [email protected]

  16. This crisis has many causes, but addressing it has been rendered nearly impossible by Republicans in the state legislature who block any form of tax increase.

    Just what is needed to make clear the need to permanently dye these morons with treason – economic treason – political treason – legal treason – even military treason? And apply the traditional laws concerning treason to the political party, its supporters and adherents.

  17. If the Right Rev’rend Johnny Reb Lofton’s “random” gravatar ain’t proof of the Almighty….

    (Love how he quotes a pro-slavery guy, too.)

  18. [A]pply the traditional laws concerning treason to the political party, its supporters and adherents.

    Sounds like a good way to get bumped to the top of Amnesty International’s shit list, if we aren’t there already.

  19. “Taxes are the price we pay for civilization.” Oliver Wendell Holmes

    In my opinion, that says it all.

  20. i “It’s doing a bigger job on us that al Qaeda could ever have dreamed.”

    Aw Kont-rare, Dear Maha….It’s doing exactly the job on us that Al Queda dreamed of most fondly….And wetly…

  21. There are no shortages of inequities such as the red-blu referenced here. States bordering Mexico dole out so much in social services from those not even on the tax roles that it’s hard to balance state budgets. Unfunded mandates still exist. States can’t very well bar corporations that offshore jobs from doing business in the state.

    When we are all in poverty the impoverished conservatives can gloat about having shown the liiberals.

    I cannot remember a time since I became politically aware in which the interests of so few supplanted…even decimated the interests of so many.

    Do we have the means to purge those Democrats and Republicans who are getting in the way for the coming mid-terms? Or does it have to get even worse?

  22. I’ve often wondered whether or not President Lincoln really got it wrong. What if the South and less industrialized rural areas of the country should just form another nation? I think this great experiment of a Republic may not really work. There just are too many different ideas to become integrated into the larger system.

  23. Maybe the red states need more tax dollars to support all the working poor in their state because their citizens did not want or get a good education? ex, Georgia, Mississippi, South Carolina… And California is broke because of all the illegal immigrants that get free education and hospitalization there. I am from California but moved away about 20 years ago, and last night I looked up the demographics of California and was shocked to learn that the State has more hispanics living there now than any other race. It was not like this in the 1980’s. The illegal aliens coming up from Mexico have flooded the State. I know that the Democrats and Republicans that have refused to round up the illegal aliens and send them packing are responsible for this economic tragedy.

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