Thursday, February 19, 2009

Karl's Jr. - UPDATED

It’s getting so a gal can hardly swing a dead cat in this media landscape without hitting someone talking about how the US has now gone “socialist.”

Which I wouldn’t mind so much if one single damn one of them knew what the fucking word meant.

Socialism, sort of, ah, famously, is when the government controls the means of production. That means that all factories and institutions are owned and controlled by the government. All of them. A famous example of a socialist government would be the now defunct USSR, manufacturer of bad cars, bad television, aggressively unfunny comics, and toilet paper rougher than an afternoon hunting with Dick Cheney.

You know what’s not socialism? I mean, besides “spreading the wealth around”? Government spending as a percentage of GDP. If you’re going to define socialism by that mark, then it would be true that by outspending the USSR on arms, Ronald Reagan was the greatest practitioner of socialism in the history of socialism, because he defeated socialism with even greater socialism. To say nothing of BushCo, who rescued capitalism with socialism.

Not only that, but the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, who make numbers like this their business, estimates that our percentage of government spending in GDP this year will be 39.8%. Under Comrade Reagan, it reached a high of 37.2%

So according to Hanity and Rush and all the rest of the boneheads at Fox News, the difference between capitalist utopia and “in Soviet Union, television watches YOU,” is 2.6%.

I think the same people are falling for this who are falling for all the hoo-ha about how the New Deal didn’t work. It’s a typical Republican MO: they cherry-pick some unemployment numbers and ta-dah! FDR’s a phony, and Americans were no worse off at the beginning of WW2 than they were when Hoover had finished dragging the US through four years of laissez-faire purgatory. I seem to recall that Hoover thought that legislation to stimulate the economy would make citizens too dependent upon their government. And Americans don’t trust big government. I mean, except when they want to, like, drive on a road or call 911 or cash a Social Security check or other socialist-type activities.

But all this is merely being used by the Republicans as a way to counter comparisons being made to Obama’s stimulus bill by people who actually understand economics, and what words mean.

It’s tempting to make a big deal out of the lack of Republican support for the bill, but for them, opposition to it is win-win. If the stimulus is seen have been effective, they will never be held accountable for not voting for it, because their spin is that they are opposed “in principle.” And if the stimulus is seen to have failed, they will never stop screeching “we told you so.” It’s no wonder only a few brave souls crossed the aisle. Arlen Specter voted for the bill, and admitted to the press that many of his Republican colleagues told him that they wanted the bill to pass, but didn’t want their “fingerprints” on it.

So much for principle.



You know readers, a while back, Spooney and I were enjoying a nutritious breakfast (cheese grits!) at the Coral Diner in Burbank, and we overheard a young man at the table next to us bragging to his friends about how well his new job was going. Apparently it was some kind of public works deal, and for one day, at least, his crew’s job consisted of moving sandbags from one place to another. But what he was so proud of, was that his co-workers had decided to give the new guy a break, and they offered him a six pack for every 100 sandbags that he moved. At the end of the day, he told his friends excitedly, he had moved over 300 bags, forcing each of his 3 crew members to buy him a whole six pack of beer each.

It was adorable. The dude had no idea that he’d been ripped off. Or perhaps the deal would’ve been okay with him no matter what. But for the price of a sixer, the rest of the crew got to sit in the shade while one guy did all of their work for them.

This is not a story that makes Republicans feel bad. In fact, they have carried off a similar feat themselves, effectively forcing Democrats to carry the entire stimulus bill for them, while they not only bring the bucks back to their home states, but actually also BRAG ABOUT IT.

A Republican chief of staff to one of these hypocrites countered criticism by saying “Certainly it’s possible to oppose the entire bill on principle and favor certain sections of it.”

Um, no dude. It’s actually not. You can oppose the entire bill because you don’t think the bill as a whole fiscally justifies the parts that bring money to your state, but you can’t oppose the entire bill on principle, while still welcoming the sections that are going to help you get re-elected. Again, I think the problem might be that Republicans don’t entirely understand what words mean. Okay, I get that a large vocabulary is frequently a deal-breaker when it comes to being elected to public office, but “principle” is a word they really might want to look up before they go brandishing it any further.

Florida Governor Charlie Crist, a Republican, supported the stimulus package in spite of taking a lot of shit from his party. Crist is also being criticized by other Republican Governors as well, notably South Carolina’s Mark Sanford, who has stated that he may not accept his state’s portion of the stimulus money. When asked for his reaction to the stand Sanford and those other Republican governors may take, Crist’s former chief of staff said “Ah…call me back if one of those governors doesn’t take it.”

Well fucking put.


bubbles said...

Didn't want their fingerprints on it. Great. Gotta love those brave leaders, huh? Responsibility? Nah, just avoid it and let the country go to hell - they have their salaries and pensions.

"Toilet paper rougher than..." hahahahaha!

Dr. Monkey Von Monkerstein said...

I love how conservative pundits call the Nazi's socialist because "socialism" is part of their name.

Bubs said...

Ah, well said. I'm growing sick of the cries of "socialism" from the avid listeners of Sean Hannity and Mark Levin.

Cheer34 said...

I don't listen to the republicans....all thier words are loud because they want to bully...that is it in a nut shell.....they bully

Dad E said...

Consevatives in the GOP just don't get it. Their mytholgy upholds the sacred cows articulated by Reagan,of blind obeisance to the market, dogmatic faith in tax cuts, and knee-jerk hatred of government. They can't face up to the fact that their ideas have failed.

The market people got us into this mess due to unregulated greed. Tax cuts for the wealthy gave us distructive income disparity. And government hatred discourages taking action and being a force of social justice. It seems to me Obama was elected because enough people saw the facts that the GOP can't manage the country using these dogmas.

Our government has a vital role to play. FDR laid a foundation of programs to provide a social safety net that people now take for granted. How could we manage today without assurances of Social Security, Federal insurance on bank deposits, and unemployement insurance to name a few.

While true that just before WWII, unemployment still was a problem. It was only the huge deficit spending necessary to conduct the war that finally brought about economic recovery and full employment. So if anything, FDR's social recovery programs didn't go far enough.

jadedj said...

With the dumbing down of America for the last eight years, it does not surprise me that the word "socialism" is bantered about without an iota of understanding what socialism is. It's much the same with the word "liberal". Repubs use it to infer communist, which is, of course, asinine.

Johnny Yen said...

Most of the Republican governors are begging the Senators and House members who have not supported the economic stimulus to reconsider. I hope there are enough smart people in South Carolina to send Sanford out on his ass next election.

I have to wonder if anybody out there in the blogosphere who's ripping on the package have actually looked it over.

Anonymous said...

Didn't Crist break ranks and support Obama for prez? Now he's supporting the stimulus and calling bullshit on Republican governors grandstanding against the bill? I wonder if he's had his "come to Jesus" moment, or if he's just planning to jump ship.

Distributorcap said...

there was an interesting provision in the bill..... that the fucking governors like Sanford ALL KNOW

If funds provided to any state in any division of this act are not accepted for use by the governor, then acceptance by the state legislature, by means of the adoption of a concurrent resolution, shall be sufficient to provide funding to such state.

so they think they it both ways

gawd, i hate the republican party

dguzman said...

Well fucking put, Vikkitik. I had to sit next to a guy claiming that the REAL cause of all our economic woes is (wait for it) WELFARE. Yup, we're giving those poor people so damned much money that Wall Street is collapsing, the banks are all broke, and armageddon is upon us. I just stared at him for a second or two, turned around, and asked the guy behind me to switch seats.