Thursday, October 09, 2008

Get Me a Beer, Bitch!

I received this article from my friend M, with whom I'll be travelling to New Mexico for the election, this morning. In it, Thomas Friedman takes Sarah Palin to task on her debate statement that paying higher taxes is not patriotic.

Good for Thomas Friedman. Everybody should be doing that.

On an ideological level, the fuss over taxes has puzzled me for some time. You live in America. American businesses are paying you money. American towns, cities, lands are your place(s) of residence. American armies are (hypothetically) fighting to protect your interests. You drive on highways the federal and state government built, you fly in air the federal government controls. You're obviously gettin' something out of this, and it makes sense that you should have to put something back into it. Yes, I favor tax protest as a form of political speech, but only when it is done very precisely, to represent that you dislike about the government's actions—that is, if you know exactly which taxes go where and refuse to pay only the taxes that support those programs to the existence of which you object. But if you're using the resources of the nation to gain your means, you should be putting some of those means back into the nation. To me the default, and we have reached the point at which John McCain and I diverge, is that the more money you're getting paid by American businesses, the more American land you own, the more American places whose resources you use, the more you owe to all those places, and therefore the more means you should be putting back into America. At the very least I favor a flat rate for income tax, at the most something more like what Mr. Obama is talking about.

But Sarah Palin, and this middle class she ostensibly represents, move(s) far beyond not agreeing with me. To Sarah Palin, paying taxes is unpatriotic. Let me say it again: UNPATRIOTIC.

I've proposed very complex definitions for "patriotism" and "patriotic" elsewhere on this blog. Let's put them aside for now. Let's assume that the definition of patriotism is the one more simply used. Like let's say "patriotic" means "loving your country."

Putting more money into the care and feeding of your country, according to the logic of the woman who currently has an 8% chance of being the President of the United States**, means you don't love your country.

The "bitch" in this post's title does not refer to Palin, although I would comfortably use that word to refer to her. It actually refers to America, and the relationship that Palin and her supporter-compatriots seem to think that we as residents and citizens of America should have with America. By Palin's measure, the way in which we should demonstrate our love for our country is by taking as much from it as possible.

Allow me to suspect that the First Dude puts up with an awful lot of bullshit.

My extremely ignorant opinion of the bailout is not terrific. It seems to me that the argument is the bigger you get, the more inherently dependent the government is upon you, and the more the government therefore needs to support you although you have felt no need to support the government. That seems icky to me, particularly when there are few provisions to ensure that the exact same thing will not happen again. As I said, I know little; I have no understanding of what would happen without the bailout. But the notion that we should lead big businesses to assume they can rely on bailouts at this scale without asking them to put in enough to support this possibility for all of *their* compatriots feels insane.

Sarah Palin is saying that an ideal relationship between country and citizen is an abusive relationship. She asks for a relationship in which the nation, and by extension the nation's poorest/neediest/least visible citizens (this is to say, those who have the least means not intimately linked to the means of the country) gives all to the citizens and expects nothing, no support, no response to its own needs. Instead, the country should be satisfied that we love it, because we *say* we love it. After all, don't we talk all the time about how much we love it? Don't we wave flags to symbolize our love? Don't we talk about how no other country can compare to it? Isn't that enough, America? Of course I love you! You should know that by now! Now get me a bailout!

**I'm assuming here that the McCain/Palin ticket has about a 50% chance of winning. Multiply that by John McCain's approximate one in six chance—around 16%—of dying in office.


At 3:26 PM, Blogger Connor said...

"Sarah Palin is saying that an ideal relationship between country and citizen is an abusive relationship."

This would make a great sound bite. And it's true, to boot.

At 8:33 PM, Blogger Ammegg said...

Dude, I've created a *sound bite*? That's not usually my M.O. :>D


At 1:20 AM, Blogger Lawrence said...

it's just baffling how differently liberals and conservatives look at notions of responsibility. conservatives ask people to give up an enormous number of their rights to such things as privacy and information, and, by and large, many people do. but no one seems to think of this as a weighty responsibility -- to me it seems like really pretty much the same kind of thing as paying taxes. you're giving up something that's yours in order to let the government run more smoothly. the asymmetry seems to maybe just be that if conservatives *realized* how much of a responsibility they were taking on by giving up these rights, they might not give into things like the Patriot Act so readily after all...

what i really seriously don't understand about this whole conservative economic philosophy that takes small government as a guiding star is, what, in according to this point of view, do we have a government for at all? if the technology of government doesn't exist in order to serve its populace... then why the fuck is there a government in the first place...?? (and the only conclusion i can come to is that this philosophy is all really just a pack of lies. silly me, of course.)

At 1:32 AM, Blogger Lawrence said...

er... i suppose i should also say, like, how come i can support "buying civilization with taxes" and not things like the Patriot Act, if i think they're so bloody equivalent...?

but... does it just come down to thinking that for people, information (which includes freedom of local action) is more important than money, whereas the reverse is true for governments? because governments are big and lumbering and not very bright as organisms and therefore don't do information-processing well, whereas information-processing is actually what makes up the fabric of people's lives? seems like a pretty small and technical thing to base a whole range of political positions on, doesn't it?


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