One of the themes I’ve addressed on occasion is that various conservative areas are actually dependent on federal spending. At the same time, they’re calling for less federal spending, even though they would be the most hurt by that. There’s a column over at The Atlantic talking about this:
But Dean P. Lacy, a professor of political science at Dartmouth College, has identified a twist on that theme in American politics over the last generation. Support for Republican candidates, who generally promise to cut government spending, has increased since 1980 in states where the federal government spends more than it collects. The greater the dependence, the greater the support for Republican candidates.
In other words, “make us stop, because we can’t stop ourselves!”
The article talks about another one in the NY Times.
Many people say they are angry because the government is wasting money and giving money to people who do not deserve it. But more than that, they say they want to reduce the role of government in their own lives. They are frustrated that they need help, feel guilty for taking it and resent the government for providing it. They say they want less help for themselves; less help in caring for relatives; less assistance when they reach old age.
Read that again. They need the help, but say they want less. Riiight. You know, here’s the thing: No one is holding a gun to their heads, no government bureaucrat is forcing them to accept government help. It turns out that you’re not obligated to take government help in any of those areas. Social Security and Medicare don’t run after you forcing checks into your hand, no state or federal agency pushes you onto SNAP (food stamps), no government agency prevents you from caring for your parents in their old age or planning for your own.
Which is the irony about these conservatives. Rather than go ahead and do without that government help, they line up to receive it. They remind me of an alcoholic who lobbies to have a neighborhood bar shut down, because if the bar wasn’t there, they “wouldn’t drink anymore.” I’ve said in the past, and I’ll repeat it: The worst thing that could be done to these people is to give them exactly what they say they want. It’d be interesting to see how long they’d last.
They resent needing help. That’s understandable. But the problem for them is that they’re not willing to admit that, they see it as a “failure,” just as an alcoholic will go to great lengths to deny being one. So rather than admit that these programs are necessary, and even though they benefit from them, they’re asking for someone to do away with them. You see, they want someone to stop them, because they’re not willing to step up and stop themselves.
It’s fundamentally selfish. Most of the people who benefit from these programs are happy to have them available. They’re there for a reason, and anyone who thinks the “good old days” were better is only fooling themselves. There was a reason Social Security became known as “the third rail of American politics.” Many seniors in the 50’s through the ’80’s had lived through the Depression, and remembered what it was like before it came along. They had absolutely no intention of returning to those days. They remembered what it was like before Medicare. Most of those people are now gone, and the generation now does not, but have a hazy ideal that they think was the reality.
No, we shouldn’t stop them. If they’re that serious, there is nothing stopping them from doing without themselves. That they haven’t says more about them than anything else. They say they want it, but they really don’t. Because without it, their lives would be far worse than even their nightmares. The real irony for conservatives is that the people they’re complaining about the most turns out to be … them. But they can’t see it.