Tuesday, October 30, 2012


~intermission from my countdown posts~

I think today, while a giant swath of our country copes with the storm aftermath, is a good day to announce loudly that:

(a lot)

I don't get the whole "shrink the government till it's small enough to drown it in a bath tub" sentiment. Really? Drown our cities, more like, on a day like today.


Where would we be without taxes?

Some of my favorite governmenty/taxy things: 

  • clean water out of the tap (yum!)
  • 911 response (thank god)
  • libraries (yes please)
  • low-interest federal student loans (still paying them off)
  • postal delivery (reliable! affordable!)
  • roads and bridges (duh)
  • federal disaster relief (TODAY)
  • sewage treatment (sexy!)
  • National Parks! (visionary)
Yay for all of those amazing things and so many more! Yay for civilization and people caring for each other! Yay for legislated compassion to balance out greed! Yay for leaders who aren't just trying to enrich their cronies, but to make life better for everyone!

I've never been very political. The first election I was of age to vote was Clinton's first presidency, and though I had grown up in a Republican household and even worked for the Republican party in high school, I am very proud that I voted for Clinton. And by the way, both of my parents, including my father, a longtime Republican and retired career Naval officer, are now extremely liberal, extremely well-informed, and extremely pro-Obama. The Bush years changed them, and they changed me and Jim too--not from Republicans to Democrats--we had voted for Gore--but from mildly disinterested to engaged citizens. I will never forget the stun of that election and its aftermath. It was an awakening. From the first grueling months of thinking, foolishly, that it couldn't stand, through to mobilizing for the next election, to the much greater demoralization when it happened again, we paid attention. 

And one of the things I do not understand is the vision of these people who want to Cut Everything. Who want to "drown the government in a bathtub," and end taxes. 


*baffle baffle baffle*

Because when I picture it -- a United States without government programs or tax spending -- I see disease and despair and poverty and collapse. I see hopelessness and joblessness and crime, the rich having to wall their compounds while everyone else scrambles to get by, no emergency rooms or ambulances, no public schools or parks, no police? Kind of post-Apocalyptic. And I know we like post-Apocalyptic books, guys, but we don't really want to live it.

On a day like today, when so many of our friends and family members and fellow citizens are helpless in the aftermath of a disaster, with an election scheduled for next week (what will we do??? Can it go on?) and one candidate who has long said he would do away with FEMA and make states cope on their own ... 

Who should be president? I think it's pretty clear.

Watch this, it's great:

Tell me: 
what's your favorite thing that government does for us?


Jenn said...

After the quick responses in my hometown of NYC I have to say I'm impressed with how they took care of everything and responded to Hurricane Sandy these past few days. And it's great to see unity between the federal and state governments. One of my most prideful moments I can remember is the passing of same-sex marriage in NY State last year under Gov. Cuomo. I LOVE that government can commit and enforce equality in this world and has done so steadily for the past 40-50 years in the U.S.

Anonymous said...

Higher education! Full disclosure: I work at a university. But my love for universities is as a citizen: I'm constantly in awe of all the cool free things universities provide to the public at large. Music, theater, public lectures in sciences and social sciences, general education programs - and more broadly, a chance for everyone to practice, to learn whatever skills they desire.

Laini Taylor said...

Jennifer, so good to hear that. And I couldn't agree more about same-sex marriage, hell let's just call it MARRIAGE. :-)

Anon, I too am a huge fan of public universities. UC Berkeley grad. Such an amazing education for the $$, and yeah, all the other stuff. Very good point.

Anonymous said...

THANK YOU for this post, Laini!

I love that government can fund pure research, research that will have no return on investment this quarter or this year, but could save mankind decades down the road. Only government has the deep pockets and extremely long term vision to carry this out.

It is government funding that enables us to predict and track storms, and this in turn saves lives.

I think that those who think government can do no good, should not run for office!

Laini Taylor said...

Anon, a really good one! Absolutely.

Jen said...

I just love that we CAN be engaged in government! It's a huge freedom, and a huge responsibility. (Also, I <3 libraries, public education, and social programs.)

Great post!

tanita✿davis said...

This reminds me: The Kidlitosphere is redoing "Why I Vote" as we did in 2004, a non-partisan, positive thing - and this is kinda exactly the thing...

Unknown said...

Health care!

Thanks to Obamacare, my husband and I had our first physicals since HIGH SCHOOL last week (he's 35!) for free. We wouldn't have been able to afford them otherwise, in part due to our high insurance premiums. Preventative care is so important, and I'm glad the president is looking out for our health.

Anonymous said...

Early intervention! I work in it, so I'm biased, but let me tell you, it is very important. Many of these families couldnt get help any other way.

Laini Taylor said...

Jen, yes, so true!

Tanita, harder and harder to be non-partisan! But yes, nice to strive for civility :)

Phoebe, YES. I have high hopes. We have not yet seen any changes for ourselves, and still pay absurd premiums out of pocket, but I am so glad that there is change underway that is positively affecting so many Americans. This is CRITICAL.

Emilie said...

Laini, thank you so much for this post. My husband and I are pretty middle-of-the-road, and that's not code for disinterested, but rather we feel that there are good things about both parties and that the best answers are often between the extremes.

My favorite thing about government WOULD BE the adoption tax credit if it weren't in serious danger of disappearing before we get a chance to use it (we're on a waiting list and even if we got placed tomorrow, our adoption wouldn't be finalized until next year, so we'd have to wait to claim it on our 2013 taxes). We've heard all kinds of "opinions" since we started down this path, but one thing we've agreed on is that children need families, it is better for society as a whole if all children have loving, stable families, and it saves the government money down the road if loving, stable families expand to include those children who aren't born into them. We love that the government, even under the questionable leadership of W, recognized this, and we hate that it's on the chopping block just because W also had a lot of credits that don't make as much sense. If it goes away, my new favorite thing about government would be schools--much as they need help, they're still there and we're still trying.

Anonymous said...

Great post! WHat boggles me the most are people who call themselves "Christian Republicans." My understanding of Christianity is that it is about loving and respecting our fellow human beings, and yet, most Christians now consider themselves Republican and have no problem voting for policies that will dismantle safety nets for veterans, the disabled, seniors, and those who become ill. I support a government that wants to uphold a separation of church and state, and sees it as a moral imperative to take care of its citizens and maintain an environment that nourishes and nurtures humanity and the earth we share and are supposed to take care of for future generations.

I like a government too that fights for the right of every woman to decide for herself what she does with her body, and will fight against the Christian Republican right to take away women's rights in this area.

You'd think we'd learn after things like Katrina and now Frankenstorm that only the federal government has the capacity to do certain things, such as respond to huge natural disasters.

This election should not be as close as it is. Far too many Americans have insufficient critical thinking skills and are too easily brainwashed into religion.

Shena Tokala said...

I definitely agree; we need government in this country and we need taxes. I'm glad to see another like-minded author :D

Shena Tokala said...

I definitely agree; we need government in this country and we need taxes. I'm glad to see another like-minded author :D

Annie said...

The 1st Amendment–and its defense–is a pretty incredible part of what the US government provides for its citizens. I'm really grateful to everyone (in government and otherwise) who continues to support, uphold, and fight for continued freedoms of religion, speech, press, assembly, and petition.

Unknown said...

Well said! One of my favorites is public schools -- as a student and a future teacher!

Amy @ bookgoonie said...

Beautiful & thoughtful post.

Karthy said...

Well, since I work at a library and my two boys go to the local public schools, I'd have to say libraries and schools! Things haven't been the easiest in Michigan lately for libraries, though. Since libraries are funded through property taxes, our funding has gone down as home values declined (and there are going to be some changes on how property taxes are distributed, thanks to our governor). Luckily the system I work for has not laid off any employees or closed any branches.

I will comment that my husband and I identify ourselves as Christians, but believe more in the teachings to LOVE everyone. EVERYONE. I have no issue with gay marriage. I personally wouldn't get an abortion (though I haven't been in a situation to need one), but I have to right to tell someone what they can and can not do with their body. No one does but them. I hate it how people try to push 'christian values' as religious freedom, when it is taking away the freedom from others!

Unknown said...

Every time you blog, I fall a little more in love. ESPECIALLY NOW. Great post. Thank you for your openness and on-the-nail dialogue. Refreshing!

Laurence King said...

Oh Laini, you make my heart sing!

For me it's about health care and education and the environment, the ability to help in crisis such as the one we are facing. It's about moving forward as a people so that everyone has a chance to a better life.

Unknown said...

Thank you so much Laini for this post! As a young woman - the great work of planned parenthood is especially important to me! Voting early to make sure it sticks around for future generations, ie. Clementine's generation!!

& love NPR & PBS too!!

(PS -Coming to see you in Miami in Nov! Can't Wait!

Teresa said...

Romney/Ryan 2012! Let's end the killing of children, and the war on religious freedom!

Vijaya said...

I live govt. too, just not the current administration. And govt. should never sanction killing, esp. of the most vulnerable in our society -- the unborn.

I pray for a Romney/Ryan win.

Jennie Bailey said...

The very, very, very top of my list would be national parks because I'm an outdoor girl and I love to get lost in my nature. It's a good thing for taxes to go toward - keeps the soul healthy. Libraries and public education would have to be at the top of my list. While I'm not seeing any benefit from the health care yet, I'm glad if others are! I love our freedom. Freedom to love, freedom to choose. I don't want someone dictating that to me because they believe their religion is better than others or their God is the right God (to me, that makes it no different than Taliban rule, thank you very much). I wish that we could drink from the tap, but we live in L.A. and I'm not convinced that it would be safe. But I do love that I can drink when I visit relatives! Great post, Laini!

Laini Taylor said...

Emilie, I don't know anything about the adoption tax credit, but it sounds like a good thing? As far as good things about both parties, okay ... Can you tell me three good things about the current Republican party? One good thing? Beyond the obvious ways they are great for the rich, I mean.

Anon, I agree, re: Christianity. The wedge issues keep so many religious people on the right, and I understand (truly) why they cannot compromise on those things, but I don't understand the blindness to the far far greater and farther-reaching issues of poverty and disenfranchisement caused by the policies of the right.

Thank you, Shena!

Laini Taylor said...

Karthy, well said!

Jenn, thank you so much! :-)

Laurence, it is always so nice to get a comment from you :-)

Nicole, very much agree. For years as a young woman, the only health care I had was PP. They are champions.

Laini Taylor said...

Teresa, I can't actually tell whether you're kidding or not?

Vijaya, okay ... Not sure if you read/understood what I'm talking about. Really: government programs and spending to protect us, provide opportunities, jobs, education, safety, healthcare ... make life better? In every way? Your prayers for Romney/Ryan make no sense to me, and neither does your need to express them here in this space (i.e. mine), but you are of course entitled to the former, and welcome to the latter.

Laini Taylor said...

Jennie, yes, National Parks. It amazes me that it ever happened that they got protected in time. Did you watch the Ken Burns series? Chills, over and over. What extraordinary people.

Anonymous said...

Teresa and all other supporters of the "unborn-" Good news. Abortions are actually way down under Obama compared to under both Reagan and Bush 2000-2008. Under Obama, birth control is now free which makes the likelihood of abortions even less so.

The good news is this now frees your time to actually care for the women and children who are already here. Lets see you now rechannel your fury for Obama into volunteer time with the women who choose to have their children without the resources to provide for them. People who feel like you tend to show tremendous concern for the baby up until the point they arrive, and then where are you when these children born into poverty need good schools, good healthcare, and things like clean water and an unpolluted environment.

Instead I suspect you will now just shift your focus to stopping abortions that are attempted by rape victims. I would gladly have my taxes raised if everyone who believed as you do could be relocated to a couple of states, and within this territory you all could live exactly as you desire without imposing your very narrow religious beliefs on the rest of us. And then, the rest of us could be free to live in a country that says in its very Constitution that there is to be a separation of church and state.

Anonymous said...

Christians are responsible for the killing of so many millions of people throughout the centuries, instigating wars, pogroms, and all sorts of wrenching heartache for people who did not believe what they did. Where was the Pope and the larger Christian outcry during the Holocaust? during the Catholic Church's continued defense of thousands of priests worldwide who abuse children?
Obama is the only choice for people of genuine faith and sound mind. He is the nominee fighting for healthcare rights for all, not privatizing relief agencies like FEMA which we can see this week how vital it is, ensuring Medicare for future seniors, and fighting cuts to Medicaid which allows for the disabled, young and old, to remain with a roof over their head and some level of dignity and independence. Romney is not a man of religious faith. He has followed the dollar wherever he can find it even at the expense of American jobs and livelihoods. I just can't take any Christian seriously who would vote for Romney given his history and agenda for the poor and needy.

tone almhjell said...

That is one cool video. I love how it breaks things down, how it's angled for argument, not just emotion, and how it is an illustration of Obama's words rather than a smear of filth. Really cool. Wish all political ads were like that.

My favorite thing about taxes is that it pays for schools, universities, health care for everyone. And that it pays for helping those in need, not just in my own country Norway, but in parts of the world where there is no clean tap water, no sound infrastructure, no safety against starvation, no vaccinations for babies, no help to be had when disaster hits.

Amber said...

Thank you for voicing exactly how I feel. I live in a somewhat rural area of Western New York - believe me, we know taxes! It baffles me the number of people I know who benefit from many government programs who are staunch Republicans. They speak of too much government on one hand but continue to accept all the benefits they can in the other hand. Yet, they do not see their own hypocrisy. I am very afraid that the morning of the 7th I will once again be as GOP-smacked as I was when Gore lost and then again 4 years later. I will vote and I will hope for a brighter tomorrow.

Anonymous said...

Love that video! I was always a very liberal minded person--until I started working with the poor. I was shocked at how many people scam the system and take advantage of liberal welfare policies, not to go to work or be responsible for themselves.

I own rental property and even though as a landlord, I'm the beneficiary of the Section 8 rental program the govt pays me to house people, I'm appalled at some of the tenants that receive it. They're able-bodied people who should be working and providing for themselves--they're not handicapped, elderly, impaired or any of those things. They're often people who have made poor life choices and now expect people who have exhibited better judgment in THEIR lives to take care of them.

For the most part, at least the wealthy worked for what they have and if they inherited it, I'm not mad at them. That's just life.

While we hear so much about taking away from the wealthy, I'd like to hear more about the other end of the spectrum as well, as many of the "poorer" people expect productive people to carry the weight for them. And that's not fair, either. While the focus these days is to rail against the rich, the people not doing much with their lives escape under the radar.

I totally understand your point, Laini and agree with it, so this isn't against your post or perspective, it just gave me an opportunity to address an issue that's been on my mind. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Interesting how that person's viewpoint has been removed and the links with it. Laini you have dropped a notch in my eyes (and I am an admirer) if you cannot let another person's opinion be stated. Please remember, you were the one that started the political discussion... It's not about pro-Obama or pro-Romney, it's about how we move forward.

Laini Taylor said...

Anonymous, what are you talking about? Who is "that person"? I have not censored or deleted a single comment to this post.

Anonymous said...


Please note the Anonymous post just two comments up as well as Tone A. They both "loved" the video. The post with the video links has been removed.

Jim D said...

They're referring to the video that Laini posted...

Kelley Lynn said...

Whew. It's like watching the news. I get all riled up with the tension around this political stuff. :)

I think it's super cool of you to post on this Laini. And even though there are many things I don't necessarily agree with, I really do love hearing both sides. Because I think what we are lacking more and more in this country is the middle. The open discussion. The debate. And a debate where the gloves aren't already on. haha

I guess the big thing for me is, NOTHING is free, as many people state in their comments above. The whole, "There is no such thing as free lunch." is true. Sure, it might be free to us personally, but SOMEONE has to pay for that (or we could just keep borrowing money, but that's a whole different discussion :) haha). So even though I definitely label myself as a conservative, I am by no means anti-government. I'd just like a smaller one. One that can have my money for the things that all US citizens benefit from. Those things that you list above are all things I think most people, right or left wing, would agree the whole US citizen body needs to help pay for.

But there are other things that I would never use or don't believe in that the government is taking my money for. I don't get a say in that and for them to just take it from me feels wrong. It's not like I can say I don't need roads, or defense for my country, or clean water to drink. That's silly. Of course I do. But to say I have to pay for my health care as well as someone else's or TV and radio that I never watch, that doesn't seem fair to me. If those things are needed, if they're important to our society, funding will be found. If society doesn't think there's a need for them, then why pay for them?

There was a time when we didn't look to the government to help us. When we looked to our neighbors and our communities. When we looked at our family units and values instead of, for example, blaming poor school performance on the teachers and administration who try SO HARD every day to teach our kids. Saying that if we throw more money at it, that will somehow fix things. Our country and citizens don't need more taxes and 'free stuff'. We need to go back to the basics. Be a proud, independent people who ask EACH OTHER for help. Not the government.

Again, great discussion Laini. Hopefully nothing I said offends anyone. It's just my opinion :)

Laini Taylor said...

Hi Kelley Lynn! Though I drastically disagree with you, I really appreciate your pleasant tone and obvious kindness. It's true we don't get to pick and choose everything our own tax dollars go to. Like funding massive wars? No thanks. We elect our leaders to make those kinds of decisions, and so of course we're not all going to be happy with all of them. All we can do I guess is be as active as possible in trying to affect who spends our money and takes care of us. Or doesn't take care of us, in the case of Republicans.

You say: "a time when we didn't look to the government to help us". When exactly was that time and how much fun was it to live then? Respectfully, I don't know what era you're referring to. As far as looking to family units and values to provide for us, that's great if a) you're born to a family with means and values and your parents stay alive/healthy/sober/employed and raise you well, b) no financial misfortune or devastating health crisis ever befalls any of you, c) no hurricane or earthquake hits your city, etc etc etc. Really, people in a civilized country shouldn't be forced to rely on charity to improve their lives. There should be programs in place to try to raise all citizens (or as many as possible) to a decent standard of living -- with dignity and them not having to beg for it.

Someone in another comment above points out that a lot of people mooch off programs and don't even try to work, etc. This is surely true, but it is a symptom of a bad system -- they would likely not be that way if they'd had early intervention and been given a viable chance at a better way of living. Because no one would choose that if they had REAL options, and that takes time and care and patience And absolutely there will always be those who take advantage, but does that mean that nobody deserves a chance to improve their lives?

It's so easy coming from a place of privilege, even if it is modest privilege, to expect ridiculous, extraordinary amounts of strength of character to arise without the aid of role models or education.

Oh dear. I didn't mean to go on and on. I can tell you're well-meaning, but I get a little frustrated by the idea that people just need to ASK FOR HELP AND IT WILL APPEAR. That is exactly the purpose of social programs. Charity is not a reliable source for everybody.

Thank you for weighing in in such a reasonable way! I appreciate it!

Kelley Lynn said...

You're so welcome! Thanks for the kind response. :)

Anonymous said...


There is a tinge of "lets blame the poor for their predicament because they must just be lazy buying tis and radios with my hard-earned money." You insinuate people on welfare are just sitting around watching tv or shopping. It reminds me of Reagan and his comments about welfare mothers driving around in their Cadillacs. There will always be people at both ends who try to game the system but most people on welfare and on Medicaid are not lazy couch potatoes just sitting around doing nothing. They are scrimping for everything. Yes, many many own a tv but that does not mean they are mooching off the system.

There will always be people who need to do more to improve their circumstances, and many do fall into this category from ALL socioeconomic circumstances, but people in this country are punished for being poor. They get the worst healthcare, live in the most depressing and violent neighborhoods, inadequate schools and after school programs, little access to mentors who can provide real guidance and new opportunities, and insufficient access to good nutrition (though thanks to Michelle Obama's hard work in the inner city and public schools this may start to change now).

Romney has worked hard to provide a lot for a few, whereas Obama is working just as hard to spread the blanket of opportunities to those who truly need it most.

Sarah said...

If we want to look to a time when there was more "community support" and less government- we'd have to back to a hundred plus years ago.

You know what it was like then? Let's take a look at those so-called good old days.

Child labor. Abuse of workers. Abuse of women with basically zero recourse-- they didn't even have suffrage. Abuse of people of color. Lynchings. Condoning of religious intolerance. Church burnings. Being gay was illegal. The disparity between the wealthy and the poor was vast. Shantytowns. Disease and malnutrition ran rampant in poor neighborhoods-- as did vice. If you were a poor woman supporting herself, you had more of a chance to not die of starvation if you became a prostitute instead of a seamstress.

Let's take off the rose colored glasses and think about how our tax dollars (branches of the government) enrich all of our lives.

Anonymous said...

Kelley- I also need to add that without a safety net for access to healthcare anyone can fall vulnerable. Republicans to me believe that each person is responsible for themselves and none else, while Democrats believe we are connected to and responsible for helping to care for people who fall upon truly hard times...people like my sister who woke up at 25 with Multiple Sclerosis. She has been on Medicaid for over 6 years. Without it, she would have to live with my parents. Medicaid allows her to live in some level of dignity and independence with the payments Medicaid provides for housing and for her healthcare. Were it not for Medicaid covering the daily injections she has had to give herself for 20 years, she would either be dead at this point or severely crippled. Maybe you don't think you should have to help pay for her healthcare, but I fully disagree. We all contribute so that should something like that happen to you, or to your friends or someone in your family, your own life won't have to be totally devastated by it. No one is trying to take advantage of you by having you pay into a social and safety net. But a vote for Romney is a vote saying "nope, we're all on our own and pull yourself up by your bootstraps." Many people don't have the strength or ability to do that. To point to the few that can and don't is what turns people into Romney supporters.

Laini Taylor said...

What a bunch of good comments. Thank you everybody! This really resonates, from Anon:

"But a vote for Romney is a vote saying "nope, we're all on our own and pull yourself up by your bootstraps." Many people don't have the strength or ability to do that. To point to the few that can and don't is what turns people into Romney supporters."

Anonymous said...

Tell me:
what's your favorite thing that government does for us?

My favorite is protection: by our Military Forces, and our laws. This protection gives me the freedom to: learn, choose, enjoy the park, read a book, wear what I want, walk down the street, get a fair trial, own a gun, express opinions, vote, worship or not, etc.

Government is necessary, but it needs to be more frugal. No one is advocating drowning the government in a bath tub.

Social programs are necessary but unfortunately, there are always people that take advantage of the system, living off the government teat. This needs to be stopped, and programs must be managed more efficiently. There's no such think as a free lunch. I think we can all agree on that.

The presidential election is important, but people must not forget the importance of the congressional elections. Our congress people are the ones writing and passing legislation.

Career politicians: no thanks.

Democrat thinking: sacrifice the whole for the few. Republican thinking: sacrifice the few for the whole. Some people go through life navigating the middle ground.

People process information differently, think differently. We're human; it's just the way are brains are. It's about tolerance and working together.

Laini Taylor said...

Can I say I'm getting a little weary of all this unsigned Anonymity? For the record, you can post as Anonymous if you don't have a blogger account but still sign your name and take responsibility for your point of view.

And, latest Anonymous, you are simply wrong. Someone DOES want to drown government in a bath tub. His name is Grover Norquist. It is a very famous quote from a very famous person who wields extreme influence over the Republican party. All Republican candidates sign a pledge to his ATR advocacy group that they will not raises taxes. This is all part of a much greater effort to eliminate all government spending that benefits PEOPLE, rather than CORPORATIONS. It is heinous, and your "sacrifice" talking point could come straight from them. Respectfully, it is a gross mischaracterization.

[I am editing my comment to moderate what I previously said here. If you already read it, I'm sorry it sounded harsh.]

For the record, I DO believe in free lunch. Like, free school lunches, for example. And Meals on Wheels. I believe wholeheartedly in giving food to people who don't have it. As a metaphor, I think it is flawed. It doesn't bankrupt us to feed the needy. The real drain on our economy is war + the wealthy and corporations not paying taxes. This is all known. The Right trots out this "free lunch" idea to try to pit the middle class against the poor, instead of against the rich. Personally, I know who my own beef is with.

Thanks for coming, and voicing your thoughts.

Anonymous said...

There are quite a few things that are free to the people that receive them, but they are none the less being paid for by someone else. Be it a free lunch, physicals or cell phones.

Do I think we should assist families in need? Yes, of course I do.

Should we turn a blind eye to the abuse of the system? No, of course not. Women that keep getting pregnant to keep their EBT cards, eight, ten, twelve children that all get enrolled into government into programs. Umm, no. Seen it. Don't like it.

There are others working the system, purposely staying just below the cut-off income level so they can keep their benefits coming in. Able-minded, sound-bodied, educated people, taking, taking, taking the free.

The United States of America without a government? That would be apocalyptic for the world. It'll never happen.

A smallerish government would be a good thing.

Anonymous said...

Wow, Laini - I admire you so much as a writer, but I admire you even more for this thoughtful post!

My favorite use of taxes: developing technologies, education, healthcare, national parks, and a retirement fund protected from Wall St. greed.

I, too, have Republican parents, worked for the GOP as a teen, and my first vote cast was for Clinton in '92. I've tried to consider Republican candidates sincerely because I can't stand the Our Team Vs. Your Team football game mentality, but the Republican party's increased pandering to its most extreme members continues to repel me. (It has also offended my Republican mother who is now a staunch supporter of Obama and the Democratic party.)

There have been zero specifics from the Republicans on HOW they would change things for the better or what their vision for America looks like. I honestly don't understand what it is they want or how their daily lives were damaged by four years of Obama. I keep asking, but none of them will give me anything but ideological reasons...

Thanks for your post!
--Julia W. in Los Angeles

Kaitlin M. W. (of Canada) said...

QUOTE: For the record, I DO believe in free lunch. Like, free school lunches, for example. And Meals on Wheels. I believe wholeheartedly in giving food to people who don't have it. As a metaphor, I think it is flawed. It doesn't bankrupt us to feed the needy. The real drain on our economy is war + the wealthy and corporations not paying taxes. This is all known. The Right trots out this "free lunch" idea to try to pit the middle class against the poor, instead of against the rich. Personally, I know who my own beef is with. - Laini

As far as war, I agree with you 100%. Terrible economic waste, not to mention the personal devastation of those whose lives it invades. (In all of politics, this is the one issue which upsets me deeply. Those who support war do so out of fear or greed, and while I try to be understanding of the fear, it boils my blood regardless.)

However, I think you misunderstand the free lunch concept, and perhaps the Right does too. :P "TANSTAAFL" (there ain't no such thing as a free lunch), has nothing to do with whether or not groups ought to give lunches to people in need of them, without charging them something. That is an excellent practice, and one I participate in.

The point of TANSTAAFL is that somewhere, someone had to grow the wheat, to make the bread, to make the sandwiches. My father was a farmer, so I've seen firsthand that food comes about through an enormous about of work. It doesn't just rain from the sky. :P This is the point the people bringing up TANSTAAFL are probably trying to make. It's an economic thing: everything must come from somewhere.

So this means that if the government provides food for one person, the government must take it from someone else. It is not "free." It is "redistributed."

Farmers are generally not among the filthy rich. They are the middle class, and integral to the survival of all of us. The community I grew up in was very generous with their grain, running special donation drives, and donating a portion of their harvests to feed the needy, because at that point the taxes they were paying hadn't yet eliminated poverty. :P

Now clearly, you do not believe in taking grain from farmers and giving it to the poor (the farmers would have nothing left for themselves at all, and could no longer produce anything). You think we should redistribute money from the people who have a lot of it, and give it to the people who haven't enough to eat so they can buy food. This seems very sensible, and who knows, it might work very well, if it were left at that.

Those who object to the idea of taxing business owners rightly observe that if we take a fair amount of money from the business men and women who are producing food and food products (such as "wealthy farmers"--a lot of their profits go right back into the business of producing food--and food processing companies and so forth), for example, they will be forced to either produce less, or pay their workers less, than they otherwise would. Instead of growing her company, and hence the food supply, a heavily taxed farmer might be forced to downsize. This is economic fact, and would not be a good thing (if you were to take it too far, you'd become Cuba, where they import about 80% of their food and there still isn't enough).

Of course, if you only take money from the super rich people who are rolling in the dough so as they'd never notice a few million missing, then perhaps you have a case. So long as it is kept in mind that some of these rich entrepreneurial folks (bankers excluded*) do invest their money in small companies they deem worthy from time to time, which then go on to produce more jobs and goods for everyone. We live in a complex ecosystem. :P

*Have you seen the documentary Inside Job? It's about the corruption within the American banking system. Very good film.

Jim Di Bartolo said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jim Di Bartolo said...

Kaitlin, you've provided a thoughtful and info-packed reply and addition to the conversation here, but to assume:

"However, I think you misunderstand the free lunch concept..."

is a leap on your part that Laini misunderstood the TANSTAAFL concept. She's smart enough (and then some!) to know that nothing is truly "free" in this economy. In a general sense, what she's implying (I think) is that that we're all in this together as a society, and darnit, sometimes people in need help (be it a literal or figurative "free" meal or other needs).

Your other assumption of:

"Now clearly, you do not believe in taking grain from farmers and giving it to the poor..."

Leaves me asking: aren't farmers given TONS of government assistance? Like in the hundreds of billions of $$ range? Yes they are. Now I'm not against that, but then what's wrong with taking the food that's produced and then giving some of that to the poor? Why is it ok to give $$ to farmers but not to other citizens of this country? To deny those in need is to buy into the whole Romney 47% nonsense. Maybe that's not what you were saying, but that's how I read it.

And given your objection to wars, I can only hope that someday soon our government will spend a fraction of that (war) budgeted $$ on better taking care of our citizens. Perhaps you agree?


PS- I had written one reply and edited it to this entry. My apologies if my first comment was disproportionately rude in any way.

Heather said...

The Affordable Health Care Act made it illegal to deny my sons coverage because they have developmental disabilities (what some companies considered a 'previous condition'). Government has definitely come through for this little family.

debsfreckles said...

My favorite thing that our government has given us is the Constitution of the United States. I love it!
And to answer your other question, "What does their dream world look like to them?" I would say probably a lot like yours but that's a dream, I am going for realistic. The dream world would take people changing and not a presidential vote.

I was going to leave it at that but, I wanted to respond to an anonymous comment that was left earlier (even though the person who wrote it will probably never see it) about "Christian Republicans". I am Christian and a republican and feel the need to defend myself a little bit...maybe...
Although I do not agree with the left view I have tired very hard to understand where you are coming from and why you feel the way you do and I feel like I do understand it and respect it. It is just not the same way I feel. I don't feel like others do the same for me, they just think I'm crazy or "brainwashed".
While to some it may seem heartless and unchristian to want to scale down the size of the government and some of its great programs the reality of it is there is NO MONEY to pay for it. I realize that, like in my own budget, if there is not enough money some things have to go (especially if the programs are flawed and not working right) even if it is something you love. I volunteer and give service along with donating money to help those in need in our community on a weekly basis along with all of the members of our church. I am amazed at the outpouring and help that comes from the religious community. So look down on it if you like, but I don't think you would want to see the state of our country without it. Just because we don't want to give more tax dollars to go to programs that we disagree with or see as flawed does not mean that we don't care, give our money, or help by giving countless hours of service. We operate under the thinking of "give a man a fish and feed him for a day, teach him to fish and feed him for a lifetime". I know that if our government welfare and programs were run like my churches it would be amazing. I also realize that is not possible, but I just wanted to say that wanting a smaller government does not make anyone less christian or loving. Laini you said in a comment that charity is not a reliable option for everyone and I see what you are saying but I kinda disagree. To me charity (love) is what makes the world go round. Without it we are lost. And while it may not be the most reliable, neither is our government since it has no money to give. Our countries financial situation really, really worries me and the fact that spending got worse and not better in the last 4 years is a huge problem for me. Like all the things you said you saw happening if their were no more taxes, that is what I see happening when our country collapses financially.
I have been up close and personal with the welfare programs of this country and am grateful for them, but they are horribly flawed. I have rarely (if ever?) been impressed with the way a federal government program was run. Local government yes but federal is too big and too many people get lost and too many things are left undone. So while I know you don't agree with the things I have said, maybe it will make it easier to see where I am coming from?

Laini Taylor said...

Hi Deb! So nice to see you here, and thank you for your civility in response to a less-than-civil comment. I absolutely agree with you that so much good and charity comes from the religious community. I think the religious community also works to prevent progressive change, and to deny rights to women over their bodies and gays the right to marry, among other issues, and I do know religious people who are conflicted.

As for government spending, of course there is not a bottomless cauldron of gold, but there is money, and the difference between the two parties as I see it is how they want that money spent. The Republican party wants the rich to keep it in the form of tax cuts, and in the recent Republican administrations, they want to spend it on wars. The Democratic party wants to spend it on improving the lives of the citizens, rather than keeping the rich rich. It is so very clear in everything they say and do. The current Republican party, I'm talking about, and Mitt Romeny, not the ideal of the past Republican party. As for charity being a reliable option for people, I just don't think people should have to literally go begging, hat in hand, for help the may or may not get. That kind of help, anyway, handouts, doesn't create change, only temporary fixes. I'm not sure what you mean about spending getting worse in the last four years. I think the previous eight years so clearly caused the massive downslide that the current administration has to deal with. But that's all I want to say.

I do realize that ordinary Republicans dream of the same bright future that ordinary Democrats to, but there is an underlying callousness (in the Republican philosophy) in its disregard (and disdain for) for the poor and working class that I also have difficulty reconciling with the good people I know who are Republicans. But that does not mean I don't think that you are good people!

Lexi said...

Personally I'm both. I feel like both parties bring something to the table- I would never want just one party. Yet we need to find a middle ground. Nothing has happened these past fours years- not because of Obama but because they can't stop arguing! What about abortion within six weeks of creation? Or a chunk of your health care is free- the government estimates how much you can afford? What about putting the campaign money ( six billion dollars) towards education? By combining our morals we could create an much better society.
Lastly could we stop attacking certain groups of people- we're all guilty of it. Poor, rich, disabled, Hispanic, gay- just leave it to rest. What's so bad about he top kony makers. It's THEIR money and they worked hard for it. They already pay most of the country's taxes.

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