Wednesday, November 15, 2006

In the Conservative Wake

Good old Digby has written gem of an article about how "I can't help but feel a little bit overwhelmed by the challenge we are going to face in the next few years". He's referring to the economic mess the conservatives have left and not just the bungled fiscal reality, but the mindset of seeing government as being bad and taxes being a burden.
The Republicans may have finally jumped the shark, after failing so dramatically at governance, but they have inculcated their thinking so thoroughly into people's minds that many people don't even know it. The way most people think about government, and the vocabulary they all use, comes from the Republican playbook. It's going to take a huge effort to get people thinking about it in new ways.


My first suggestion for this new vocabulary isn't really mine, but a reader's from some time back who pointed out my use of the term "tax burden" was an example of unthinking adoption of conservative rhetoric. He was right. He suggested that we start talking about it as "paying the bills" something that everyone understands. I think that makes sense. You can't blow smoke in people's faces by trying to tell them that taxes are "good." That's dreaming. But everyone knows that we have to pay the bills and our bill for the services we get --- national defense, social security for the disabled and elderly, medical research, roads and bridges,air traffic control, clean air and water, veterans benefits and on and on and on aren't free. It's a bill that has to be paid for both the individual and common good. We need the insurance it provides, the pension, the health care (universal someday, old age right now) the health and safety, the security. And there is no free lunch on that stuff, it's the price we pay to live in a first world, thriving democracy in the 21st century. If you don't want to pay those bills, move to a third world country and see what not having to pay them gets an average person.

Right now, we are going to have to deal with some rich kids who stole the car, blew the inheritance and ran up a bunch of debt and we are going to have to make them pay it back. Their bills are going to be high for a while. They have plenty of money. They won't suffer much, even though they should.


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