Monday, April 26, 2010

The triumph of rhetoric

"When I give food to the poor, I'm called a saint. When I ask why they are poor, I'm called a communist." -Archbishop Dom Helder Camara.

North Country Public Radio did a news report on a northern New York meeting of fiscally conservative Republicans.

It was a seemingly ordinary piece that brought to light the complete intellectual bankruptcy of most of those (non-libertarians) who espouse fiscal conservatives.

All the interviewees preached the standard mantra of less spending, lower taxes and smaller government... all stuff that sounds great in theory. But when pushed for specifics to translate that theory into reality, it was one giant #fail, as Tweeters might say.

The self-described fiscal conservatives talked a good game until it was pointed out that the politically conservative region is heavily dependent on taxpayer money, particularly from Albany and Washington. With the Fort Drum military bases, universities, school teachers, park rangers and prison guards, NNY's economy is very heavily based on jobs in the public sector or that are funded by public money.

When challenged with this fact, the small-government types reassured their potential supporters that this reality was no impediment to their ideology. It would be no problem preserving the taxpayer spigot to NNY; they could just make other regions suffer the budget cuts instead.

One interviewee pretended to sound specific by suggesting that Medicaid spending be slashed. When asked what particular Medicaid programs she'd want to cut, she said she didn't know.

I didn't hear one thing in this piece that showed that these so-called fiscal conservatives were the tiniest bit serious. Cheap NIMBY rhetoric is good for the fantasy world of rabble rousing, not for the real world of governance.

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