Tea Party logic

Friday, April 16th, 2010 · 95 Comments »

Fascinating:

Early yesterday morning, Valerie and Rob Shirk corralled their 10 home-schooled children into their van for the 2 1/2-hour drive from their home in Connecticut to Boston, arriving just in time to hear Sarah Palin denounce government-run health care at the tea party movement rally on Boston Common.

They thought it would be a learning opportunity for their children, who range in age from 9 months to 15 years old and who held up signs criticizing the government for defying the “will of the people.’’

“The problem in this country is that too many people are looking for handouts,’’ said Valerie Shirk, 43, of Prospect, Conn. “I agree with the signs that say, ‘Share my father’s work ethic — not his paycheck.’ We have to do something about the whole welfare mentality in this country.’’

…The couple, who rely on Medicaid for their health care, were also upset about the nation’s new health reforms.

When asked why her family used state-subsidized health care when she criticized people who take handouts, Valerie Shirk said she did not want to stop having children, and that her husband’s income was not enough to cover the family with private insurance.

“I know there’s a dichotomy because of what we get from the state,’’ she said. “But I just look at each of my children as a blessing.’’

I wonder what a Vulcan mind-meld with Valerie Shirk would be like.

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95 Responses to “Tea Party logic”

  1. myiq2xu says:

    I wonder what a Vulcan mind-meld with Valerie Shirk would be like.

    I thought the Vulcan mind-meld only worked with intelligent beings?

  2. myiq2xu says:

    Are Valerie and Rob brother and sister or just cousins?

  3. Jack Crow says:

    It’s easy to mock. And that’s the problem. You can argue with someone for days, lose her interest, fail to persuade her, and perhaps still have coffee or a stiff drink after work, on Fridays.

    Mock her, and you’ve made an adversary who could end up agreeing with your ideas, on some level, but still oppose you because you mocked. Resentment is strong, stronger than mere ideological symmetry.

    That’s how the Hannity and Beck types hold on to these folks, but encouraging them to take up residence in emotional Masadas, by appealing to their wounded prides.

    It might be fun to mock. But eventually it adds up.

  4. Jack Crow says:

    “by encouraging”

  5. lambert strether says:

    What dichotomy? Medicare (at least) isn’t a government program, so I’m betting Medicaid isn’t either.

  6. lambert strether says:

    Actually, Jack’s right. I think the logic is like:

    1. Government programs do not work

    2. Medicare works.

    3. Therefore, Medicare is not a government program.

    So, and I say this without irony, we should not only be pointing to the flaw in the logic, we should be applauding the ability to take account of evidence in point #2.

    And I bet the left can be shown to have similar flaws in logic…

  7. gxm17 says:

    The last I checked (and, quite honestly, I don’t check often), the Hannity and Beck types were mocking people like me. It’s important to note because the mindset is this: It’s okay for me to have government assistance but not you; and it’s okay for me to mock you but not vice versa. It’s the same self-absorbed logic.

    Still, I agree with lambert, let’s focus on what we agree on: Medicare works.

  8. Jack Crow says:

    Lambert,

    My mother is a perfect case in point. She works full time for two charities, doing really necessary work keeping kids out of the criminal justice system. They run teen pregnancy centers, motherhood classes, after school tutoring, court diversion programs and a host of other really excellent stuff.

    And she listens religiously to Beck and Limbaugh, never mind her pre-V2 sort of Catholicism.

    She’s not mean spirited or stupid. My mother put her way through college, earning degrees in accounting, education and instruction of the deaf.

    And she writes grants. Let me repeat that: she writes grants. Meaning, she keeps these organizations afloat by nicely worded begging from the county, the state, the federal government and various corporations.

    I kid you not, we’ve had conversations about how her job is harder now because (a) corporations are narrowing their grant focus to the orgs with the biggest exposure (since these donations are really just cheap advertising) and (b) there’s less money in the government pools, from which to draw, which means these charities have to literally do the corporate efficiency-production thing just to get money.

    We can have a long, thoughtful conversation about these matters, and then have it go south and sour immediately if I forget myself and mention public priorities, health care or war. Then “we’re off and running.”

    I think part of the problem is these are the old “values voters.” Abortion, nationalism, holding on to their place in the middle class – this all matters deeply to them. They are largely middle class boomers, and the nation to which they belong is changing. Has changed.

    Irrevocably.

    It’s useless to talk the validity of Marx’s analysis of capitalist exploitation, or the disconnect between Republican words and Republican actions.

    They are, like my mother, in ideological bunkers. They’re losing the world that formed them, and that has precipitated a retreat to familiarity that people like Beck and Hannity and the GOP can easily exploit.

    They (Beck and co.) speak the language, even if they betray it later with their actions. And frankly, it’s easy to blame the Dems for everything that goes wrong. They’re so obviously hypocrites, and they’re snooty about it to boot. Republicans may by crude imperialists, but Democrats are imperious about it.

    These boomers, by and large, are vulnerable. Sure, some are just racist assholes. I’ve no doubt of that. But, my mother and the people like her are not. She can speak of the “holiness” of Martin Luther King, Jr and John Paul 2 in the same sentence, and mean it. Really mean it. She can bemoan the loss of grant monies at the same time as she worries some sort of “creeping socialism” and mean it. Really mean it. Because the quotidian facts of her existence were, like many of the people the GOP draws on, formed during the boom years, when the state did a whole bunch of disciplinary/social amelioration stuff at the same time as it fought communism to the benefit of the military-industrial complex. Medicare, medicaid, federal grants, the Eisenhower Interstate, airports and bus stations built on the public dime, military expansion – this isn’t “socialism” to them, because it’s just the everyday stuff of their youths. It was public expenditure, lavishly prolific at times, given the amount of money coming in from the boom years.

    When they misuse the word “socialism,” we have to understand that what they mean is “change.”

    And during the time in which they were raised, scary or uncomfortable change was always red-baited.

    They were taught that rapid or social change was always best seen as “socialism.”

    That’s not an easy meme-set to encounter, or undo.

    But, I think it’s the task we have undertake, even if we inevitably fail.

    Because mockery will only get us bitter fruit.

    With respect,

    Jack

  9. Violet Socks says:

    Jack Crow, who is mocking? And who are you?

  10. Violet Socks says:

    You know what I hate? Sanctimonious assholes who have never read my blog, who show up to lecture me for doing something I’m not doing and to explain to me something I know far better than their fucking pointy-headed twit brains can even comprehend.

  11. Jack Crow says:

    Mockery: “Are Valerie and Rob brother and sister or just cousins?”

    Me: a reader.

  12. Violet Socks says:

    If you’re talking to someone other than me, I would appreciate it if you’d make that clear. Not that I’m the sun, but when people post impassioned 500 word comments to a post with all of two comments on it, I tend to assume they’re talking to me, the blog owner and author of said post, unless they say otherwise.

  13. Friday Mid-Morning News and Views « The Confluence says:

    [...] story from The Boston Globe on a recent tea party rally in New England, featuring Sarah Palin (via Reclusive Leftist). Early yesterday morning, Valerie and Rob Shirk corralled their 10 home-schooled children into [...]

  14. Violet Socks says:

    As for mockery and the lack thereof, the point of my post was that I am genuinely curious about the mental processes of Ms. Shirk.

  15. alwaysfiredup says:

    Remember this one?

    http://www.zogby.com/news/ReadNews.cfm?ID=1642

    “Survey finds most Obama voters remembered negative coverage of McCain/Palin statements but struggled to correctly answer questions about coverage associated with Obama/Biden.”

    It’s not that hard to find someone stupid. On any side.

  16. Violet Socks says:

    For example, Glen Ford argues that the underlying framework here is white nationalism:

    http://www.blackagendareport.com/?q=content/white-nationalism-march

    If that’s true, then what Valerie Shirk is really thinking is something like, “But we’re white, and our white children are a blessing, and we deserve help. It’s those brown/black people who don’t deserve help.”

    Is that true? Possibly. I’m sure it’s true for some Tea Partiers, but is that true for most of them? I really don’t know.

    I wonder if the thinking isn’t more like: “But we work for a living, and so we deserve help. The problem is that these new programs are going to help people who don’t work for a living.”

    Of course, if Valerie Shirk is making a mental equivalence between “people who don’t work” and “brown/black people,” then it’s still racism.

    I’m just curious about what’s going on. It fascinates me because this lady clearly understands that she is a beneficiary of the same kinds of programs she doesn’t want other Americans to benefit from. Why?

  17. Sheelzebub says:

    Inconsistency:

    “Share my father’s work ethic, not his paycheck.”

    AND

    “We have to do something about the welfare mentality in this country.”

    VS

    “When asked why her family used state-subsidized health care when she criticized people who take handouts, Valerie Shirk said she did not want to stop having children, and that her husband’s income was not enough to cover the family with private insurance.

    ‘I know there’s a dichotomy because of what we get from the state,’’ she said. “But I just look at each of my children as a blessing.’”

    Yeah. I’m sure those mothers on welfare think their kids are blessings too, but somehow, they’re held to a different standard. I’ll mock those double-standards and the stunning lack of logic.

  18. Jack Crow says:

    Valerie,

    You didn’t suggest that the Shirks were inbred. The person who did was mocking.

  19. alwaysfiredup says:

    Ha. Jack, our host’s name is Violet.

  20. Sevesteen says:

    For some the logic is “I’ve paid for this program, and even though I am against it, it would be foolish to not get back what I can”. I kind of feel this way about unemployment–I would rather be responsible for my own unemployment, but I’ve been paying in for35 years, I don’t feel guilty using it for a few months. I do see it being abused, people not looking seriously for a job until their benefits are about to run out.

  21. Jack Crow says:

    I know. That’s what I get for watching “Arrested Development” on Hulu, while I pour coffee and type a response.

    My bad.

  22. soopermouse says:

    I’m sorry Violet, but I find your post a bit classist. People who work and pay taxes do deserve a decent level of healthcare- also whoever tried to imply this woman is racist with no facts to back up that statement can go fuck themselves- that is also a typical classist move, as we have all seen in the 2008 primary wars.

    As for the Obamacare HMO bailout bill- of course they protest it- it SUCKS.

    And whether you want to believe it or not, some of the socialised medicine systems DO have those death panels- the NHS has them. There is a certain institution called NICE whose purpose is to evaluate whether or not certain treatments are cost effective. Some NHS patients are denied certain treatments if they are too expensive- and this has been documented for an awful long time.

    Sorry to shatter your pink glasses- socialised medicine is not be all and end all.

    Also incidentally- the woman is correct- the majority of Americans do despise the Obamacare bill.

    Maybe some people need to get rid of this idiotic ideological purity shit and accept the fact that sometimes, the people on the other side may have some truth on their side as well.

  23. soopermouse says:

    Mind you, everyone deserves a decent level of healthcare. Which Obamacare won’t give them so why in the name of fuck are you defending it? Are you in so much need of a cheap classist chuckle?

  24. Violet Socks says:

    Stick test. So sorry.

  25. Unree says:

    Violet, just want to say I have no idea how you tolerate these drive-by morons.

    Scratching my head over both the Valerie Shirk quotes and the comments you got, I have a theory: What you posted is so perfect, so impossible to comment on–even you had almost nothing to say–that all you could get were these little flecks of shit.

  26. Jack Crow says:

    Chomsky, on understanding why alienating the Tea Partiers (even though they are very, very wrong on the facts) could end up bad:

    http://www.progressive.org/wx041210.html

  27. propertius says:

    “Mind you, everyone deserves a decent level of healthcare. Which Obamacare won’t give them so why in the name of fuck are you defending it?”

    I don’t see anything from Violet (or anyone else here) defending Obamacare. I do think it’s fair to point out the inconsistency in decrying government welfare programs while relying on them oneself. Doing this doesn’t imply support of the Insurance Company Bailout Act of 2010.

  28. anna says:

    Interesting point: A young woman started the Tea Party protests: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/28/us/politics/28keli.html

  29. quixote says:

    Violet: I’m just curious about what’s going on. It fascinates me because this lady clearly understands that she is a beneficiary of the same kinds of programs she doesn’t want other Americans to benefit from. Why?

    Yes, indeed. Me too. Seconded. Fascinating from a cognitive psychology perspective.

    Cognitive psych experiments (and everyone’s personal experience…) say that people feel they deserve the good things that happen to them, but the bad things that happen are somebody else’s fault. Doesn’t matter if all they did was get born a Buffett or pissed away a million dollars gambling.

    I could see the Shirks feeling that money going to them is not wasted. Whereas money going to somebody else … well, what could be more wasteful than that?

  30. Violet Socks says:

    I don’t see anything from Violet (or anyone else here) defending Obamacare.

    This is probably because I’ve spent the past several months criticizing Obamacare. Not that morons like soopermouse even register the actual content of the blog on which they are posting comments.

  31. Violet Socks says:

    Yes, quixote, exactly. I guess what I’m wondering is, why doesn’t the penny drop? Why doesn’t the connection get made that, oh, gee, I’m just like them…

    Is it a lack of mental processing ability? That sounds like a snarky way of saying “are they just stupid?”, but I’m really curious.

  32. gxm17 says:

    The truth is that, at one point, the argument against the “welfare mentality” was very much race based. But I don’t believe that’s as true as it was 30 years ago. Shirk’s reasoning seems more religion or “tradition” (anti-feminist, pro-patriarchy) based: A working father who can’t provided for his growing family is entitled to government money so that his wife can stay home and produce more little “blessings.”

    I think Glen Ford (see Violet’s link at #16) and many others are overlooking the gender part of the equation. Ford states that any group whose unifying characteristic is daily engorgement on Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck is, by definition, racist” and somehow fails to notice the misogyny and sexism these two buffoons preach. (Yes, I know it’s the Black Agenda Report, but I’m assuming half of AAs are women and will be adversely impacted by both racism and sexism.)

  33. votermom says:

    Is it a lack of mental processing ability? That sounds like a snarky way of saying “are they just stupid?”, but I’m really curious.

    It’s brainwashing, I think. Seriously.

  34. votermom says:

    Hit post too quickly.
    And to a certain extent I think it’s like an eating disorder (bear with me). You know how anorexia is really about trying to control something when you feel like you have no control over your life?
    In a way the irrationality of the TP’s is like that, maybe. And so is the irrationality of the obots.
    I’m not saying it’s a mental disorder; I’m saying that fear and loss of control lead to irrationality.

  35. m Andrea says:

    I think mockery is one of the last tools left in the toolbox when logic doesn’t work, if not the last tool. What else does anyone suggest as an effective tactic — compassionate tolerance of their idiocy? Carefully explaining basic logic to them IS compassionate, respectful, etc. Many people have already tried that, and it didn’t work!

    But if Chomsky’s assessment is correct, then going after the bankers would alleviate the teabagger’s concerns significantly. Seems like it’s worth a shot, especially since greedy capitalists are a genuine problem. And yet, what is it precisely that the teabaggers are complaining about? Are they complaining about the greedy corporations, or are they complaining about the “undeserved” welfare handouts to regular working class folks again?

    Seems like once again Violet has a better handle on the political situation.

  36. m Andrea says:

    Chomsky made the point that many of the teabaggers do remember a time in their youth when the government did hand out money. But the difference is, years ago the government expected something in return: roads were built, buildings were constructed, goods were produced. Obama by comparison really is just handing out money.

    And now I’m wondering if it’s just a question of spin. They believe that because they “pay into the system” that entitles them to “dip into the systems’s coffers”. Well, let them pay into the health care system through their taxes, which would solve that particular problem. But they’ve always had a much bigger problem with tax money being used to provide for those who can’t provide for themselves. Which would require the teabaggers to display compassion.

    So the teabaggers possess little compassion, and some in this thread suggest Violet et al aren’t displaying enough compassion to those who can’t display compassion. Hypocrisy, let me show you it.

  37. Alison says:

    I think the “race” issue is overstated. I now live in the land of whiteness and there is plenty of welfare here. When conservatives here complain about those they feel are taking advantage of welfare and blah blah blah they are not thinking about black people. They are thinking about the white people they know here.

    I don’t think there is a racial element with this woman. At least there is no reason to think so. She is part of a working family and I guess her philosophy is that if you work your are entitled to health care. She probably has a prejudice towards those who stay home and receive government handouts. I wonder if this woman would support an expansion of medicaid to cover those families who work but cannot afford to buy private insurance? I’m guessing yes.

  38. DancingOpossum says:

    I think the tea partiers are expressing a legitimate anger (the government really is unresponsive to us, neither party gives a damn about ordinary citizens, the country is going to hell) that they don’t really know how to express or explain, and they look to folks like Beck and Limbaugh who appear to sympathize and who can, in a sense, express it for them.

    Are they deeply misinformed, even delusional, as a result? Yes, sure. As were the masses of Obama voters, who claim to be (and are) much better educated and more enlightened.

  39. Violet Socks says:

    DancingOpossum, I agree with you. And actually, I wasn’t really wondering about what’s driving the Tea Party (I mean on the grassroots level, not the right-wing backing). Americans are justifiably upset at living under a corporatocracy, but most of them don’t understand it. Any demogogue who comes along and claims to have an answer will get a hearing.

    Of course we wouldn’t be in this mess if we had a real leader instead of the corporate shill in office. We need FDR: somebody with the will to fix things and the ability to explain to the citizenry what he’s trying to do and why. Instead we have Barack My Pony Obama, friend to banksters and insurance companies and teleprompters.

    But I digress.

    Anyway, I get all that about the tea party. What I was really focusing on was that extraordinary (to me) and highly specific lack of cognition exhibited by someone like Ms. Shirk. Do you think that before the reporter interviewed her, it had never once crossed her mind that what she and her husband and the kids had driven down there to protest is the exact same thing that she and her husband and kids are living off of?

  40. quixote says:

    I doubt it’s stupidity. There’s way too many people who are convinced “it’s okay when I do it.”

    I mean, isn’t it a lot like calling bomb-throwing terrorism when They do it, but heroism when We do it? Or Goldman Sachs. They’d be the first to sue anyone who did unto them as they did unto others.

    None of them ever have any “Aha!” moments either.

    It’s probably a neural circuit the folks on this blog are just lacking. Which means we’ll never really get it.

  41. Toonces says:

    Mission-from-God-ism?

    Others have brought up some good points, but I also think some of the tea partiers are just plain bored. These gatherings are sort of like Renaissance fairs for RF geeks, or gaming conventions for gamers, you know? So what’s being protested isn’t as important as getting together, being a part of something.

    It probably also gives her some kind of TP cred to at least say she’s against what she’s doing. And maybe the thinking is that if her husband didn’t have to pay taxes they’d have enough not to rely on on Medicaid? You hear that stuff a lot. Of course, wages would go up if the worker had any power anymore but… *sigh*

  42. slythwolf says:

    I think this is related to the phenomenon of anti-choice women who believe their personal abortions are the only morally and ethically permissible ones. I’m not sure what it comes from, though; is it a lack of empathy? Is it a kind of immaturity, and/or something lacking in psychological development so that people get stalled out between “I have reasons for what I do and deserve the things I need” and “other people probably do too”? Is it something we’re missing in the education system, possibly some facet of critical thinking that is not being taught?

  43. propertius says:

    I confess to a certain morbid curiosity about what other forms of public assistance the Shirks might be receiving. SNAP (a/k/a “food stamps)? With a household size of *12*, they could have a household income of $67704/year and still qualify.

    With 10 kids, I suspect they’re not paying any income taxes at all, so one does have to wonder what they’re complaining about.

  44. cellocat says:

    There’s a ton of “But I’m different” mentality in human beings, and Tea Partiers are no different. Think of the angsty teenager who believes that her problems are worse than anyone else’s and who feels both alone and also sort of weirdly special in the drama of her difficulties. I think (maybe I’m too cynical) that a large majority of people have the sense that in one way or another the “rules” don’t apply to them. That is expressed in different ways depending on circumstance. Spectacular examples include, of course, John Edwards and Tiger Woods, but that’s only one arena.

    I also think that people are unwilling to extend compassion if it doesn’t come easily. They’re maybe able to feel it for a brother or aunt whom they love and trust, but not for a stranger, especially someone who’s unlike them in ways they consider significant.

    Denial of truth makes for seriously twisted logic, and that can be found in every strata of our society. I think it’s fundamentally fear-based. And anger gets layered on top of fear. There’s not enough of the pie to go around, so it’s easier to strike out at one’s perceived competitors for the little slice within reach then to be willing to challenge the system as a whole. And that, I think, is partly because we’re so obsessed with winners and losers, wanting to be the former and avoid being the latter at all costs. So if we tear down people at the top we’re also saying that that sort of winning isn’t really important, that taking care of everyone is more important, and that’s a realignment of values and action that many people are not willing to consider or to take.

    The Tea Partiers seem to think that they suffer more nobly than some supposed schlub who doesn’t work. But ask Mrs. Shirk (I think her surname is fairly ironically hilarious) how she’d feel about putting all her kids into daycare in order to go work if that were a requirement of her receiving benefits, and she’d likely have a negative reaction. If it were me, and I had a choice between working two jobs with long hours and consequently having my kids in (substandard) care and never getting remotely enough time with them, and using benefits which allowed me to be with them at home, I’d probably choose the latter.

  45. votermom says:

    So what’s being protested isn’t as important as getting together, being a part of something.

    And there’s not any other vocal opposition group now that is expressing the very real and justified anger that they can rally to.

  46. Jack Crow says:

    Votermom hits on a key element of the problem. A lot of this anger is inchoate, unformed. Very large players are damaging the prospects most everyone else – and the GOP is monopolizing because the Dems aren’t ever going to stake their Hamiltonian top-down institutionalism on the unpredictability of the hoi polloi.

  47. Saurs says:

    …and the GOP are?

  48. Jack Crow says:

    The GOP doesn’t depend upon institutionalism. It’s leadership can attack government, because that’s part of the GOP message. Even though Republicans are thorough-going hypocrites (they use government to transfer wealth to private organizations) their message is consistent, and relatively simple.

    The Dems cannot challenge government originated problems (like Goldman-Sachs) at the institutional level, because they’re core message is “government good.” They’re terrible at addressing government abuse, because it challenges the central credo of Hamiltonian institutionalism.

  49. Swannie says:

    Mrs Shirk seems to have the problems of cognitive dissonance and rationalization…

    Painting their personal coping mechanisms and illogical thinking onto all of the rest of the tea party people might be erroneous as well…….

  50. Three Wickets says:

    They were taught that rapid or social change was always best seen as “socialism.”

    If they believe that change today means there is less wealth to go around for everyone, then socialism it is. Except for those sitting on the wealth.

  51. rv14 says:

    Feint.

    # Violet Socks says:

    {…{ I am genuinely curious about the mental processes of Ms. Shirk.
    April 16th, 2010 at 9:48 am EST

  52. monchichipox says:

    “Americans are justifiably upset at living under a corporatocracy, but most of them don’t understand it”

    Exactly. I think it is mostly a raging anger bubbling under the surface and the Tea Party movement is peeling a little bit of that surface layer off. So lets have the grass roots movement of the right protest about what they perceive handouts to the left that come from their wallets. Then lets have the elite of the left mock and deride the “Tea Baggers”.

    But lets not anyone bring up the fact that ExxonMobil paid zero in income tax. Zero. Fucking zero.

    All we see, once again, is the working people of both end of the political spectrum meeting in the middle. Meeting in the middle to feed on each other while the corpratists rub their greedy little hands together.

  53. Sameol says:

    My mother used to be a social worker, and most of the people I know who rail against welfare are or used to be (or their families were) on some kind of assistance. A lot of times getting off welfare involves some form of luck, and no one likes to feel their fate is out of their hands. It’s easier and safer to believe that everything you’ve got is due to inherent worth and work ethic, while the guy down the street who didn’t manage it isn’t smart enough or hardworking enough or deserving enough. This woman wants to feel secure about the future, and part of that is defining herself against others in a similar position as a way of avoiding the frightening reality that not much is separating her from being even worse off.

  54. alikatze says:

    Cognitive dissonance.

  55. bob c says:

    It would seem that the twisting of logic has been with us as long as thought itself. Too bad for us. If this mental defect was not so prevalent, or indeed disappeared, we would not have political parties but would just elect the best choices. Will this ever change? I hope so because “I want my Maypo!”

  56. Big Fat Feminist says:

    sevesteen, you don’t “pay into” unemployment. It’s an employer tax. Employees pay into social security and medicare, not unemployment.

  57. madaha says:

    yes, it’s lack of empathy – which is a symptom of narcissism, among other personality disorders. The “some for me, none for anybody else” issue is a national personality disorder, if you ask me.

    It’s an extension of Romantic individualism, which this country has turned into a cult of its own. Everyone’s so goddamned busy singing their own body electric and song of themselves, that no one else even exists to them. That’s America!

  58. teresainpa says:

    “I think this is related to the phenomenon of anti-choice women who believe their personal abortions are the only morally and ethically permissible ones. I’m not sure what it comes from, though; is it a lack of empathy? Is it a kind of immaturity, and/or something lacking in psychological development so that people get stalled out between “I have reasons for what I do and deserve the things I need” and “other people probably do too”? Is it something we’re missing in the education system, possibly some facet of critical thinking that is not being taught?”

    Kind of like when the Scotus and bush stole the election, democrats were all pissed. Now when Obama does it in the primaries with the help of the DNC…it’s fine because he was “their team”.
    Americans are very team oriented.
    But, I have to say that I do not disagree with the tea party anger at government. I also think you can find people off all political opinions at those rallies. We shouldn’t be so quick to say “we aren’t them”, in some cases , yes we are.

  59. teresainpa says:

    jack… do you realize that most of the people here are boomers and you have just insulted all of us by telling us we are clinging to the past like a lot of old brain dead people?

  60. lambert strether says:

    #59 Actually, teresainpa, if you’re referring to jack’s post on conversing with his mother — “just” is a little vague as a referent — I think he was pretty careful to avoid what you accuse him of.

    It’s very hard to write about people as collective entities, because we don’t have a good vocabulary for classes with fuzzy edges. I mean, I’m a boomer, and personally I don’t feel insulated. So, trivially, “insulted all of us” is just wrong, because “all” is wrong.

  61. lambert strether says:

    Yeah, “insulated.” Still cold up here. I mean “insulted.”

  62. Topper Harley says:

    @56 Regardless of who cuts the check, those unemployment premiums come out of the pool of money an employer uses to pay employees. I’d also note that some people are either self-employed or run family businesses and so that is “their” money going into the pool. The rule of thumb is that an employee’s burdened rate is 150% of their hourly rate. Which is one of the reasons why businesses don’t mind forking over tons of dough for contractors…

    @43 If they’re making anything at all they’re paying Social Security and Medicare taxes. For people making the median US salary and below that’s a bigger chunk than what they might pay in income taxes.

  63. propertius says:

    @62 Of course they are, but at least in theory one could make the claim that those funds aren’t being used for whatever “welfare” programs they’re objecting to. Of course, in reality they are because payroll taxes have always been diverted into the general fund.

  64. Adrienne in CA says:

    I think it’s incorrect to assume that the opinions in anyone’s head should necessarily be consistent with each other or be the result of logic as it’s usually defined, or that such would be the norm. There are studies indicating that the emotional centers of the brain take the lead in decision making, while the language center plays catch-up after the fact to construct a “logical” explanation for why a choice was made. It may be a defense mechanism to prevent our minds from going “tilt.”

    To her credit, Mrs Shirk at least labeled her inconsistent beliefs a dichotomy, whether on her own or when it was pointed out to her. Many people will either refuse to discuss it, or will vehemently deny that any contradiction exists.

    A good way to help people break through their mental blind spots is to ask questions to get a feel for what issues have emotional resonance, then frame more questions in that light. This women believes children are a blessing. That belief can be leveraged to build empathy for other parents who love their kids just as much as she does. But not by lecturing her, and of course not by mocking her. It takes asking and then listening, and then asking more. Everyone cares about something. Find that, and you’ve found the key to their heart.

    The last chapter of George Lakoff’s book Don’t Think of an Elephant! describes the process. I’ve taken this tack countless times over years of voter registration, and it does diffuse tensions. There’s no one recipe to follow, though. Each person is different, so it takes time, and sometimes the most you can do is plant a seed that you hope will take root later. Most of all, you need a sincere desire to find common ground. People, even those with views as divergent form yours as you can imagine, appreciate that.

    *****A

  65. Big Fat Feminist says:

    @62, I am a small business owner and I know how it works. I also fork over no dough to contractors.

    An employer paying into unemployment is not the same thing as an employee paying into medicare or social security. Unemployment tax is a cost of doing business. One I’m perfectly happy to take on.

  66. SYD says:

    I remember my own mom, raising us alone, having to rely on medicaid for a few short years. She was mortified by the experience. She hated the food stamps they gave her too. Was too embarrassed to use them. Mom is now 75 and won’t ask for foodstamps again. Despite the fact that she probably qualifies.

    Quite a difference from the scenario the Shirks paint. The “it’s OK for me cuz I be special” mentality… *where does that come from?*

    Bewildering to say the least.

  67. Reclusive Right-Winger says:

    Dear Dr. Socks et al.,

    As a frequent visitor to this site, who admires Dr. Socks’ wit if not her politics, I must say that “I wonder what a Vulcan mind-meld with Valerie Shirk would be like” comes across as decidedly snarky.

    Maybe it’s just me, and maybe she didn’t mean it that way, but that’s how it reads to me. If my point of view is not appreciated, at Dr. Socks’ direction I will take my leave of her Spirit Smoking Lounge, like the respectful visitor that I aim to be. Far be it from me to disturb the space alpacas.

    I’m ready to be educated by my betters on this site, of course, and won’t snark off at anyone, even if I’m snarked at first.

    As a person of the right, it concerns me to read some of the comments in this thread that assume that the Tea Party folks are irrational, illogical, unable to express themselves constructively, etc., without there being any substantive evidence presented to support the contention. To an outsider like myself, this could be taken to suggest that those hurling these particular roundish rhetorical missiles may be inhabiting domiciles constructed of fired silicate, logically speaking.

    Again, since I don’t read this blog every day (but about every week), perhaps I’ve missed it.

    Logic is at base a simple matter: State a thesis and then defend it with evidence that is both inferentially relevant and true. I have not yet read any such cogently and calmly presented argument in re The Tea Party from anyone on the left. I did see Anderson Cooper calling us “teabaggers” and I was one of about five or six people in American who had to look it up).

    That said, I would be grateful to anyone here who can explain, calmly and politely, why we are ignorant, irrational, etc. without simply referring me to a hyperlink.

    I honestly do not know whether or not Dr. Socks was implying hypocrisy on part of the Medicaid-consuming, but presumably tax-paying, Valerie Shirk. Perhaps there was nothing more to the comment than was actually stated.

    Without specifically directing any charges, please allow me to point out that to attempt to refute Mrs. Shirk’s contention that too many people have their hands out by alleging that she is doing the same thing is a logical fallacy–specifically the argumentum ad hominem tu quoque.

    The “tu quoque” form of the common ad hominem argument seeks to nullify an opponent’s argument by saying that the opponent is guilty of the same offense of which he is accusing someone else.

    If one drunk accuses another drunk of being drunk, guess what? He’s right.

    Is a person who has filed a complaint for police brutality a hypocrite if he calls 911 when he is robbed?

    In addition, does a tax-paying family unit that benefits from government benefits really have its collective hand out?

    Maybe so. But if so, then so do all of us, since we benefit from all sorts of tax-supported services. Does the fact that we are forced to choose between either using such services or placing our families at risk mean that we cannot, or at least should not, lobby for change?

    Maybe so. I’m just asking.

    We have all been forced to make our way through an unfree market for some time. The notion that there has been a free market in health care anytime in the 20-25 years (and probably longer) is demonstrably false.

    Governmental mandates, including the setting of standard fee for service payments, have effectively cut off the patient from the doctors and nurses who treat him. This distortion of the market has gotten to the point that families like the Shirks cannot afford to pay their own bills.

    Are they hypocrites for wanting to get the government out of health care entirely, so that in a genuinely free market, health care providers will have to tailor their prices to what people can actually pay, rather than have a decidedly deep-pocketed third party payer (the government) taking care of it?

    Maybe so. But, again, it’s question worth pondering.

    There’s more to the health care mess than the extremes of either right or left will allow.

    If someone else paid for your hotel room, groceries, car, etc., those prices would go up, too. It’s always the way with third-party payers. Call it the tragedy of the commons writ large.

    I would be delighted to have a polite, pleasant, mutually respectful and fully rational exchange on the subject of either health care or the Tea Party Movement with any interested persons. I sincerely hope that that will be possible.

    In the alternative, at the request of the ever-gracious Dr. Socks, I will quickly liberate my capitalist top hat from its precarious perch on the faded yet somehow elegant settee (where it quivers in fear of a well-aimed Bolshevik Tom Collins), bow to the hostess, and take my leave as pleasantly as I may.

    Thank you very much.

  68. Violet Socks says:

    Dear Reclusive Right-Winger:

    I personally will not have an opportunity to respond to you until later tonight. But I’m sure others here will have something to say in the meantime.

  69. Jack Crow says:

    teresainpa,

    I really thought I took great pains to specify that I was discussing “boomers…[such as] my mother and people like her,” not every single person born between 1940 and 1955.

  70. Sandra S. says:

    RecRigWing:

    I appreciate the respectful tone. I’ve been a little troubled by some of the tone in the conversation myself. But I really must take issue with your assertion that in any case with a third party payor the cost will go up. You’re distinctly mistaken on that one.

    Canadians pay less per capita for their healthcare than Americans do, and it’s largely because of the single-payer structure of the Canadian system (some good info on comparative health care costs and qualities in here: http://assets.opencrs.com/rpts/RL34175_20070917.pdf ) Collective bargaining functions to push the cost of healthcare down, but as we can see from the American system, the need for a corporation to make a profit drives the cost up considerably. The system that makes the most sense financially is to provide the most healthcare for the least amount of money, with as much of that money as possible going to compensate hard-working healthcare providers. This allows less money to be funneled off by administrators, keeping the price comparatively low. It also makes the most sense from a human rights perspective. Since a nation’s health is deeply and inextricably tied to the health of its citizens, it makes far more sense to view healthcare as a citizenship right rather than as a consumer good.

  71. Violet Socks says:

    Quickly:

    I must say that “I wonder what a Vulcan mind-meld with Valerie Shirk would be like” comes across as decidedly snarky.

    The theme of the post is Spock, though if you’re not familiar with Star Trek you probably wouldn’t know that. Logic, fascinating, mind meld. Regardless of whether you or anyone else thought it was snarky, I really was wondering what a mind meld with Shirk would be like.

    Without specifically directing any charges, please allow me to point out that to attempt to refute Mrs. Shirk’s contention that too many people have their hands out by alleging that she is doing the same thing is a logical fallacy–specifically the argumentum ad hominem tu quoque.

    There is no tu quoque. I’m afraid you’ve missed the gist of the post. The puzzle with Ms. Shirk is why she thinks it’s acceptable for her but not for others. What is her rationale? She seems to be telling the reporter that government assistance is appropriate for her family because her children are “a blessing.” I wish the reporter had pressed her on the point. This is why I fantasized about a Vulcan mind meld.

    Are they hypocrites for wanting to get the government out of health care entirely, so that in a genuinely free market, health care providers will have to tailor their prices to what people can actually pay, rather than have a decidedly deep-pocketed third party payer (the government) taking care of it?

    This is pure fantasy, of course. Only in libertarian fantasy-land do health care providers lower their prices so that all the citizens can afford health care. Outside of fantasy land, here in the real world, health care providers charge as much as the market will bear, their market being comprised of affluent individuals who can afford to pay. In a total free market health care environment, there would be a plethora of plastic surgeons and high-end medical treatment, all eagerly consumed by rich people. And poor people would have no health care at all.

    If someone else paid for your hotel room, groceries, car, etc., those prices would go up, too. It’s always the way with third-party payers. Call it the tragedy of the commons writ large.

    This is a fundamental misstatement. Socialized medicine saves money everywhere in the world, because there is no profit margin to be accommodated. America has the most expensive healthcare in the world because it’s not socialized. A huge proportion of the bill goes to paying the insurance companies’ overhead and profits.

    There is abundant evidence from all over the world that the cheapest way to manage healthcare is for a society to pool its resources and buy in bulk. In fact, that’s the cheapest way to manage a bunch of things.

    Unfortunately, right-wing ideology is predicated on denying this basic fact. That’s because right-wing ideology is (in the modern world) fundamentally the handmaiden of business, and business spends a great deal of money sponsoring propagandists to spread the absurd nonsense that the best way to do anything is to involve sharks charging a 30% profit margin.

  72. Adrienne in CA says:

    The fantasy Vulcan mind-meld in this case reminds me of the Star Trek episode where the Horta (rock eating blob-monsters) are killing humanoid miners. Lacking a way to communicate directly, Spock mind-melds with one to learn that she’s a mom defending her eggs that miners have been carelessly destroying. In the end, the Horta (now reconized not as “monsters” but families) and the miners are able to reach an understanding, working together in a way that preserves the Horta babies and allows mining operations to proceed safely.

    Bridging the ideological divide can seem just as alien. It doesn’t help when “news” organizations (more handmaidens of business) go out of their way to highlight only our differences, without taking the obvious opportunity to explore our common humanity. I wouldn’t be surprised if that reporter did ask more questions, but the answers were edited out, specifically to create a charicature of Mrs. Shirk as a selfish hypocrite.

    *****A

  73. votermom says:

    One thing I do have in common with TP is a distrust for Government as Authority. But what I think is needed is accountability and transparency.

  74. DancingOpossum says:

    “Do you think that before the reporter interviewed her, it had never once crossed her mind that what she and her husband and the kids had driven down there to protest is the exact same thing that she and her husband and kids are living off of?”

    It’s a good question, and this is something I’ve noticed among my RW acquaintances. One example, a couple I know where the husband is retired military and the wife is active military. They rail constantly about government being horrible and wasteful and incompetent; and endlessly about paying taxes so that “undeserving” (read poor) people can get handouts –yes, they also mean “poor minority” but really these folks aren’t driven by racism; they hate ALL poor people, and may even hate white poor people most of all because they’re letting the “side” down.

    Anyway, if you point out to them, as I do, that they are recipients of enormous government largesse in the form of fully-paid, single-payer healthcare for the entire family; full college tuition for one (not a loan that has to be repaid); multiple use of generous VA housing loans; and on and on, their response is “Well, we deserve it, after all we’ve done for our country.”

    So I think that’s where they reconcile the cognitive dissonance: Yes, they’re on the dole, but unlike those other people, they deserve it, unlike those other shiftless bums.

    That may be the clue to Ms. Shirk’s thinking. Sure, she gets a handout, but she honestly “needs” and “deserves” it, not like her neighbor down the street who spends her disability checks on cable TV and flower seeds — yes, I’ve heard those exact words from people in my neighborhood, where about half the residents get some kind of government aid. “They” are virtuous and God-fearing, they don’t misuse the taxpayer-funded largesse. “Those other” people do, so they don’t deserve anything.

    That’s my take.

  75. Elliot says:

    “There is abundant evidence from all over the world that the cheapest way to manage healthcare is for a society to pool its resources and buy in bulk. In fact, that’s the cheapest way to manage a bunch of things.

    Unfortunately, right-wing ideology is predicated on denying this basic fact. That’s because right-wing ideology is (in the modern world) fundamentally the handmaiden of business, and business spends a great deal of money sponsoring propagandists to spread the absurd nonsense that the best way to do anything is to involve sharks charging a 30% profit margin.”

    Yes! That and the fact that they completely ignore the possibility of viewing life as a “we’re all in this together” scenario, where we work together to help each other. They view everything through the lens of opposing teams or something, and would never dream of helping those on the other team.

    I am lucky enough to participate in two professional/artisan groups with the ‘we’re all in this together’ view, where we constantly band together to purchase all kinds of things in bulk, buy debit cards at the grocery store for others, fix each others’ cars, etc. I do so wish the Tea Partiers could experience that kind of real community spirit, I think it would change their lives & viewpoints.

  76. Violet Socks says:

    I forgot to comment on this:

    Governmental mandates, including the setting of standard fee for service payments, have effectively cut off the patient from the doctors and nurses who treat him. This distortion of the market has gotten to the point that families like the Shirks cannot afford to pay their own bills.

    With all due respect to the commenter, this is why I don’t waste time arguing with right-wingers. It’s like arguing with creationists. It’s pointless to debate people who aren’t even dealing with facts.

    Everybody in the real world, outside the right-wing propaganda circus, is aware that the goverment (mainly Medicare) is what is keeping rates down. In fact, providers complain that the rates are too low. Yet according to the right-wing propaganda machine, the goverment is somehow driving up the price of health care, meddling in the sacred free market, and if only the government would get out of the way then prices would drop.

    Where on earth does this crap come from? It comes from the propaganda machines and stink tanks, which fuel endless websites and magazines and forums, thus supplying the useful idiots with handy talking points.

    Exactly like creationism, except the funding structure is different.

  77. Kiuku says:

    Honestly, no matter how hypocritical they may be, the future of our freedom might one day rely on these people.

  78. Three Wickets says:

    If someone else paid for your hotel room, groceries, car, etc., those prices would go up, too.

    You are confusing healthcare providers with the $500 billion private health insurance industry. The government is not interested in or capable of providing healthcare. But they can administer health insurance at 40% the per capita cost of what private insurers currently charge for their services.

  79. DancingOpossum says:

    There is an absolute terror among RWers that someone, somewhere, might be getting something he or she didn’t “earn.” If you want a TV or a day off work or decent medical care, then by golly, you better work sixteen jobs and sell your children into slavery to acquire before you come begging for one penny of MY hard-earned dough.

    Where does it come from? Why do they care so much? They’re on constant Money Morality Patrol (except when it comes to corporations, of course). I think its genesis is Victorian philosophies about poverty, that poor people needed to be forced into increasingly dire circumstances until they figured out a way to “bootstrap” themselves out. The same attitude permeated the English response to the Irish potato famine, where official state policy was to let the poor Irish starve to death until they figured out a way to establish a thriving free market and save themselves.

    No, it makes no sense whatsoever — it didn’t then and it doesn’t now. But that’s the same mindset.

  80. SweetSue says:

    Boomers are those people-like myself-who were born from 1948 up until and including 1963.

  81. willyjsimmons says:

    I personally think Glen Ford goes a step too far equating the tea party with “White Nationalism”.

    I highly doubt “The creation of a separate white nation” would poll very well amongst the group.

    “Liberals” flogging the issue of race are playing with fire.

  82. Gayle says:

    I can’t tell you how much I resent knowing even a portion of my taxes are paying for the Shirks’ 10 little “blessings.”

  83. gxm17 says:

    SweetSue @ 80, actually 1954 to 1965 is Generation Jones. We are the folks sandwiched between the Boomers and Gen X. Personally, I prefer the Blank Generation (h/t Richard Hell) but Gen Jones is the nic that caught on.

  84. Sheelzebub says:

    Reclusive Right Winger, if they are decrying the welfare mentality of people, and holding people who use services in contempt, yet use these very same programs themselves, they are being hypocritical. And sorry, but since so many of these people go on and on about welfare moms, I find it disgusting that they feel it’s okay for THEM to have a lot of kids. The Shirks would be condemning the single mother of one son in my neighborhood who receives subsidies and WIC.

    Also–WRT people not looking for jobs while they’re on unemployment–seriously? STOP SPOUTING THAT CRAP. I was unemployed for six months and busted my ass to find a job–my brother-in-law was out of work for ten months, and I have friends who have been unemployed for much, much longer and they still have found nothing. And it’s not for lack of trying. Yes, they could take a job at Target or McDonalds, but even full time (which those places rarely give full-time hours) wouldn’t even cover housing, let alone anything else. They had savings but it’s dwindled down to nothing–and it’s not because they’re living high on the hog.

    Jeez.

  85. angie says:

    The only reason to see racism in the Shirks remarks is because they are white, and that IS racist. She clearly says that she “didn’t want to stop having children” with the implication that their income will not support healthcare for the # of kids they want. I personally think that shows a huge lack of responsibility especially in that I myself have chosen not to have children for that very reason. So yeah they are irresponsible and have flawed logic. But nothing implies that they are racist. Evil be to he who thinks it.

  86. Sevesteen says:

    Big Fat Feminist:

    Unemployment compensation is a cost of hiring someone. Unless you are making minimum wage, it really doesn’t matter if the money comes out of payroll before or after your paycheck is calculated.

  87. madaha says:

    angie: woe betide those who suggest any of the tea partiers are racist?

    Did you read this statement? :

    ““He’s a communist and all about the redistribution of wealth,’’ Kaczowka said. “It’s just the minorities and the illegals who are getting the benefits. Everybody who works gets nothing.’’

    Hmmm…revealing, no? Implying minorities and “illegals” don’t work? Does she KNOW any “illegal aliens”?? It’d be fun if there were a reality show about tea partiers and “illegal aliens” trading shifts for a day! That’s a show I’d like to see!

    In many of these people’s minds, only white people work. They say exactly that. Maybe not all of them, but puh-lease, enough of them to matter.

    I’m certainly not one who says all criticism of BO is racist. But something’s going on in tea party town.

  88. SweetSue says:

    No, Boomers were born from 1948 to 1963. Dick Cheney and Nancy Pelosi are not Boomers, but Hillary Clinton and Barak Obama are both Boomers.

  89. SweetSue says:

    Well, I see that Wiki defines The Baby Boom Generation as those born from 1946 to 1964, so I’ll go with that.
    Sorry to nitpick but it’s a pet peeve of mine that so many want to distance themselves from the phenom that produced both Bill and Hillary Clinton.

  90. Topper Harley says:

    @76 I’ll take the bait.

    If we leave aside the moral/social justice component of healthcare, we see that it’s yet another scarce good*. When it comes to allocation of scarce goods, the free market is most efficient.

    My best proof that free market allocation is the French system**. They pay approximately 20% of income into a universal care fund. In return, the state gives them an access card and creates a fee schedule. The government does not control prices. When you visit the doctor, she either charges exactly the government rate or, if she charges more, she has to post the price. The government reimburses patients at a percentage of the overall cost within 10 days.

    This allows consumers to efficiently direct their dollars. It allows medical professionals to economically differentiate their product. And it requires consumers to have some skin in the game which helps to reduce moral hazard.

    Unfortunately, in some respects, it works too well. British expats fleeing the NHS love the French system, as it grants them special privileges (like 100% reimbursement with no initial expenditure). It’s even better when you consider that they never had to pay the tax burden.

    *There’s a public good component to healthcare, but that’s a trivial percentage used by stuff like childhood vaccinations.
    ** One must realize that any past, present or future credibility I might have with anyone to the right of Che Guevara has immediately been shredded by using France as an example of a free market reform. ;)

  91. Violet Socks says:

    France has single-payer health insurance augmented by supplemental policies. The government negotiates fee schedules with providers and pharmaceutical companies. Costs above that must be borne by the consumer or his/her private insurance.

    Details on the French system:
    http://www.dallasnews.com/sharedcontent/dws/dn/latestnews/stories/051709dnbusfrance.40cc221.html

    Also, as for the notion that health care can be modeled like groceries:

    http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/06/28/health-care-is-not-a-bowl-of-cherries/

  92. gxm17 says:

    Sweet Sue, you should check Wiki again:

    I remember when the term Baby Boomer first appeared, and at that time the cut off point was the mid-1950s. It kept growing until the Boomers swallowed up another decade of people who had nothing in common with them. From Baby Boomer Magazine.com:

    Both early and late Baby Boomers unquestionably make up the post World War II population boom, but demographic popularizers generally base a true generation on those with similar economic, social and/or cultural factors that they have shared. For this reason, the True Baby Boomers are generally considered to be those individuals that were born between 1946 and 1955.

    Feel free to nitpick all you want. Personally, I prefer the Blank Generation. But that doesn’t change the fact that I’m not a real boomer. I am, however, a true Gen Jones.

  93. Adrienne in CA says:

    Also, as for the notion that health care can be modeled like groceries:

    Not to mention how groceries (aka, U.S. Agriculture Policy) fuck up healthcare.

    *There’s a public good component to healthcare, but that’s a trivial percentage used by stuff like childhood vaccinations.

    It’s only trivial if you deny that being alive and healthy yourself and seeing your loved ones, friends, neighbors, and complete strangers likewise alive and healthly is NOT a public good. If you do, then I’ve got to wonder how you define the words “public” and “good.”

    *****A

  94. Big Fat Feminist says:

    Unemployment compensation is a cost of hiring someone.

    Yes, which is exactly what I said, above.

    It is not a withholding tax from a paycheck.

  95. Kyria says:

    Okay, I’m way late to this, but it’s been bugging me.

    I think it was Charles Ludlam who said that if we’re not a living mockery of our highest ideals, we’re setting the bar too low–though maybe he was overoptimistic.

    Surely anyone with principles lives in a constant state of moral compromise. As a middle-class, American lefty, I know I do.