18 September 2012

Of parasites and projection

The internet is abuzz over the latest Republican gaffe, a set of leaked videos from a Romney fund-raiser earlier this year, in the most noted of which he tells his fellow one-percenters that "there are 47 percent who are with [Obama], who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it" and "pay no income tax".

Others have already gone over the substance of the claim; of people who don't pay income tax because their income is too low or in a form which is not subject to income tax, most pay plenty of other taxes (interestingly, Romney himself pays very little income tax since most of his income is capital gains).  The small number who pay no federal taxes at all are mostly people in dire poverty, or elderly people who, earlier in their lives, did pay plenty of taxes, including taxes that paid for the programs that are supporting them now.  The Randian vision evoked by Romney's claim, of a vast legion of able-bodied but shiftless moochers who sit around smoking weed and watching TV all day supported by a government welfare check and who will vote for Obama to keep the checks coming, has about as much connection with reality as Atlas Shrugged does.

The more interesting point raised by the video, however, is one mentioned by blogger "Smartypants" last week commenting on a column by John Hinderaker.  Hinderaker had said:

.....the problem in this year’s race is economic self-interest: we are perilously close to the point where 50% of our population cares more about the money it gets (or expects to get) from government than about the well-being of the nation as a whole.

Smartypants observed:

Mr. Hinderaker is so deeply embedded in his philosophy of greed and selfishness that he is projecting it onto those of us who support things like a social safety net and pubic employee unions. He literally can't comprehend the idea of collective responsibility via citizenship that was the hallmark of President Obama's speech at the convention last week. In the grips of total Randianism, all Hinderaker sees is self-interest.

It's a widespread oddity of right-wing thinking: the idea that the main reason leftist parties get any votes at all is that huge numbers of people who are on government benefits cast those votes to keep the government checks coming.  They can't comprehend the idea that millions of gainfully-employed, self-supporting people vote for a stronger social safety net and a more comprehensive national health system in spite of being net contributors to it, not net beneficiaries, simply because it's good for the country.

Speaking for myself, I have a secure job with good health insurance, and my tax rate is pretty high, but I wouldn't mind paying a few percent more in taxes so we could have, say, a real national health system that covered everybody -- though I'll be damned if I'll pay more taxes so multi-millionaires who already pay a lower rate than I do can get even more tax breaks.

I think Smartypants is right.  It's projection.  The financial parasite class and its toadies are quick to respond to reports of, say, corporations sending jobs overseas, or the wealthy threatening to emigrate to avoid taxes, by asserting that those parties have no obligation to the country as a whole; they're perfectly entitled to act in their own economic self-interest regardless of the impact on anyone else.  The idea that anyone might actually take the interests of the whole society into account, in voting or economic choices, is so alien to them that they can't imagine us doing it either.

10 Comments:

Blogger Ema Nymton said...

.

"The idea that anyone might actually take the interests of the whole society into account, in voting or economic choices, is so alien to them that they can't imagine us doing it either."

!!

Ema Nymton
~@:o?
.

18 September, 2012 09:29  
Blogger ReasonBeing said...

" I wouldn't mind paying a few percent more in taxes so we could have, say, a real national health system that covered everybody -- though I'll be damned if I'll pay more taxes so multi-millionaires who already pay a lower rate than I do can get even more tax breaks."

Your words pretty much sum up exactly how I feel. I also agree with you that the GOP does not understand that people (like me and you) are willing to support safety nets even though we would not need them at this point, or perhaps in the predictable future.

Well said.

18 September, 2012 11:10  
Blogger Shaw Kenawe said...

As you know, I'm with you on this and posted on this subject as well.

Romney told us all what he really believes, and it's pretty ugly.

18 September, 2012 17:15  
Blogger S.W. Anderson said...

". . . .the problem in this year’s race is economic self-interest: we are perilously close to the point where 50% of our population cares more about" getting a black man out of the White House than their own economic self-intrest. Others care more about punishing the poor for not being rich than their own economic self-interest. And yet others care more about showing liberals where they can take their socialist Obamacare and shove it than their own economic self-interest. And on and on, and on.

19 September, 2012 13:51  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

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19 September, 2012 15:22  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

EN: Indeed.

RB: Thanks. It's strange how blithely they forget the interdependence which we as social animals have.

SK: I increasingly have this feeling like he's an alien imitating a human or some such thing. We must keep him away from power.

SWA: Good point. We'd be better off if the opposition did vote for self-interest at least ahead of their bizarre prejudices, since social responsibility doesn't seem to be an option.

19 September, 2012 17:22  
Blogger S.W. Anderson said...

I, too, am OK with paying some additional tax if doing so will ensure that everyone who needs medical care can get it. Get it without having to hassle for an hour or two answering questions such as, "Are you sure someone in your family or someone you know can't loan you the money for this visit?" Get it without having to prove they're destitute, or worse, having to make themselves destitute to qualify.

I also know that when people are deterred from seeking treatment because doing so can be such an aggravating, humiliating ordeal, they tend to eventually seek treatment when they're in much worse shape, even in crisis. And then, everyone who pays medical insurance, who goes to an HMO clinic, hospital or doctor's office for treatment, helps pay — much more — for their treatment anyway. They pay it through higher premiums, co-pays, fees and charges from care givers, often with additional handling charges tacked on.

As civilized, educated people, we can and should do better than that. Even the less-civilized, less-well-educated or just very selfish among us should be able to grasp that, if only out of self-interest.

The ACA addresses access and related problems at least in part. Eventually, I hope, a universal single-payer system of the type every other advanced industrial nation has will resolve these problems once and for all.

19 September, 2012 17:30  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

That's the point they always miss -- if Germany and Canada and every other advanced country can do this, why can't we? Taxes are the price we pay for a civilized society, as the saying goes, and you get what you pay for.

22 September, 2012 08:08  
Blogger Ema Nymton said...

.

"...as the saying goes, and you get what you pay for."

YOU miss a very telling point. The RW types definitely do want the good stuff for themselves. They just DO NOT want 'them (wink wink nod nod)' to get anything.

Ema Nymton
~@:o?
.

22 September, 2012 08:27  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

EN: Oh, I do get that point -- I was just making a different point.

22 September, 2012 14:08  

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