Sunday, September 02, 2007

'The Hypocrisy That Matters'

Mark Scmitt has words of wisdom for us all about "The Real Hypocrisy of Idaho's Conservatives." And, those words aren't private to Idaho.
Hypocrisy, of course, is almost always taken to mean sexual hypocrisy - an assumed incompatibility between one's private life and public positions. In this sense, the curse of hypocrisy, and the quest for its counterpart, the cult of "authenticity" in our politicians, has served mainly as a tool to break down the boundaries between private and public.

Meanwhile, outside of the sexual realm, hypocrisy or self-delusion is accepted on the right. Indeed it is practically the engine of the conservative politics that still governs America, and the particular breed of western politics that brought us Larry Craig.
Exhibit No.2: Jim Risch, the man most likely to succeed hapless men's room habitué Larry Craig:
A year ago, Risch was the acting governor of Idaho. He told this newspaper's Oliver Burkeman how he viewed the victims of Katrina: "Here in Idaho, we couldn't understand how people could sit around on the curbs waiting for the federal government to come and do something. We had a dam break in 1976, but we didn't whine about it. We got out our backhoes and we rebuilt the roads and replanted the fields and got on with our lives. That's the culture here. Not waiting for the federal government to bring you drinking water. In Idaho there would have been entrepreneurs selling the drinking water."
What's hypocritical about that? Glad you asked:
The dam that broke in 1976 was the Teton dam, built on the Snake River just a few months earlier, at a cost of $100m. * * * It was built at the political insistence of a few millionaire ranchers and potato-growers, whose political allies had persuaded the government to build a series of dams that transformed a desert into some of the richest and wettest agricultural land in the country. And it was built despite predictions that it would fail.

And when it did fail, it was not the self-sufficient entrepreneurs of Idaho who "rebuilt the roads and replanted the fields." It was, once again, the federal government. According to the government's official history of the incident, federal agencies quickly rebuilt all the irrigation systems, and paid more than $850 million in claims to about 15,000 people who had lost property in the flood.

All of this may remind some readers about the disconnect they often encounter here in Northwest Florida whenever a military veteran starts yammering on about the evils of "socialized medicine" while driving to a first-class Government funded base hospital; or as he cashes his generous checks from Government-financed Tri-Care; or, when hauling home a big screen TV purchased at wholesale price or below from the nearest PX store; or..... But you get the idea.

No one, but no one, in the world lives a more "socialistic" life than our military men and women, both active and retired. These days, not even the Russians.

We're not knocking it... We owe it to most of them. We promised it, we gotta pay it. (Of course, there are always a few grumblers who will ask if we really owe it to their in-laws and other assorted dependents who worked for the enemy before marrying an American soldier. Apparently so. We personally know a couple of elderly ex-German Nazis who have better health coverage through Tri-Care than any privately insured Americans.)

It's time to call out this kind of hypocrisy at least as loudly as the kind that titillates the media so much:
This hypocrisy consists not in a failure to reconcile public and private life, but in two public positions that are in absolute contradiction to one another: The belief that people must make it on their own, with no "whining" and no help from government, coexisting with a staggering, slavish dependence on government -- and the federal government, and thus taxpayers of the rest of America, in particular.

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