Skip to main content

I'm not sure where the concept of the "rugged individualist", originated but I'm guessing it was around the times of the old west.  It was assumed that an individual could migrate west to seek their fortunes if they were willing to work for it.

Right wing talking heads like Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck apply this belief to modern America in order to defend the Republican Noise Machine's propaganda that the most financially successful people are that way by pulling themselves up by their bootstraps with no help from anyone else and therefore woe nothing to society.  While I'm sure that Paris Hilton has pulled on many bootstraps, I hardly think that makes her a rugged individualist.  The right wing clings to this argument to promote tax cuts for the rich.  If they really had their way, not only would rich people not pay taxes, but the government would actually give them more money for being rich because we all know that it would eventually trickle down.  The purpose of my diary entry is to deconstruct this claim by citing numerous examples of our interdependence and how those who benefit the most from this interdependence need to pay their fair share to live and thrive in the greatest country on earth that has this magnificent system.

We are presently engaged in occupations in Afghanastan and Iraq.  The most well to do are having their financial interests protected and expanded by military contracts and increased oil stocks.  Instead of the rich joining the rest of us in shouldering this tax burden, George Bush and the then controlled GOP congress gave these people at the top of the money heap a tax break.  I guess George's concept of the ownership society doesn't included owning the financial responsibility of military engagement.

Rupublicans would have you believe that those who make a lot of money in the stock market shouldn't be taxed on their capital gains.  Were it not for the SEC which is funded by tax dollars, the stock market would be so unstable and even more subject to corruption than it is today.

I have no problem with people achieving financial success but show me someone that became rich without borrowing monsy from a bank.  Our banking system is also funded by tax dollars which again makes us dependent on each other.  Also let's not forget the fact that we the tax payers bailed out Bear Sterns to the tune of 60 billion dollars.  So much for those self reliant rugged individualists.

The success of businesses is dependent on an infrastructure that is funded by tax payer dollars.  Roads, highways, brindges, utilities all make it possible for businesses to be successful.  they don't understand that we are all in this together.

Most businesses make their profits by selling their goods and services to working class people.  This creates an interdependence between those who are wealthy and the working class.  

I've heard Rush Limbaugh mock progressives with a synical whine that we want to build a better future.  Yes, we progressives are all about building a better future together and if you look at it even from the viewpoint of simple mathematics and discount the moral implications of this argument.  who is going to consume more and add to the economy?  A family with a yearly income of $1,000,000 or twenty families making $50,000 a year?  We can all do that math

Originally posted to redstatefred on Tue Apr 01, 2008 at 08:05 AM PDT.

EMAIL TO A FRIEND X
Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags

?

More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

  •  Herbert Hoover's brand of Rugged Individualism (3+ / 0-)

    worked out really well for the country during the Great Depression, didn't it?  Of course Rush Limbaugh would love to get rid of all New Deal programs.

  •  In my experience (4+ / 0-)

    "rugged individuals" are simply selfish assholes promoting social darwinism.  

    They figured out how to work the system, and do their best to make sure the system benefits no one but them.

    My dogs think I'm smart and pretty.

    by martydd on Tue Apr 01, 2008 at 08:18:29 AM PDT

  •  Anybody who wants to understand... (4+ / 0-)

    ...the path of a true rugged individualist needs to go either read or watch Into The Wild.  Then go read Thoreau.  Rush Limbaugh understands the rugged individualist like he understands Marilyn Manson.

    "SNIPERS! Chelsea, you lay down cover fire while I execute this flanking maneuver! GO, GO, GO!"

    by The Termite on Tue Apr 01, 2008 at 08:19:27 AM PDT

  •  Right On! (5+ / 0-)

    Here in formerly blood red Central PA, folks are starting to figure out that all the rugged individualist talk may sound good, but it doesn't put gas in their car or food on the table.  You can't pull yourself up by your bootstraps if someone has stolen your boots.  BTW, I like the line about Paris Hilton.  Do you mind if I use it. TB

    join me at http://www.tonybarr2008.com

    by Tony Barr PA09 on Tue Apr 01, 2008 at 08:20:17 AM PDT

  •  you whiny libruls! (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    lapin, Cassandra Waites, Sticky

    hitch up your Conestoga and head west young man!

    On the serious side, you hardly ever see public money used for mass transit mentioned without the word "subsidized", yet no one ever uses that word when public money is used to build the roads that POV's travel on.

    Let's start talking about costs of roads as subsidizing transportation.

    Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence on society -Mark Twain

    by gooners on Tue Apr 01, 2008 at 08:21:38 AM PDT

  •  On the other side of the coin (7+ / 0-)

    The right wing nabobs love to explain that government handouts prevent people from "taking responsibility." So food stamps, soc sec, medicare, etc., deny people a purpose to live, they destroy any sense of achievement a recipient could have. Far better to handling everything yourself.

    What these yokels usually miss is the idea that government assistance is generally unpleasant and miserable - they've certainly seen to that. Anyone who has the means to be self-sufficient will most likely be self-sufficient. Yes - the goal should always be to encourage citizens to be independent and thriving without assistance.

    The republic-American usually decides that people would prefer to be deadbeats and will abuse any system we develop. Dismantling the New Deal is thus an imperative act of altruism, a sort of John Gaultian exercise in tough love.

    Every day's another chance to stick it to The Man. - dls.

    by The Raven on Tue Apr 01, 2008 at 08:22:50 AM PDT

    •  excellent point (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      The Nose, The Raven, Shaviv

      I'm glad you pointed this out.  I should have included it in my diary entry.  Republicans do assume that most of us are deadbeats.

      •  Let's break out the pop psychology. (3+ / 0-)

        I think we've all wondered about the twin facts, that Republicans rail against sexual perversion and yet rally to the defense of perverts among their own ranks. (And I don't use that word lightly.)

        There's a lot of talk, which I happen to more or less agree with, that it comes from some sort of repression among the Republicans themselves. (I'm thinking of one loud and noisy Republican elsewhere on the tubes who has a bit of a catgirl/schoolgirl/upskirt/weirder stuff I'm not going to go into details on here fetish going on, yet who says that if a man flirted with him, he would feel "soiled".)

        I wonder if the idea that, left to themselves, people would all be deadbeats, comes from repressed urges on the part of those preaching against it. You know, a lot of the corporate fat-cats with their hands in Uncle Sam's pockets are Republicans, too - they're the classic example of deadbeats, risking their necks and then childishly expecting Federal bailouts when they get hurt, as the CEOs retire with six- or seven-figure bonuses.

        Could it be that what you rail against the most is likely to be an aspect of your personality that you fear or loathe and therefore repress, and so it comes out in your behavior instead as railing against it and trying to ban it?

        "I decided to force-feed him, but he wouldn't eat... I hated myself for making him eat, but I hated him more for not eating."

        by Shaviv on Tue Apr 01, 2008 at 08:35:13 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Observation. (0+ / 0-)

        Republicans do assume that most of us are deadbeats.

          It is a common phenomonon for persons to see in others the very flaws of character they most detest in themselves...but cannot bring themselves to face.

        ...DEMOCRATIC candidate in run-off for TX-32 Congressional seat.

        by Steve Love on Tue Apr 01, 2008 at 10:24:04 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Everyone depends on society (3+ / 0-)

    The myth is that the guy making $500K a year "earned" that all on his own.

    Just because the government doesn't send him cheques doesn't mean he doesn't draw benefit from it.  Police, roads, market regulations, the technology researched by government and the past achievements of other "rugged individuals" made under the protective umbrella of society.

    The proof is simple:  Take your average stockbroker and put him in the forest.  Does his quality of life decrease?  He's still his same bootstrapping risk-taking entrepeneurial self right?

    Help build the progressive governing majority at Openleft.com

    by Scientician on Tue Apr 01, 2008 at 08:31:32 AM PDT

  •  Divided we fall (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Cassandra Waites, Shaviv

    That is the truth of it.

    Capitalism has made it this way - old fashioned fascism will take it away.... Marilyn Manson

    by Captain Janeway on Tue Apr 01, 2008 at 08:33:55 AM PDT

  •  Rugged individualism is a myth that will (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Cassandra Waites, Shaviv

    never die because it is inherently appealing, therefore we must coopt it as the right does when they take over an issue. I liked what Randi Rhodes used to say about the military as a liberal institution. In the military, you are responsible for one another and you're unit is only as strong as it's weakest link. This is a good "rugged" way to get people thinking differently about collective action, community and the use of government for the good of all.

    Americans, due to our history, are inherently mistrustful of government. We have had a long history of voluntary community association, as opposed to the longer history of imposed and centralized government found in Europe. We must expose what the right is really calling for: pulling up the drawbridges around the castle and letting most of us serfs fend for ourselves. It really is a call for primitivism and social anarchy.

    you think you're so clever and classless and free, but you're still fucking peasants as far as I can see- J L

    by the fan man on Tue Apr 01, 2008 at 08:38:01 AM PDT

    •  Well, not really (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Belvedere Come Here Boy

      Americans, due to our history, are inherently mistrustful of government.
      We have had a long history of voluntary community association, as opposed to the longer history of imposed and centralized government found in Europe.

       This is true only for those who have drunk the Kool-aid. The history of America is the history of govenment from the Mayflower Compact to the Constitution.  Whenever Americans sought to get something done they have gone to the government for the simple reason that the government is the only agency with the right of imminent domain and the ability to raise unlimited funds.
       You are right in suggesting that it is fundamentally different from European governments in general because it is based on a social contract not an aristocratic model. The people "ordained and established" this government.  It was not instituted by divinity, some royal family or the Pope.  
       Today's distrust of government is the product of hundreds of millions of dollars spent by the radical right to drive a wedge between the people and their only defense from big businesses that wants to prey on them. This effort, in cooperation with FOX News, The Heritage Foundation and other media outlets, has been the mission of the conservative revolutionaries who have taken over the Republican party and turned it into a propaganda arm of the right wing cabal organized by Grover Norquist.

      ...DEMOCRATIC candidate in run-off for TX-32 Congressional seat.

      by Steve Love on Tue Apr 01, 2008 at 10:17:58 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I agree with your take on history, but I would (0+ / 0-)

        argue because of British laws imposed on the colonists, there was also a strong move to limit government to prevent the excess associated with the monarchy. It continues to rear its head as states and privacy rights particularly. The right wing has been most effective in capitalizing on this tradition of mistrust. An uneven but interesting book on the subject is A Necessary Evil: A History of American Distrust of Government by Garry Wills. Thanks of the response.

        you think you're so clever and classless and free, but you're still fucking peasants as far as I can see- J L

        by the fan man on Tue Apr 01, 2008 at 11:00:46 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I agree, in fact... (0+ / 0-)

          there was also a strong move to limit government to prevent the excess associated with the monarchy.

           the conflict that set off the Boston Tea Party was not that the British were imposing taxes but that the colonists had no say in the process.  This is a far cry from the Norquist war on taxes that has the public believing that federal taxes disappear into a black hole somewhere and that a world without taxes is a best-of-all-possible places.  :-)

          ...DEMOCRATIC candidate in run-off for TX-32 Congressional seat.

          by Steve Love on Tue Apr 01, 2008 at 01:07:19 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  rugged individualists don't use viagra (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    the fan man, Cassandra Waites, Shaviv

    i've never called hillary "cliton" but i accidentally called barack "oballma"

    by memofromturner on Tue Apr 01, 2008 at 08:44:02 AM PDT

  •  Information item (0+ / 0-)

    Were it not for the SEC which is funded by tax dollars, the stock market would be so unstable and even more subject to corruption than it is today.

    The SEC is not funded by general tax dollars.  The SEC is funded by fees imposed on sellers of corporate stock, companies that issue new stocks and bonds, and bidders in corporate takeovers.

    In fact, the SEC collects more in fees than it spends in its budget, making it a net contributor to the US Treasury.

    •  oh snap (0+ / 0-)

      well, it's nice to learn something new.

      Moar like this. How about getting the EPA to do its goddamn job, would it be able to support itself on the fines?

      "I decided to force-feed him, but he wouldn't eat... I hated myself for making him eat, but I hated him more for not eating."

      by Shaviv on Tue Apr 01, 2008 at 08:46:43 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Most of the "self mades" that I know (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Steve Love

    come from a solidly upper middle class background and, through self declared superhuman effort, they've managed to stay upper middle class. I'm assuming most wealthy self mades have heroically managed to maintain their class too. New immigrants or someone climbing out of poverty may have some claim on the self made label (with caveats), but not these folks.

    And yeah, the above commenters are right; without the social infrastructure we provide, the rich would be hanging from lampposts and the class-maintainers would get a much more intimate experience of life's rough edges.

    Pillow talk ain't foreign policy experience...unless you slept with Saddam.

    by dallasdave on Tue Apr 01, 2008 at 08:49:37 AM PDT

  •  who is "r.i."? (0+ / 0-)

    As far as lifestyle is concerned, conservatives extol being just like the others, perhaps having larger stuff that your less loaded neighbors.  To me, individualism entails non-conformism.

    The question how much the rich should be taxed is related to "r.i." very tenuously.  

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site