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Kos's feature today, "The fallacy that tax cuts stimulate economies," made me aware, more than ever, that what we're seeing now is the ultimate result of the Starve the Beast policy that has been in place ever since Reagan.

More after the jump, including an interesting use of statistics.

Starve the Beast is the conservative strategy based on the idea that you won't succeed at paring down the government by arguing that ideologically this is the right thing to do. Instead, you cut taxes (which always appeals to voters) and eventually we reach the situation where government is forced to cut back because the revenue just isn't there.

We're now seeing the fruition of this strategy. It provides the excuse to bust unions, remove oversight of polluters and financial speculators, and make working people so desperate that they'll take any job, no matter how poorly it pays or how dangerous it is. This is what conservatives have thirsted for all these years: the destruction of government and the return of a feudal society in which the rich rule and the rest of us are peons.

Another way of saying this is that we're moving toward seeing the whole USA made into Arkansas writ large. I suggest you read "The Conservative States of America," on The Atlantic's website. In this article (with very effective graphics), the brilliant urban theorist Richard Florida looks at the correlations between political conservatism and various other factors on a state-by-state basis. He finds a strong link between conservatism, low education, and low income. I should note that he is not very partisan and often takes pokes at both political parties in his writing.

He concludes (emphasis added):

Conservatism, at least at the state level, appears to be growing stronger. Ironically, this trend is most pronounced in America's least well-off, least educated, most blue collar, most economically hard-hit states. Conservatism, more and more, is the ideology of the economically left behind.


Liberalism, which is stronger in richer, better-educated, more-diverse, and, especially, more prosperous places, is shrinking across the board and has fallen behind conservatism even in its biggest strongholds. This obviously poses big challenges for liberals, the Obama administration, and the Democratic Party moving forward.

But the much bigger, long-term danger is economic rather than political. This ideological state of affairs advantages the policy preferences of poorer, less innovative states over wealthier, more innovative, and productive ones. American politics is increasingly disconnected from its economic engine.  And this deepening political divide has become perhaps the biggest bottleneck on the road to long-run prosperity.

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Comment Preferences

  •  This is it (0+ / 0-)

    the culmination of 30 years of cynical and stupid policy. And I agree with your quote: the very victims of this policy are it's chief supporters, uneducated white voters. Thats why I say bring it: no food for seniors, crumbling infrastructure, no unemployment insurance, the worse the better. Because even stupid people will realize eventually. And then we have consensus again. The consensus we reached during the last great depression lasted almost three generations. It's time people were reminded why vast inequality is bad and social investment is good.

    •  No, don't "bring it" (0+ / 0-)

      How will you explain your strategy to the starving-to-death senior citizen who no longer receives the government assistance she counted on?  "Sorry you are going to die, but it serves the greater good." ?

      We need to continue to fight every encroachment they make, HERE and NOW.  The lives of real people are at stake, this is not a game.

      "Believe nothing, no matter where you read it, or who said it... unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense." -The Buddha

      by Brian A on Wed Mar 30, 2011 at 10:58:46 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Sorry (0+ / 0-)

        I don't want starving people either. But I don't want to be the educated elitist liberal trying to save people from their own choices. Lets see how this republican thing works out for people. You can only deny reality so long.

  •  $445 million in federal financial aid for (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    in 2009 to Liberty University fits into this, too.

    I just upgraded internet speed. Now I can be late to the best diaries, faster.

    by mississippi boatrat on Wed Mar 30, 2011 at 10:00:41 AM PDT

  •  Correlation isn't necessarily Causation (0+ / 0-)

    I grew up in a deeply red state town, and have moved around quite a bit since then.  

    Whatever is going on really needs to be looked at very carefully and not dismissed.  

    I think that one of the more important issues in this trend is the question of whether people fear the future and reject change or whether they accept the challenges as necessary.

    There is a deep  resentment towards the big cities and places like California, because the children of the small towns tend to move away and become changed as they gain an education and become part of the faster moving part of the culture.

    As families are torn apart due to the mobility needed to pursue economic or social goals, this becomes a tragedy that has only the most diffuse focus for blame.  

    The starving economies of small town America do not support advertising to a very abundant degree, so this favors the formula that supports conservative media.  

    Across these regions, conservative investors like the Koch brothers and the Texas oil billionaires like HL Hunt, have been financing a large network of conservative media outlets that push a whole spectrum of social and political views that cater to and exploit the sense of betrayal people have.

    It would be well for progressives to consider ways that public education could be pursued that currently, is left to chance and to the evangelism of despair.  

    hope that the idiots who have no constructive and creative solutions but only look to tear down will not win the day.

    by Stuart Heady on Wed Mar 30, 2011 at 10:35:20 AM PDT

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