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Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Bite that Hand

Since at least the time of Reagan, there's been a growing fraction of Americans who distrust government. This, like many things, falls along a continuum...from what I regard as a rather healthy distrust, all the way to the extremes of hatred, and hysteria.
It is instructive to remember that we hate what we fear, and we generally fear what we do not important principal. The other side of the syllogism, of course, is that the best course for lessening hatred is the prescriptive lessening of fear, which can be accomplished by increasing understanding.
In former times, I would have been an unlikely defender of government. As a Jeffersonian Liberal, I have always believed that government was a necessary evil...that for any group of humans to live together, some organisation is necessary.
The larger the group, the larger the organisation required.
I had always thought that these concepts were well known and almost stupidly obvious...and I never thought that I would need to make the case for government, even in Principle.
There have always been a certain tiny fraction of folks who reject these concepts....from a few factions in Anarchist Thought, on the Birchers and the more Randian Libertarians, on the Right.
The latter group has seen it's ideas increasingly infect the Right side of American Political Thought, beginning in the late 70's and early 80's.
The Tea Party, sort of within the GOP, is the latest and most extreme example of this phenomenon.
This seems to be as true in Mason County, as in the rest of the 11th District of Texas.
What is ignored, (sometimes purposefully, often not), is that Mason relies on government.
According to,17.8% of Masonites work for Government, either state or local.(the percentage of Texans, in general, is 12%). This figure may or may not include the Public School...which as near as I can tell, is our largest Employer.(2nd and 3rd seem to be the City and County; but it's hard to get direct data, during a government shutdown).
Also from citydata(2)...  14 households in Mason, Texas make less than $10,000, per year. 67  make less than $30,000..
County wide, 31 households are under $10K, and 164 are under $30K. (3)
According to wiki(via the now closed US Census), 23.5% of folks in Mason County were over the age of 65...and therefore receiving(or at least eligible for) Social Security and Medicare..
 Around 13% of those, were below the Poverty Line.
The notoriously rosy Federal Poverty Level(FPL) stands at just over $23,000, for a family of four.
13.2% of the population, overall, were below the FPL.(4)(5)
Over at the school, between 55 and 63% of students are deemed "Low Income", by TEA(6). Mason ISD is a "Title 1 School", which means we receive extra funds from the Federal Government.
In 2008, the last year for which I could find data,the Federal Government paid for almost 10% of the doings at the school...State of Texas, 53%.(7)
Then there's the Highway Department, out 29 East...I couldn't find any data for them, specifically...but TxDot is well known for it's reliance on federal Dollars.
And last, remember when there used to be peanuts around here...and wool?
If I remember correctly, all the Government money for those activities sort of went away, late 90's...and that activity all but stopped,with big consequences for the Mason County Economy.
Government, state and federal, has long been vital to farming and ranching...from crop insurance to loans and grants, to outright subsidies. With the shutdown, no reliable, current data was it is unknown just how much of this money flows into Mason.

It can be argued, of course, that...well...that's too much Government Cheese for such a self reliant and, yes, "Conservative" Community. I could probably make that argument, better than most.
However, recklessly shutting off that Flow is hardly the most prudent method of lessening it. To do so is to ensure that many of your neighbors go hungry, go cold in the winter, and that their children go uneducated...and remember that the school also has a secondary function as Child Care. If the kids didn't have school, someone would have to stay home with them. Much of the above income figures are, necessarily, based on more than one income.
A Federal Government Shutdown will have an effect on Mason.
The longer it goes on, the bigger the effect. Much of the ag and education and highway funding has already been passed along.Social Security and Medicare, Medicaid, SSI,VA and Disability, similarly, are on separate funding streams; it will take longer for a Shutdown to effect them...but eventually, it will.
If the current Minority in the House gets its way, and we go over the even more irresponsible  cliff of Defaulting on our debt, all of this will become exponentially worse.
If that happens, I expect a Credit Freeze, and an almost immediate cessation of Economic Activity.
That says "Depression".
There is a very real possibility that such a reckless action could end Civilisation, itself.
That may still sound hyperbolic and "crazy talk"-ish,lol.
But it's not.
I spent the weekend studying up on Economics...a refresher course on how the Economy actually works.
Default equals Disaster.

This may well be the last opportunity for Non Tea People to speak up,and put a stop to this madness.
In our district, there's not much hope of "converting" this loud bunch of Nutters to anything resembling Reality.
But they are not the Majority of Mr Conaway's Constituency.
Apathy will kill us, in the end.

If I send this to the paper, it might get printed.
I am reluctant, because I can almost hear the half-baked rebuttals to each of these things.
It's tiresome....and it may be quite dangerous, if things go as wrongly as they seem to be.
I went away from Facebook for a few step back from the Madness. I return, and find that I am blocked from My Senator's FB page.(for "abuse")
The Cult Members, there, can call for the violent overthrow of the US Government, come nearer  than ever to calling for assassination, can strongly imply that "libtards" be taken out and shot....and yet I am blocked...for snark and dissent, and a few links to the facts.
I fear that we are beyond hope, now.
I fear that we are heading into a dark and flaming place, a Hobbesian Civil War...all against all...
I fear that I have been right, all along.
And that Terrifies me.
The folks who Hate Government...even the idea of Government...have taken us to that very edge.

I will spend the next few days evacuating my Library(started anyway, due to the snake-problem)....and buying up food and other supplies.
I'll clean my guns, as well.

(6)   (2009-2010)

(7)    (2008)

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