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Monday, March 05, 2012

I wonder if people in towns hit by tornadoes still want government "out of their lives"
Posted by Jill | 6:19 AM
Call me mean-spirited, but watching the devastation in Indiana and Kentucky from last week's tornadoes, I found myself wondering, "How many of these people think climate change doesn't exist and voted for Tea Party candidates?" After all, these areas are the heart of the "cut spending" crowd; the crowd that thinks people should just pull themselves up by their bootstraps and not expect government help. Of course I think the government should step in and help the rebuilding, but then, I'm a bleeding heart liberal who thinks that when disaster strikes, government is part of that "community" that SHOULD pitch in.

I suppose the attitude is one of "MY government assistance is OK, YOUR government assistance is undeserved", sort of the way conservative abortions are OK, it's those liberal abortions that aren't. I would just like to know what the political leanings are of those who will be getting checks from FEMA -- and whether they will put two-and-two together and realize that they are getting assistance not from Bain Capital, but from the government -- approved by the President they regard as a Kenyan Muslim Terrorist Communist Socialist Foreigner Usurper. An even more interesting question is whether it will change how they think of government.

But you don't have to have lost everything in a tornado to get a taste of one of Oscar Wilde's twin tragedies -- getting what you want. In Uniopolis, Ohio, they're getting a taste of what Tea Party governance looks like:

Residents here were all for balancing Ohio's budget. They didn't expect that to mean their town would cease to exist.

This small village of low-slung houses and squeaky swing sets in western Ohio's farm country has already laid off its part-time police officer and decided not to replace its maintenance worker, who recently retired. To save cash, Mayor William Rolston will propose Monday that the town turn off the street lights, and that Uniopolis disincorporate after more than a century in existence.

"We've decided that with the budget cuts, we just can't do it anymore," said Rolston, the mayor of 19 years, speaking from the town's one-room municipal building, its wallpaper covered with heart-shaped American flags. "About the only thing that can save it now is an act of God."


In the western part of the state, a Republican stronghold where forgotten barns with peeling paint sit atop flat fields, many who supported Kasich say they didn't expect the cuts would reach their small hamlets. Uniopolis voted for Kasich by a margin of more than 2 to 1.

"I did vote for Kasich. He said he was going to balance the budget and he did," said Bob Wenning, whose wife, Elaine, has sat on the Uniopolis Village Council for 19 years. "But there's a lot of towns that are hurting because of those state budget cuts."

"He could have cut less than what he did," added Elaine Wenning, standing outside the couple's small house as big rigs rumbled by on a two-lane highway.

It's not surprising that voters supported the idea of balancing the budget in concept, but don't like the reality, said Bob Ward, director of fiscal studies at the Nelson A. Rockefeller Institute of Government in Albany, N.Y.

"People like the idea of cutting government, but not cutting services," he said.

Uniopolis may ask residents to pay higher taxes to keep the town afloat, but Mayor Rolston says there's little appetite for more spending in a town made up of little more than a part-time hair salon and a post office.

There's little appetite for higher taxes anywhere in Ohio, where voters in many towns have rejected requests for tax hikes. The Lakota school district near Cincinnati has asked taxpayers to put out extra money for the schools three times — and three times, voters said no. So high school athletes now pay $550 for each sport they play, and middle school athletes pay $350.

"We have a growing sentiment of 'live within your means,'" said Joan Powell, a member of the Lakota Board of Education. "I just hope that people will see what they've lost."

There are, of course, many who say that the budget cuts were necessary. Ohio's credit rating has been upgraded to stable since Kasich became governor.

"Some of it needed to be done," said Jim Thorpe, a retiree in Wapakoneta, a town near Uniopolis.

But it's possible that the drastic results of the cuts will motivate some voters to think twice about supporting candidates who pledge to make more trims.

"These communities have existed for generations. To try to devastate them with funding that has been taken away is un-American and un-Ohioan," said J.K. Byar, the Republican mayor of Amberley Village, a town outside Cincinnati.

In the Uniopolis post office, run by Link Noykos, a good-natured postmaster with sharp blue eyes and an easy laugh, townspeople shuffle in to buy stamps, pick up mail, and just to chat. Many blame the federal government for the budget problems, accusing it of spending money on bureaucracy and fancy dinners. Others say they want the budget balanced — as long as certain bits of spending remain.

And there you have it. These people are STILL blaming the Federal government for their plight, and that all you have to do is take away what they see is Michelle Obama's undeserved state dinner gowns and trips and Uniopolis will be one big happy town again. This is where the Democrats have completely fallen down on the job. A Federal government is NOT like a family that "has to live within its means." An economy as large and as complex as ours is difficult to understand. Republicans have framed this as cutting up the credit cards, and Democrats have refused to point out that austerity is more like deciding the SUV is big enough for a family home and refusing to pay the mortgage.

We're living in a country where a sizable audience cheers Rick Santorum for calling this president a snob because he thinks people should be educated. It's a country where ignorance is celebrated as virtue and independent thought derided as unnecessary -- and dangerous. And still people refuse to put two thoughts together and come up with consensus reality. The people of Uniopolis may just have to see their town disappear to drive home just what it is they voted for when they elected John Kasich. And it's tempting to think that the tornado-stricken people of Indiana and Kentucky should have driven home what THEIR "small government" voting means.

Except that we liberals don't think that way. Because we still have souls.

UPDATE: Also, this.

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Blogger Nan said...
The same people who bitch about the federal government are going to be lining up for FEMA checks -- and 5 seconds after cashing them will swear up and down they've never used any government services or gotten a dime from the feds. Never underestimate the ability of the right wing tea bagger set to deny reality.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
Recent tornado victims in Ohio can't even line up for FEMA assistance because John Kasich turned down federal disaster relief on Saturday.

I can't wait to vote that idiot out of office.

Blogger Bob said...
They have a weird reasoning that less money for the Feds means more money for the states. It may mean slightly lower Federal income taxes, not enough to be significant savings for middle income families. But it will also mean less Federal money for the states, which the states either have to replace or cut back whatever that money funded. Like special grants for traffic lights & sidewalks, river dredging, toxic waste cleanup, you know, "minor" stuff that looks awfully expensive when the county & town pay for it. When Kasich learned at least 100 homes had been destroyed or severely damaged, FEMA started looking like a better deal.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
Tough shit for these people.

They never bothered to think about what all that Tea-tard rhetoric and Reagan Kool-Aid really meant. They just took govt and its services for granted, and now they're all butthurt when the reality of what they cheered for strikes home.

Well,too damn bad. That's what complacency,ignorance, and intellectual laziness gets you. Go write a letter to Grover Norquist or something...