Another Letter from the Farmer
Posted in Refine & Enlarge by Peter W. Schramm
The latest Letter from an Ohio Farmer
addresses this point that President Obama made a week or so ago: "You see, most Americans tend to dislike government spending in the abstract, but
like the stuff that it buys." The President is saying essentially what former Speaker
of the House of Representatives, Thomas P. "Tip" O'Neill, meant by his
most quoted maxim: "All politics is local." The Progressive agenda
counts on the fact that we Americans like the stuff government spending
buys, just as Tip O'Neill counted on all politics being local. The Farmer considers this massive fact.
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If we are going to have a republic, then we might as well allow for rebutals. Lets grant you have yourself a massive fact, and consider that if it massive enough it need not be directed. That is I have never had an argument about where a door is, or where the bathroom is, or what is obviously a fact.
It is problematic to me at least for you to match up Obama's statement: "most Americans tend to dislike government spending in the abstract, but like the stuff that it buys."
With this statement:
"California, Illinois, New Jersey and New York—“blue” states, where big government remains very popular."
Here are the rankings of federal expenditure per dollar contribution(old data 2005).
50 New Jersey $0.61
43 California $0.78
45 Illinois $0.75
42 New York $0.79
So if you are also quoteing this dead Tip O'Neil "in general, they were still good New Dealers when it came to the particular benefits their own towns and neighborhoods could receive from government programs." Maybe this just isn't true.
Mississippi, (Haley Barbour) and Alaska (Palin) lead out with 2.02 and 1.84 in aid per dollar contributed.
So if Tip O'Neil is the anti-Reagan maybe Reagan really did win...politics is no longer local, and the folks who receive particular benefits are no longer good New Dealers.
By preventing politics from being local, compounded by the internet and 24 hour news, you have essentially made folks into national or even global citizens. In the simplest legal terms you have blown out "standing".
Any more you can basically take any sentence of Obama's and re-write it to say its opposite and have a credible point.
e.g. "You see, most Americans tend to dislike government spending in the abstract, but like the stuff that it buys."
Becomes: "You see, most Americans tend to like government spending in the abstract, but dislike the stuff it buys." (examples, Liberals+independents+ some conservatives who dislike foreign wars, or particular wars, i.e. Iraq, or ObamaCare vs. a free market idealism or a single payer idealism.)
In fact the most actual credibility for the form "Americans tend to dislike X in the abstract, but like the particular example." Would probably relate to Congress which as a whole is at about 13% popularity, while individual candidates are still popular enough that the incumbent advantage is real.
So it is really the "other" congressman that americans don't like, so politics is local in some sense, but even local politics is sort of an ideas local politics. Which translates into I like the ideas of my congressman in the abstract, but dislike the particular example.
I like the tea party in the abstract but dislike Boehner, or dislike the implementation of the idea(budget cuts). I like conservatism, but dislike Bush. I like progressivism but dislike Obama.
So I like the idea, but dislike its implementation. Now it is quite possible that politics is local because all facts are local, and that once you get beyond facts, you might as well be on the internet.
But since we have blown out standing, we will blow out ripeness (despite Pelosi's warning, and the dissent in Abbot Labs, which I join(why not?)), so now we are really out there, and we basically have this faith based politics, where Dick Cheney can say Deficits don't Matter, and then Paul Ryan can come screaming that they do. I say it is somewhat of a random walk above my pay grade, and involves quite a bit of immagination and a certain feel for Big H history, Legalism, and global macro-economics, none of which of course means I can't deliberate on a range of more provincial issues, I am more certain about (and I do.)
So mainly it is fairly easy to rebut Letters from the Ohio Farmer, and see if I can force some answers. I do this in good faith, because I am legitimately this clueless.
What's most striking to me is just how much time this Ohio "farmer" has for writing these letters. All of the Ohio farmers I know and have known (including those in my own family - some in Ashbrook's rural backyard) are/were always incredibly busy during this time of year, with little time at a desk or computer to crank out manifestos.
Read Machiavelli's letter to Francesco Vettori and you may begin to see that such limitations as those you speak of are nothing to a dedicated mind.
By the way, a wonderful letter. I'd note the following:
"Our greatest act of self government in this sense was the act by which “we, the people” submitted our sovereign power to the Constitution, which is at once our creation and the Supreme Law over us."
I wonder if it isn't this sort of Nietzschean streak which runs through us that has kept us from the Last Man status of Europe.
The beauty of computers. Letters written in the quiet of winter are stored and ready for publication in the busy of spring planting.