09 September, 2010

Dumbfuckery du Jour

Republicans have somehow convinced enough people that taxes = pure evil to make increasing taxes well-nigh impossible.  Witness the fruits of their labor:

A month ago, the New York Times reported that cash-strapped states and municipalities are resorting to "major life-changing cuts in core services." This includes four-day weeks for public schools, local bus systems being shut down, and turning off streetlights in Colorado Springs. The report came on the heels of a Wall Street Journal piece about several state governments cutting back on paved roads, because they can only afford gravel. More recently, we learned that struggling public schools, finding their budgets slashed, used to simply require students to bring in glue, scissors, and crayons. They're now demanding that families provide everything from paper towels to garbage bags to liquid soap. In one instance, children are asked to even bring in toilet paper.

Today the NYT reports on "a nascent budget-balancing trend in municipal government: police and fire departments have begun to charge accident victims as a way to offset budget cuts."
Ambulance charges have long been common and are usually paid by health insurance, but fees for other responders are relatively new. The charge is variously called a "crash tax" or "resource recovery," depending on one's point of view. In either case, motorists are billed for services they may have thought were covered by taxpayers.
Sometimes the victim's insurer pays. But if it declines, motorists may face threats from a collection agency if they don't pay.
The AAA opposes such fees, said Jill Ingrassia, managing director for government relations and traffic safety advocacy. "Generally, we see that public safety services are a core government function that should be properly budgeted for with general taxes and not addressed by fees after the fact," she said.
Ms. Ingrassia says such charges can place an "undue burden on motorists who can't choose the size or duration of an emergency response," which means they cannot control the size of the bill they may get. "We also really don't want to discourage any motorist involved in a crash from calling for police or rescue services if they fear they are going to be billed for it," she said.
Now, I'm sure Cons will start babbling about how charging accident victims enforces personal responsibility, makes us drive more carefully, and that accident-free people shouldn't have to pay for other people's bad driving.  They'll repeat such tropes ad nauseum  - right up until they're the ones in an accident, when they'll instantly start shrieking about how outrageous it is to have to pay for a police response.  Not that they'll see the light and authorize a tax increase to pay for basic emergency services - they'll just demand we do something like let poor people starve to death in the streets (but not any streets where sensitive Cons might see their icky dead bodies).  Budget cuts, we're told, are the solution to every governmental budget woe - as long as those cuts only impact the icky poor people who do awful things like vote for Democrats.

Quite soon, we'll start hearing about how emergency services would do much better if they were privatized, as the free market is almost godlike in its ability to solve our every problem.  City and state governments, they'll say, should contract with private entities for the provision of fire and police services.  Why, that would be almost as good as cutting programs meant to help icky poor people out of the budget!  Someone should explain the history of private firefighting to them and ask if they're pining for a return to those halcyon days of private enterprise.

Something tells me they still won't get it even when they're house is burning down and the private companies are too busy fighting over who's going to put out the fire to actually put out the fire, but one can always hope that a tiny spark of sense will ignite somewhere in the depths of what passes for their brains.

I don't hold out much hope, however.  We are talking about a group of morons who believe that $50 billion for infrastructure improvements is an outrageous, unaffordable expense (probably because it's already paid for by removing minuscule amounts of public money from private oil companies), while around $800 billion in tax cuts for the fabulously wealthy is a bargain.  You cannot reason with people whose math skills are only equaled by Dr. Evil's.

And in the must-be-seen-to-be-believed category, watch Teabaggers and Con candidates rally round a man who thinks stringing up murdered gays is an excellent decorative idea.  I'm sure these folks could be a lot more offensive, disgusting and morally bankrupt.  It's just hard to imagine how.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I think you'll like this (from www.senate.gov):


June 25, 1930
Senate Considers Banning Dial Phones

Senator Carter Glass of Virginia
Carter Glass (D-VA)

In the spring of 1930, the Senate considered the following resolution:

Whereas dial telephones are more difficult to operate than are manual telephones; and Whereas Senators are required, since the installation of dial phones in the Capitol, to perform the duties of telephone operators in order to enjoy the benefits of telephone service; and Whereas dial telephones have failed to expedite telephone service; Therefore be it resolved that the Sergeant at Arms of the Senate is authorized and directed to order the Chesapeake and Potomac Telephone Co. to replace with manual phones within 30 days after the adoption of this resolution, all dial telephones in the Senate wing of the United States Capitol and in the Senate office building.

Sponsored by Virginia's Carter Glass, the resolution passed without objection when first considered on May 22, 1930. Arizona's Henry Ashurst praised its sponsor for his restrained language. The Congressional Record would not be mailable, he said, "if it contained in print what Senators think of the dial telephone system." When Washington Senator Clarence Dill asked why the resolution did not also ban the dial system from the District of Columbia, Glass said he hoped the phone company would take the hint.

One day before the scheduled removal of all dial phones, Maryland Senator Millard Tydings offered a resolution to give senators a choice. It appeared that some of the younger senators actually preferred the dial phones. This angered the anti-dial senators, who immediately blocked the measure's consideration.

Finally, technology offered a solution. Although the telephone company had pressed for the installation of an all-dial system, it acknowledged that it could provide the Senate with phones that worked both ways. But Senator Dill was not ready to give up. In his experience, the dial phone "could not be more awkward than it is. One has to use both hands to dial; he must be in a position where there is good light, day or night, in order to see the number; and if he happens to turn the dial not quite far enough, then he gets a wrong connection."

Senator Glass, the original sponsor, had the last word before the Senate agreed to the compromise plan. "Mr. President, so long as I am not pestered with the dial and may have the manual telephone, while those who want to be pestered with [the dial] may have it, all right."