Politically Incorrect for 99cents

On the last day of the North Idaho Fair and Rodeo, the day that I went down to see how my exhibits had done, a few blue ribbons, red ribbons, and white ribbons—but no grand champions this year; I collected what I had in prize money, had a bite to eat, and then went walking to collect aluminum cans on Government Way. Stopping in at Hastings with a little of the money I had left that I had brought along specifically to get some food at the fair, I looked at their cheap clearance books and picked up a Book by Bill Maher of “Politically Incorrect” fame. “Does anybody have a problem with that?” a selection of Mr. Maher’s cable and then broadcast “Politically Incorrect” shows that aired back in the 1990s, as much as I had read into it so far. There was one striking commentary that he made (this during the Clinton years) that I have decided to repeat with full attribution. Nearly 20 years later, it still has major relevance even though the actors have decidedly changed:

Culture of Entitlement

There’s a new craze sweeping America. All the kids are doing it—it’s called the Culture of Entitlement. We deserve everything. Farmers depend on subsidies, industries on bailouts, minorities on affirmative action, and wrestlers on steroids. Okay, not all wrestlers. But definitely the bad guys. Haven’t Americans come to think of their government as Aladdin’s genie in a lamp, capable of granting any wish no matter how absurd?

It was aired: 10°24°93° where Mr. Maher hosted Rep Susan Molinari, Jim Glassman, Rob Nelson, Dr. Dre. There is one thing to be said about comedians who do the disparaging commentary about politics in general, they gore everyone’s ox. But what was so striking about Mr. Maher’s understanding of “entitlement” was the argument of what “I” deserve. Industries believe that “they” deserve to go to government with hat in hand and get some of that public money… Or as he said, the American people have come to see the government as Aladdin’s genie in a lamp…

They still do! Almost 20 years after President Bill Clinton’s first term in office, you still see people holding the opinion on what they think they deserve from government. And no, we aren’t necessarily thinking in terms what people “think” they deserve in hard economic times. What they need are jobs and a home to call their own. However, the fringe elements that currently populate their respective parties—Democrat or Republican, who do continue to see government as Aladdin’s genie in a lamp: what it will deliver to meet their ideological needs, what they can use to attack the opposition with—especially the opposition President Barack H. Obama, or in the case of GOP presidential wannabes, what they blatantly say they’ll deliver to corporations (Romney), or the “TEA Party.” (Perry) Or in “reducing oil prices” on the behalf of the commuting public (Bachmann). Oh yes, in each case, you do have GOP presidential candidates proclaiming what government can do for you and continuing that culture of entitlement that Mr. Maher went at great lengths to discuss back in 1993. Meanwhile, they disparage the “big government socialism” of President Obama. Kind of ironic I think.

Unlike what the news media calls “the entitlement programs” inclusive of Medicare and Social Security which the GOP want to privatize and solely affecting the elderly or those soon to be elderly; these entitlements are factually what Mr. Maher described decades earlier: what “we” think we can get from government even if “we” don’t actually need it. In the case of corporations, do they “need” subsidies when they are already rolling in collectively trillions of dollars of wealth? No. But the “TEA Party,” and their blatantly corporatist attitude thinks that corporations should be on this form of yes, big government socialism. Or take Mitt Romney who discussing the “jobs” situation holds the opinion that we need (blatant corporatist interests here) skilled foreign workers! And that is being televised to a 9.1% unemployed American populace (The Daily Show with Jon Stewart) or discussed by Dana Millbank (republished in the 8 September 2011) Spokesman-Review. Where apparently a skilled American workforce isn’t good enough for this presidential candidate. But caught this on “The Daily Show,” that he still thinks that Americans should have the highest income possible… uh, what? You can’t have it both ways, Romney, for Americans to have any income at all they need to be employed.Effectively, Mitt Romney is simply doing all over again what “compassionate conservative” GW had during his years in office; favor corporations very heavily. But of course, old GW didn’t figure that Americans actually needed to work because they were well, not skilled enough or simply too lazy. After all, illegal aliens and skilled foreign workers were only doing the jobs that Americans wouldn’t do. Or rather, American corporations preferred a cheaper workforce to having to meet American demands for wages that would enable them to live comfortably. And Millbank mentioning the fact that Romney made some of GW’s staff part of his economic team; well, it should come as no surprise that his “economic plan” was a GW redux. But a “practical plan?” As much as I like to read Dana Millbank, I think he totally missed the mark. Not only is the “TEA Party” a front for purely corporatist interests and the “TEA Party” foot soldiers easily manipulated against their best interests by way of a core driving hatred of President Obama; but it also seems to me that Romney did know his audience. As long as the “TEA Party,” demonstrates an interest to protect the welfare of corporations, then Romney would pander to them.

Back in 1993, I do believe that Bill Maher had an accurate take on what was meant by “entitlement:” what “we” think that government should do for “us.” A matter of what “we” deserve. In the case of the “TEA Party” in Congress that blatantly attacks the “costly entitlements” most favored by the Democrats while blatantly protecting the costly entitlements most favored by their own special interests; it comes as no surprise just how relevant today Mr. Maher’s decades old statement continues to be. But according to Bachmann, Perry, and Romney, while they will provide a government that specific interests groups think that they deserve. They on the other hand, think that “you” the average American voter are not entitled to (deserve) a government that actually represents you.

Only the deaf would overlook the implications of Romney’s “economic plan” aired in the last day or so and discussed by Millbank or Jon Stewart. Or the implications of Perry’s “angry populism,” that is meant solely to target President Obama. But, that is not meant to further the interests of the American citizenry. Oh yes, we have a clear choice at the polls all right, we can vote for Obama who did try to act on the behalf of the people. Or we can vote for the losers who can keep on doing what GW tried to do and bankrupt the nation. —You just gotta love Bill Maher.

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