I watched a comedy the other night with my wife — Going In Style. It was a typical, and fairly well-written, B-rated show about three retirees who, out of financial necessity, rob a bank.
Although the goal of the film is to make you laugh (which it did, but I like the three actors), the subplot is a harsh reminder of the society we created. The aged men, largely dismissed by society, are exploited by banking scams and their former employer (which legally robs them of their pension). The subplot is ripped from everyday life — referencing the banking scandals that led to the Great Recession.
Tag You’re It
In our current political chaos, we have created a society where a bully voice wins. And the louder someone yells or the more outrageous their claims, the more power we give them through air time or page views.
This has also led to a ‘tag you’re it’ blame game. The game is hardly new, just refined, but it always plays out the same. Regardless what the problem is — whether it is heroin addiction, job choice or insurance needs — the fault always lies with the individual, not the system.
The blame game is further exasperated by special interest groups which handpick our elected officials.
My Congressman, Warren Davidson, utilized the ‘tag you’re it’ model of blame when a mother asked how her adult son — employed in the service industry and insured through Medicaid via the ACA — was supposed to get insurance if the ACA was repealed. Davidson reportedly said,
OK, I don’t know anything about your son, but as you described him, his skills are focused in an industry that doesn’t have the kind of options that you want him to have for health care. So, I don’t believe that these taxpayers here are entitled to give that to him. I believe he’s got the opportunity to go earn those health benefits.
You Can’t Always Get What You Want
It is the last sentence that speaks to the GOP’s unwillingness to address the real issue — the lack of economic opportunity. A party that has blended Herbert Spencer’s ‘survival of the fittest’ philosophy with Ayn Rand’s economic theories has gutted our communities with their horrendous approach to capitalism.
The man mentioned in the article doesn’t need career advice, he needs a livable wage job — and that is influenced by government policy. I’d bet the thought already crossed the man’s mind — that if he was going to work 40 hours a week — why not find a job that paid well and had good benefits.
Anyone who lives in Eaton — or Enon — where Davidson was speaking that evening can easily determine the quality of jobs in the region. So, to suggest that the man just needs to land a better job is ludicrous.
We Want Solutions, Not A Marketing Campaign
In the 8th, the Club for Growth spent more than $1 million to help Davidson win the primary in 2015. In a gerrymandered District the primary is the de facto general election.
The Club’s policies, though, do not reflect the views of many of the constituents in the 8th. For example, the Club opposes farm subsidies and wants them completely eliminated. Between 1995 and 2014, Ohio farmers received $5.4 billion from the program. Of that $667 million was distributed to farmers inside Davidson’s district — with $107 million going to Preble County farmers.
Presumably, voters — at least the agricultural block that benefits from the program — do not share the Club’s view about farm subsidies.
So, Davidson has aligned with a special interest group whose policies, if enacted, could bring financial harm to people who cast a vote for him.
Who Is John Galt?
It seems to me that instead of politicians marketing a ‘free market’ agenda coupled with a stripped-down government approach of problem solving what residents inside the 8th really need is a government that works for them. We don’t need someone selling the philosophies of Ayn Rand or The Club for Growth.
Those philosophies won’t bring jobs to our region. They won’t help sustain family farms. They don’t reflect our values. Many here don’t even know how to pronounce Ayn. They couldn’t tell you the person’s gender, most haven’t read her books — but even Rand was pragmatic in the end. She willfully cashed her Social Security checks even tbough she did not believe in the program. Apparently the will to live was stronger than her ideology.
And, although I don’t know for certain, I’m doubtful that many, if any, of the 100,000 members of the Club for Growth live inside Ohio’s 8th Congressional District.
Which begs the question — why are they influencing policy here?