Short form: Wherein I take a suggestion on Twitter from Robert Cruickshank and run with it, and declare (at Wal-Mart's expense) that labor advocacy and environmentalism can save the world.
Remember that time you wondered why Republicans embrace inexplicable, self-harming policies? Like, just about any time you read the news or perused the blogs?
It's a long list. I'll just hit the high notes from 2012: Women, voting for pro-rape candidates. Gays, voting for politicians who take tea with organizations lobbying for making homosexuality a capital crime 'over there', because they can't fight teh gay 'over here' in the same way (yet). Disabled veterans voting for GOPers' shutting down veterans benefits, because freedom. Parents voting for free-range schools, because Fox News humanizes Adam Lanza and George Zimmerman more than they do dead first graders, dead schoolteachers and dead Skittles-wielding pedestrians.
And these are actually some of the most understandable of strange veerings-away from rational self-interest demonstrated by our right-wing brethren. You can point to any of these strange turns of public policy preference at, even if execrable, point to a legacy of persons with such views that isn't about to go away just because it would make for a happier, more sensible and safer world all-around were such views to do so.
Because as any economist will tell you, there's a world of difference between what makes sense for a person, a company or a household - and what makes sense for overall society. Where we get into cognitive swampland is when we try to take notions that suit the microcosm and apply it to the macrocosm .. and vice-versa.
(More below the break)
Here on DKOS, we chat back and forth on this incongruity.. we know it exists, we lament that it's hard work to find ways to resolve various cooperation dilemmas, from Prisoner's Dilemma at one end of the scale to the Security Dilemma at the other. We are occasionally guilty of over-applying macro-level notions to micro behavior, because Dammit It's Good For Society. Yet the real-time peer review of a blogging community curbs enthusiasm when required...and smacks us upside the rhetorical head when tough love is required as well.
We want to help people. It's what we do. Our errors tends to be ones of expression, tactical judgment and no small tendency toward doctrinaire value sets that give liberals a reputation for reading out of an encyclopedia when they say what they want. We've all seen the person at the mic at the meetings, puling out ten post-it notes, reading a manifesto in the form a question. Why, that person might even be reading this (Ohai!)
Now, let's pivot this to our right-side acquaintances in politics: they operate seemingly blind to the insensate nature of their agenda... except they're not. They don't mind that policies such as 'entitlement reform' (earned benefits like Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare), if universally applied, will destroy seniors and near-retirees and that good one-third of beneficiaries who through no fault of their own became disabled during their working years.
They don't mind the inconsistency because the do not expect to be the ones who suffer for the enactment of those policies.
'Deserving' people. Yeah, you've surely heard that phrase by now. We're out to 'save' this-or-that Thing We Love To Get From The Government We Hate from 'undeserving ' people...if by 'we' you mean Republican...and I mean Republican in a "No True Scotsman" sort of way. In other words, an ever-moving target.
All those big austerity measures? That's to save Good Stuff for Good People. And that apparently doesn't include a lot of us here at DailyKos.
So, if you're old and 'deserving', Republicans promise you'll still get you some Social Security because Deserving People Paid They Way All Their Working Lives.
Oh, and Deserving People Who Got Hurt Five Years After High School? You're okay. You get disability.
And Children of Deserving People Who Never Worked Ever? Welfare, food subsidies... oh and Don't Call It Obamacare After We Repeal and Republicanize It Back? You'll get that too.
DREAMer? Convince us you will vote Republican and be 'deserving'? It's not up to us to make us make YOU an 'us'. (And one wonders why Republicans aren't quite grokking the Why Hispanics Hate Us Lots thing.)
Perhaps no two issues sum up Willful Ignorance Meets Self Immolation like labor rights and the environment. The two issue areas can be twinned by one phrase:
Labor and environment are about improving the conditions in which we work and live for the benefit of all.
That statement is simple, consistent, expansive in scope. You can hang a lot of pretty action items on it like a holiday tree.
And naturally Republicans will hate it lots, because Republicans embrace inconsistency. They don't want generically good things. They don't want universal moral right. To them, that's cray-cray (translation: crazy talk). They want labor, specifically organized labor, destroyed. They want all labor rights extinct after that. Minimum wage? Look further down to path - clearly we have a lead and asbestos GAP in our economy (and that's why China's kickin' our butts!)
Republicans have embraced some notion that the continued existence of labor destroys jobs which... which is like saying the presence of oxygen ruins an otherwise breathable atmosphere. Which brings us to the topic of environmental protection: GOPers find the very idea of conservation to be the most offensive form of anti-capitalist bunk ("Dude, you say it like it's a bad thing.") they've ever heard. If you can't burn and break stuff into machine-tasty parts then industry dies and investors will have a sad.
And recycling? Using the same stuff again and again? And consuming less? Do you have any idea what that would do to our sales figures?
Let's tie all this together to a bit of last week's news: Over the weekend, my boys and I were in the car and the topic of Wal-Mart came up, on account we drove past a construction site where, someday, yet another Wal-Mart will stand. My oldest son commented that "Yeah, they're building it and there aren't any people living nearby yet. That's not very smart."
In a nutshell, my oldest nailed it: Wal-Mart has literally run out of small-town commercial districts to pillage for business, to drive out of business, to drive those small businesses' employees out of their jobs and into polyester vests with big smiley face buttons (Do they still wear those? It's been a while for me) earning a minimum wage that Republicans scream none of those folks deserve.
Oh, and you will find no more ardent a set of Wal-Mart fans than Republican voters.
And all those small town business, jobs and standards of living wiped out by the Wal-Martization of America?
Somehow that's organized labor's fault. Somehow that's the tree-huggers' fault. Somehow that's Obama's fault even for towns that were pillaged before Barack Hussein (What ARE you going to do about my middle name now? I'm RE-ELECTED) Obama was even in politics.
Labor and the environment are about improving the conditions in which we work and live for the benefit of all.
Republican Utopian Role Model Wal-Mart? Not really about that.
Now, back to inconsistency. As you might imagine, some of these towns, once wrecked, turn a wee bit sour on one aspect of the Republican agenda - its unabashed pro-big box big business position.
Alas, there are always other conservative branches to grab hold of. Guns, God and of course the Gayz. And a trigger-happy defensiveness if this should so much as be pointed out.
Because these voters weren't supposed to be burned at all. They were good decent hard-working 'deserving' people... until their success was pillaged so they could save a few pennies on a gallon of gas with their Sam's Club card. And over the course of an economic Indian Summer lasting several years or so, the towns surely do a bit better in terms of more pocket change.... until the stores start closing. Until the young folks' jobs dry up. Until the only money coming into town comes from retirees' Social Security, Disability and Veterans checks... and them nasty awful teacher and union pensions.
And guess what the Republicans want to pillage next? Those pensions.
Because they've already pillaged small businesses and small-scale private enterprise nearly out of existence, one Wal-Martized town at a time.
And Republican voters, the ones who voted (with ballots and with shopping dollars) their livelihoods and standards of living out of existence will vote the death of these pension lifelines, too.