Monday, November 8, 2010

California vs. Texas ctd: Goldilocks?

Yeah, that ubiquitous talking point of yesteryear turns out to be not even correctly premised. Texas's budget hole is now comparable to California's, and Republicans are looking to slash education funding and end health care for kids as well as Medicaid, and maybe even Social Security somehow (?). All made necessary by conservative dogma, no doubt, but one suspects that these actions would be politically disastrous, not to mention truly catastrophic on a human scale (and a clear example of why states shouldn't have any responsibility to provide health care for their residents).

My operating theory is that, despite the voting attitudes of the public, right-wingery simply isn't that popular overall. The public dislikes "government" but likes most government services, even the ones that it should really dial back on, like military spending and the drug war. So, while the right often scores points when attacking "government" there is usually careful taken not to get too specific, outside of a few very small examples like foreign aid. On social issues there is much the same pattern: a lot of signaling and rhetoric about the horrors of church-state separation with very few concrete ideas on where to take that balance. This is all politically smart because we have seen countless evidence that when people actually try to achieve ostensible right-wing goals, they achieve massive public notoriety and disgust. There are just a couple off the top of my head: Terry Schiavo. Bush's Social Security privatization scheme. The Dover, PA board of education trying to ban the teaching of evolution. The Texas State Board of Education rewriting history from an extremely biased Tea Party-esque perspective, which was so poorly received that all of those people were voted out of office in a Republican primary. Not even Republicans in Texas could stomach that crap.

Of course, that Texas history episode didn't really have a broader electoral impact, since Republicans did quite well in Texas anyway this year. But what is being considered here is quite a massive rewriting of the social contract, one that might or might not plug the state's deficit, but that will cause quite a bit of real-world suffering and could cause considerable political backlash. For all the Republican discussion about the effects of "uncertainty," they have never seemed to be too worried about introducing uncertainty themselves, and this is uncertainty on a really unprecedented level to me. I somehow doubt that it'll actually happen, but if it does, I will be monitoring the fallout to see if my theory has been vindicated.

The Man, The Myth, The Bio

East Bay, California, United States
Problem: I have lots of opinions on politics and culture that I need to vent. If I do not do this I will wind up muttering to myself, and that's only like one or two steps away from being a hobo. Solution: I write two blogs. A political blog that has some evident sympathies (pro-Obama, mostly liberal though I dissent on some issues, like guns and trade) and a culture blog that does, well, cultural essays in a more long-form manner. My particular thing is taking overrated things (movies, mostly, but other things too) down a peg and putting underrated things up a peg. I'm sort of the court of last resort, and I tend to focus on more obscure cultural phenomena.