Saturday, January 29, 2005

Red & Green

Conservatives don't like anything that they perceive to be a handout or any policy that places fetters on THEIR ability to pursue the almighty buck. Support any strategy that tries to balance the financial ledger between the haves and the have nots and you're bound to be labeled a "tax and spend" liberal, or, far worse, a s-o-c-i-a-l-i-s-t!

Look at what happened to our public welfare system. Conservatives didn't like the fact that poor people -- lazy bums in their eyes -- were provided with cash benefits and food stamps. So, they pushed through the insidious Welfare-to-Work concept. Now, folks must toil away at minimum or less-than-minimum wage work -- if such work is even available -- to receive meager benefits that, combined with their meager pay, rarely provide enough to cover the basics like rent, food, childcare and good health.

Conservatives also don't like anything that could be termed a trade barrier. If another nation subsidizes a domestic industry, conservatives come running out of the woodwork like roaches, screaming that this places an unfair hurdle in their midst. How can we compete against these unfair advantages, they whine.

Yes, conservatives believe in everyone toting their own weight and allowing the free and unfettered market to reign supreme...

Unless, of course, THEY happen to be the chief beneficiary of liberal "tax and spend" policies. THEN, all of a sudden, they seem to become champions of all things liberal or socialist.

Case in point. Klamath County is one of the most conservative counties in Oregon. If Klamath County voters were given the sole power to decide the governorship, Lon Mabon or Bill Sizemore would be installed as state leader for life. Homosexuality would be outlawed and the state police (and any God fearing person too) would be encouraged to shoot any suspected homosexuals on sight. Migrant farmworkers wouldn't be paid at all -- They should be thankful we allow them the opportunity to toil in our "God Bless America" fields.

So, one would think that Klamath County residents are against ANYTHING that even hints of being moderate, liberal or s-o-c-i-a-l-i-s-t.

For the past 50 years, Klamath County farmers have had access to electricity at artificially low prices. The government allowed the predecessor of today's Pacific Power to build dams on area rivers in exhange for the agreement that the electricity generated would be sold to the farmers as cheaply as possible, far cheaper than is paid by any other Pacific Power customers. (In other words, all the other customers are subsidizing the farmers in Klamath County.) This sweetheart deal was put in place in 1917 and was to last for 50 years. However, Congress renewed the deal in 1956 and set the new termination date for 2006.

Now, these dyed-in-the-wool conservatives are growing increasingly angry at the prospect that their subsidized electricity may soon come to an end. It seems that toting one's own weight or participating in the unfettered free market is now not so damned important.

I certainly understand their concern. Current estimates are that their electricity rates may increase by up to tenfold. That's a big hit to anyone's bottom line. Many farmers, who are just barely making it now, will certainly go under. When that happens, there will be a lot of families suffering mightily.

For me though, this represents the major problem with conservative thought. On the whole, conservatives are against a whole slew of equalization policies UNLESS such policies benefit them personally. In such cases, all their holier-than-thou rhetoric conveniently is swept under the rug. As soon as they get what they want, they move the rug and reinstate the rhetoric.

If Klamath County farmers were true to their stated ideals, they wouldn't be fighting the apparent end of their sweatheart deal -- no, they would welcome it. In fact, they would never would have accepted it, in the first place.

Unfortunately, conservatives only show a "what's in it for me?" attitude. They don't seem to care one wit about the safety, health or fortunes of anyone else. From my vantage point, that's a sorry way to live one's life. It makes it next to impossible to create livable communities.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comments are unmoderated, so you can write whatever you want.