25 August 2011

How dare you want free drinking water???

George Will was in Wisconsin recently to gloat over Democrats' failure to seize control of the state senate through recall elections. Because partisan control was at issue, the recall campaign has been seen as an all-or-nothing effort. The fact that angry constituents recalled and replaced two state senators at a moment of Republican triumphalism is thus obscured by the fact that Democrats failed to replace a third senator and gain control of the upper house. More Republican triumphalism results, and Will waxes contemptuous toward the grievances of "progressives." He finds graffiti denouncing "fa$ci$m" hilarious -- I personally find it stupid, given the anti-statist bias of bourgeois Republicans, but not particularly funny -- but he finds another message even more damning. Here's how he closes his latest column:

As the moonless night of fa$ci$m descends on America's dairyland, sidewalk graffiti next to the statehouse-square drinking fountain darkly warns: "Free water ... for now." There, succinctly, is liberalism's credo: If everything isn't "free," meaning paid for by someone else, nothing will be safe.

And there, succinctly, is Republican idiocy. I assume that someone might expect water to be free because, in nature, it is. Meanwhile, presuming that the graffiti author is a taxpayer, then he or she, and not just "someone else" is paying to have that fountain provide "free" water. If Will presumes that the author is not a taxpayer, that only means that his beef is with the poor, not with liberals. Furthermore, Will leaves unclear whether he thinks that the water from the drinking fountain should not be free. Would it be more fair, or just, if the fountain were coin-operated? Finally, what exactly were Democrats, progressives, or union members in Wisconsin demanding to have for "free?" Public employees pay more into their health insurance now, but were they paying nothing before? Clearly, they weren't paying enough as far as George Will, who pays no taxes to the state of Wisconsin that I know of, was concerned, but do insufficient payments, as defined by someone who apparently thinks that everything can or perhaps should be rendered a commodity, really amount to "free" services? Only for those, I suspect, who see anyone using collective or political power to get a better deal from the system as getting "something for nothing," and who have a hard time reconciling their presumably principled refusal to be dependent upon the political order with their resentful envy of those who benefit from a dependence upon their own empowerment through political action. But when that attitude leaves you looking like you've just scoffed at the idea of free public drinking water, you might want to ask if you have an attitude problem.

George Will might argue that I didn't get his point, which may be that it's silly to think that Republicans will make you pay for drinking fountains just because they want unions to pay more toward their own upkeep -- but how silly is it, really? What's more consistent with GOP dogma: free fountains or the alternative? Don't Republicans think that nothing is free -- not even freedom, if you believe a lot of bumper stickers -- except for people? If Will actually draws a line limiting the commodification of the universe, he shouldn't assume that we should know where it is. Nor should he take such offense when others draw the line somewhere else.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

So why, exactly, is it that repugnicans seem to believe that they are the only people paying taxes? They seem to make the assumption that all democrats are poor and/or living on welfare. Yet, according to a recent study, Democrats, in general, tend to raise more in campaign funds than repugnicans. So if all us liberalcommiesocialists are poor, who's contributing all that cash?