succumbing to peer pressure

Saturday, April 10, 2010

More Like This Please

Ezra has a map (via the Fourth Branch) showing which states receive more than a $1 back in terms of federal funding for every $1 they spend in taxes versus those states that receive less than a $1. Personally, I would have titled the post a little differently (he calls it the red state ripoff, but it's not a ripoff - it's how federalism works - we're all in this together). And various commenters make excellent points about the subtlety of federal funding (for instance, how do you quantify federal tax dollars that support the CDC? technically those are dollars going to GA, but that's spending that benefits the entire country). But my point is, this is an excellent visualization of the already-occurring (and, I would argue, necessary) redistribution of money happening in our country. No one here is truly self-sufficient, making it on their own, pulling themselves up by their bootstraps. I'm just so tired of people wailing about big government and how bad that is and then completely failing to acknowledge just how much they're sucking off big government's teat.

Reagan Day

The CA senate has passed a bill to make Feb. 6 Ronald Reagan Day. As I said six years ago, apparently all you have to do to white wash your record is die during a sympathetic conservative administration. Reagan's behavior during the early days of the AIDS crisis was inexcusable, unforgivable, and only made a bad situation worse. Reagan's own surgeon general, Dr. C. Everett Koop, has said that Reagan and his advisers did not feel the need to act urgently because AIDS was affecting classes of people who "are only getting what they justly deserve." Perhaps we should think twice before we honor and celebrate a leader who believes certain classes of people deserve to die.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010


For the past two days my facebook page has been filling up with thoughts and prayers for coal miners and vindictive wishes for Massey Energy. By this morning a couple of my regular blogs had chimed in.

When I was in eighth grade I read Storming Heaven. Again, this morning, Denise Giardina gets it right.

It seems we can’t escape our heritage. I grew up in a coal camp in the southern part of the state. Every day my school bus drove past a sign posted by the local coal company keeping tally, like a basketball scoreboard, of “man hours” lost to accidents. From time to time classmates whose fathers had been killed or maimed would disappear, their families gone elsewhere to seek work.

We knew then, and know now, that we are a national sacrifice area. We mine coal despite the danger to miners, the damage to the environment and the monomaniacal control of an industry that keeps economic diversity from flourishing here. We do it because America says it needs the coal we provide.

West Virginians get little thanks in return. Our miners have historically received little protection, and our politicians remain subservient to Big Coal. Meanwhile, West Virginia is either ignored by the rest of the nation or is the butt of jokes about ignorant hillbillies.

Here in West Virginia we will forget our fleeting dream of basketball glory and get about the business of mourning. It is, after all, something we do very well.