Friday, March 12, 2010

Grover Takes a Vacation

Calhoun’s Can(n)on for March 12, 2010

The image just won’t get out of my head. Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform, the guy who famously wanted to starve government to a size that could easily be drowned in a bath tub. Grover Norquist on vacation in Arizona driving down the highway in a convertible drinking his Big Gulp on account of it’s a very hot spring day. And it’s his second Big Gulp and Grover’s in the middle of nowhere and now he’s got a very, very pressing need to pee from that second Big Gulp and up ahead he sees a highway rest stop. It’s a state Department of Transportation rest stop, run by the hated “government,” the one that Grover wants drowned in the bathtub, built and maintained by taxes, which are evil and must be abolished in order to starve the government so it can be drowned.

Grover heaves a huge sigh and pulls off the highway and holding his hand over his now painful bladder, runs to the restroom. But there’s a problem. Arizona has turned into Grover Norquist’s dream come true. Its citizens, who, like Grover, hate taxes, refuse to raise taxes to continue their state services. Arizona is broke and in financial free fall. In short, Arizona is drowning in Grover’s bathtub and to save money, it’s closed its highway rest stops.

No public toilets and Grover has to pee.

Arizona isn’t alone. California is also in the process of turning into Norquistland. In a recent budget brawl, Republicans had a choice between raising a few targeted taxes or letting the State fall off a financial cliff. Republican pols who had taken a blood oath to Grover, voted no – in a choice between Grover and the people of the state, they chose Grover. All except Assemblyman Abel Maldonado, who likely felt he owed at least some allegiance to the people of the state. For which betrayal, he was later stripped of his appointments and banished into the outer darkness as a traitor to Grover.

Meanwhile, to save money in a rapidly devolving Norquistland, California is cutting prisoners loose on early release, which is ironic since Law & Order conservatives spearheaded the movement to build more prisons and jail more people for longer and longer times (No mollycoddling with “liberal” diversion programs or education/training programs!) until it dawned on them that all these new prisons had to be paid for by taxes. And when it’s a choice between more taxes and letting prisoners out on the street, suddenly the street becomes the new Law & Order crowd’s solution.

Meanwhile, school bond after school bond went down in defeat so, like wicked government, our schools started to drown in the same bathtub. Suddenly, when tuition costs started rising, and teachers started getting laid off, there were angry parents who had voted down all those bond issues, out in the street carrying protest signs and yelling about the future. But in Norquistland, there IS no future. To have a future, you have to wisely invest public tax dollars into building and maintaining a valuable public Commons; decent schools, roads, widespread health care, a safety net, parks and even public restrooms.

And so it goes. State by state and a lousy economy compounded by years of a mind set carefully fed by Grover and his ilk: We don’t need government regulation. The market will take care of all problems. Tax breaks for the wealthy will trickle down. Get rid of “the government” and you will be “free.” You can have all the services you want without raising the taxes needed to pay for it all.

The collective results of such thinking are now being played out across the country. And citizens are finally waking up and looking around at the Norquistland they have created and apparently they don’t like what they see – Where’s my kid’s teacher? You’re cutting a criminal loose with no support programs, no job, no resources? Tuition for my kid’s doubling? Why’s my local park closing? What do you mean, if I want those things, I’ll have to pay for them with taxes? What??

And so that image won’t leave my mind: Grover, driving, and it’s hot and his bladder hurts and he’s desperately looking for a public restroom because he really, really has to pee. But he’s in Arizona. And no matter how fast he drives, he’ll be in Arizona for hours and hours and hours.


Donna said...

a lovely lesson in karma.
when reagan was president someone said to me, "He should be reincarnated as a black woman in Mississippi with eight kids."
no man is an island. we cannot survive without each other. every group of humans works collectively for individual and the common good.

Sandra said...

Trouble is, too many Americans are still thinking they are in the wild west (or early Colonial Days.) Tea Parties, for **** sake? I don't think people get it at all. They don't connect the dots between taxes and services. Let's just throw the bums out and replace them with people who have no idea what it takes to run a government.
Don't even talk about Republicans - they won't stop until we are a third world country and forced to learn Mandarin. The Brazilianization of America here we come!
p.s. Grover can pee on the side of the road like they do everywhere else in the world - or he might be busted by his own religious right for indecent exposure.

Churadogs said...

Busted for indecent exposure while peeing on the side of the road in Norquistland. What an image!

Alon Perlman said...

Reagan as governor emptied out the state mental hospitals.
I remember a ridiculous statistic –was it 5000 institutionalized mental patients remaining in a state that was at the time almost as populous as it is now and economically sound as the fifth largest world economy.
Indecent exposure? As if being a de-facto cabinet member at large, wasn’t obscene enough (Grover had the in to the Bush white-house inner circle)
That was what I was looking for as I was reading through. The state trooper punchline-Was this a news story?
Fear and loathing in the outer limits of Flagstaff.

Alon Perlman said...

Today is a celebration of Chris Allebe's life
Sunday 2-5 at the SBCC if you can make it bring some finger food to share, or come as you are, if you can't make it, have a Belgium ale in his honor for auld langsine.
The dreaded CDO 1019 still sits on his property, but there was more to Chris than a CDO number, he served in two uniforms, and I will remember him for his story telling talent and dry humor. One of his stories let us know that half of Belgium doesn’t get along too well with the other half, so here are two Toasts;
'Op uw gezondheid' for the Flemish and 'A votre sante' for the French speakers.
Lechayim y’all.

Churadogs said...

It was a wonderful gathering. God speed to him.

Spectator said...

What do you not get about excessive pensions for legislators, political appointees, and public servants. Do you never see the six Cal Trans guys standing around watching the work of one guy with a shovel?

Have you ever noticed that the teachers never strike for anything but more money? Cops and Firemen too.

And the lame use a rest stop closing as depriving a need, although not serious at all. Drive with toilet paper! It was the legislators putting the squeeze on the public, certainly they would not clamp down on their liberal vote buying schemes. They always want to raise our taxes, and what better way than squeeze the schools. Wake up!

Churadogs said...

Driving with toilet paper so you can crap by the side of the road. A perfect image of NorquistLand from a perfect Norquistian.

What goes missing in the discussion is the serious work of reform and re-thinking ways of doing things, rethinking the SYSTEM. Instead, the simple minded (and self-interested) seem to have only one note: cut taxes. Cutting taxes on a bad system just means a bad system gets worse, not better. Cutting taxes without seriously reforming the way things are done at Cal Trans, for example, just results in MORE bad roads falling into ruin, not a better way of keeping the roads repaired. Cutting taxes for schools just results in poorer, BAD schools because the system has not been changed. That's what Norquistians don't get. Changing the system takes work and thought and a willingness to rethink old ways. People don't want to do that hard work, so they stick with simple minded fake "solutions." Plus, follow the money. Who owns "the system." Who owns the legislature? Not the citizens, they're too lazy and clueless and willingly out of the loop and willing to be lied to; corporate interests? powerful unions? foxes running the chicken coop? Think they're gonna reform and fix the SYSTEM that they've constructed for their own benefit?

Mike Green said...

Jon has a salient point.
How much of the public "commons" is sacrificed to the pockets of the publics employees?
Them's that write the rules, win

The American way sometimes resembles a wool factory in more ways than one.


Churadogs said...

That is one of the problems with both the Commons and Democracy: It involves constant work and effort to update and keep the feedback loop in repair, i.e. monitor and fix and improve The System. What happens is people get tired and bored and walk away, mice arrive and start playing, people return to see a mice infested mess, get frustrated (and lazy) "fix" the problem by slashing the budget (that'll show 'em!) so they end up with a mice infested mess that doesn't work but now it doesn't work on a smaller budget, which creates it's own mess since the stuff it doesn't fix (because it doesn't work) spills over into other things that soon stop working because they're overburdened and round and round we go.

Mike Green said...

Round and round in sheepish is Bahhhhh.