Monday, September 14, 2009


I live in Rhode Island. 180,000 people are on Medicaid, here, and another 180,000 are on Medicare. 360,000. That's over one-third of our entire population.

Governor Carcieri, a few years ago, argued against Harrah's building a casino on Native American land saying that Rhode Island didn't need a casino and that a casino would be "a bad deal for Rhode Island."

Unfortunately, we have two casinos. An ex dog-racing track and an ex-jai alai center. Twin River is getting rid of the dog racing, which loses money, and Newport Grand hasn't had jai alai in years. They're effectively giant rooms filled with video slots and card games. The only thing they don't have are table games. Oh, and behind income tax and property tax, these casinos that don't exist are the biggest source of revenue for the state. As with government run health care, just because politicians say it doesn't exist, doesn't mean it doesn't exist.

I am a conservative. Sort of. This all connects, I promise. I am also a liberal. Sort of. Strangely enough, I am far from a moderate. In fact, I'm pretty darn radical in many of my views. The problem is, anyone who really thinks about the issues and tries to access as much objective data as they can about any given subject would invariably find it hard to slot themselves neatly into any particular political ideology.

Unfortunately, most of those involved in politics are there for the same reasons people join religions, support Africa, and eat organic food: irrational dogma. It's one of the reasons why I think that, even though politics is held up as some incredibly important thing, it's remarkably unimportant. The system as a whole operates more or less just as well regardless of whatever government is doing. Politics is entertainment for self-important people. The only time politics becomes important is when it deals with freedom. That's the conservative side of me coming out, because in that freedom is free markets. But "conservatives" also support lots of spending on the military, which I think is retarded.

The more liberal side of me, though, recognizes that, while on a systemic level government actions has little effect on fuck-all, on a personal level, government actions can have a great effect. Because here, this is more like the group getting together to assess and deal with specific problems. For example, if the government had not so royally screwed the pooch, Hurricane Katrina is a great example of a government spending lots of taxpayer money to take care of its people.

Another great example is the town of Treese, Kansas. Its sister town Picher, Oklahoma, which is right over the border, was one of the Superfund sites that was basically shut down. A conservative viewpoint is that those living there benefited from the mining and development, so the fact that the land is no 100% fucked shouldn't concern us. They made their own bed, so they can now sleep in it.

But that's not what happened. The EPA, in a rare step, "bought out" and moved the entire remaining population of Picher, which was about 1,800. They then began the cleanup process to remove the epic amount of crap in the ground and water. Unfortunately for Treese, they live just over the border in another state, so they received no buyout. They've been sitting there, waiting. I suspect that the buyout will eventually come, but what's funny is who supports the Treese buyout: Pat Roberts.

Yes, the same hyper-conservative who voted with his party 92% of the time. Who says torture is not so bad. Who voted against TARP. Oh yes, government spending is bad... unless it's for his constituents.

This especially funny since the EPA ran out of Superfund money back in 2003, when Roberts' golden boy, George W. Bush refused to reauthorize the tax. And it's even FUNNIER since Roberts was part of the reason the Superfund laws were not reinstated to begin with after they expired in 1995, much to that evil Bill Clinton's chagrin, who wanted to keep them going. Conservatives believe in sleeping the bed you make. Well, Roberts has been laying down linens for some time. I think it's about time he sleeps in it.

Unfortunately, that would be politics. Government works best when politics are left out, and as such the town should be moved. Hell, pass a bill specifically for it. Government spending can help sometimes. It helps with medicine. And it helps with a dead town, filled with sad people.

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