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Opinion: Talking turkey about gratitude and blame

If it weren’t locked solidly in the national culture, you’d never get away it.

Thanksgiving, that is.

Especially people like us, who work in and around the Capitol. People involved in, gulp, government.

Imagine the “How Dare You” crowd if we went around celebrating our good fortune on any other day:

“Just look at these dunces,” they’d write at the bottom of news stories, hiding behind Internet names like GetReal227. “The state is going over the cliff, and
they’re throwing a party.”

They’d certainly make some hay with “turkey for the turkeys.”

“Tiger Woods moved out of California, and the people who packed his bags are ladling gravy,” they’d say. “Outrageous!”

But they can’t. The “How Dare You” folks are pretty much the same as the “We Want Our Country Back” club, and they’re bound by tradition to respect the
giving of thanks on the third Thursday of November, even if that means political types take a day off to do it.

Of course Angry People and Government Haters have plenty to be grateful for, too. If they gave thanks for nothing else, they should certainly raise a glass
to their dependable friend, poverty.

Poor people. And sick people. And immigrants. The underclass, in all its complexity, should be the theme of the Thanksgiving feast for all the little
Glenn Becks and Rush Limbaughs out there.

Why? Because the poor are so darn handy. You name it, and it’s their fault. The real estate bubble, the cost of healthcare, congested roads, decaying
infrastructure.

There’s hardly a tenet of the small-government movement that doesn’t point at least obliquely to the burden of poor people, whose chief sin, of course, is
the destruction of the middle class.

The basic idea is that the weight of need on the bottom wrung is so heavy it’s pulling the whole ladder down, sapping the middle of its access to resources
and stability. How can we get ahead if those damn guys keep asking for help?

This is, obviously, a giant crock of that substance best known for rolling downhill.

But they cling to it nonetheless. They’ve got a dependable, homegrown scapegoat and they’ll milk it for all it’s worth.

Who do they blame for the collapse of the housing market? Deregulation and a Wild West culture of risk on Wall Street?

Nope. It’s because too many working stiffs tried to buy houses.

And who is making healthcare so expensive? Is it the investor class that demands a profit from treatment?

No. It’s all those people with little or no health insurance who have the nerve to want their children to be well.

And who is to blame for our kids being less prepared for the global market when they get out of high school? Is it because we prefer tax cuts to shouldering the shared burdens of society?

No. It’s the immigrants.

It has absolutely nothing to do with the fact the top 1 percent is claiming more in income and paying less in taxes than ever before.

It’s the super rich, after all, who keep us safe from the unruly poor. Their success, despite the lack of evidence, is our success.

The Angry Right is like Dale Gribble, the paranoid neighbor on the animated sitcom King of the Hill. Dale subscribes to the black-helicopter view of government. It’s out to get him. But he’s completely blind to his wife’s incessant infidelity.

The small-government crowd shares Dale’s myopia. While they’re worried the government is selling them out to benefit the poor, it’s actually doing the exact opposite.

It’s not poor people pulling the ladder down, it’s rich people sawing the rungs.

And, to be fair, it’s also people in the middle determined to live beyond their means with borrowed money.

At the end, we all have to own up. We all have to contribute. Hopefully, we’ll figure that out. But it doesn’t take a genius to realize that it makes no sense to let the top take the money, and the bottom take the blame … if you really want to talk turkey.


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