Thursday, March 12, 2009

America's Somalia

Grover Norquist's desire to shrink government to the point that you can drown it in a bathtub seems to be coming as close as possible to fruition in South Carolina, arguably the craziest state in the country.

Of course, we've seen what a country without a government looks like. It's called Somalia, where there has been no functioning government for 2 decades and which has fallen into complete anarchy.

Like the fundamentalist Islamic ideology that comes as close as anything to ruling Somalia, fundamentalist free-market ideology rules South Carolina in the name of Governor Mark Sanford. Rather than accept stimulus money for education, which would be communist or something, Sanford instead is redirecting it to pay down the state's debt, cutting $700 million from the state's education fund, potentially throwing 7500 teachers out of work. What happens to the kids? Who knows. Sanford clearly doesn't care.

Meanwhile, South Carolina, under the fine leadership of Gov. Sanford, has the nation's highest unemployment rate. The state debt is Sanford's fault in the first place because he slashed tax rates to such an extent that the state can't pay for anything. And of course, being South Carolina, the burden of these cuts will fall on poor black people.

The interesting question is this: at what point does enough South Carolina voters turn their back on this insanity and elect responsible leaders? After the 2004 election, I wondered how bad things would have to get for Americans to realize the folly of modern radical Republicanism? We found out in 2008. But for a state like South Carolina (or other hard right states like Idaho, Utah, and Oklahoma), you have to figure that things would have to far, far worse for those voters to realize these ideas lead to disaster. So we'll see whether some combination of Democrats and less crazy (I hate to use the term moderate) Republicans come to some understanding and vote in some new people.

The other question is what right does Sanford have to redirect stimulus money to whatever he wants? Shouldn't this money come with strict instructions on how to spend it?

Finally, Sanford is comparing Obama's stimulus to Robert Mugabe's policies in Zimbabwe. This is borderline racist first of all, a clear but slightly veiled reference to the two being crazy black presidents. Second, there is no inflation in the United States, so Sanford's comparions makes no sense. Third, if he thinks this kind of talk is going to lift him into the presidency, which is what he clearly wants, he is totally insane.