There are a few local Vermont blogs I read from time to time to keep up with the news from my home state. One of them, Integral Psychosis, written by a fascinating guy who describes himself as a radical, left-wing, “libertarian-socialist” (a label that I find contradictory based on my conception of those words, kind of like a “hawkish pacifist”), approvingly cited this Tea Party-ridiculing post from commondreams.org:
You gotta love those zany teabaggers. Now the people who went to D.C. to protest government-run programs – on government-built roads, with government-funded police protection etc – are complaining the government-run subway system didn’t meet their needs, and Texas Rep. Kevin Brady has sent an angry letter to the subway czar. The kicker: Brady voted against stimulus funds to improve the Metro. Cognitive dissonance, thy name is wingnut.
“I will demand answers from Metro,” wrote Brady to whatever socialist tyrant runs the D.C. subway.
I’ve heard this type of argument many times before, often in debates over public school funding (‘you oppose increased funding for x, therefore you have no right to complain about the quality of service that x provides’), and it’s completely foolish. There is no “cognitive dissonance” involved. I just spent a summer living in DC, and I used the metro to commute to and from work every day. From personal experience, I can say that the DC metro has a lot of problems. Most significantly, there was the crash back in June, which actually resulted in nine deaths. The investigation that followed the crash lasted for the rest of the time I was living there (about 8 more weeks), and caused massive delays every day for the rest of the summer.
Now, is a lack of government funding to blame for all of DC metro’s problems? Maybe, but not necessarily. There’s evidence that the metro system is poorly run: negligent bus drivers keep their jobs, and bus and train operators are overpaid. More money won’t help if inept management will spend it unwisely. But let’s not get bogged down in specifics about the DC metro system. The point is that the specious reasoning exemplified in the commondreams post should be purged from serious debate. It’s true that the quality of service that an agency provides is somewhat related to the funding it gets, but that there are a lot of other factors as well. I wonder if commondreams made similar attacks on democratic congressmen who opposed funding for the Iraq War during the Bush administration but criticized the efficacy of US military efforts?
A tangentially related question: shouldn’t supposedly intelligent people be ashamed to habitually use immature smear terms to deride large groups of people (such as “teabagger”)?