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The development of public perception of the actual state of the union in the USA is likely to best be described by the rules for chaotic systems in that the trigger will turn out not to have been predictable. In the UK one such trigger was the hacking of the phones of the family of a dead girl. In the USA it could turn out to involve public reaction to the capricious coverage of healthcare.

At New Economic Perspectives Joe Firestone cites the reaction to an Arizona town hall meeting held by John McCain as covered on MCNBC's Up With Steve Kornacke:

Woman: "It kills me every time i hear senators, especially republicans, talk about those takers. they're just taken. the takers. i paid taxes for over 30 years and i have a rare illness and now i'm disabled. the state of arizona raised the eligibility for a program that was paying $100 a month for my medicaid to 3.4%. consequently, i was cut off. $100 a month, which meant (breaks down) i could no longer go to physical therapy. do it intentionally to cut as many people as they can for as long as they can from benefits that are desperately needed and it's just not right. we're the takers."

McCain tried to console her by assuring her she was not a taker. He did not acknowledge the different sense in which she used 'taker'. For Romney  a 'taker' is one who is contrasted with a 'maker' - a taker of other peoples wealth. For her a 'taker' was one who was taking abuse from an uncaring system. Krystal Ball, a guest commentator on the show noted:
"And it's easy to talk about the numbers and put it in this big context, where you're not seeing the those human faces. and i think that interaction that you just played is the republican party problem in the nutshell. when people actually hear the rhetoric and it occurs to them, they're not talking about some faceless other. they're talking about me. they are never going to vote for a party that sees them as a bunch of mooching takers."

Joe Firestone took it to another level:
"This, of course, was a very direct point. But I wondered what happened to the other side of the makers/takers issue? Namely, that the people who call the rest of us takers, delight in all the largesse they bestow on the FIRE sector, the pharmaceutical industry, the private health ensurers, the big energy companies, the telecommunications industry, the hedge funders, the corporate leverage buy-out raiders, and the most wealthy among us, in general. Even when their actions are illegal, as they are with the mortgage fraudsters, they are allowed to take with impunity, and they take far, far more than any of the people they so callously call "takers."

They take Trillions that they do not earn in an honest day's work. They crash the world economy and destroy the savings of many hundreds of millions. They take jobs, and dreams, and health, and education, and human happiness, and a sustainable environment from people. And they are helped by our politicians and officeholders who serve as their handmaidens and take great rewards from their financially more well-off masters. So, these are the real takers, the ones who despoil society and create a desolation in the name of order and neoliberal profit-taking."


Firestone goes on to conclude:
That's the point the DC/New York "villagers" don't want to talk about very much. They'll credit people with not being likely to vote for people who label them "moochers," but they won't credit people with understanding that the real "takers" are not themselves, but the very people who are projecting that insult onto them.

Maybe that's because the villagers don't intend to talk about who the real takers are. But I think that people are smart enough to come to understand that anyway. And when they do, there will be hell to pay for those who guilt-tripped them in order to distract them from the reality of the real takers and their outrageous takings.


It will be when that realization dawns on the majority of the cultural descendents of the Scots-Irish diaspora in the USA that fundamental change might be possible. The challenge will be insuring that the change is in a beneficial direction.  

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Thu Aug 22nd, 2013 at 10:09:43 AM EST
Yes, and this is why I cannot be totally pessimistic about things.  Situations can change on a dime in bizarre and unpredictable ways, and the conversation, the discourse, the government, and the society can change overnight.

I also think it's key to have ideas and proposals out there, fermenting in the mass, so that when the moment comes there will be people ready to take advantage of it.

by Zwackus on Fri Aug 23rd, 2013 at 08:05:18 AM EST
[ Parent ]
"It will be when that realization dawns on the majority of the cultural descendents of the Scots-Irish diaspora in the USA that fundamental change might be possible."

Good luck on that one. If it weren't for the Central European immigration of the 19th century, America would be toast.

by asdf on Fri Aug 23rd, 2013 at 11:35:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I agree. It is not a given that such an awakening will ever occur, but if it does...well, things will change. That demographic is the largest one underpinning the status quo.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Fri Aug 23rd, 2013 at 12:15:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The Scots-Irish could turn easily enough given that "leave me alone" is their narrative. I think the deep south is the main problem with their intractable belief in slave states.

you are the media you consume.

by MillMan (millguy at gmail) on Fri Aug 23rd, 2013 at 02:37:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Right, the deep south, where the white population is Scots-Irish. Up in Union territory, it's Germans and Polish and Scandinavians...
by asdf on Fri Aug 23rd, 2013 at 05:20:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm talking about Appalachia versus the deep south. Scots-Irish are intermixed in both, but the former gets its values from the Scots-Irish experience, whereas the latter derives its values from English descendants of West Indies slave colonies.

you are the media you consume.

by MillMan (millguy at gmail) on Fri Aug 23rd, 2013 at 06:13:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yep.

by asdf on Fri Aug 23rd, 2013 at 06:19:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
That shows it pretty well, of course the Black community isn't creating the dominant culture where they are the majority.

you are the media you consume.

by MillMan (millguy at gmail) on Fri Aug 23rd, 2013 at 06:42:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
What is this "American" ancestry that is not "American Indian"?

If it's self-description, that map really does show an image of a cultural divide.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sat Aug 24th, 2013 at 02:00:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I believe it is a shorthand for 'whites who were present before the creation of the USA' which has been conflated with the English speaking lower class immigrants and those from other groups who have been assimilated by marriage, linguistic replacement and cultural identification into that group. The geographical distribution of this 'demographic' is very much what I have seen elsewhere identified as Scots-Irish, redneck, etc. The definitions for the graph are that the color represents the group with the largest number of members per county or parish.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sat Aug 24th, 2013 at 10:10:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
My point was mainly that it's self-identification. In most of those majority "American" counties, there were no whites to speak of present at the time of Independence (unless French or Spanish). So this means these people claim descent from pre-revolutionary stock present in the coastal colonies, having since moved into and over the Southern Appalachians.

There may be some historical backing for it, and it certainly looks like it fits to some extent with the "Scots-Irish" legend. But the self-identification seems to me more a tribal choice than one rooted in genealogy. It so happens, of course, that it fits with the Confederate South.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sat Aug 24th, 2013 at 10:58:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I agree that it involves self identification and that there are mythic elements. But there are large numbers of this demographic in southern Ohio, Indiana and Illinois. The thing that struck me most about the map is the number of light blue (German) counties. But I had a significant number of German surnamed classmates in school, so that is consistent. Perhaps I have been thrown off by confusing ancestry with surviving heratige of which there are much fewer isolated pockets.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sat Aug 24th, 2013 at 11:42:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
ARGeezer:
there are large numbers of this demographic in southern Ohio, Indiana and Illinois

Well, that isn't exactly a surprise.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sat Aug 24th, 2013 at 05:01:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The point was that the demographic is more than just the states of the Confederacy.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sat Aug 24th, 2013 at 07:37:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I've always been aware of German demographics in the US, although I grew up in Minneapolis, so I'm familiar with the northern tier of states. And they're obviously not all progressive by a long shot - there are plenty of old angry white people voting republican in Nebraska, Kansas, and the states bordering the south. I think the German influence is in large part responsible for why I feel at home in the Bay Area after growing up in Minneapolis. Boston I could not handle - it's a blue state in the sense that in believes in funding a public sector, but socially it's (to me shockingly) conservative and steeped in social class as a prime form of identity.

you are the media you consume.

by MillMan (millguy at gmail) on Sat Aug 24th, 2013 at 09:55:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
it's a blue state in the sense that in believes in funding a public sector, but socially it's (to me shockingly) conservative and steeped in social class as a prime form of identity.

And heavily Catholic - some correlation there.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sat Aug 24th, 2013 at 11:00:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Another interesting feature of the map is that the 'Mexican' demographic only appears in the USA, while the country of Mexico is shown in a different color identified as 'Hispanic/Spanish'. Most curious, but US Census categories have always been politically influenced.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sat Aug 24th, 2013 at 11:52:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'd never seen it as a demographic label until this chart. It reminds me of the childish "real Americans" chant that was commonly spoken during Bush's term in office.

you are the media you consume.

by MillMan (millguy at gmail) on Sat Aug 24th, 2013 at 01:43:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Perhaps Drew can enlighten us as he has actually worked at the Census Bureau, but I can just hear lots of my brethren complaining to their congressmen: "Ethnicity? I don't wan'a list any foreign country. I'm American. We've been here since colonial times. We're the ones who founded this country. The ones who came later are the 'ethnics'. Why can't we just have the category 'American'?"  

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sat Aug 24th, 2013 at 04:33:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
These are not the ethnic categories of the US Census itself. So I take it they are on a list offered to poll respondents, ie people check the box they consider corresponds to them.

Drew may know otherwise, or we could take a look at the census site. I'll do that tomorrow, if no one does between time.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sat Aug 24th, 2013 at 05:09:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It is a US census data representation. I tried to find one for the 2010 census without success. I did see one statement to the effect that they were not updating that format.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sat Aug 24th, 2013 at 07:30:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Bear in mind that this map was generated during the Bush 43 administration. Who knows what lame political appointee might have influenced its content.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sat Aug 24th, 2013 at 07:40:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Seems like pre-1776 immigration from the UK ~ most of Appalachia has been a net source of internal immigration for over 150 years, so the waves of immigration over the past 150 years has mostly passed them by.


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.
by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Sat Aug 24th, 2013 at 06:37:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The traditional view is that this demographic settled in the highlands and families or most of the offspring of families moved further west as they came of age. As a youth in the mid-18th century Daniel Boone was an early explorer and, literally, trailblazer into Kentucky and then settled in and helped settle what became Kentucky. He moved on into Missouri where he spent the last 20 years of his life.

During the 19th century the movement of the demographic continued into Missouri, northern Arkansas, Texas and, starting in 1889, Indian Territory, which became Oklahoma. My paternal grandfather considered himself to be of Scots-Irish descent, was a redhead - and, presumably, literally a redneck, and my paternal grandmother settled in Indian Territory in the early 1890s on Cherokee land. My maternal grandparents were also in Indian Territory in the 1890s and settled in the same county, Dewey County, sandwiched between Osage county on the west Nowata and Rogers county on the east and Tulsa county on the south. Kansas was the northern border.

Almost all of my mothers siblings settled elsewhere - several in Texas, one in California, one in Florida. Most of my father's siblings stayed closer to home, though my cousins on that side have mostly left Oklahoma. Both my mother and father were born at the tail end of large families. My mother's family was more prosperous than was my father's.  

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sat Aug 24th, 2013 at 08:16:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Washington County, not Dewey. Dewey is a small city in Washington County now virtually swallowed by Bartlesville.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sun Aug 25th, 2013 at 11:42:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]
A quarter of the trees in much of Appalachia were chestnut, and you could grow about as much pork on an acre of chestnut as you could on an acre of corn ... and the acre of chestnut did not need to be level.

But then the chestnut blight hit.

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Sun Aug 25th, 2013 at 11:32:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I knew about the chestnut blight and have heard an old saying: "Ever so often even the blind old boar will stumble onto a chestnut" but I never realized the importance of chestnuts to Appalachian homesteaders. The blight must have accelerated out migration. It made those who remained even more dependent on coal mining or moonshine.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Mon Aug 26th, 2013 at 12:27:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, though running hogs on mountainside chestnut is not an activity that encourages investment in agricultural improvement, which is a substantial difference between the chestnut belt of Central Appalachia and the corn belt to its immediate north and northwest.

Still, the chestnut blight put Appalachia into an agricultural depression starting around the turn of the last century that combined with the negative impacts of extraction of mineral wealth.

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Mon Aug 26th, 2013 at 05:54:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Back to my original point - there is no intrinsic draw for Appalachian folk to vote for people oppressing them. The republicans managed to capture them with their racism, and I think the overall appeal is very shakey when you start thinking in decades. The white people from the deep south are the people who will continue to believe that social castes are natural and handed down by god himself. Their timeline for change is measured in centuries, I think, beyond being dragged into the present by the more progressive areas of the US.

you are the media you consume.

by MillMan (millguy at gmail) on Sat Aug 24th, 2013 at 09:47:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
All that is needed is for a substantial portion of that demographic to wake up and act accordingly. Perhaps primarily women and the college 'educated', given the seemingly almost hereditary antipathy to unions. (Note: my father was a registered Republican who helped organize and was the founding president of a local of the Operating Engineers in the Oklahoma oilfield in 1955.)

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sat Aug 24th, 2013 at 11:05:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Its not just the Republicans, though ~ the type of progressive populism that was the Democrats strongest drawcard in Appalachia was strategically abandoned in the 1980's with the move to recruit the Hedge Fund wing of the party.

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.
by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Mon Aug 26th, 2013 at 05:57:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Their abandoning of left-wing politics didn't help in general either.

you are the media you consume.

by MillMan (millguy at gmail) on Mon Aug 26th, 2013 at 03:25:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
But among various left wing positions, it was the economic populism that was a net positive in Appalachian politics ... and there it was a big net positive.

Being socially liberal corporate toadies just isn't a big drawcard in that area.

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Mon Sep 2nd, 2013 at 12:17:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
In my mind "liberal corporate toadie" politics isn't left wing. The republicans threw away their own main street, pro-small-business angle as they started to take on more big corporate money as well. It didn't come out as poorly in the wash since they've done well with the nationalism and fundamentalism angles.

you are the media you consume.

by MillMan (millguy at gmail) on Mon Sep 2nd, 2013 at 12:55:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]

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