Thursday, March 19, 2015

Ideology Is A Bitch

 It allows you to answer all questions with slogans.  It allows you to ignore facts.  It lets you get away without serious analysis and it lets you do horrendous harm to civilization without guilt.

In ideological capitalism, government is bad.  Taxes are bad.  Deficits are bad.  Corporations are good.

Those are part of the mantra of the far wrong.

With these phrases guiding Republicans in Washington and Juneau,  programs that took years to nurture and grow, and which provide benefits not only to the immediate recipients, but to society (and ironically that budget deficit) are being whacked.

The wrecking crews cannot distinguish between the flowers and weeds.  The projects that tend survive are the projects favored by corporate interests. 

There is a commonality between the Republican use of ideology to destroy everything they can that smacks of 'government' and other evils in their interpretation of capitalism,  and the ISIS use of ideology to destroy everything that smacks of idolatry or other evils in their interpretation of the Qur'an.  

So, in the far wrong budget, the military and war and destruction (Lockheed Martin,  Northrup Grumman, Boeing, General Dynamics, Raytheon, and many others) get increased funding.  Programs that grow, nurture, and protect the most vulnerable humans (Headstart, foodstamps, health programs) get dismantled or destroyed. (see NY Times for example.) 

Just like ISIS terrorists who demolish ancient statues that took skill and time to build and, because of their survival for millennia, give us clues to understanding our human cultural origins, the Republicans are attempting to destroy social programs that have taken sweat and ingenuity and dedication to build.  Destruction is easy.  If you've spent time with a two-year old, you know they can knock things down far more easily than they can build things up. They also repeat the word 'no' over and over again.

In Alaska, today's ADN has a front page article about Rep. Lynn Gattis' amendment to scrap WWAMI* - the program Alaska uses, in lieu of a medical school, to grow Alaskan doctors.  The program is a cooperative program with other northwestern states to share medical school investments.  The article says that 14% of Alaska doctors are products of the WWAMI program.  Considering how small the program is, that's quite a bit.  If we consider the costs of just recruiting doctors to rural Alaska, WWAMI is a major investment in lower future costs.  Unlike the ISIS ideologists who condemn the statues they destroy, Gattis at least acknowledges WWAMI and other programs being cut as "great programs. .  .  We just can't afford them."   A variation of the mantra. 

The Institute for Social And Economic Research (ISER) has been predicting the decline in oil revenue for 30 years.  Technology changes and the increase in oil prices have delayed the inevitable to some extent.  And the legislature has at times heeded that warning, and set up rainy day funds.   The Alaska state budget has tripled since 2000, most significantly in latter years when the Republicans have had their greatest power in Juneau.   They funded all sorts of capital projects for the benefit of their contractor supporters - the Knik Arm Bridge, renewed studies for a Susitna dam, a road from Juneau to a mine that Sen. MacKinnon's husband has significant (in terms of money if not percentage) interests in, a loopy program to save orphaned moose.   In my own neighborhood a road has been given $20 million in last minute maneuvering in Juneau - a road that all the community councils in the area have strongly opposed.

While some legislators are raising the politically sensitive issues of increasing revenues (sales taxes, income taxes, marijuana taxes, and dipping into the Permanent Fund), most are either ideologically opposed to such measures or too timid to be leaders.  Instead they will destroy programs like WWAMI.  Dr. Tom Nighswander is quoted in the ADN article,
" . . .  it took years to build the program's capacity to keep students in Alaska for the first two years. He said he fears that if the program disappears, it would not be able to bring back all of the clinical faculty it currently prizes.
“If you dismantle the program, you can’t restart it again,” he said. "
Ideology is a bitch.  It allows you to answer all questions with slogans.  It allows you to ignore facts.  It lets you get away without serious analysis and it lets you do horrendous harm to civilization without guilt

NOTE:  This is more of an opinion piece than I normally do, but sometimes stuff gets so thick, you have to stand up and call it out.  I realize that the ISIS metaphor will attract criticism, but I'm focused on one aspect of ISIS - their ability to use ideology to justify everything they do.  You can kill directly, immediately, using violence and personally drawing blood and you can kill in the long term by destroying institutions that nurture humans, maintain health, and save lives. 

*Washington, Wyoming, Alaska, Montana, and Idaho


  1. Ah, but Steve, are you a 'freedom-loving-American'? If you can't give a quick 'yes' you just don't get it.

    Oh well. Back to the classroom, people.

  2. I sent a link to this story, to my son, who is/was hoping to apply to this program. Here is his reply:

    - Wants to cut a $3 mil/yr program
    - Spends $4 mil/yr on an unnecessary building, when their old one was just fine.

    I am truly in disbelief that this is even given consideration. I had suggested a letter writing/email campaign to our legislators regarding our concern. I hope those currently enrolled in this program, as well as graduates of it, are doing some "lobbying" on this as well.


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