Really Gross Domestic Product

Leading the index alongside racism, guns, and the forced birth, it’s pandering. And it’s not even close.

Dr. K takes on rural rage in a column this week:

In terms of resources, major federal programs disproportionately benefit rural areas, in part because such areas have a disproportionate number of seniors receiving Social Security and Medicare. But even means-tested programs — programs that Republicans often disparage as “welfare” — tilt rural. Notably, at this point rural Americans are more likely than urban Americans to be on Medicaid and receive food stamps.

And because rural America is poorer than urban America, it pays much less per person in federal taxes, so in practice major metropolitan areas hugely subsidize the countryside. These subsidies don’t just support incomes, they support economies: Government and the so-called health care and social assistance sector each employ more people in rural America than agriculture, and what do you think pays for those jobs?

What about rural perceptions of being disrespected? Well, many people have negative views about people with different lifestyles; that’s human nature. There is, however, an unwritten rule in American politics that it’s OK for politicians to seek rural votes by insulting big cities and their residents, but it would be unforgivable for urban politicians to return the favor. “I have to go to New York City soon,” tweeted J.D. Vance during his senatorial campaign. “I have heard it’s disgusting and violent there.” Can you imagine, say, Chuck Schumer saying something similar about rural Ohio, even as a joke?

Not without conniptions from across the spectrum, including the so-called liberal media – which would probably be leading the charge for apologies. That’s a sort of reflexive pandering that doesn’t even work, performance that no one believes nor allows credit but still happens. And it provides confirmation for the entire industrial pandering complex to double their efforts.

All the hokum about IRS funding we’re about to hear, in the same breath as concerns over budget deficits no less, is merely beating a drum that has been fine-tuned. A lot of this malfeasance lies at the feet of journalism schools and the savvy of corporate media. Politicians who are supposedly afraid of men in dresses and American history now traffic exclusively in hate, and whether it’s performative or not matters not a whit. The results are the same.

Rural voters and the politicians who fan their rage may also be entitled to find out that patience for their antics has limits. Like children, they are absolutely in search of them.

Image: Calculus 1, intro to limits, via the internet

The Trains in Spain

Move speedily across the plain, much faster than those in Maine. Or even between Boston and Philly.

TPM has a rather pathetic feature about the future present of High Speed Rail around the world and what several countries have been able to accomplish with some wise investment, imagination and planning. Pathetic in the sense that it makes the US look like chumps, real and actual morons for being lead by our loyalty to outmoded technology and means of transportation. But look Ma, we’ve got all these awesome tanks and bunker-busting bombs! Yes, there is shock, and more than a little awwww… but not the good kind.

Look at the pics they’ve put up and then compare them to this:


I took that right before we boarded for a trip to NYC two years ago. It was an all night trip, great experience, priced comparable to flying except for far less hassle both departing and arriving, thus exacting a far lesser human toll. But look at that train. Our National Train System. It was rickety; there was still a space in the wall of the sleeper where a monitor with VCR had been installed, then taken out. But even so, there’s still nothing like seeing the countryside passing by the window next to you. Plus the conversations you get into over twelve hours together. And the Porter was the same vintage as the train car – tons of great stories he didn’t even need to tell you, so clearly were they written into his face and wrinkled hands.

We took the Eurostar with garcon d’verte in 2000 and the TGV many times before and since – the comparison is not the point. Look at the slide show above, it’s like another planet somewhere. They’ve left us far behind and long ago. A guy in the 3rd this summer described to me how they were testing a newer, faster TGV that met some crazy speed for a mere electric train – at nearly 600 km/hour it was outrunning the current that powers it, creating a new array of problems for the engineers, problems that they will solve.

The point is how much of this future present we are deliberately denying ourselves, all for the sake of infinite hegemony for car maker and oil companies. We are powerless before their century-plus of lobbying and propaganda, the individual freedom we believe was immaculately conceived within the sacred chambers of the combustion engine, from which we must not be sundered.

Meanwhile, we munch a Gordita and listen to Beck on the Interstate while a dude in Shanghai is sleeping on the maglev, dreaming of a day or a girl or a boy or a house or a song or a cure or another train, to somewhere. Who’s future is it, again?