534 - "Real America"
Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Those who know me personally, professionally, and quake 3, will have already been exposed to this angry rant. For those who are new to it, lucky you. For years, but particularly after Sarah Palin, I have become really angered by the attitude expressed by those in the "heartland" about the East Coast, particularly New York City.

"We believe that the best of America is not all in Washington, D.C. We believe" -- here the audience interrupted Palin with applause and cheers -- "We believe that the best of America is in these small towns that we get to visit, and in these wonderful little pockets of what I call the real America, being here with all of you hard working very patriotic, um, very, um, pro-America areas of this great nation." -Sarah Palin Oct. 16th, 2008.

Now one could forgive and forget if it were just Palin, after all she is kinda very dumb, youbetcha... But it keeps happening. Here is the reason for this post:

"Yeah while they’re living it up on Wall Street in that New York City town,
Here in the real world there shuttin’ Detroit down."

The overall idea of this song is a good point, one I can understand. But here are two problems.

First of all, the implication that New York City is made up of only wealthy people, bankers, or stock brokers is silly. There are a few million New Yorkers who could be considered working class, people who work hard every day at the same kind of jobs that this millionaire country singer talks about (thats right he does a good job of ignoring the fact that he is wealthy.)

The claim that New York is not part of the real world is just dumb. Here are some facts about the East Coast and New York City in particular. The reasons why the "Real America" should give us on the East Coast some respect.

The United states was formed on the East coast, particularly in New York, Boston, and Philadelphia. Not in Texas, Alaska, or the Midwest. Many of these "states", were territories for much of our history, or even property of other countries until the 1800s. Indeed Sarah Palin's state was not even part of the US until 1867, and was not a state until 1959.

But dont get me wrong, some of the wealthiest people in the nation live in New York, Particularly Manhattan and parts of Brooklyn. In one Upper East Side neighborhood, the average(!) household income is about $500,000. But this does not mean that everyone in NYC is wealthy at all, me for example, or that even if they are wealthy, that they dont care about this country and are not real Americans. McCain for example, who most consider a real American, is so wealthy that he has trouble keeping track of his homes, cars, and yachts.  But because he believes in Jesus, and doesn't approve of dem new fangled queers getting married, and because he firebombed the commies in Vietnam, he is a real American.

The trend towards anti-urban attitudes has roots in reality. For the past several decades, cities have been through a series of severe declines. Crime, poverty, drugs, disease, ignorance... they became a huge problem particularly between the late 1970s and early 1990s. But the important role cities play cannot be ignored.

Cities are essential sources of national commerce and income. This is the reason why Detroit was once so important before the jobs were lost. NYC contributes to the national economy to the tune of more than $1 Trillion a year (nearly half the federal budget.) Other cities on the order of dozens to hundreds of billions. They matter, and the country needs them to function. Despite creating so much wealth and exporting it via taxes to other parts of the country, parts that don't generate much money or even in many cases are a money sink where they use federal money for infrastructure that local taxes could never cover (the rural areas), urban citizens are among the most efficient. Particularly in NYC. The average New Yorker uses a small fraction of the energy, both transportation and household, than the average American. This fact may not seem so important now, but it will prove critical in the coming years.

Republicans always use overly simplistic concepts to sell ideas to people with simple minds. The economic problems (hardly the crisis that most pretend) are not the result of any one group of people, but if the blame needs to go on one party, it would be the individual citizens. The ones that took on too much debt, who got cars and homes that they couldn't afford. That is what broke the banks, which in turn causes companies to collapse. If the Obama strategy of more debt to fix a recession (cased by debt) will work, is an argument for another day, but there is no doubt that middle America, with the giant homes and giant cars all purchased on little income, was a huge part of the problem.

And for Detroit car jobs; isn't it possible that these jobs are no longer needed? How many shitty new SUVs do we need at a time when oil prices keep increasing? How many American union workers will a company be able to support, to the tune of $40 an hour overtime? I often think back to this example; once whales were no longer a particularly efficient source of oil, compared to petroleum from the ground, those jobs were lost. Maybe, just maybe, assembly line jobs to make American cars have become obsolete. And before those union workers complain, think on the millions of Americans who have jobs with zero security and far lower pay. Work in fast food, or on a farm, or at Walmart...
posted by High Power Rocketry @ Tuesday, June 09, 2009  
  • At 6/9/09, 5:57 PM, Anonymous F'emAll said…

    Republicans and Democrats both suck. That's a more realistic view than just blaming Republican ideology. The politicians in the U.S. have and are running the U.S. bankrupt. The people who keep voting these dumbasses into office are equally culpable. Recent presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and now Obama all contributed to it and Obama is continuing to contribute to it in a gigantic way. Time for China to be the big boy on the block this century. The glory days of the U.S. are in the rearview mirror now. C'est la vie.

  • At 6/9/09, 8:04 PM, Blogger R2K said…

    Well I would agree that there are many problems with the Democrats, even Obama who is not making me happy right now.

    But I dont agree that the two groups are equal. Only the Republicans use hateful divisive rhetoric. Only the republicans imply that New Yorkers are not real Americans. As much as Obama seems to be making mistakes to me, and as much as Clinton had serous flaws, there is no way that I would compare those two to president Bush. There is a huge difference, the damage done by Bush is an order of magnitude worse. And I dont just mean the quarter of a million Iraqi civilians who were killed for nothing.

  • At 6/10/09, 3:12 AM, Blogger Arjan said…

    as non-American I'm not too deep into US politics. Next to that I'm not sure if I'm to happy with the (European) politics overhere, so I'll probably should be busy with those problems.. (the right wing guys won a lot..)

    So I'll just talk very shortly about US cars. Overhere, most people can't afford those big cars, let alone the fuel costs. People in the US will have to learn to switch to cheaper smaller more fuel efficient cars. That should at least save a lot of money. Of course I know not everybody drives in big Chevvy trucks..

  • At 6/10/09, 4:18 AM, Anonymous SomeoneSaid Beer? said…

    We're going to be like Europe soon enough in the U.S., all the bad parts about Europe that is. The political leaders in the U.S. seem hell bent on repeating the mistakes some parts of Europe have already made, instead of learning from history. I wouldn't mind if we inherited some of the beers from Europe though, especially Belgium.

  • At 6/10/09, 2:23 PM, Blogger R2K said…

    I think we could learn to be more efficient, liberal minded, and more atheist like Europe. But the communist governments that "sack the prime minister" every 3 months? That we can do without :)

    When in Italy, so many people didnt use a car at all. It was almost as efficient as New York. Mopeds, bikes, buses... Over there, an average car would be a Miata, and a large car would be a Porsche. That made sense. More parking, less gas use, and yet you can still drive your average car load of 1.5 people in plenty of comfort.

  • At 6/10/09, 6:19 PM, Blogger Arjan said…

    but have you been to Italy?
    they drive like crazy on those mopeds and scooters. In my town people drive this crazy with bycicles, but overthere they drive just as crazy but just 2-3 (or even more) times as fast.

  • At 6/10/09, 9:27 PM, Blogger thimscool said…

    You're a great American, R2k.

  • At 6/26/09, 7:18 AM, Blogger R2K said…

    Yes I took the bus often in Italy and the mopeds would swarm around every car at the red lights and totally surround them!

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