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Reich writes: "Commenting on a recent student suicide at an Alaska high school, Alaska's Republican Congressman Don Young said suicide didn't exist in Alaska before 'government largesse' gave residents an entitlement mentality."

Economist, professor, author and political commentator Robert Reich. (photo: Richard Morgenstein)
Economist, professor, author and political commentator Robert Reich. (photo: Richard Morgenstein)


Empathy Deficit Disorder

By Robert Reich, Robert Reich's Blog

28 October 14

 

ommenting on a recent student suicide at an Alaska high school, Alaska’s Republican Congressman Don Young said suicide didn’t exist in Alaska before “government largesse” gave residents an entitlement mentality.

“When people had to work and had to provide and had to keep warm by putting participation in cutting wood and catching the fish and killing the animals, we didn’t have the suicide problem,” he said. Government handouts tell people “you are not worth anything but you are going to get something for nothing.”

Alaska has the highest rate of suicide per capita in America – almost twice the national average, and a leading cause of death in Alaska for young people ages 15 to 24 — but I doubt it’s because Alaskans lead excessively easy lives.

Every time I visit Alaska I’m struck by how hard people there have to work to make ends meet. The state is the last American frontier, where people seem more self-reliant than anywhere in the lower forty eight.

It’s true that every Alaskan receives an annual dividend from a portion of state oil revenues (this year it will be almost $2,000 per person), but research shows no correlation between the amount of the dividend from year to year and the suicide rate.

Suicide is a terrible tragedy for those driven to it and for their loved ones. What possessed Congressman Young to turn it into a political football?

Young has since apologized for his remark. Or, more accurately, his office has apologized. “Congressman Young did not mean to upset anyone with his well-intentioned message,” says a news release from his congressional office, “and in light of the tragic events affecting the Wasilla High School community, he should have taken a much more sensitive approach.”

Well-intentioned? More sensitive approach?

Young’s comment would be offensive regardless of who uttered it. That he’s a member of the United States Congress — Alaska’s sole representative in the House – makes it downright alarming.

You might expect someone who’s in the business of representing others to have a bit more empathy. In fact, you’d think empathy would be the minimum qualification to hold public office in a democracy.

Sadly, Young is hardly alone. A remarkable number of people who are supposed to be devoting their lives to representing others seem clueless about how their constituents actually live and what they need.

Last week New Jersey Governor Chris Christie groused to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, “I’m tired of hearing about the minimum wage.”

No doubt some in the audience shared Christie’s view. It was the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, after all.

But many of the Governor’s constituents are not tired of hearing about the minimum wage. They depend on it.

New Jersey has among the largest number of working poor in America. Some 50,000 people work for the state’s minimum wage of $8.50 an hour.

This isn’t nearly enough to lift them out of poverty. The state’s cost of living is one of the five highest of all states.

In any event, doesn’t hearing from constituents about what they need go with the job of representing them?

Christie went on to tell his audience “I don’t think there’s a mother or a father sitting around the kitchen table tonight in America saying, ‘You know, honey, if our son or daughter could just make a higher minimum wage, my God, all of our dreams would be realized.’ Is that what parents aspire to?”

A minimum-wage job is no one’s version of the American dream. But Christie is wrong to suppose most minimum-wage workers are teenagers. Most are adults who are major breadwinners for their families.

Christie seems to suffer the same ailment that afflicts Alaska’s Don Young.

Call it Empathy Deficit Disorder. Some Democrats have it, but the disorder seems especially widespread among Republicans.

These politicians have no idea what people who are hard up in America are going through.

Most Americans aren’t suicidal, and most don’t work at the minimum wage. But many are deeply anxious about their jobs and panicked about how they’re going to pay next month’s bills.

Almost two-thirds of working Americans are living paycheck to paycheck.

And they’re worried sick about whether their kids will ever make it.

They need leaders who understand their plight instead of denying it.

They deserve politicians who want to fix it rather than blame it on those who have to depend on public assistance, or who need a higher minimum wage, in order to get by.

At the very least, they need leaders who empathize with what they’re going through, not those with Empathy Deficit Disorder.

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+64 # RobinBanks 2014-10-28 11:18
There is no such thing as 'Empathy Deficit Disorder'.

It's called Psychopathy.
 
 
+53 # davidr 2014-10-28 13:26
Yes, that's the emotional pathology. There's also an intellectual pathology — paranoia — a delusive compulsion that sees evidence for one's personal obsessions in all things. Suicide? Big government. High prices? Big government. Pollution? Birth control? Obesity? Evolution? Vaccination? Whatever the topic or phenomenon, it is automatically transmuted into evidence of a conspiracy. Not only are Young's sympathies disordered, so is his reasoning.
 
 
+63 # PeacefulGarden 2014-10-28 11:47
Finally!!!!!

A economist who is actually considering the effects of social status and goverment policy on the economy. Well done!

Now take it a step further and consider how Don Young's mind set became so cruel. What are the origins of this enormous problem with our political elite? It is how he was raised as a child. The endless hours, days, weeks and years of listening to his mother and father sing the same song he sang to the public about society.

Lack of empathy is an enormous problem in this country. Everything else set aside.... Find a child and display empathy, love, and kindness. Find a Republican and display empathy, love, and kindness.

A low minimum wage is about the complete and utter lack of empathy that the rich have on the poor, which in turn becomes a simple moral issue.

Brilliant!!!
Well Done!!!!
Keep up the good work!
 
 
-106 # Roland 2014-10-28 12:53
First I want to say I have no idea what Don Young was trying to say.

The reason I am a conservative is because of empathy for my fellow man. I believe conservative policies generally help more people than progressive policies. One may disagree that conservative policies are the best path to help the most people, but you can’t look into the hearts of conservatives and say we don’t believe that they are. Many on the left don’t seem to understand this. In their minds, the right must be evil and worthy of outrageous accusations of meanness.

Conservatives and many democrats realize that welfare reform of the mid 1990s was success. Christie may be tired of rehashing the minimum wage argument , but that doesn’t mean he doesn't have empathy for the poor. He may believe, like me, that it would do more harm than good.
 
 
+64 # PeacefulGarden 2014-10-28 13:10
Roland.... you have said absolutely nothing.
 
 
-35 # Roland 2014-10-28 13:28
Really? Maybe you didn't understand my point. The article implies that Christie and republicans don't express empathy.
 
 
+24 # PeacefulGarden 2014-10-28 15:28
I have no idea what Don Young was saying == nothing

You are saying that conservative policies help "more" people, then you say, one may disagree with that == nothing

Something about looking into the heart of conservatives and know that... something, and that many liberals don't see this == nothing

Washington insiders reformed welfare in the mid 1990s and it was a success == nothing, and that is bullshit.

Christe is tired of the minimum wage argument == nothing. And poor tired Mr. Christe, he must be so very tired about the debates about poverty in his state, poor poor pitiful Mr. Teddy Bear.

Our government is basically rob from the poor and give to the rich. If you can't figure that out, you are and idiot. And yeah, I have absolutely no empathy for your mindset. Welfare reform... give me a break.

I do have a question for you Roland. How do people become poor in the USA? Please answer. Lets see your empathy scale.
 
 
-22 # Roland 2014-10-28 18:04
You say—“You are saying that conservative policies help "more" people, then you say, one may disagree with that == nothing. “
My point is that many on this site including you don’t understand that conservatives believe that their policies help people more than progressive policies. The people here disagree with me, but they don’t understand that conservatives are trying to help people as much as they are.

You say—“Our government is basically rob from the poor and give to the rich.” That is your perspective and your progressive policies will make it worse by shutting business and chasing jobs and investments out of the country.

“How do the poor get poor?” Your question should be how do people stay poor People can get poor by losing their jobs or their investments may crash or medical bills could take them down. The question is why do they stay poor. It could be an inherited mindset (lack of family guidance) or a culture created by handouts. Poor choices such as neglecting school, having children before getting a job or getting married. Laziness for some and drug problems for others. Lack of jobs is a problem during this recession and it is exacerbated by govt. policies.
Why do you think people stay poor?
 
 
+32 # Texas Aggie 2014-10-28 21:09
It isn't that conservatives believe that their policies will help more people. They have made it quite clear that they oppose liberal policies because they are helping the "wrong" people. They make it quite clear that the reason that they think giving the poor less will stimulate them to work while giving the rich more will stimulate them to work is because they blame the poor for their predicament. Lousy access to education has nothing to do with it. The rich sending jobs overseas has nothing to do with it. Not being able to get to work because you can't afford a car has nothing to do with it.

No, Roland, the only reason that the right wingers "believe" what you claim is because it is to their advantage. In the words of JK Galbraith, "The modern conservative is engaged in one of man's oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness."
 
 
-14 # Roland 2014-10-29 07:01
As I said above you can’t look into their hearts and see why they support conservative policies. Again, I said I support them because I believe they will do the most good for the most people, including the poor. That is why I am on this site as often as I am. People here can not give the other side of the argument because they haven’t been exposed to it by their liberal media sources.

Any claims by liberals that most conservatives are supporting conservative policies because of greed is conjecture by liberals who want to demonize in order to win a debate.
 
 
+15 # PeacefulGarden 2014-10-29 00:05
No. The question is how do people become poor. Stop dodging the question.

Losing a job, losing savings, and medical bills; yes, these are ways to become poor.

Inherited mindset; so you think you become poor because of your genes. Hmmmm. I am going to ignore that one, just for your sake. But it goes against everything that America stands for, right. I'll stop there and let you ponder the scientist searching for the "poor" genes, and, gosh, just forget it Roland.

Lack of family guidance; yes, a mother and father not teaching their children how to manage money is a way to become poor. I remember my mother starting my savings account, telling me to work and save.

Culture of handouts; no, that is how you become rich. "Handouts" is becoming a strange DC insider speak for "giving money to the wrong people". And if they are still poor after the hand out, well then, it aint a handout.

Neglect school; this one is odd. Neglect school and become poor. No. That is wishy washy, but possible. I think you have been fed the College Board propoganda.

Having children before getting a job; no, I think you mean having children and being poor. Poor people shouldn't have children. That is some crazy insight into economic genocide.

Getting married; I gotta laugh.

Laziness and drugs; no, there are a lot of lazy rich people on drugs.

People become poor because of greed.

What is shocking is, the word greed is nowhere in your answer.
 
 
-15 # Roland 2014-10-29 07:09
How obtuse can you be? Inherited by genes? Of course not—inherited from parents who don’t care or who pass on a mentality that education isn’t important or that they can’t get ahead no matter what.

You seem to confuse a lot of what I am saying. Your people are poor due to greed is incredibly silly. It implies that because someone goes out and makes money they are holding other back.

In case you aren’t aware in certain communities there is an anti school culture. I have seen more than one minority describe this culture in their neighborhoods.
 
 
+11 # Rain17 2014-10-29 10:52
The issue here is more complex than you make it out to be. In many areas you have school systems that are chronically underfunded and don't prepare those children sufficiently for college and the work world.

And then in other cases you do have parents who want better things for their children and want to be involved in their education, but they work long hours. Some of them are in jobs where, even if they wanted to more involved with their children's school, they can't take off because it means either 1) not getting paid and/or 2) being fired.

So the issue with schools is more complex.
 
 
+5 # PeacefulGarden 2014-10-29 16:20
Inherited is a specific term in nature/nurture debates. Inherited has to do with nature; genes. Okay, whatever Roland. We are in two different coversations as always.

But shesh, "Your people are poor due to greed is incredibly silly." Scrooge! Scrooge! By Dickens you are the perfect definition of Scrooge himself. Yes, that business owner who withheld a living wage out of pure greed.

It implies that because someone goes out and makes money they are holding other back.

You got it wrong, what you wanted to say is; it implies that because someone holds back others social status they make money! Scrooge, Roland Scrooge, you are the perfect definition.

Hmmmm, I am trying to imagine what political party generates the most anti school culture... hmmmm, those state Governors of what political party reduced the budgets of schools....

Roland you head is in the shit so deep you don't know what it smell like anymore.

Ah, let me just say Scrooge! Scrooge! Scrooge!
 
 
+6 # Rain17 2014-10-29 10:36
I will say that some people have children when they can't really afford them. Teen pregnancy can also doom the mothers to a lifetime of poverty. I don't agree with Roland at all, but there is something to be said about children having children or people having children when it's clear they can't afford them.

As for schools that is a major issue. The reality is that, outside of affluent and/or suburban school districts, many schools are substandard. It's cruel on some level to expect children who attend extremely inferior to schools to compete on the same footing as those from affluent and/or suburban districts.
 
 
+1 # Anarchist 23 2014-10-31 14:17
Well, if birth control weren't so hard to get and so expensive, 'children having children' might not be such a problem...but here we are, once again #1...you have the highest teen pregnancy rate in the Developed Industrialized Countries...and on top of that you have now added the right of a corporation, due to its 'religious scruples' to bar its employees from getting contraception coverage under the Affordable Care Act...and what is more laughable (if one laughs instead of cries) is the fact that a fetus in the womb is sacred but once born...check out Detroit and the denial of the human right of water! Great country you have here! Deluded and destroyed.
 
 
+2 # babalu 2014-10-31 07:18
Ignoring reality of FEWER people helped by the policies of tax "relief" mainly for the rich which has NEVER trickled down
 
 
+2 # babalu 2014-10-31 07:20
Current Republicant congress has voted FOR $350 BILLION in additional tax breaks for the rich (source of their being able to put up lying ads), and NOTHING to help avoid problems like EBOLA ("Don't THROW MONEY at problem - only at already rich.")
 
 
+1 # Anarchist 23 2014-10-31 14:10
Roland: Why do I think poor people stay poor? Hmmm..how about rising costs of living and sub-standard wages with which to meet those rising costs; how about the decline of good paying jobs and the replacement with minimum-wage jobs or temp jobs or part-time jobs...and then there is outsourcing, busting unions, destroying the 'public commons' and replacing it with punitive 'private' companies..in education,justi ce,health etc...It's a Third World Country we now live in...great inequality of income, lack of public services, authoritarian rule (militarized police, punitive justice, unending wars) Of course if you are rich it's great. But for the poor...yes, it's all their own fault....
 
 
+55 # bmiluski 2014-10-28 13:30
Then tell me Roland, why is it that you people do not believe in minimum wage yet have no problem with oil companies getting subsidies even though their profits are in the billions of $$$? Let's face it, you believe what you're told to believe. That's why you cannot mount any sort of coherent, rational argument.
 
 
-65 # MidwesTom 2014-10-28 14:00
What do oil companies do with their billions? They pay billions in taxes, they hire people at much higher than average wages, they spend billions trying to find more oil and gas, so we consumers do not bankrupt ourselves trying to heat our houses. Finally, they pay dividends to the millions of people who have purchased their stock. The profit margin on a gallon of gasoline are only 2 to 3 cents per gallon. They also make money selling asphalt, propane, plastics, and the base chemicals for everything from lipstick to drugs. I am assuming that you drive a car, would you rather buy your gasoline from a foreign pool company, or have you stopped driving?
 
 
+35 # origbrownfan 2014-10-28 14:54
Exxon's profits continue in record ranges of 80+billion per quarter. In case you haven't noticed, heating bills are constantly going up as well. Chevron, for one, paid nothing in taxes last year. Loopholes & subsidies allow their CEOs to get richer. You throw the world "billions" around, but have no specific equations. Much higher than average wages? For some, but these days that's not saying much.
 
 
-28 # MidwesTom 2014-10-28 15:43
If you are heating with natural gas and your bills are climbing blame the pipelines and your local delivery company. The prices that the oil and gas companies are getting at the wellhead is 1/3 what it was three years ago. Natural gas is running about $3.50 per million BTU at the wellhead. If your bill is in Decatherms, the wellhead price in Decatherms is $0.35. The price for natural gas is so low that some good wells have been drilled but not connected, awaiting higher prices.
 
 
0 # babalu 2014-10-31 07:30
No wonder there is widespread cheating on owners of the land! They can't "afford" to pay when they promised. Lousy cheats! I have no patience with the whole industry. It's not just the KOCH brothers who cheat on a grand scale.
 
 
-52 # skylinefirepest 2014-10-28 15:51
Middie, you're wasting your time talking to liberals about empathy. They think taking the national wealth and distributing it evenly would put everybody in the country on an even footing. They don't realize that a significant portion of the "poor" got that way through laziness, poor decisions, lack of education, drug use, etc. Now before y'all get your panties in a wad let me say that I also know a significant number of "poor" that were trying hard to work hard and make a living prior to the current administration trying to put an end to capitalism. Our current "leader" hasn't ever held a working job, is dis-honest to a fault, has no empathy for the common man, etc. I'll wager that there will be an immediate upswing in the economy once the obum is gone with his do nothing, incompetent administration.
 
 
+32 # Rain17 2014-10-28 16:24
I'm sorry, but I must call BS on this argument. I guess that going to an Ivy League School, working at a top-tier Chicago Law Firm, working in the non-profit sector, and being a State Senator and US Senator isn't a "real job". I guess that, if we are judging by that standard, many Republicans haven't had "real jobs either".

As for attacking the poor I must disagree with you. I am hardly one of the more liberal posters here, but I must challenge your argument. I don't think most poor people woke up one day and said, "I'm going to be lazy and be a drain on society". I don't people intentionally grow up to be lazy.

When you have substandard schools, parents who don't know any better, and so forth, it's no surprise that there are poor people. When you factor in that college costs are rising, even if someone does want to escape poverty, the barriers are high.

Lastly I find the argument that Obama is trying to "put an end to capitalism" laughable. I guess that, in spite of the recent pullback, he must a significant failure then because corporate profits are at all time high and that, if you have held an S&P 500 index fund since 2008, you've more than doubled your money. If he has tried to "end capitalism", given that companies are doing well, he has failed.
 
 
+26 # Doubter 2014-10-28 18:02
Conservatives accusing Obama of socialist tendencies should be on the comedy circuit.
 
 
+1 # kreutzersonata 2014-10-28 17:42
"I'll wager that there will be an immediate upswing in the economy once the obum is gone with his do nothing, incompetent administration."

How much?
 
 
+10 # JJS 2014-10-29 04:46
Always, I read, see and hear the Republican message: "Call the kettle black."
It is the obstructive, Republican majority Congress that is do nothing and incompetent.
 
 
+2 # babalu 2014-10-31 07:31
And Republicants believe in distributing the national wealth to corporations who ship jobs overseas and to the already rich. Only after they distribute to these groups do they begin to worry about the "deficit" and take it out of the rest of us.
 
 
+6 # RLF 2014-10-29 05:23
Tom!!! PROFIT!! PROFIT!!! That is after all of the great things that oil companies do like undermine and corrupt governments of countries they want to mine, pollute without paying for cleanup, and the list could go on for miles. Oil companies suck and you're just dumb if you can't see that. People also suck because they demand to drive their gigantic SUVs and muscle cars.
 
 
+1 # babalu 2014-10-31 07:28
Quoting MidwesTom:
What do oil companies do with their billions? they hire people at much higher than average wages,

They pay so much more because they don't bother to have SAFE WORKPLACES - remember all those people blown up in the GULF because they had to hurry and finish off the project?
We should tax them MUCH MORE because they leave the environment in such bad shape - 1 million barrels dumped along the way every year, constant spills from pipelines, destroying the value of the land while extracting their spoils form underneath...
 
 
0 # Anarchist 23 2014-10-31 14:20
MidwestTom: 'What do oil companies do with their billions?"They leave huge 'bathtub' rings of oil on the sea floor the size of R.I (Gulf of Mexico disaster) they destroy the water sources of people with fracking chemicals and increase the cancer rate; they hire PR firms to tout what good citizens they are while despoiling the globe...
 
 
-15 # Roland 2014-10-28 18:47
How is it possible you don’t know some of the conservative arguments against the minimum wage? How can you make a judgment about the policy without knowing the arguments from both sides? I know the liberal arguments for the min. wage. If you don’t know the reasons conservatives are against raising the min. wage, you will default to believing they are mean. You need more diverse sources for news.
 
 
+17 # Texas Aggie 2014-10-28 21:16
Why do you think that the reasons that right wingers give for being against the minimum wage are a secret?

Their primary argument is that raising the minimum wage would mean that employers hire fewer people. But when you compare the employment growth in states with higher minimum wages against states with the bare minimum wage, you find that employment in the former is increasing faster than employment in the latter.

So since reality and their theory are opposed to each other, a rational person would discard the theory. Right wingers, on the other hand, discard the data. There is a reason that the right wing is faith based while the left wing is reality based.
 
 
+10 # backwards_cinderella 2014-10-29 04:47
we do know the conservative arguments against the minimum wage. they're bullshit.
 
 
-10 # Roland 2014-10-29 07:12
I don't think you do!

And Texas Aggie proves it above.
 
 
+50 # bmiluski 2014-10-28 13:33
Roland, please give me an example of a conservative policy that helped more people then a progressive one.
I know I won't get an answer. You people never have one when asked to back up anything that you are told to believe.
 
 
-14 # arquebus 2014-10-28 14:35
A conservative policy(s) that helps someone. Hmmm. Well, we could start with the National Park System...establ ished by a conservative as was the National Forest system. A conservative is responsible for the construction of the Interstate Highway system and yet another conservative started the Environmental Protection Agency.

So, now you have an answer.
 
 
+50 # CTPatriot 2014-10-28 14:51
And today's "conservatives" would happily do away with every single one of those accomplishments .
 
 
+25 # MEBrowning 2014-10-28 17:16
Yes, it was Barry Goldwater who, in one of his last public appearances, said to Bob Dole, "My God, we're the liberals now."

If one has to go all the way back to Teddy Roosevelt to find a conservative who did something that benefited many people, one hasn't been paying attention to the last 40 years. But then, today's Republican Party is not exactly filled with conservatives. It's filled with, by definition, radicals.
 
 
+25 # davidr 2014-10-28 17:36
“Helping people”, as such, is not central to the Conservative project. In fact, for Ayn Rand and her many conservative acolytes, altruism is a terrible transgression. The basic Conservative value is to keep things, for as long as possible, as they are, to hold back change and to vest power in long-establishe d families & institutions. Conservatives deeply doubt the virtue of progress. They tend to see it as devolution. In forestalling it, they conceive that they make their greatest contribution to human wellbeing.

That said, of course, today’s American conservatives are actually reactionaries. They don’t seem really to believe in such a concept as “human wellbeing”, but only in the reductive advantages that one individual can achieve over others.
 
 
+22 # davidr 2014-10-28 17:39
TR was among the most liberal politicians of his era, a Progressive trust buster & labor reformer who ran as a Bull Moose candidate against the conservative Republican Wm Taft in 1912.

Eisenhower was basically a New Dealer (though at the stodgy end of the spectrum). The I-Hwy system is cut from the exact same cloth as FDR's public works and mobilization projects. Ike was a proponent of organized labor and Social Security, and a (quiet) opponent of Joe McCarthy. For his pains, he was branded a Communist by his party's right wing.

RMN was an Eisenhower Republican. By the 1970's he was out of the mainstream of his own party. He never renounced the New Deal, which he well knew had saved him & his family. He was a big govt guy (remember wage & price controls?). If the GOP weren't forced to shun Nixon for Watergate, they would have done it for his "liberalism".
 
 
+10 # MidwestDick 2014-10-28 20:42
Roosevelt, and Bob LaFollette for that matter, were Republicans. They were also progressives. They promoted Corporate responsibility, greater economic democracy, and believed government was capable of solving problems.
Nixon, may the devil torment him, was trying to stop even more ambitious environmental regulations when he negotiated the laws that authorized the EPA. His democratic opposition forced his hand.
 
 
+17 # Texas Aggie 2014-10-28 21:22
This is called revisionist history and is one of the things that the TX State Board of Ejumakashun is trying to foist on the public. The person who started the National Parks System also spent a good part of his efforts breaking up corporate monopolies. Do you know any conservatives who favor that?

You must be aware that right wingers are trying to privatize the National Forest System. You must be aware that right wingers are absolutely opposed to the public interstate highway system and are trying to privatize that, and furthermore they are refusing to allow any money to be spent maintaining them. And for the EPA, surely you aren't so isolated in your bubble that you don't realize that the right wing is devoting every effort to destroy the EPA.
 
 
+3 # arquebus 2014-10-29 10:46
Very simple. Anarchy = chaos

Without government who would build your streets, who would police the criminals, who would settle disputes between neighbors?
 
 
+2 # arquebus 2014-10-29 10:48
You want to talk about what a conservative might think or what the TP anarchists want. For my part, this is one conservative who wants to see corporations reined in and thinks the EPA mandate to "conserve" is conservatism in action.
 
 
+3 # backwards_cinderella 2014-10-29 04:48
the national park system was established by a PROGRESSIVE.
 
 
+1 # arquebus 2014-10-29 19:04
I suspect TR would take issue with that assertion.
 
 
0 # babalu 2014-10-31 07:41
Using today's definitions, he would not.
 
 
+3 # RLF 2014-10-29 05:28
Two policies that the conservatives are doing their best to destroy for the last 40 years or so...how about something recent?
 
 
+2 # arquebus 2014-10-29 11:46
conservatives have not been in power in years. Radicals have...which is why I'm now registered as an independent
 
 
+6 # bmiluski 2014-10-29 10:06
If these are such "good" conservative policies then why is it that conservatives want to sell of large swaths of acerage from National Parks and Forests to oil and gas companies to exploit (drill baby drill)? Why is it that republicans vetoed the Jobs Bill that would have put millions of people to work repairing our Interstate Highway system? The conservatives of the past were nothing like the conservatives of the present. They had compassion something that is missing in today's republicans
 
 
0 # arquebus 2014-10-29 11:48
Conservative policies or TP policies.
 
 
0 # babalu 2014-10-31 07:38
Calling a bill about investment tax credit a jobs bill does not automatically make it about JOBS. Likewise, calling an earlier politician a conservative when he would be kicked out of the current Republican party is a JOKE!
Besides you have proven that CURRENT CONSERVATIVES do not conserve, they aid and abet destructions of the environment and infrastructure and tear down freedoms. Congrats on the most unpatriotic, laughably named patriot act - that Bush REFUSED to discuss with congress: PASS it in one month or you are a traitor!
 
 
+25 # bmiluski 2014-10-28 13:34
The only reason Christie made the "minimum wage" comment was because he was pandering to his audience....The Chamber of Commerce.
 
 
+13 # Interested Observer 2014-10-28 18:20
May he be tarred with it as Romney was for his "47 percent" also not intended for general consumption.
 
 
+24 # The Buffalo Guy 2014-10-28 14:00
Quoting Roland:
First I want to say I have no idea what Don Young was trying to say.

The reason I am a conservative is because of empathy for my fellow man. I believe conservative policies generally help more people than progressive policies. One may disagree that conservative policies are the best path to help the most people, but you can’t look into the hearts of conservatives and say we don’t believe that they are. Many on the left don’t seem to understand this. In their minds, the right must be evil and worthy of outrageous accusations of meanness.

Conservatives and many democrats realize that welfare reform of the mid 1990s was success. Christie may be tired of rehashing the minimum wage argument , but that doesn’t mean he doesn't have empathy for the poor. He may believe, like me, that it would do more harm than good.


C'mon! The little statue that conservatives light candles to is a BEAR. Money is what drives them. I could agree that people need opportunities more than handouts but corporations are interested in the dollar not their employees welfare....oops , I meant well being.
We live in a society and it breaks down when opportunities are in short supply. Crime and domestic violence increase and the government is the only entity that can be counted on to better things. How does that fit in with Conservatives?
 
 
+3 # Doubter 2014-10-28 17:52
ROLAND:
Don't kill them with your kindness.
 
 
+13 # skeeter 2014-10-28 18:25
The conservative position seems to be that giving poor people money cannot possibly help their situation and has no social value. In fact, as Roland says, "it would do more harm than good". But giving rich people more money... through tax cuts, tax loopholes and subsidies...has great social value and will save the economy. Really? Conservatives may believe this fantasy "in their hearts" but I wouldn't call it "empathy". I'll leave it to others to suggest a more appropriate word for it.
 
 
+1 # Anarchist 23 2014-10-31 14:25
Skeeter...a more appropriate word/phrase...H ow about 'depraved indifference'? or maybe 'malignant narcissism'? Simple 'greed' seems so out dated!
 
 
+4 # Corvette-Bob 2014-10-29 16:08
Before Medicare was passed in 1964 many seniors lived in poverty. Why, you may ask? Because as a senior it was almost impossible to buy health insurance. If you have a pre-existing condition then you could not buy health insurance. If your medical expenses exceeded the cap, then your health insurance stopped paying for your health care. One major medical problem and seniors would need to file bankruptcy and you were then destitute. Conservatives offered no solution to the problem. Medicare solved the problem.
 
 
+1 # babalu 2014-10-31 07:16
Is it "empathy" to ignore the findings of study after study that 1) we need to invest in our crumbling infrastructure (crumbling thanks to the Reaganesque refusal to invest like our parents and grandparents did)?
To insist Conservative - actually RADICAL BACKWARD thinking of the current Republicant party - ideas will help anyone except the rich is to ignore reality - which you seem to be very good at!
 
 
+53 # MEBrowning 2014-10-28 13:10
Scratch so-called conservatives in public office who rail against "entitlement" programs, and you often find people who got a helping hand in life because of the very programs they now want to kill. The fact that they benefited from "government largesse" but don't want anyone else to benefit from it speaks volumes about their capacity for empathy.
 
 
+14 # arquebus 2014-10-28 14:38
Amen. I got by degree a while back when a state college charged the equivalent of $300 per quarter. My best friend when to Cal Berkeley for the present day value of about $500 a semester. Both state colleges and the UC system now charge in the thousands. But, you can't just blame conservatives.. ..even when liberals had the power no one proposed rolling back university tuition to be affordable.
 
 
+19 # Rain17 2014-10-28 16:20
I know a woman who was once on welfare, but is a conservative Republican who know wants to deny other people benefits. I once had a coworker, who was a hardcore Republican, who once received WIC himself--and yet rants against welfare.
 
 
+6 # Texas Aggie 2014-10-28 21:28
You wonder about people like them. Are they trying to deny that they were once unable to make it on their own? It reminds one of the guy who said that he was once out of work on unemployment and food stamps and no one gave him any help, so why should other people get help?
 
 
0 # Rain17 2014-10-28 23:37
Well it is somewhat different than that guy because this woman actually received welfare.
 
 
+32 # RCW 2014-10-28 13:18
I don't recall any pictures of Young, but he feeds well of the largesse of the public trough, and Gov. Christie does not appear to have missed too many meals or that his clothes come from the Goodwill store.
 
 
+29 # Yakpsyche 2014-10-28 13:55
As a psychologist, I will note that empathy deficit is a characteristic of psychopathy, but is not the sole or the defining characteristic. A more important one is the willingness to engage in illegal and antisocial behavior.

There is no separate mental health category called empathy deficit disorder; its a colloquial term.

Many politicians are sociopathic, a category differing from psychopathy in that some of their behaviors are condoned by society, not considered illegal, e.g. voting for war, although they are definitely behaviors lacking in empathy, they harm others and gratify the politicians' personal needs.

Historically, it has always been so. The process of being elevated to a position of power results in dehumanizing thinking. Dealing with the masses automatically partly dehumanizes, as the personal needs and experience of any given individual are lost in relating to people collectively.

This mental state invites one to disregard individuals and indulge one's personal desires. But it doesn't have to be so, as demonstrated by those few who have not been corrupted. This requires a focus on personal integrity, especially, "kindness", an orientation based on empathy and caring; a concept that we can easily understand.

Those in power, to retain their humanness would be well advised to focus on caring and kindness resisting the temptation to personal gain.
 
 
+7 # PeacefulGarden 2014-10-28 15:45
Quoting Yakpsyche:

The process of being elevated to a position of power results in dehumanizing thinking. Dealing with the masses automatically partly dehumanizes, as the personal needs and experience of any given individual are lost in relating to people collectively.


Yes, I agree with you. But to prove this we are on thin ice. Philip Zimbardo did a marvelous experiment, the whole acting out of an prison system; the Lucifer Effect.

One could imagine that after World War II leadership became a type of Lucifer Effect, where a politician puts on this mask and acts out his role, caught up in some opportunistic aggression cycle.

But one can still imagine a leader having empathy for the ones he or she represents. I think the key to leadership is providing opportunities for others, if one stops doing that, then the whole thing collapses into a pile of lies. Currently, it seems like both parties thrive on stopping opportunities for others. Kinda like a passive aggression party where everyone smiles during the whole evil process.
 
 
+43 # skeeter 2014-10-28 13:58
Talk about entitlement and freeloading...D on Young and his colleagues in Congress have been pulling down healthy salaries and generous perks without lifting a finger to help the country. They took more vacation days than work days during the last session. And he has the nerve to call out others. He is not doing his job but taking the money anyway...by my definition that is a freeloader.
 
 
+26 # PABLO DIABLO 2014-10-28 14:00
Vote these idiots out of office.
 
 
+20 # PeacefulGarden 2014-10-28 15:47
Unfortunately, idiots vote them into office.
 
 
+9 # deadhead 2014-10-28 14:02
Plain as the nose on his face: He undercuts his own argument with his opening statement about cutting wood. Since the "largesse" comes from oil dividends, then, see? it's obvious that petroleum causes suicide (as opposed to wood-chopping, which only results in dismemberment - Ask Jerry Garcia). One more reason to divest from fossil fuels . . . deadly in myriad ways. I wonder if Sarah or Michelle is ghostwriting for him?
 
 
+21 # Blackjack 2014-10-28 14:05
See what happens when you call these Republicans out here on RSN? They disappear into the netherworld because they cannot come back with a coherent, honest discussion about why they are so greed obsessed and mean spirited. Their me-first mentality gives them away every time. Once they have tried in every possible way, and failed, to blame the problems of the country on BIG GOVMINT, there is nothing more they can say. So, good riddance, Roland!
 
 
-12 # Roland 2014-10-28 20:03
You have proven my initial point by calling me greedy and mean spirited.

Big govt. caused problems? Pick a policy. Min. wage, more funds for college loans or grants, taxes, inversions, cash for clunkers, lowering loan standards for Fannie and Freddie, Dodd Frank, NLRB/HUD/EEOC rulings from disparate impact rules to going after Boeing. The way the stimulus funds were spent. The list is endless.
 
 
+10 # Texas Aggie 2014-10-28 21:35
I think you may have undercut your own argument. All those policies that you list are indeed part of big government and are not causing any problems at all.

The way the stimulus funds were spent is one of the best examples of success at the federal level. Changing the way student loan money is allocated has been successful and would be even better if there were more funds to dispense. While the Dodd-Frank hasn't been as effective as hoped for, that can be laid at the feet of those who have been working constantly to gut it. The cash for clunkers was one of the main efforts that got the US auto industry back on its feet saving millions of jobs.
 
 
-5 # Roland 2014-10-29 07:16
Your response is proof that you don't understand any of those topics. You haven't read anything other than what the left wing media has presented to you.
 
 
+5 # bmiluski 2014-10-29 10:12
Ah Roland.....you' re doing that "thing" again. Throwing around insults without any facts or factual come-backs. Nice little troll.....
 
 
+1 # bmiluski 2014-10-29 14:50
And what point was that Roland??????
 
 
+18 # REDPILLED 2014-10-28 14:14
How do we stop sociopaths from running for powerful government positions? People who cannot empathize are sociopaths, and they should be barred from all public offices.
 
 
+15 # Jaax88 2014-10-28 14:25
Rep. Young has disqualified himself from being able to honestly represent the State of Alaska for lack of knowledge of his State. Years ago, around 1958, I helped a cannery operation save a fisherman's life when in a drunken stupor he tried to commit suicide by slicing open his windpipe. Maybe that was before Young's time, but as a representative he should know better than blow smoke, be dishonest and blame something that has nothing to do with that recent suicide.
 
 
+20 # reiverpacific 2014-10-28 15:18
Quoting arquebus:
A conservative policy(s) that helps someone. Hmmm. Well, we could start with the National Park System...established by a conservative as was the National Forest system. A conservative is responsible for the construction of the Interstate Highway system and yet another conservative started the Environmental Protection Agency.

So, now you have an answer.
\

Sadly the word "Conservative" has practically lost all meaning and relevance in these mean-spirited times; we're talking "Reactionaries" here (of, pertaining to, marked by, or favoring reaction, especially extreme conservatism or rightism in politics; opposing political or social change). Conservatives are despised by the Reactionary Right.
I believe, from some of y'r former posts, that you're a Conservative although we don't agree on much. To me, Roland is a crusader for Reactionary Theology and an apologist for all things it's perp-traitors and their lackeys have done to fuck the country and world up in their efforts to revert to feudalism.
I've no idea what Midwest Tom is, except smug so often does he flip-flop.
Me; I'm an ol'-fashioned Small-Business Socialist determinedly independent, who believes -perhaps naively, that we're here to help each other and government, though taxation, is there to do it's part without being overly intrusive (cough!) and that our taxes should be put to work for the public good -not invasion and pillage of other countries for the profit of a few.
 
 
+5 # arquebus 2014-10-28 17:08
Let's put it this way. I like Ike. I think the Tea Partyiers are all anarchists.
 
 
+2 # Doubter 2014-10-28 18:31
Let me put it this way:
I wish Anarchy, as in no or minimum government were feasible; but aren't Tea Partiers just radical conservatives?
(and I'm still waiting for the "Peace Dividend" Eisenhower spoke of)
The government should serve to regulate the corporate owners of us all, but sadly, is in their service instead.
I would like to know if there is any reason besides bad press and negative propaganda why so many people are repelled by Anarchy.
 
 
+7 # reiverpacific 2014-10-28 19:03
Quoting arquebus:
Let's put it this way. I like Ike. I think the Tea Partyiers are all anarchists.


I dig!
You sound like my wife's dad; even if we had differences, we could still have discussions and not hold grudges.
Gawd knows what the TeaThugs are but they are dragging this country into the Fragmented States rather than the other way around -I'd love nothing else but to see this potentially great country (as it was for a while when I first came) lead the world in Unity of peaceful and healing purpose (but still have the ability to conduct intelligent and coherent disagreements in a manner that would be productive instead of viciously divisive), sharing and creative purpose instead of perpetual war driven by those who never fought in one.
 
 
+3 # MEBrowning 2014-10-28 17:32
There are certainly some reactionary elements among Republicans these days. But I think of them more as radicals, because so many of them don't want things to stay the same, they want fundamental change. Despite decades of Republican propaganda, all radicals are not on the left.
 
 
+5 # reiverpacific 2014-10-29 10:43
Quoting MEBrowning:
There are certainly some reactionary elements among Republicans these days. But I think of them more as radicals, because so many of them don't want things to stay the same, they want fundamental change. Despite decades of Republican propaganda, all radicals are not on the left.

Agreed but the difference between Repub' "Radicals" is that THEY want any change to be regressive, even feudalist -another of the definitions of "Reactionary" of which the one I cited is only a précis due to limited character count (And it came from a neutral site, not a left-wing one).
It's almost as though they want to bring back a hereditary capitalist monarchy this country fought to get away from (Most of the super-rich got it the old-fashioned way; they inherited it, contrary to what the current batch of trolls who infest this site put forward), in which a few at the top are glorified, worshipped and exalted in status and the rest of us are more or less serfs.
I love the "Bring out yer dead" scene in Python's Holy Grail in which King Arthur and his "Knnnn-iggits" ride through a filthy, disease-ridden Feudal Village and are noted by two of the inhabitants re' "Who's that"? "Must be a King" -"How d'you mean" -"he's the only one without shit all over him"!
That's what the powerful want.
Kinda like Kim Jung Il but with robes.
 
 
+16 # Rain17 2014-10-28 16:18
As someone who works in a conservative industry, where most of my colleagues are former military, this is their mindset:

1. It's not my fault/problem that there are those without access to decent healthcare, wages, and housing.

2. If "those people" only "got a job" and were "responsible", if they didn't sit on their asses, they would be able to take care of themselves--and not be poor.

3. I don't want my precious tax dollars going to "those people" at my expense.

4. I work hard and play by the rules. I don't want to support those who think they are entitled to a handout.

5. Poor people are generally lazy, irresponsible, and unwilling to work. If they didn't waste their money on fancy cell phones, laptops, and cable TV, they could afford healthcare and meet their obligations.

6. It's so easy to qualify for Medicaid, public housing, welfare, food stamps, and Social Security disability. They can live a life of luxury getting these benefits without any documentation required. They can go into a government office and walk out with a generous check in 30 minutes. (This is in spite of the fact that, while it might have been like that in the 1970s, qualifying for most benefits like that requires jumping through hoops for a pittance of money).

These are the generally views I've heard over and over again. I don't think most people decide one day to be lazy, but this is how they think.
 
 
+2 # bmiluski 2014-10-29 10:18
Rain 17 I absolutely agree with you. I too work in a conservative work place and I also have conservative friends and that is exactly how they think.
My friends nephew believes that if people wanted a good job they could easily find one. (He joined the Merchant Marines when he was 18 and this is the only job he's ever had.)
 
 
+3 # Rain17 2014-10-29 20:50
As someone who experienced unemployment for a year, as someone who sent in resumes every day, I can tell you that it's hard to find another job.
 
 
+1 # reiverpacific 2014-10-30 11:25
Quoting Rain17:
But, as someone who works in an industry that attracts conservatives and has many right-wing friends, these are the attitudes I often hear from them. And it is those attitudes that will ensure that more progressive policies do not come to fruition in the short to medium term.

Quoting Rain17:
As someone who experienced unemployment for a year, as someone who sent in resumes every day, I can tell you that it's hard to find another job.

And it only gets worse every year that age gets it's teeth into you; from experience. If you've been self-employed as I was for so long (I call it "Self-exploited "!) and therefore perceived as "Self-sufficien t" or not having had a boss to grovel to; -well, forget it!
 
 
+2 # reiverpacific 2014-10-29 10:31
Quoting Rain17:
As someone who works in a conservative industry, where most of my colleagues are former military, this is their mindset:

1. It's not my fault/problem that there are those without access to decent healthcare, wages, and housing.

2. If "those people" only "got a job" and were "responsible", if they didn't sit on their asses, they would be able to take care of themselves--and not be poor.

3. I don't want my precious tax dollars going to "those people" at my expense.

4. I work hard and play by the rules. I don't want to support those who think they are entitled to a handout.

5. Poor people are generally lazy, irresponsible, and unwilling to work. If they didn't waste their money on fancy cell phones, laptops, and cable TV, they could afford healthcare and meet their obligations.

6. It's so easy to qualify for Medicaid, public housing, welfare, food stamps, and Social Security disability. They can live a life of luxury getting these benefits without any documentation required. They can go into a government office and walk out with a generous check in 30 minutes. (This is in spite of the fact that, while it might have been like that in the 1970s, qualifying for most benefits like that requires jumping through hoops for a pittance of money).
These are the generally views I've heard over and over again. I don't think most people decide one day to be lazy, but this is how they think.

These are examples of bourgeois Reactionary.
 
 
+1 # Rain17 2014-10-29 20:54
But, as someone who works in an industry that attracts conservatives and has many right-wing friends, these are the attitudes I often hear from them. And it is those attitudes that will ensure that more progressive policies do not come to fruition in the short to medium term.
 
 
+8 # ChrisCurrie 2014-10-28 16:57
Is it "Empathy Deficit Disorder" or simply a highly dishonest effort to suck up to billionaires and millionaires who for their own financial gain have made it their primary ("Satanic") goal to make the rich richer and the poor poorer without regard for how many people the kill in the process?
 
 
+10 # Rain17 2014-10-28 17:15
The problem is that you have large numbers of Americans who believe that poor people are there due to laziness and lack of initiative. You have large numbers of Americans who believe that, "if they only got a job," they wouldn't be poor. They don't want to believe that someone can work hard, do all the right things, and still end up in poverty. To them poverty is almost always due to lack of initiative and "irresponsible choices".
 
 
+1 # bmiluski 2014-10-29 10:19
I have a brother in-law who is a "climber" and believes being a republican will get him "there".
 
 
+12 # Rick Levy 2014-10-28 19:32
I assume that as an Alaskan, Young is also a recipient of the $2,000 dividend. If that's the case, then unless he returns it to the state, he's a hypocrite.
 
 
+9 # fredboy 2014-10-28 20:02
The Republican Party is the gutter of American politics, and Alaska is one of its sewers. Hard to believe anyone voted for this dolt.
 
 
-10 # Roland 2014-10-28 20:27
Wow, it is amazing how many people posted something that proves my original point, stated above, which was basically —

Many conservatives believe that conservative policies are the best path to help the most people, including those in poverty. Many on the left don’t seem to understand this. In their minds, the right must be evil and worthy of outrageous accusations of meanness.
 
 
+6 # Texas Aggie 2014-10-28 21:38
The modern conservative is engaged in one of man's oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness. -John Kenneth Galbraith

See Rain17 above for a list of right wing attitudes put the lie to the statement that conservative policies are the best path to help the most people.
 
 
+7 # Rain17 2014-10-29 10:30
And here is the other thing about right-wing people I find amazing. They tell the poor "to get a job" but then lash out at them when they still can't make ends meet by opposing minimum wage increases. So whatever they do they are damned.
 
 
+9 # backwards_cinderella 2014-10-29 04:59
what conservatives "believe" is immaterial. you can believe in whatever you want. but your beliefs are not facts & they do not hold up to facts.

conservative policies have been in place for over 30 years now & poverty has gotten WORSE not BETTER.

those are FACTS. believe whatever you want, but conservative policies help the RICH not the POOR.
 
 
-7 # Roland 2014-10-29 07:23
Conservative policies have been in place for over 30 years now? Really?
Under Obama inequality has accelerated and the median income has decreased. Look at cities run almost solely by liberals which are in dire financial straits. Want to pass that ideology on to the Federal govt? Obama is trying to.
 
 
+5 # bmiluski 2014-10-29 10:23
It has accelerated because the republicans have obstructed many of President Obama's policies that would have improved people's lives i.e. the minimum wage increase, college student loan reform, etc.
 
 
+4 # MindDoc 2014-10-28 23:42
Ah, psychology! OK, 2 cents worth, reflecting the notion of "empathy disorder" (as a handle on a phenomenon, not a formal diagnosis), and the reference to Zimbardo's 'prison experiment' (having "good people do evil things" ) and his later turn to see how people resist and counter (through heroism). Short version: Zimbardo has spent decades observing how "bad barrels" can create bad apples, such as the pressure on guards, soldiers, etc. That's the "social psychology", the "social pressure" aspect of being molded into the group norm.
Some (but not many) resist. So there's the "bad barrel", in this case "the system" which surrounds our elected and unelected representatives . Context. The barrel in which we live.

The second factor is the individual within the system. Some have mentioned the Roosevelts (great PBS/Burns doc!) - great example where the labels (party affiliation, "left" vs. "right", "conservative", etc.) meant less than the individual integrity. The desire to actually serve the collective people of the United States. A sociopath, greedster, puppet or fool could do a lot of damage, being thrown into a "bad barrel". Only the exceptional can *lead* rather than be absorbed into the prevailing system. It's not only the integrity and wisdom of the person going into the political barrel, but the barrel itself, and what Zimbardo calls "the barrel maker". Who owns the system?

As for facts, show me data please. Truly believing in delusions doesn't make them true.
 
 
+4 # Eric Zencey 2014-10-29 07:08
"Empathy Deficit Disorder" is a good name for it. Our system of Constitutional rights is based on empathy: If I were innocent and were arrested, what protections would I want built into our legal system? If I were a member of a minority or held a very unpopular opinion, what freedoms of speech and conscience would I want? If you answer these questions honestly you end up with something a lot like our system and its Bill of Rights. You can't HAVE any sort of civil society without empathy--all you can have is a sovereign power ("Leviathan," Hobbes called it) and a bunch of isolated, powerless subjects. The greater the amount of empathy built into the system, and the greater the variety of peoples toward whom your civic empathy is exercised, the stronger and better your freedoms will be. So how in the world can the anti-empathy Republican Party be mistaken for a defender of freedom?
 
 
+1 # andyseles 2014-10-31 09:48
I suggest everyone read George Lakoff's Moral Politics or Jonathan Haidt's The Righteous Mind to start to get a handle on how differently liberals and conservatives think re. empathy. I'm consider myself a progressive but even I can see "pathological empathy" among my liberal friends. Read The Case Against Liberal Compassion by William Voegeli,
Senior Editor, Claremont Review of Books. There is a good argument for "teaching a man to fish," as a more involved kind of empathy than throwing invisible money at the problem. Obviously, it isn't the "what" of empathic intervention but the "how" of it and we should be open to discussion about that instead of going all "black and white" over it as some pundits, including Reich, would have us do. Gosh, a liberal willing to dialogue with a conservative; I must be a mole or an apologist...jus t put a bow on my box...
 

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