October 29, 2004
BUSH VOTERS IDENTIFIED
The Sydney Morning Herald’s Peter Hartcher looks at the Jacksonian influence on the election:
When the US is at war, there is a powerful group of Americans, overlooked in American politics most of the time, whose feelings are stirred, whose resolve is stiffened, and whose intensity forces itself to the centre of national political life.
It's a group that constitutes the hardy core of the American folk, and it was introduced by the novelist and ex-Marine James Webb in these terms: "This people gave our country great things, including its most definitive culture. It is imbued with a unique and unforgiving code of personal honour less ritualised but every bit as powerful as the samurai code."
"This people", wrote Webb to his fellow Americans, "are all around you, even though you probably don't know it". They are the Scots-Irish. They arrived in America in the 18th century in small boats to find existing English settlements, and so pushed on inland to occupy the harsh mountain wilderness along the Appalachians. They fought the Indians, then they fought the British. From the beginning, they formed the core of the American fighting forces.
And, surveying an ancestral Virginia graveyard, Webb, a former senior official in the Reagan Pentagon, writes that they are his people: "The slurs stick to me, standing on these graves. Rednecks. Trailer-park trash. Racists. Cannon fodder. My ancestors. My people. Me."
The slurs still stick. Check the SMH’s headline on this piece: "Trailer trash: fightin' mad, want Dubya".
UPDATE. On a similar note, this Molly Ivins column -- published at Working for Spare Change -- declares: "Clueless people love Bush" ...
UPDATE II. Get a load of this:
Via Evil Pundit. Contact the Sydney Morning Herald here.
Posted by Tim Blair at October 29, 2004 12:48 PM
Good news, Tim! Chris Shiel thinks Kerry is gaining.
Why is it that 'clueless' people choose Bush? Choosy Moms Choose Bush.
Good lord! Molly "I'll fight Ted Kennedy for any bottle in this bar" Ivins can still focus on her keyboard?
I was struck by the sincere compassion, love and tolerence by this fine scribbler for the Socialist Morning Herald.
I look forward to his accollades when he discovers that as many as 20% of the Black community votes for President Bush.
[You were banned, dickweed. The Management.]
The trick is not to go crazy if we lose, or even if we "lose." Hands on the tiller, folks. We know who's right and who's wrong. The only Kerry supporter I've ever called "stupid" is a fellow on a mailing list I frequent who types in all lower-case and never met a stereotype of a right-winger he wouldn't repeat.
Meanwhile, the others on the list, 95% Kerry supporters, treat this fellow as if he's normal. (However, they didn't object when I called him "stupid." I guess that's progress.)
Um, my point? Don't be like them. Don't *ever* be like them. Do you imagine that the day after a Kerry win, Molly Ivins, Maureen Dowd, or Paul Krugman will be any less incoherent or churlish? Fat chance.
They ain't going to change. No need for us to change either.
Is "trailer trash" a racist epithet? I think of it as similar to "white trash".
They are effectively the same, EvilPundit. At least to the leftoids.
I pity the left when Bush wins in a landslide, whatever will they do? Oh wait, they made the same elitist, condescending epithets about Reagan voters in the 80's. Lotta good it did 'em then.
Rednecks, rebels and rifles... it's America, Baby! HOOAH!
BTW, Bush +15 in the early voting in those states nationwide offering the option...
"Your political cartoon is insensitive to North Americans people of color and wymmn. Why do you continue to portral the U.S. of
A. as a white man (uncle SAm)/ Also your plane is flying into the tower that is already hit. Remember, the second plane hit the other tower? Yeah.
Anyways you shuld apologiise."
/"typical" redneck Amrican
Thank you, tim and Evil Pundit, for posting that cartoon, and the e-mail address for the SMH.
Here is my letter:
Regarding the article by Peter Hartcher "Trailer Trash: fightin' mad want Dubya" and the cartoon in your paper (a scanned version can be seen at http://evilpundit.com/).
As an American citizen, I find the cartoon highly offensive. Almost 3000 people died in the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and the crash of AA Flight 93. Your use of the image of a plane ready to crash into one tower is tasteless, perverse, and dishonors the memory of the dead. After the towers collapsed in New York City, Palestinians were filmed dancing in the streets of Gaza. Is this your version for Down Under?
You might as well have sent Mr. Hartcher to New York to spit on the soil at Ground Zero. If an American were to dishonor your dead on ANZAC Day, I would expect howls of outrage from Australia. And for good reason; the creature that would commit such an act is beneath contempt.
The image of a sheriff (you know, the cowboy dude with the star) forcing Uncle Sam into a submissive role is pathetic. In spite of the stories that you may have heard, the American Gulags are no where to be found. We remain a free nation.
You do a disservice to all Australians in this blatant display of ignorance, prejudice, and hatred. I am certain that most Australians are not so immature and ignorant, especially after your recent national elections.
An apology is owed to the victims of 9/11 by the Sydney Morning Herald. Indeed, you should apologize to the entire nation. But I'll settle for the victims. They surely do not deserve your contempt and disrepect.
In case you couldn't tell, that cartoon pissed me off.
Its not just the cartoon, the view of uncle Sam on his knees, and the sexual innuendo, what of the headline?
My take is the article is describing the exact opposite of the banner headline. Isn't that the point that Hartcher was making? Those Snerds like the SMH who cant resist for one minute, imposing their own view of the world on the opinions of others.
What a disgrace!
that 'trailer trash' headline is offensive!! whoever wrote it deserves to have their friggin' American hating pencil neck snapped! to me it's the same as calling people 'towelheads' or 'jungle-bunnies'.
It's not offensive when they do it. No sir.
It's satire, or one of the other crap reasons the left give to disguise their hypocritical rantings.
No bigotry to see here, move on please.
Its alright to be racist and bigoted in the media ("trailer trash"- white, right?)
as long as its Fairfax approved. Bunch of wankers.
Read the Terry Mcrann smackdown in the Herald Sun from a couple of days ago.
"The carelessness of a collection of 12-year-olds"
A boycott against Fairfax and its advertisers may assist its snerdy staff to respect the feelings of those with a different political view.
Do any bloggers think this may be on?
If I lived in Australia, I'd be on a boycott. I'm with you in spirit.
I've been boycotting the Herald for some years now -- the picture comes courtesy of my elderly relatives who still read it.
It might be worth looking up the advertisers in that issue, particularly any international companies that have offices in the US.
A list of Fairfax publications not to buy:
Reminds me of a song from the South Park movie.
I've said it before here and I'll say it again: Buy a couple of Fairfax shares, go to the AGM and raise Hell!
NOTHING else practical will get their attention. A boycott of their advertisers is a worthy thing to do but too hard to organise on an effective scale.
D'oh, forgot to link the URL. Sorry 'bout that.
A list of Fairfax publications not to buy.
"A rabble, perhaps, but a rabble in arms."
-- B. Franklin
Goddam pencil-necked geeks. Too busy makin' citified bon mots to get your hands dirty. Here, hold this coat, you worthless sack of shit...
To boycott Fairfax publications, you had to buy them in the first place...
I saw that this morning and it disgusted me.
Is "trailer trash" a racist epithet? I think of it as similar to "white trash".
I pointed out that this was a very racist term to my mother this morning. And she replied that racism is only worrying if it is against a week group of people by a stronger group of people because the stronger group has the power to hurt the weaker group. I pointed out to her that this type of racist incitement caused people to crash aeroplanes into tall buildings, thereby causing great harm to those that the racism is directed against.
Good point, Jonny. I consider it wrong to tolerate some types of racism and not others.
I wonder if the SMH would be on a charge of causing offence if it was published in Sweden?
Sweden is very sensitive about minority groups and you can end up in gaol for offending them. Human rights are regarded as paramount and it is a right to not be offended. Swedish free speech must not impinge upon those rights.
Pro-human right anti-free speech 'activists' in Australia have been surprisingly unmilitant over this blatant villification of a minority group.
C'mon lefties; lets see you in collective action mode, take it to the UN.
Leaving aside the churlish aspects, the column was notable for at least showing some cultural understanding of America. Most foreign commentary on American culture is urrely ignorant of it.
When I'm Dictator of the World, I will require anyone who writes about America to read David Hackett Fisher's "Albion's Seed." Tim, if you haven't read it, I will buy it for you (on condition, of course, that you read it, and not just use it as a beer coaster. A quickie review would be nice, too.)
Don't ask me how "utterly" became "urrely."
Has a nice ring, though. "Urrely."
Rog, it wont work. as jonny mentioned before, 'trailer trash' cant claim discrimination because the powers that be, ie the lefty wankin' media and the tossers in the universities (like chris 'fuckin' shiels) think that po' white folks are the ones doing the oppressing.
I was all steamed up to fire a letter off to the SMH (Singing Marxist Hymns) then thought, "Why bother?" It will never be published, it will never be noticed and I don't buy the rag myself. No, the only way to make the Fairfax folks realize they have an editorial problem is to set up a rival publication. When you consider that over a thousand people a week are moving into the Sydney region and yet SMH's circulation is declining, the time is indeed ripe.
I have not purchased the SMH in many years, for reasons related to blatant distortion of the facts. In essence, the paper does not report news at all well.
This type of rather open and rancid anti-Americanism is also a reason not to buy it. I do routinely scan it (part of the job, their reporting on major resource/financial deals is passable, although I use it merely as a foil to the Australian Financial Review's data and the incomparably good IBISWorld), and have become inured to the consistent anti-US, pro-fascist/socialist bias . But this is structural. Astonishingly, the SMH themselves cannot see it and simply do not understand how people can possibly think it exists.
On seeing this article, I actually read it, and was not terribly impressed by it. The crude cartoon accompanying it is highly offensive, though. They will not see it that way.
Best thing about the SMH? Not buying it. Ever.
How about Mark Steyn for editor of SMH? Should provoke a stampede of sea-changers northwards to the Byron Bay Echo where they can rave on to their hearts content.
I was giggling crazily at that "I have a plan" clip until I got to this. Here in Southern Illinois, I am one of their "trailer-trash" Scots-Irish whose "unforgiving code of personal honor" they just trampled on. The bigoted, elitist, pommie bastards at the SMH deserve to be set on fire and allowed to burn all the way to Hell, where they can burn some more. I hope every Southerner and Midwesterner who hears about this goes out and convinces two new people to vote for Bush just so they can tell this "newspaper" what they inspired them to do.
Roscoe what the po whitefolk can do is sing the blues, just a ditty about their tough workin' lives, once you get on a stage lefties think you are next to Gough and take great stock in your political opinions. They will spend hours analysing your lyrics for the hidden deep meaning of life and then more time discussing various nuances with other intellectuals.
Play your cards right they will even send you money/sex and rave on about you to other lefties on their blogs who will also go out and buy your cd's/autobiography/clothes/art and other add ons.
Done properly the cash will be rollin' in and McMansion here we come.
Big business bein' blue.
>Has a nice ring, though. "Urrely."
I agree. It's a nice word; I think it should mean "too early." As in, "I wanted to get to the airport two hours before takeoff, but I was urrely."
I've been buying the SMH less frequently for the past few years as it lost its status as the respected broadsheet I grew up with. It's no big deal now to stop buying it altogether, which I've resolved to do. On the other hand, it covets its advertisers so a boycott of them would be more effective.
"Is "trailer trash" a racist epithet? I think of it as similar to "white trash"."
Oh come on people, as an American who actually grew-up in a trailer, please embrace your trashiness. There is much joy in a trailer park as a child; the unsupervised hours spent sniffing glue or playing "doctor", smoking cigs or pot behind the burned out trailer some low-rent hippie is squating in. Who needs movies or video games when you can watch the truck driver next door beat his wife after he returns home to find one of his drunk friends banging her.
Whats my point?
Trailer Trash exists in every culture in every country. Ever seen a "council flat" in Liverpool or London? I've never been to Australia but I will guarantee you there is some district within some town that houses similar people.
To be Jacksonian is NOT to be Trailer Trash or vice versa.
OK, the "cartoon" is offensive and the headline could be read that way but the column is spot on. The only use of the phrase "trailer trash" is when quoting Webb who uses the phrase approvingly as one description of the kind of Jacksonian American he considers himself. Hell, the column could practicaly have been lifted from DenBeste.
BTW, I'll be moving back to the US soon and I'll be living in (guess where?) a trailer.
The article is fine. It's the title and the cartoon they chose to accompany it that are insulting.
When I was a kid, my father taught me that the correct and only response to a slur on my heritage was "Kiss my ass." That's the message I sent to the editors of the SMH.
You know, it's all just prejudice.
BTW, I took the cartoon sheriff to be John Wayne, which introduced a Code of the West theme that didn't really work with the article.
To be Jacksonian is NOT to be Trailer Trash or vice versa.
In part, that's why it's disgusting. The Scots-Irish cultural bloc is very real, in fact, it roots into the only ancient divide this country has. We are the core culture of the South and Midwest, and to take that reasonably astute article and attach such a horrific headline and image to it is an appalling swipe at me, at my home, and at my family. It's as bigoted as something can get. You *cannot* say with a straight face that the SMH headline and image weren't meant to make fun of our values and culture, which tie so strongly to our heritage.
OK, the "cartoon" is offensive and the headline could be read that way but the column is spot on.
Yes, I thought the column was just fine, too. It was a decent, honest, respectful, fair-minded and astute attempt to delve into the mind of my portion of this culture.
Then the SMH higher-highers got involved, and look at what they did. They're the ones who acknowledged my samurai-like unforgiving code of personal honor, so I'm pretty sure I'm now entitled to a duel.
By the way, isn't anyone going to pull out the appropriate "Simpsons" quote?
As disgusting as the cartoon is, I took it as a riff on the Abu Ghraib idea: GWB humiliating Uncle Sam as the Abu Ghraib prisoners were humiliated.
I love any chance to discuss Molly Ivins.
How 'bout these titles Molly?
"Stupid people believe Molly"
"Gin producers love Molly"
"Muu-muu makers endorse Molly"
"Don't water down that drink!!!"
Or when Bush is re-elected your new book can be called "Make it a double"
When I lived in California, I paid 35 cents a day for the San Jose Mercury News. Then I moved to Oz, and found the SMH was something like four times as much. So I never subscribed (I'd always had a newspaper subscription up until then), but I would buy it occasionally.
I stopped buying it forever toward the end of September, 2001, when Gay Alcorn (Margo Kingston's sister, and at the time, the SMH's US correspondent) wrote, in a news story, not an opinion piece, that there was a whiff of McCarthyism in the air because of 9/11. This was less than a month after the event, mind. Her primary evidence for the chill wind of censorship: the (brilliant) September 26 edition of the Onion did not make fun of George Bush.
Molly "I'll fight Ted Kennedy for any bottle in this bar" Ivins
By God I'd pay real US dollars to see that. And I used to like Molly. I didn't know she drank, though this would explain much.
I agree, the article is good.
Still, the cartoon is disgusting, and that (plus the headline) is what sets the tone of the page layout. So even if Abu Gharib is riffed in it, I don't care, since we are actively prosecuting those soldiers who committed those crimes.
The cartoon is a typical leftoid talking point, twisting reality to fit their vision of the universe, and the consequences be damned.
Consequently, I stand by my words.
Yes, that would be the raised in the richest neighborhood in Houston (River Oaks), one of the richest in the U.S. for that matter, home of oilmen, lawyers, and various Arab oil sheiks. The Ivy league attending Molly Ivins. The pathetic, whiskey ravaged, sop-minded Molly Ivins who thinks its hilarious to call George Bush "shrub" and the like, yet grew up richer than he did, did many, many more drugs (and never really got sober) and grows ever more bitter and irrelevant by the day. Not all trailer trash springs from the trailer park, apparently.
Actually, her sterling advice to best friend Ann Richards on how to defeat G.W. in the first Texas governor's race ("Just keep calling him dumb!") lead to a landslide vitory for Bush, and left Richards a leathery old lobbyist for Phillip Morris, a match made in heaven if there ever was one. Ironically, Ivins is partially responsible for Bush's political career, no doubt this thought haunts her at the bottom of every whiskey bottle she throws down.
Thing is, the slurs Mr. Webb mentions, 'Rednecks. Trailer-park trash. Racists,' don't apply to modern day Jacksonians any more than the generalization that they are all Scots-Irish. You can find Jacksonians of all races, genders, and sexual persuasions. It’s part of our cultural heritage.
Correct. That was the point of Albion's Seed, one of the books that underlies Mead's theories.
I can't take credit for that observation. I'm compelled to admit that it was based on an article by Mr. Meade here
Thanks for the book tip, though. My copy is enroute.
As someone from the midwestern U.S. who has visited actual "trailer-trash" (which I guess in this case means anybody with a mobile-home) I was pretty angry with that article. The cartoon was also about as tasteless as it could be- enough has been said about it already here. Thanks again for the emai link. I finished my letter by saying that I had just two more words to say, then typed "John Howard" in super-huge font-size. Hehe- gotta hit 'em where they are most tender.
You have to have lived in a double-wide to truly appreciate one...An RC Cola and a Moon-Pie, in the living room of your double-wide, it doesn't get much better...
Now I'm wishing I had some boiled peanuts.
I dunno, the smirking Molly Ivans and those that attack any conservative or Republican probably won't feel bad if Bush wins. In fact, nothing will validate their frothing hate more than this. They need him to win so that they will have something to whine about.
I'm from the south but live in one of the regular permanent-type homes. Can I still want to kill me some terrorists?
The pathetic, whiskey ravaged, sop-minded Molly Ivins who thinks its hilarious to call George Bush "shrub"...
Actually, I think that's pretty funny too, and it's right handy for distinguishing him from his father. Somehow I don't think he'd mind a lot.
I have the first four, I think it is, of Molly's books, including Shrub. I'm not too surprised, but a bit disappointed, to find out that she grew up rich. She's always painted herself as an East Texas redneck, you see, but I figured that she was not the real deal. Rural and Southern kids who go to snooty schools (she went to Smith, which is not technically Ivy League) sometimes feel self-conscious before their snotty classmates, and play up their faux-redneckicity.
I, apparently, am going to have to represent the trailer-Americans here, seeing as how we actually lived in a house trailer for several years when I was a kid. It warn't no double-wide, neither. You had to be plumb rich to have one o' them.
I lived in a trailer with my dad and sister for a while too. Frankly, it sucked. But it was an ancient single wide with aluminum wiring that was constantly shorting out, no air-conditioning (this was in Miami, Florida, folks), and the neighborhood it was in was on the edge of an industrial area off the Miami River, right next to MIA; I got used to not being able to hear half the dialogue on tv programs I was watching, telling my friends to repeat their halves of the phone coversations I missed while 747s roared overhead, and the scent of airplane fuel. And then my sister managed to break the toilet tank, which leaked into the floor of the bathroom until it rotted out from under her one day while -- again -- she was on the commode. My father had an absolute genius for picking lousy places to live and my sister had an equivalent genius for destroying them.
But the newer double- and triple-wides are quite nice, though I don't recommend them as permanent residences. We have tornadoes in Florida too, even during non-hurricane-type storms.
What a hideous "cartoon." Cowboy George gettin' ready to bugger Uncle Sam, while a jetliner streaks toward a Twin Tower. What sort of sick mind comes up with this shit? Did the "artist" ever stop to think how hurtful this hideous slur is to Americans, and especially those who lost friends and family on 9/11?
Lefties, those self-annointed champions of the Common Man, are really just a bunch of rank snobs.
Oh, that Molly! She just doesn't quit.
"...A unit packed with the sons of the privileged trying to stay out of Vietnam"
Because Molly is a daughter of the privileged, she didn't need to worry about that silly old draft. She comes from a rich family in Houston and was educated at "units" like St. John's School and Wellesley. Money, privilege, an education at elite schools: our Molly's got it all.
A world-class hypocrite and blowhard.
My (Texan) parents made it very clear to me, while I was in prep school in 1972, that if I got drafted, I could pack my bags and report for duty, or I could enlist in the United States Navy, just like my Dad did in 1944. Not all privileged people pamper their children, and I think that includes the Bushes. After all, W did serve with distinction as an F-102 fighter pilot, and his privileged father was a WW2 hero.
Our Miss Molly can put a cork in the faux populism and sneering condescension.
Butch is right about Molly. She is a pretender who grew up with money and who has money and who doesn't appear to have eschewed it and given it away. Poor little rich kid and Columbia journalism grad Molly thinks she is advocating for the po' folk with her crude "hick" schtick and boilerplate Dem class warfare rhetoric. Molly's article that Tim cites is a study in condescending crass propaganda. Any "progressive" who would read her rude simplisme and believe it is infinitely more "clueless" than the Repubs whom Molly derides and chides with her snide asides.
Meanwhile, trophy husband to a billionairess Kerry attempts the noblesse oblige thing as he jets around with his perfectly coiffed hair, fixed face and handsome nails lecturing us on social responsibility and on how we should elect him King of America and Prince of Europe.
Ivins and Kerry correctly tell us that some money does not behave responsibly; it's just that they and their ilk are the guilty parties.
(BTW, Glad you would have gone, Butch!)
Stacey (I think) wrote Trailer Trash exists in every culture in every country. Ever seen a "council flat" in Liverpool or London? I've never been to Australia but I will guarantee you there is some district within some town that houses similar people.
Yes - but not nearly to the same extent. There are no 'trailer park cities' here. Can't speak for Sydney but in Melbourne a few people live on permanent on-site vans and cabins in caravan parks but their numbers would be in the 100s rather than 1000s.
Australia is a more level society than the USA and the UK - we don't have a disenfranchised underclass and neither do we have the enormous wealth.
I have a friend lives in Detroit and in conversations when he visits it is interesting to compared the situation of what might be termed the educated middle classes in both countries, i.e., the demographic that contributes to this blog. The demographic has a higher standard of living in the US, unquestionably - wealthier in material terms at any rate.
On the other hand we have many things here that the US doesn't have and which my friend greatly admires: safety, security, an egalitarian society, low crime, lack of ethnic division, no ghettos, no underclass and so on. Even Medicare And 4 weeks annual leave from Day One!
walterplinge, we don't have a "disenfranchised underclass" either. That is a myth spread about by Leftist aktivists who wanted to get a power base. The "poor" people in the US are as rich as some upper class folks in other countries are; no one here is so poor that they don't have access to medical care (you can write off huge medical bills and still be able to mortgage a nice five-bedroom here, no matter how bad your credit is someone is willing to finance you -- I know, I used to work for a mortgage company), and shelter -- with electricity, hot running water, television and hot and cold running social workers 24/7. The existence of some sort of starving underclass that is a deliberate product of the Eville Amerikkkan Market is bullshit.
And don't point at the "homeless" population to me. Most of the so-called "homeless" are what we used to call "bums," and if you ask me they had more dignity when they admitted that the reason they slept under bridges and couldn't hold down a job was because they just didn't want to. Now they are all Poor, Sad Victims™ of Bad Old Society, who Misunderstands them. As for homeless women, most of them are borderline retards who got hooked on drugs and loose sex, and in an earlier age would have been at least farmed out to maid-work and and dairy-cow-tending and other simple jobs that didn't take much mental effort. But along came Margaret Sanger and then Betty Friedan and suddenly every woman was a potential genius. I have news for you: it ain't so.
Anyway, I just wanted to let you know that the so-called "American underclass" doesn't exist except in the imaginations of some overheated academics.
Not trying to pick a fight here, but this has to be addressed:
we don't have a disenfranchised underclass and neither do we have the enormous wealth.
We don't have a "disenfranchised" underclass, either. We have a class of people who have disenfranchised themselves by apathy, and that's often pretty much why
they landed in the underclass.
I wouldn't take that for granted if we don't keep pushing forward against Islamofascism. You guys are, what, 100 miles from the largest Islamic nation on Earth? 40 years from now our grandchildren could just as easily be doing what our grandfathers were doing.
From the Australian government data I've seen, your violent/street crime rates (robbery, assault, car theft) exceed the US average several times over and have been trending upwards. A Dutch "International Crime Victimization Survey"placed Australia as the most dangerous country in the industralized world for these types of crimes, with Britain second, based on how many people are victimized. (The US was down below the top 10.) (Our murder is primarily drug and gang related, IE criminals killing criminals.) I'm not saying Australia is a warzone by any means, just that relative to the US, it's not likely that much safer than typical working/middle class conditions in the US. We've all
got it pretty good here in Western civilization, what with that "rule of law" and whatnot.
I live in what you might call a "trailer trash" area, and the worst crime I've ever been victimized by is when a local Democratic candidate put a yard sign on my lawn without my permission. I feel about as safe and secure as it gets, and I feel the same way walking around in Chicago. (Detroit may be another matter.)
Even Medicare And 4 weeks annual leave from Day One!
I'm self-employed. *grin*
Don't get me wrong, Australia's undeniably fantastic, and I'm aware I'm probably stepping on somebody's toes here, what with me being a foreigner on an Australian site, but I had to pipe up on those points. Everybody's shit stinks, as they say.
Not to pile on here, but there's more to be said about poverty and wealth and crime and opportunity here in America.
First, most of our poor people aren't that poor at all. The government keeps changing the official standard for "poverty." On average 48% of poor Americans own their own houses. Some 70% own cars, about 80% have color TVs, microwave ovens, and VCRs. The average living space of a poor family in the US is 1200 square feet. The average European family (i.e., the average of all families, including the rich) somehow manages to survive in just over 1000 square feet. Oh, and our underclass isn't disenfranchised at all; they can vote without hindrance. However, literacy helps in that regard, as well it should.
Second, America is a wealthy country because we're productive as hell. We're wildly productive, in fact. The Japanese rank second, if memory serves, producing about 80% as much per capita. We work hard - sometimes too hard - but we're producers. America has about 4% of the world's population and produces some 25% of the world's total economic output. There is a price to be paid for this: in workaholism, in unattended children, in unhealthy lifestyles. However, it is far from me to tell others how to live their lives.
Third, crime isn't nearly as big a problem as some people think. For example, London is far more dangerous than New York these days (incredibly). American law enforcement has learned a lot about reducing crime in recent years, including locking up criminals (Gasp!), and enabling trained, law-abiding citizens to carry concealed weapons. There are suburbs in West Sydney that are dangerous as hell, no? And I'm told that Lebanese gangs run the show in parts of Brisbane. Crime is everywhere. Fight back!
Fourth, there is a lot of opportunity to improve one's lot in life here in America. Life here can be very competitive, and it's not for everyone. But the opportunity here is simply amazing. America has created middle, upper-middle, and upper classes unlike any in history, far surpassing what England experienced during the Industrial Revolution. Most people who want to get ahead here, can. And what's wrong with being wildly successful? Most rich people I know work their butts off. As for me, I don't want to work 70 hours a week just for money, but I don't begrudge the rich their wealth. Why should I?
Finally, with regard to health care, there is undeniably a health insurance problem here in the US, especially with our third-party payment system. However, the biggest impediment to getting good health care is - may I have a drum roll, please? - choosing good doctors. Not all doctors are good at healing people, period. Almost anyone can obtain absolutely first-rate medical care here; you just have to look for it, and take care of yourself as well.
Aaron got it right: "We've all got it pretty good here in Western civilization, what with that "rule of law" and whatnot." Life is good; relax! (And vote for Bush.)
In the '60s, I remember using pages of a Sears catalog after dropping a chalupa in the family outhouse that was behind our white trash Scots-Irish hovel in rural Alabama.
In the '80s, I was qualified to supersonically deliver a tactical nuke to a Commie address in a F-4E Phantom II.
You see, to me, that's America. No matter how humble one's upbringing, you have an opportunity to learn how to nuke commies if you apply yourself.
100% in complete agreement. In the 80's I was qualified in the Navy to deliver the B57 depth bomb. Selectable kilotonnage of 10,2,or 4. I called it the Dr.Pepper nuke.
Wow, they almost got me pegged! I'm Scots-Irish, from a military family, and am currently serving as an infantryman in Iraq. I only lived in a trailer for 3 months of my life, though, and I voted straight-ticket libertarian in the 2000 election. Do I still get to be part of that demographic? Please?
Why start calling them "Scots-irish"?
The traditional designation is SCOTCH-Irish.
They are the descendants of Presbyterians from Scotland who were planted in Ireland (mostly northern) in the 17th century.
Large numbers moved to America (future US and Canada) in the 18th century.
Mostly they were called Irish, until the mid 1840s when Catholic Irish came fleeing the famine.
These established protestants did not want to be associated with the new, poor, ignorant, immigrant, catholic Irish, and stressed their Scottish heritage.
Both the Clinton and Bush families have Scotch-Irish in their family trees - as have many other presidents of the US.
Only Americans say 'Scotch' when they mean Scottish or Scot. Australians and British people are of the opinion that Scotch is a drink.