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January 13, 2014

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Since 1981 when Reagan was inaugurated, the American right has pushed hard for huge tax cuts for the rich (taxpayers in the middle and lower brackets saw their taxes increase). There was increased government spending, too. Some of that was defense, but a lot of it is the kind that Republicans now reflexively oppose on principle. The National Debt tripled during those years and Reagan acceded to tax increases each year of his term following 1981. None of this prevented his elevation to secular sainthood. Through the misty memory lapses of hagiography, the American right transformed his decidedly so-so presidency into an epic crusade that proved for once and for all that tax cuts favoring the rich are a surefire tonic for what ails humanity. If you're a Republican, chances are you believe this fairy tale. It's part Joel Osteen, part Harold Hill, part Montgomery Burns, and complete bullshit.

Arizona led the nation in its cultish devotion to this nonsense. Year after year, taxes had to be cut so the rich would bless the rest of us with "jobs". The public square shrank accordingly, the rich became richer, Arizona's economy became even more reliant on homebuilding, and we started dropping in the national rankings in terms of median income. Today, it's comfortably fixed in the bottom quintile with other right-wing states like Mississippi and Alabama. During this time, Arizona began hemorrhaging middle-class jobs, particularly in the tech sector. Motorola ceased to be the state's leading employers, and as with so many other loser states, it's now become Walmart.

This helps explain why voodoo economics really is magical. People actually voted for this! They wanted Arizona to become even more hobbled by ideology and a ginned-up culture war. And not only do they vote, they're obsessed with a political religion that tells them Arizona could be more righteous if only Marxists like Barack Obama were defeated in a cosmic war between good (e.g., the Koch Brothers, Donald Trump, the Waltons, et al) and evil (the 51% of America that votes the wrong way).

Although this psychosis is national, the purest manifestation is Arizonan. It's not going away anytime soon although nature's death panels are inexorably eroding the GOP base. Alas, there are plenty of others from snow states ready to take the place of our dearly departed. They're white, they're well off, they're entilted, and, inevitably, they're moving to Arizona.

I have to say, first, that having grown up in Omaha, I would have moved anywhere else for the weather, including Boston. Second, in response to Soleri's excellent post, it appears that even Reagan devotees are beginning to recognize that trickle down economics doesn't work for them. That explains the ongoing shift in the defense of it from economic efficiency to simple morality. Joel Osteen is exactly the right figure to cite. Previously the message was that everyone had to coddle the rich because eventually it would pay off for all. Now the message is that material success is a direct result of God's favor. In the new New Testament, perhaps Jesus will say, "Truly I say to you, it is harder for a poor man to get into the Kingdom of Heaven than it is for a camel to go through the eye of a needle."

Damn, Soleri. You nailed it. Dare I say, that post is Talton-esque.

"(the 51% of America that votes the wrong way)"

IMO 92% of America votes the wrong way.

Chris, I thought John Calvin took care of that:
"Previously the message was that everyone had to coddle the rich because eventually it would pay off for all. Now the message is that material success is a direct result of God's favor. In the new New Testament, perhaps Jesus will say, "Truly I say to you, it is harder for a poor man to get into the Kingdom of Heaven than it is for a camel to go through the eye of a needle."

Now for some more cheerful news - this is from a professional (and good weather) forecaster.

The California draught is going to get worse – possibly the worst in history. The drought would amplify an already hot forecast for the Southwest.

So, does this mean that the Maricopa County GOP have gone Full Metal Tea Party, or would that be assigning them a level of sanity that they do not deserve?

Perhaps this is what's got them in a rage:

John McCain Wants Congress to Investigate NSA

How mavericky. Always the low-hanging fruit, I'd say, except that it does piss off the authoritarian GOP base.

Jon,

I just want to make clear that the advertising you refer to being shown in Chicago is one piece of a multi-phased approach toward hitting key markets. Those ads will run only January-March, with the majority of advertising spent on messaging shown nationally that focuses on Arizona's key differentiators. Trust me, the lack of depth associated with a weather-focused campaign was obvious to all.

Most of your other comments are spot on, as usual. Thanks.

Thanks, James.

A return comment from a university educated professional white republican I sent this blog.
"Poor man is shoveling excrement against the tide."

I loved the meme, not only for its humor value (It IS funny), but for how it captures AZ culture at its finest: plastic infrastructure and bragging about the weather. However, the era of six months of nice weather is long gone. I find it deeply ironic that some of my friends in Phoenix imagine that the weather here in Denver is somehow lethal. Truth is, most days are sunny, and while it does indeed get cold, it's interspersed with plenty of days in the 40's and 50's. And I have a vibrant downtown, cool neighborhoods, lots of ethnic diversity, a culture that values the environment and historic preservation, and decent light rail. I miss my friends, yes, but while no place is perfect, I no longer feel the daily frustration that marked my last 10 years in Phoenix.

Indeed, Denver is the new Portland.


Per http://www.demographia.com/dhi.pdf

Some interesting numbers: median household income.
Some Western cities:
Denver 62,600
Seattle 66,900
Portland 58,000
Phoenix 52,300
Los Vegas 50,500
Dallas/FW 58,000
Houston 57,000
El Paso 41,100
Austin 60,500
San Jose 92,400
San Fran 76,300
Salt Lake 61,200

Other Arizona:
Yuma 40,200
Lake Havasu 35,600
Tucson 46,600
Prescott 44,900

Mega Cities:
Phoenix 52,300
Atlanta 55,600
Miami 47,500
Chicago 60,400
NYC 65,200
Boston 73,100
Detroit 51,200
LA 58,300
Phil 61,200

Phoenix’s numbers not nearly as crappy as I was expecting. Of course, the actual numbers could be worse. How do you attach an income to people who technically don’t exist (illegals)?

BTW: Birmingham 47,600. A very bipolar city. Many doing very well, but way too many poor. No one really knows what to do about this situation. At least something that will actually work.

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