The NYT article on Chisago County continues to nag at me – not sure why. I guess the major mystery to me is why these folks – who are on the edge of existence – are so determined that raising taxes on the likes of the Kochs is bad – are taking that position. They don’t seem to have much stake in the system – they pay essentially no taxes and many of the interviewees are one carrot away from starvation or malnutrition – and actually are net beneficiaries of the safety net. Yet they attack the government and taxes like it would affect them. Why?I think I can offer an answer to that. It's a two-parter. Part One I blogged about a couple of weeks ago (though I am too lazy to track down the cite). Call it the rule of "thank God I'm not like other men." More precisely: I may be down, but I'm not as far down as they are--"they" being anyone who seems more marginal and beleaguered than I am. Why the most vicious racism came not from the planters (who could be polite about it) but from the white trash, many of whom had barely seen a slave, much less actually owned one. I'm recalling a scene in a novel--I'm betting Jerzsy Kosinski--where he hero wakes up and finds himself in a cattle car on the way to a concentration camp. Worse than that, he is among Jews. What am I, a good Catholic, doing in a herd of Jews? Note, this is what passes for humor in Kosinski.
The corollary flip side--part two--is that I like to associate myself with the hottest alpha in the pack. Partly this is pure instrumentalism--he might take care of me, or at least keep me from being hurt. But more, I think, it is just a matter of display. You think I am a simple tattoo artist? Hah! I am one of Koch's boys. So no matter what you think, same answer as before: I am not like other men.nbsp;