A free-market utopia

by | Sep 9, 2013 | Editor's Blog, NC Politics, NCGA | 4 comments

In his Sunday column in the N&O, Rob Christensen laid bare the problems with the Republican agenda in North Carolina. The rationales for many of their actions during this past session of the legislature are based on falsehoods. As I’ve said before, they are breaking what works and ignoring what’s broken.

But the goal of the Republicans was never to fix anything. The goal is an ideological transformation of North Carolina. They want to turn the state into a free-market utopia where competition solves all our problems and the 1980’s mantra “Greed is good” replaces “Esse quam videri” as the state motto.

They’re fixing schools that aren’t broken by starving them of resources, because really, aren’t they a drain on people who can afford to send their kids to private schools? They’re shifting the tax burden to the poor and middle class because those are the lazy suckers who use government services the most and everybody should pay their own way instead of depending on handouts. You know, builds character.

Republicans have been saying government is broken but never specifying how. Pat McCrory tells us he was left a financial mess with the bad budgets of his predecessor, but Bev Perdue didn’t write those budgets. Thom Tillis and Phil Berger did. McCrory and Health and Human Services Secretary Aldona Wos keep telling telling us about the shortfalls in Medicaid but miss the fact that they were caused primarily by the economic collapse and then made worse by the Republican legislature cutting $350 million from  the Medicaid budget.

However, the government-is-broken argument had more than a grain of truth and Democrats were wrong to deny it. There was plenty that needed fixing and they should have defined the parameters. State government was full of cronyism and silence from Democrats allowed Republicans to address that problem by adding 1,000 more patronage positions. Our tax structure is outdated and we took an unnecessarily hard hit during the recession. But instead of fixing it while maintaining its progressive nature, Republicans are moving beyond trickle-down to a system that will starve state government (i. e., schools, health care and environmental protections), offer huge tax cuts to our wealthiest citizens and likely increase the disparity between the haves and have-nots.

The difference, though, between the Democrats and Republicans could not be more clear. Democrats believe that we are all in this together and those who have done well should help those who are struggling. We believe in the collective responsibility for educating our children and young people, because our future is dependent upon their success.

In contrast, Republicans believe in the power of the individual and nobody owes anybody anything. The market will solve all our problems and survival of the fittest will weed out the weak links, like all those folks who choose to live in rural North Carolina. And if their rationale for getting to that place is not quite true, well, that’s just politics.


  1. Paleotek

    Thanks for an interesting analysis. Of course, the litany of sins pretty much writes itself. I’m old enough to remember when Republicans could actually scold Democrats about economics, but right now the Rs seem firmly committed to a sort of fairy tale economics, where if you do the Right Things, Good Things Happen. Never mind that the central precepts of the worldview are thoroughly discredited, the 1% have paid enough salaries in think tanks and academia to keep flogging dead horses with no apparent shame.

    The current hyper-individualism of the rural radicals seems inherently self-defeating. Nevermind that the optics are just terrible: the economic engines of the state are Charlotte and Raleigh, with Winston-Salem, Greensboro, Wilmington, Asheville, and Fayetteville playing lesser roles. The NCGA seems determined to infuriate the urbanites, and the young, while playing to an older, poorer, rural base. Um, correct me if I’m wrong, but that seems pretty short term. Are they not thinking past next month? Crazy is too simple an explanation, stupid isn’t right either. Which leads me to believe that the Republican leadership of the NC must be thoroughly deluded. They’re believing their own spin, a widely agreed upon recipe for disaster.

    Pass the popcorn!

    • Thomas Mills

      There’s a theory floating around Republican circles right now that they can continue as an all white party if they can just get more white people to vote. The story line goes that they need to be more conservative to attract these non-voting whites. It’s not realistic but there are still a number of influential Republicans peddling it. It seems those in NC are most susceptible. The GOP leadership was sure Romney was going to win all the way until election day. Turns out their polling model was flawed. But that’s the mentality. If we believe it hard enough, maybe it will come true. “There’s no place like home. There’s no place like home.” And whoosh! it’s 1952 again.

      • Paleo Tek

        You know, that theory fits the data. They’re planning to double down on “traditional values” aka, the Culture Wars. The bad news for them is that their side of the Culture Wars is viewed as bigotry, racism, and misogyny by a solid majority of the younger demographic. They have already politicized the minority community. Their task will be to bring out non-engaged white voters, which while not impossible, IS likely impossible without further antagonizing younger voters, independents, moderates, and the urban masses. That’s some tough math they have cut out for them. But the big disappointment I suspect they have coming couldn’t happen to a more deserving bunch of mean old white guys.

  2. Teacher

    Free market? Not in Republican run Iredell county. County owned and operated business subsidized with tax dollars competes with private enterprise. This is why education funds are not used for books or teachers in this county. Iredell county is paying hundreds of thousands per year to pay off the debt of thier golf course which was funded with a school bond. Cronyism at its worst. Read the article and you decide:

    Monday, October 27, 2008
    Earlier this year, Iredell County commissioners voted unanimously to pay $4.75 million for 189 acres of land adjacent to the county landfill – $3.25 million more than the land sold for just two years earlier, and about $3 million more than county assessors have since determined it is worth.


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