Republicans love to complain that the world doesn’t like them, everyone is against them, that conspiracies abound from sea to shining sea.The latest conspiracy involves the release of the unemployment figures, which come out once a month. The 7.8% unemployment figure was a shock to Republican strategists and pundits, who have been complaining ever since the president got into office that unemployment should be below 8%.
Now that the unemployment rate has fallen below that supposedly critical 8% level, Republicans are howling that it must be a conspiracy. The figures must be cooked, there is no other way that the figures could have improved that much in such a short time. Not only that, it is conveniently just in time for the election. For the Republican mind, the only possible reason for such a dramatic improvement must be that the current administration cooked the books.
This is something that Republicans just cannot comprehend, that the people that staff government bureaucracies, the machinery of the state could possibly be hard working and non-partisan enough to produce anything of value. Anything they produce must by its governmental nature be suspect, especially if it falls outside Republican expectations and desires.
My experience of American governmental departments is mostly indirect – dealing with the U.S. Immigration Service, formerly known as the INS, and the IRS, among other smaller agencies. Like those in many nations, they have their bureaucratic inanities and frustrations. My own residence took a mind-blowing amount of time and vast sums of money. This is true wherever you go, and whichever bureaucratic nation you deal with. It sometimes appears that the main aim of Congress is to create labyrinthine bureaucratic contortions just to weed out those people that cant stay the course. I will readily admit that without my faithful partner-in-chief, I would have been back in Cape Town gazing at Table Mountain.
Be that as it may, I also worked with a certain tax agency, who shall remain nameless, and my experience was anything but what one would imagine. These were hard working people whose remit it was to ensure that the maximum amount of tax was paid to the state. If that meant instituting a great number of penalties, and ensuring that every penny of tax due was paid, then so be it, and this is what they did. Very efficiently. I once complained that it was unethical to heap various penalties onto taxpayers. To my mind, they should pay only the tax due. There were ten penalties that could be levied on payers, each one ten percent of tax due, plus interest on the penalty and taxes due. They smiled, agreed, and continued discussing penalties.
The point was, these people did their job extraordinarily well. They were given a job to do, and it did not matter to them that they were working for the state. They did the best job that they were employed to do, just as millions of people across this country do every day. For my part, I did the same. As a contractor, I did my job to the best of my ability.
It is the same for those people that work for the Treasury, or for the Bureau of Labor Statistics – the people that produce the unemployment figures. They are not there to try and change elections, or ensure that one candidate wins over the other. These are honest, hard working Americans, who follow the rules they are set and produce the figures they are supposed to, in great secrecy and with integrity, and no politician is going to get in the way.
Conservatives just cannot accept that the world operates in a certain way. They don’t want it to operate that way, and any facts at variance with their ideology will be ripped to shreds regardless of the evidence. It is reminiscent of the evolution debate. Conservatives want the biblical tale in Genesis to be the absolute tautological truth. They don’t want to know about evolution, they will not listen to the fact of evolution because it does not cohere with what they consider to be their inerrant document. It just sends them into screaming fits to be told that millions of scientists, geologists, archeologists, botanists, physicists, chemists around the world are busily demonstrating that evolution is a fact. With mountains of facts, observations, principles, laws and experiments. Not because they want evolution to be true. They don’t have a choice in the matter. Species either evolve or they do not. The facts are quite clear. Species Evolve.
The unemployment figures may be inconvenient for Republicans and benefit the President. That really is irrelevant. It could just as easily have been the other way around. You can accept the fact or not, it does not change the fact. Romney said it himself, you can’t make your own facts. Naturally, he got his facts wrong, but that is another debate.
In some ways, conservative attitudes remind me of the attitudes of some in the Middle East. When 9/11 happened, they came up with all sorts of implausible explanations. It wasn’t Muslim terrorists, it was the Mossad, or the CIA, or President Bush, or a nebulous conspiracy, anything but the truth.
What they believe, or we believe, or the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem believes is irrelevant. All that matters are the facts and the evidence for those facts. We can explain them, we can spin them, but they are still the facts. Conservatives are far too quick to look for conspiracies, for plots against them, reds under the beds, black power undermining communities, socialists and liberals infesting society and communists in Congress. Could it be because they love secrecy and opacity in their own ideology, so they see it everywhere?
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