, Newburyport, MA


April 25, 2014

The pursuit of unnatural happiness

To the editor:

Beverly Brown’s April 15 letter (“Why do people vote against their best interests?”) convincingly lists reasons we need to change this paradox.

Here’s why the paradox exists, a two-part answer to her headlined question:

1: Pre-Lottery Success Disorder:

Remember “Joe the Plumber” in 2008? Nowhere near the income bracket that paid slightly higher rates prior to President Bush’s disastrous tax cuts, Joe figured he would someday get rich and hoped to avoid the rates when the country prospered — rates Democrats planned to reinstate.

What the pundits then dubbed “aspirational voting” dates back to America’s infancy.

According to a 2010 biography of Henry Clay, Kentucky’s “small farmers stood to prosper if … slavery went away,” but the new state’s referendum overwhelmingly retained it and the largest plantation owners, the 1 percent if you will, enjoyed lives of luxury while everyone else lived day-to-long-hour-day.

Reformers “had not reckoned on a fearsome obstacle to emancipation, … the universal desire for lofty social rank. Slaves were badges of white affluence and those ... who had never owned a slave coveted that.”

Imagine applying for a bank loan with the claim that you’ll repay by winning the lottery, and the banker will laugh in your face.

But not as hard as the 1 per cent laugh at us every November.

2: Cynicism Surplus Disorder or All-the-Same Syndrome:

In a nutshell, Democrats say that government can be a force for good while Republicans want markets to determine everything. Hence, if government fails, Democrats appear wrong and Republicans right.

In 1994 Republicans realized that they could exploit a public that pays little attention to the details of day-to-day politics by doing all they can to make government fail — filibusters, obstructionism, knee-jerk “no” votes to legislation they themselves had supported.

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