Friday, October 29, 2010

Cagle Columnist Slams Idaho

Posted By on Fri, Oct 29, 2010 at 1:16 PM

Here's one that might sting you a bit: would you call Burley, a desolate wasteland of Republican economic policies? This article from The Cagle Post, an Internet cartoonist and criticism website, suggests that Burley is a shit-hole. Literally.

Granted, it's not the biggest of towns, and ranks low on population—even in Idaho—but would you make the claim that small town, USA are misled flocks of "sheeple" blindly voting against their better interests?

Tina Dupuy's article is essentially a manifesto for voting liberal in the midterm elections—and claims Burley smells like dog feces. She writes that the reason the town is such a dump is the same one behind the bigger economic collapse in this country.

Burley is a town of less than 10,000 residents whose median annual income is $27,981, far below the state or national average. The center of Burley is a Walmart. Across the street is a Rent-a-Center, which is next door to a Check Cashing place. These three establishments are the jewels of capitalism.

Dupuy goes on to describe the mega-chain stores:

Walmart’s bottom line is always the bottom line. Profit trumps all at the giant box store to end all box stores. Walmart’s wages are so low you can only afford to shop at Walmart. A modern homage to sharecropping. Rent-a-Center allows their customers to pay high prices for low-quality appliances and furniture in turn for monthly payments. Check Cashing places—providing payday loans and charging outrageous amounts for emergency lending—are parasites of poverty.

Dupuy is essentially arguing that because of the corporate sector, Middle America has been squeezed dry by profit barons. Walmart drives out all other business, leaving only one place to work and shop, and making job mobility impossible. She also argues that with only one place to work and low wages because of the void of competition, the Rent-A-Center lets people put the appliances they can't afford in their homes, but leaves them tied to the business in a losing deal. As for the Check Cashing places? She says, sure, they'll give you a loan when you can't make your mortgage payment, but you're essentially mortgaging your soul to them.

The counter argument is that these businesses represent the free market, people are making these choices and businesses should be rewarded with growth.

She dips into Idaho government in her article, as well. She equates the smell of the town with a possible source, and cites a New York Times Freedom of Information request (NYT's report can be viewed here) reporting that the City of Burley has been cited for EPA violations 285 times, and has been deficient 12 out of 12 quarters when the report was published in 2008. She chocks that up to the pig farms scattered outside of town. Dupuy questions the establishment in the Gem State, considering that water and air quality are reviewed by Idaho's Department of Environmental Quality and the Department of Agriculture, and siting is determined by the counties.

Dupuy claims the "cut taxes no matter what", and "do away with regulation" rhetoric of the GOP is responsible for the 2008 economic meltdown, claiming that government ceded power to Wall Street and the banks, who left the economy a dried-out husk. Now, she claims, the backlash against government—a la the Tea Party—is a natural response, but that it's internalizing the problem.

It’s understandable—Americans are mad at the government for not working for us—now we want the government to go away. Get drowned in a bathtub. More government? Freer business? Each feels like putting a hot compress on a burn at this point.

The fact is we have a choice in the midterms between profiteers or bureaucrats. And all things being equal—at least the bureaucrats are accountable to “we the people.”

So is Idaho a tax-light business oasis, or a cesspool of squeezed-dry consumers?

Read all of Dupuy's opinions here.

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