Current Magazine Explores Tea Party Realities in Florida

Posted on the 25 February 2013 by Kzawadzki @kzawadzki put out an article this week exploring the disturbing, funny-if-it-weren’t-actually-true, consequences of Tea Party influence on the state of Florida. It’s a good read – I know it won’t convince certain people either way, but it’s a reminder that not everything that looks good on paper is actually good in practice, and there are consequences to budgetary cuts. The reality of Tea Party influence in Florida is a grim one.

Now, on to my thoughts:

The story at the beginning about the family unable to get the assistance needed to bring their mentality-disabled son home from the nursing home to have a, you know, semi-normal life because the governor of Florida rejected Obamacare funds was heartbreaking. But I know that there’s a human impact to everything so I’m not going to belabor tugging at your heart-strings too much. But do see Page 1 of this story.

So then moving on, I got to Page 2, and I know that everyone’s human experiences is different so I’m sure people will find things to rebut in every story, especially if they themselves haven’t been or felt harmed by a policy. But this part just got me mad on a purely intellectual level:

The I-4 corridor between Tampa and Orlando is one of the most congested highways in Florida, dominated by semis and the occasional billboard advertising emergency room wait times at local hospitals, most of which are owned by the governor’s former company, HCA.

The state has long proposed a high-speed rail line for the 84-mile stretch—the project, for which land had already been purchased and construction permits issued, was considered the most shovel-ready in the country when the US Department of Transportation awarded Florida $2.4 billion in stimulus funding in 2010. The state transportation department estimated that the rail line, envisioned as the first major segment of a high-speed corridor between Orlando and Miami, would have created nearly 50,000 new jobs at a time when the state’s unemployment rate was hovering around 12 percent.

Tea party groups, however, saw a Trojan horse for creeping socialism, and with the help of the conservative Reason and Heritage foundations, they set to work killing it. Conservative activists had already beaten back an unrelated Tampa-area ballot initiative that would have raised a penny-per-dollar sales tax for light rail, saying it was laying the groundwork for Agenda 21, a United Nations sustainable-development plan that they believed would “transfer American sovereignty to various tentacles” of the UN.

Tea partiers lobbied Scott to reject the Tampa-Orlando high-speed rail line on much the same grounds, and the governor obliged, arguing that the jobs it would create were “short-term” and the state would be on the hook for much more spending down the road. (Private companies had promised to pick up the tab for any cost overruns or operating losses—and the Tampa Tribune discovered that Scott’s own transportation department had projected that the train would turn a profit.) Scott sent $2.4 billion back to Washington, a decision that one of Florida’s Republican members of Congress, John Mica, said “defies logic.” The Obama administration turned around and gave $1 billion of the money to California.

Are you fucking kidding me? Only here in the U.S., and only with the Tea Party and paranoid mentality, would high-speed rail infrastructure investment be considered a threat to national sovereignty and categorically rejected.

I would say you can’t get dumber than that, but I know for a fact, you can.

Sure enough, in this piece alone, there’s ample evidence that it only gets worse with the Tea Party:

Tea partiers have also risen up to oppose the tyranny of septic-tank inspections. In 2011, activists persuaded the Legislature to overturn a 2010 law that required old and potentially leaky septic systems to get inspected every five years to prevent human waste from seeping into the water supply. “They don’t realize the damage done when you remove revenue from the budget,” says Pafford, the Democratic legislator from Palm Beach, whose district has seen record flooding in the past year. “We defecate in the water we drink because we don’t want government control. At the same time we offer 18 bills on whether a woman can have an abortion. There are a lot of people who miss Gov. [Jeb] Bush—that’s where we are.”

It used to be that a few government expenditures were immune from partisan disagreement—cops, potholes, mosquito control. But not anymore. Most of Florida’s mosquito abatement work is done at the local level, where independent taxing districts are responsible for the bulk of the eradication efforts. These districts have become targets of tea party wrath. Last year, a trio of conservative activists dubbing themselves the “Mosquitoteers” challenged several members on the Anastasia Mosquito Control Board in St. Augustine. They campaigned on a plan to cut mosquito control taxes and the district’s budget and bought a billboard reading: “Smash mosquitoes and the friends of Obama.” Never mind, notes board member Vivian Browning, that the seats are nonpartisan: “Mosquitoes, they don’t care if you’re Republican, Democrat, or independent. They can eat you, infect you, kill you, regardless of party.” One of the Mosquitoteers, a reserve sheriff’s deputy, defeated a University of Florida biology professor who is an expert in mosquito-borne diseases—a concern in a state that has regular outbreaks of West Nile virus and has seen an uptick in dengue fever.

My God… Where do they come up with this shit? I mean, really, these people’s messed-up version of the world could give even the writers of The Onion a run for their money. Clearly, you just can’t make this shit up anymore, because for these people, it’s not made-up at all. What’s scarier is that they’re now an active and influential group among those in power. At least it seems the governor of Florida is making a bit of a U-turn now, but reversing such obvious misrule could take awhile.

I try to respect people of all views other than fascists and communists who want dictatorships, death, murder, etc. But I have a hard time respecting people who instigate stupidity and insanity as governing policy – and I cannot in good conscience lend them my support, either.


Back to Featured Articles on Logo Paperblog