In the Land of Self-Defeat – The New York Times

Posted: October 7, 2019 at 9:41 am


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Almost everyone I spoke with feels that the county overspent during the gas boom years, and that the bill is coming due. We got wasteful and stupid, and now we have to go back to common sense, Corrine Weatherly, who owns a dress- and costume-making shop, Sew What, told me. Ms. Weatherly also runs the county fair, and so she shows up to almost every Quorum Court meeting.

This worldview will continue to affect national elections. The most dominant news source here is Fox News, which I think helps perpetuate these attitudes. Theres another element, too: For decades, the dominant conservative theory of politics is that government should be run like a business, lean and efficient, and one of the biggest private employers here is Walmart, where Mr. James was working when he was elected.

Theres a prevailing sense of scarcity its easy for people who have lived much of their lives in a place where $25 an hour seems like a high salary to believe there just isnt enough money to go around. The government, here and elsewhere, just cant afford to help anyone, people told me. The attitude extends to national issues, like immigration. Ms. Hamilton told me shed witnessed, in Texas, a hospital being practically bankrupted by the cost of caring for immigrants and said, I dont want my tax dollars to be used to pay for people that are coming here just to sit on a government ticket. Mr. Widener, who described himself as more libertarian than anything else, told me his heart goes out to migrant children who are held in detention centers at the border, but he blames the parents who brought them to this country.

Where I see needless cruelty, my neighbors see necessary reality.

The people left in rural areas are more and more conservative, and convinced that the only way to get things done is to do them yourself. Especially as services have disappeared, they are more resentful about having to pay taxes, even ones that might restore those services.

And many of those who want to live in a place with better schools, better roads and bigger public libraries have taken Ms. Hamiltons suggestion theyve moved to places that can afford to offer them. This includes many of my peers from high school who left for college or jobs and permanently settled in bigger, wealthier cities and towns around the region.

Over the summer, after the uproar about Ms. Singletons pay, library supporters gathered signatures for a special election that would have slightly increased the amount of county property taxes collected for the library, helping it pay off the new building and stave off closing altogether. It set off a new furor, even though the increase was estimated to cost about $20 a year for properties assessed at $100,000, and many people have properties valued at much less than that.

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In the Land of Self-Defeat - The New York Times

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October 7th, 2019 at 9:41 am

Posted in Self-Help