Blue Girl has registered her amazement, and, dare I say it, her disgust at the obliviousness that Todd Akin showed as he assured his fans that he’s in the Senate race for the long haul. Many of us in Rep. Akin’s district have long been familiar with his somewhat dimwitted but frequently entertaining style of speech, but we also know that there’s a hardcore claque of Christian evangelical Missourians that think Brother Todd walks on water. The guy’s won his House seat six times after all, and this is far from his first outrageous public statement. It’s just the one that got the most attention and the first that occasioned any recoil from his currently rather jumpy and election-shy party.
Today’s overtly radicalized GOP has worked very well for folks like Todd Akin – a type of extremist I had thought obliterated years ago when we all stopped talking about the Birchers. This fact was brought home to me today when I read in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch about the disputed tax valuation of the Harrah’s casino in Maryland heights. This is County Assessor Jake Zimmerman’s second attempt to assign a higher value to the casino – and given the $610 million price it bought when it recently sold, he may have a stronger case this time around. As Zimmerman remarked, “When big entities like Harrah’s get special breaks, the rest of us wind up paying more.”
However, the attorney for the casino, Dan Peters, saw it a bit differently:
His voice rising, Peters countered: “What he (Zimmerman) is doing is Marxism. He is saying that he’s going to tax your restaurant based on what a successful business it is you have. If you have people going there it creates value, then h e’s going to put a price tag of $100 million on that restaurant and he’s going to shut that restaurant down.”**
Dramatic to say the least. Accurate? Not so much. If Zimmerman were imposing a Marxist solution (hard to do all on one’s lonesome), he would appropriate for the state the entire hypothetical restaurant – along with all the other restaurants. And every other business. Instead, what he has the temerity to suggest is that a business making big bucks should pay its fair share of taxes. It’s not even socialism – it’s just a basic question of fairness. I like to know that my neighbor and I are taxed based on a fair application of the system we have agreed to. The same goes for local businesses, even those that can afford to make big political donations.
I don’t know what a fair tax valuation for Harrah’s casino should be. But I do know that arguments against the proposed valuation don’t, by any stretch of the imagination, have anything to do with the Pavlovian trigger words the casino’s lawyer has used in order to snow the members of the Board of Equalization. I also know that his use of those words signals just how far into a fact-free fantasy world we have moved. In this right-wing Missouri of the mind, words don’t have real, denotational meaning; they’re nothing more than tools used to leverage an emotional response to vaguely understood concepts. This is the world in which Akin thrives and which we now have to navigate.
In the video Blue Girl posted, the operational fantasy construct is “freedom” from which Akin believes all good things, low taxation, minimal bureaucracy, etc. flow. Akin characterizes the difference between himself and Senator McCaskill as having to do with how great a quantity of freedom each will produce, the gist being that Akin’ll give us a measuring cup full, while McCaskill doles it out with a teaspoon.
What he fails to tell us is that the freedom he talks about is that of a totally unregulated market, a corporate class free to run roughshod over the American middle class, a group that has steadily been losing ground after each iteration of the Republican love affair with this lop-sided freedom that has been allowed to play out. It was Akin’s brand of freedom that in 2008 nearly crashed the world economy.
We aren’t out of the economic woods yet, but we are actually better off today than we were in 2009 by almost every objective measure. But, hey, who cares, as long as you’re for freedom and fight the good fight against Marxism, and that nasty old liberal hatred of God, you know better than objective facts.
** This quote appears only in the print edition version of the story. “Tax battle resumes over Harrah’s.” Aug. 24, 2012.