Written by Stephen Pizzo
I grew up with Peanuts characters. And now I live just a few miles from the home of Peanuts creator, the late Charles Shultz, in Santa Rosa, Calif. So, even though long gone, statues of Shultz’s characters surround me wherever I go in town. The regional airport here was renamed in honor of Shultz and FAA officials even renamed one the local IFR navigation nodes after Snoopy.
Why am I rattling on about Peanuts characters? Well, because Charles Shultz was more than a cartoonist. He was also a professor of human behavior. And so each October my thoughts turn to poor little Linus. It might be a good thing if more folks took a moment to think about Linus. Because – and this might come as a surprise to you — Linus had a lot in common with the Tea Party folk of today.
Let me explain. But first, for those of you too young to remember the Shultz/Peanuts era, a short course is in order.
Linus was, well, kind of insecure. He was seldom without his blankie and whenever unnerved by something – a not infrequent occurrence – his thumb would go straight into his mouth and the tattered blankie up to his cheek. That’s how Linus rolled.
But Linus was not entirely without hope. Every year he would plant a small pumpkin patch, tend it religiously and then, as Halloween approached, spend nights sitting among his pumpkins, waiting. Linus had an unshakable belief that, if he maintained a “sincere pumpkin patch,” the metaphysical patriarch of pumpkins – The Great Pumpkin – would appear bearing gifts for his sincerity.
“According to Linus, on Halloween night, the Great Pumpkin rises out of the pumpkin patch he deems the most “sincere”. The Great Pumpkin then flies through the air to deliver toys to all the good little children in the world. Apparently, one can cause the Great Pumpkin to pass him or her by merely saying “if he comes”, as opposed to “when he comes”. This could mean that the Great Pumpkin is likely to pass by anyone who doubts his existence. (Source)
According to Linus, the gifts brought by The Great Pumpkin were not gifts the sincere Patcher requested, ala Santa Claus, but rather what the Great Pumpkin felt were sincerely appropriate.
“Linus states that Santa gives away toys because it’s his job and it’s expected of him, whereas the Great Pumpkin gives away toys because he feels he is fulfilling a moral obligation.”
Well, I don’t have to tell you that, year after year, October after October, Linus’ confidence in the Great Pumpkin’s largess resulted in squat. Rather than chalking it up to mistaken confidence, Linus saw it as his fault, his failure to appear sincere enough.
And so, each year Linus would do the same thing, expecting a different result.
Back then Linus was alone in his psychosis. Today that pumpkin patch is crowded every October, as conservative voters gather to await the coming of today’s version of the Great Pumpkin. Their pumpkins are tax cuts for the rich, and they believe that if they sacrifice enough public services on the altar of tax cuts for the rich, The Great Ones will trickle-down gifts upon them — to wit “good paying jobs.” (What? Like you were expecting cash?)
It has been so ever since the first Great Pumpkin of the Right, Ronald Reagan, first appeared revealing the simplistic Gospel of Ron;
* Government – Bad.
* No-holds Barred Free Enterprise – G-o-o-d.
* Taxes – Bad.
* Tax-cuts – G-o-o-d.
And so it came to pass. Every election cycle dimwit voters are assured that, if they are just sincere enough about “cutting the growth of government by cutting taxes even more,” the Great Ones will appear and shower them with the gifts of middle-classdom.
But, how to appear sincere enough — the Pumpkin Patch People asked?
Well first don’t expect the Great Ones of American finance and industry to lift a finger to help. And don’t be asking them for an advance on their promises, or even proof they exist. Your sincerity will be measured, at least in part, by how much you prove you believe the The Great Ones should be left alone. (Oh, and, BTW, that includes keeping your distance too.)
Finally, (this one is key) don’t be hitting them up for any share of their wealth. The promise of “gifts for above” decidedly does NOT include money — at least not any of their money.
The Pumpkin Patch People are repeatedly warned that taxing the Great Ones is like spraying their entire pumpkin patch with herbicide. Then who will be left to shower them with gifts?
So each election the Pumpkin Patch voters ever so sincerely tend their anti-taxation victory gardens, vying with each other to be the most sincere anti-goverment, anti-regulation and, above all else, anti-tax Patcher. .
And so, beginning with the prophet Ron, The Great Ones got their tax cuts. Then they got more, then yet more. Hope among the Pumpkin Patchers has been, Linus-like — unwavering. Even though, year after year after year, The Great Ones fail to deliver. And, rather than being showered with gifts for their unflagging sincerity, the Pumpkin Patch folk — and everyone else for that matter who — get nothing but another year older and deeper in debt.
In fact now millions of them can no longer tend their garden plots, since they’ve been repossessed by their lenders.
And those “well-paying jobs” that were part of the deal? Well, apparently there are far more sincere Pumpkin Patchers in China and India, because they got those jobs instead.
Then, as tax revenue dropped like a baby grand piano tossed off the Empire State Building, the nation found itself — buried in trillions, upon trillions, upon trillions of dollars of debt — owed mostly to those countries that proved to The Great Ones that they more-sincerely believe in letting The Great Ones be Great Ones — no matter what.
So, what do the Great Ones have to say about their failure to deliver to their domestic Patchers? Well, of course, it’s our own fault. We have simply not shown a sufficient degree of sincerity. Taxes are still too high, they whine. Cut them even more and The Great Ones assure us they will — eventually — appear. Refuse to cut taxes again, they warn, and The Great Ones will never appear trickling down gifts upon them like golden showers.
And- believe it or not — a shockingly large number of Pumpkin Patchers, even those now newly impoverished, are back out in the fields this October, pitchforks in hand, ever-so sincerely working to please The Great Ones with a fresh round of tax cuts.
Which inevitably reminds me of another Peanuts character, Lucy. Lucy was is Karl Rove in drag. Because if Lucy knew anything, she knew a sucker when she saw one. And American conservative voters are USD Choice suckers,
Stephen Pizzo is the author of numerous books, including “Inside Job: The Looting of America’s Savings and Loans,” which was nominated for a Pulitzer. His web site is News For Real.