I’ve seen the future of the USA. It is less than two hours by car from my home in metro Phoenix. I go there often and can’t wait to return home.
The streets are in disrepair, homeless people wander about, homes are clad in security bars, commercial and residential areas look tired and shabby, residents look just as tired and shabby, grotesque tattoos cover more square feet of skin than just about anywhere else, industries that make stuff of real value are as rare as Republicans, and society is divided into the “haves” who work for the government and the “have nots” who do not.
It is Tucson, Ariz., a city of a half-million people, surrounded by wealthier suburbs of another half-million people. It is Arizona’s most leftist city. It has a median household income that is considerably lower than the income in mostly conservative Phoenix, and it has a significantly higher percent of people living in poverty.
Tucson residents, including the 10,000 employees and 39,236 students at the University of Arizona, don’t see the connection between their politics and the condition of the city. (Does anyone at the university see a problem with having one employee for only every 3.9 students?)
Their politics can be seen in their bumper stickers. Tucson has more inane left-liberal bumper stickers than just about any American city but Berkeley, Calif. The most popular stickers are those endorsing Obama, which outnumber those endorsing Romney by ten to one.
The second most popular bumper sticker is the one that reads “Coexist.” And the most popular place to affix it is on the back of a Prius.
A better place to affix it would be on the foreheads of those who use the banal sentiment to signal to fellow tribal members of the Gushy-Mushy Tribe that they are sensitive, caring and open-minded--that they value diversity, multiculturalism, solar power, and one-world government. I fantasize about them traveling with the sticker affixed to their foreheads to Sudan, Afghanistan, or, closer to home, the lawless Sierra Madres of Mexico, where their coexistence would last about five minutes.
Below in bold is a sampling of some of the other bumper stickers that represent the politics of the city.
Women Ignited Now
I don’t know what feminist cause this advocates. Maybe it advocates the burning of women at the stake. But wouldn’t that contribute to global warming?
Humanitarian Aid Isn’t a Crime
This is in reference to the food and water stations established by self-described humanitarians in the Sonoran desert for illegal immigrants to use on their way from Mexico to Tucson or Phoenix. A counter bumper sticker from the right would read: Illegal Immigration Is a Crime. But bumper stickers aren’t going to solve the problem of illegal immigration and the massive social and economic problems that it causes.
I Could Be Illegal
This was on the back of a Prius, which makes no sense considering that Mexican coyotes stuff illegal immigrants by the dozens in trucks and vans without food or water for transport across the state. I have yet to hear a news report of them being transported in a Prius.
You Can’t Be both Pro-Life and Anti-Zombie
I have no idea what this means.
If You Surrender to Hate, You’ve Already Lost
But it’s okay to hate conservatives, capitalism and fossil fuels.
Well Behaved Women Rarely Make History
This was on the back of a Prius. I wonder if the owner admires Sarah Palin for misbehaving or just admires misbehaving women on the left.
In addition to the above bumper stickers, there was a poster on a telephone poll that showed the Obama logo and the Earth being held by two hands, with the caption, “We’re in it together.”
Memo to poster maker: I don’t want to be in it with anyone as fatuous as you.
Even worse was a 50-something woman who walked into a market/restaurant near the University of Arizona in a neighborhood of both downscale and upscale homes, where college professors, deans, and top administrators live among the lower class of service workers, whom the college staffers pretend to care about in a theoretical Marxist way while being protected and isolated by high walls, security cameras, burglar alarms, gates, tenure, and nice retirement benefits. She was wearing a T-shirt emblazoned with “I love NPR.” In a case of tribal-identify overkill, she also was wearing a hoodie with a large Obama logo emblazoned on it.
She looked like most of the leftist intelligentsia in Tucson. “Attractive” isn’t an adjective that comes to mind. The prevailing appearance is part Flower Children, part New Age, part Birkenstock, and part Lands Ends. They look and dress like starry-eyed shoppers at Whole Foods who clutch organic burlap shopping bags like a badge of honor, or like the earnest do-gooder volunteers manning the phones on stage at PBS fundraisers. They exude an air of intellectual, environmental and moral superiority.
I was the only patron reading the Wall Street Journal. Everyone else was reading the New York Times or the local leftist daily, the Arizona Daily Star, known affectionately by conservatives as the Arizona Red Star, a newspaper that once ran an editorial of misinformation about me, attacking my character and mislabeling me as a conservative instead of a libertarian.
Over the years I’ve had scores of conversations with leftist intelligentsia about their sources of information and news. Funny thing, but they claim to be open-minded and well-read, but they live in an echo chamber in which their sources are all on the left, such as the New York Times, PBS, NPR, the Atlantic, Rolling Stone, CNN, CNBC, NBC, ABC, and CBS. They are just as bad as conservatives who live in the echo chamber of Fox News, Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh. These warring tribes rarely plug into each other’s sources or into such non-partisan sources as the Cato Institute and Reason.
The economy of metro Tucson is predominately statist, or government-dependent, with aspects that delight lovers of big government on both the left and right.
Well over half of the top 35 employers are either in the public sector, in the defense industry, or in the healthcare industry, which is dependent on Medicare and Medicaid.
The largest employer is the University of Arizona and its hospital, the University Medical Center, both of which have a combined employment of 16,275. Next is Raytheon Missile Systems (10,500 employees), the State of Arizona (9,061), Davis-Monthan Air Force Base (8,566), Wal-Mart (7,300), Tucson Unified School District (6,674), U.S. Army Intelligence Center and Fort Huachuca (6,198), Pima County (6,170), and the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol (6,000).
Next comes one of the few employers that actually produces something of value instead of stocking store shelves with imported goods or taking money out of one pocket and transferring it to another pocket. It is Freeport-McMoRan Copper and Gold, which has 5,068 employees. Tucson leftists are trying to tax it out of existence, not understanding that the company is the goose that lays the golden eggs and actually creates wealth instead of redistributing it.
Other large employers are the City of Tucson, Pima Community College, Corrections Corporation of America, Southern Arizona VA Health Care, Walgreens, Sol Casinos, Target Stores, Circle K Stores (convenience stores), various hospitals, and various supermarket chains.
Of those not fortunate enough to have a high-paid government or government-subsidized job, most employed Tucsonans work as sales clerks or waiters. And most of them are heavily tattooed, pierced, and dead-ended. They are a potential source of social unrest and power for a future Marxist or fascist demagogue.
If Tucson is where the nation is headed, I want to turn around and head in the opposite direction.
Mencken’s Ghost is the nom de plume of an Arizona writer who can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.