Objectively Pro-Dog-Poop

July 29th, 2010at 07:49am Posted by Eli

As Goldy says, the saga of poop bags in Everett, WA offers a great example of the conservative mentality in a nutshell (or poop bag, as the case may be):

If you thought yesterday’s post on dog poop bags was just a quick toss-off, well think again, for the moment I saw the Seattle Times/AP piece on cash-strapped Everett spending $8,430 on plastic dog poop bags, I immediately recognized an opportunity to provoke a conversation on what I believe to be the most pernicious aspect of today’s conservative movement: its stubborn insistence on choosing ideology over reality.

(He then quotes some right-wing commenters ranting self-righteously about how dog owners should take responsibility for providing their own poop bags and the government shouldn’t be spending money on this.)

Fecal coliform bacteria is one of the most serious pollutants in many of our nation’s urban streams, and modern DNA tests routinely trace the majority of the contamination back to dog waste. That’s why, in an effort to combat both this very real health concern, and the general nuisance factor of unpicked-up poop, municipalities nationwide have pursued a coordinated campaign that includes general public outreach and education, the creation of dedicated off-leash parks with adequate waste handling facilities, and yes… providing and stocking taxpayer funded poop bag dispensers at parks, trails and other popular dog walking routes.

Municipalities maintain this expense, even in the face of dramatic budget cuts, because it works… not just due to the convenience, but because the mere visible presence of these bag dispensers and waste receptacles is socially reinforcing, resulting in a dramatically higher compliance rate with existing pooper scooper laws. From a public health and quality of life perspective, few public expenditures produce such bang for the buck as the $8,430 Everett spends on plastic poop bags.

But that’s not good enough for the personal responsibility crowd. The mere notion of spending public dollars on something individuals should do for themselves offends their sensibilities. And so they would prefer to see their public sidewalks, parks and trails covered in shit than admit that sometimes, reality trumps ideology.


Today’s conservatives seem so obsessed with how people should behave, that they have little or no tolerance for how people actually do behave. So steeped in faith — faith in God, faith in the market, faith in American mythology, faith in their personalized reading of the Constitution — nothing will stop today’s conservative leaders from advocating what should work over what actually does.

I think that’s correct for social conservatives, but it’s not quite right for fiscal conservatives.  Where social conservatives can’t bear the thought that someone, somewhere might be having a good time, fiscal conservatives can’t bear the thought that someone, somewhere might be getting something for free at their expense.  It doesn’t matter whether the benefits outweigh the costs, someone is getting something for free.

That’s why they hate any kind of stimulus spending – it doesn’t matter whether it boosts the economy and makes everyone richer, someone is getting something for free.  Of course, they don’t mind so much if that someone is already filthy rich, because they’ve obviously worked hard to get that way and deserve every benefit that society can give them.  But ordinary schmucks or – God forbid – minorities or immigrants?  How dare they take my hard-earned money!

As I have said before, if you offered to pay a conservative ten dollars to give five dollars to a homeless guy, I don’t think they could bring themselves to do it.  They would rather deprive themselves than benefit someone they view as undeserving.

Entry Filed under: Politics,Republicans

Contact Eli



Most Recent Posts




July 2010
« Jun   Aug »

Thinking Blogger

Pittsburgh Webloggers

Site Meter

View My Stats *