Ryan’s Hopeless


This is not a post about Paul Ryan:

Paul Ryan’s Irish Amnesia

In advance of St. Patrick’s Day, I went time traveling, back to the 1840s and Ireland’s great famine. On one side of the Irish Sea was Victorian England, flush with the pomp and prosperity of the world’s mightiest empire. On the other side were skeletal people, dying en masse, the hollow-bellied children scrounging for nettles and blackberries.

A great debate raged in London: Would it be wrong to feed the starving Irish with free food, thereby setting up a “culture of dependency”? Certainly England’s man in charge of easing the famine, Sir Charles Trevelyan, thought so. “Dependence on charity,” he declared, “is not to be made an agreeable mode of life.”

And there I ran into Paul Ryan. His great-great-grandfather had fled to America. But the Republican congressman was very much in evidence, wagging his finger at the famished. His oft-stated “culture of dependency” is a safety net that becomes a lazy-day hammock. But it was also England’s excuse for lethal negligence.

There is no comparison, of course, between the de facto genocide that resulted from British policy, and conservative criticism of modern American poverty programs.

But you can’t help noticing the deep historic irony that finds a Tea Party favorite and descendant of famine Irish using the same language that English Tories used to justify indifference to an epic tragedy.

The Irish historian John Kelly, who wrote a book on the great famine, was the first to pick up on these echoes of the past during the 2012 presidential campaign. “Ryan’s high-profile economic philosophy,” he wrote then, “is the very same one that hurt, not helped, his forebears during the famine — and hurt them badly.”

What was a tired and untrue trope back then is a tired and untrue trope now. What was a distortion of human nature back then is a distortion now. And what was a misread of history then is a misread now.

Ryan boasts of the Gaelic half of his ancestry, on his father’s side. “I come from Irish peasants who came over during the potato famine,” he said last year during a forum on immigration.

BUT with a head still stuffed with college-boy mush from Ayn Rand, he apparently never did any reading about the times that prompted his ancestors to sail away from the suffering sod. Centuries of British rule that attempted to strip the Irish of their language, their religion and their land had produced a wretched peasant class, subsisting on potatoes. When blight wiped out the potatoes, at least a million Irish died — one in eight people.

“The Almighty, indeed, sent the potato blight, but the English created the famine,” wrote the fiery essayist John Mitchel, whose words bought him a ticket to the penal colony of Tasmania.

What infuriated Mitchel was that the Irish were starving to death at the very time that rich stores of grain and fat livestock owned by absentee landlords were being shipped out of the country. The food was produced by Irish hands on Irish lands but would not go into Irish mouths, for fear that such “charity” would upset the free market, and make people lazy.

Let me repeat my favorite part of that essay:

There is no comparison, of course, between the de facto genocide that resulted from British policy, and conservative criticism of modern American poverty programs.

But you can’t help noticing the deep historic irony that finds a Tea Party favorite and descendant of famine Irish using the same language that English Tories used to justify indifference to an epic tragedy.

IOW: “There is no comparison, except there is a comparison.”

I stumbled across this article while visiting our old hangout. Our old friend back there hates Republicans almost as much as she hates stay-at-home moms and Jehovah’s Witnessess. She was never much for history either.

is an island off the west coast of England, and is roughly the size of South Carolina. Whole books have been written about the Irish Potato Famine, but Ireland’s troubles with England started long before the first potato went into the ground of the Emerald Isle.

By the time of the Potato Famine of 1845-1852 Ireland was a vassal state of England, and the Irish were tenant farmers who could be evicted at will by their English landlords. Ireland had no industry to speak of, and no other resources besides food crops.

The economy of mid-19th Century Ireland was not based on capitalism, but rather was more akin to feudalism. All the land was taken and in use, so there was no opportunity for advancement because the economic system was not capable of growth. Then the potato blight struck, and suddenly there was not enough to go around.

For various reasons England dealt poorly with the situation, but there really was no governmental cure for the problem. If Parliament had declared that “Irish food must go to Irish mouths” it might have provided temporary relief, but it would have done nothing to treat the underlying economic problem. Ireland would have remained an island full of subsistence farmers waiting for some new crisis to trigger another famine.

There is a valid role for government in providing disaster relief and temporary transitional support in times of crisis or economic upheaval. The free market has no conscience or pity, but it is the driving force in capitalistic economic systems.

A government-run economy is by its very definition not free.

Both Riverdaughter and the author of the original piece miss a major fact that is right in front of them – the Irish that came to America were able to prosper and grow because of free market capitalism. They did not come here to get welfare, they came to work.

About Myiq2xu - BA, JD, FJB

I was born and raised in a different country - America. I don't know what this place is.
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115 Responses to Ryan’s Hopeless

  1. The Klown says:

    If this post doesn’t make sense it’s because I am typing with toothpicks holding my eyes open.

    It is 4:30 in the hairy buttcrack of Dawn. I’m going back to zzzzzzzzzzz

  2. votermom says:

    Woke up with a headache.
    Spilled coffee grinds everywhere.

  3. DeniseVB says:

    Uncle Joe never disappoints ….


    Now what’s the problem with Ryan again ? 😉

  4. elliesmom says:

    I thought the old adage, “Give a man a fish and he won’t be hungry today. Teach a man to fish, and he’ll never be hungry again.” came from the liberal left. Wasn’t it the basis for the Peace Corps? So why are they so focused on giving fish away? Why get your panties in a wad over someone wanting to teach fishing?

    • DeniseVB says:

      I’ve always thought free fish = vote buying. It’s how the Democrats roll these days and I’m just surprised so many successful and wealthy people support that. Then again, Obama’s rich buddies are rewarded too with fed funds, appointments they’re not qualified for and obamacare waivers. Surprised the vile progs put up with that.

  5. Lulu says:

    .Most immigrants came because of dire economic circumstances. There were class, religious, and a thousand other things that made them immigrate. In most ways the Irish were no different. One of my ancestors was part of a Welsh family who were dissenters and had all of their land taken away by the British crown in fines. Another was a Scot doctor who didn’t want to work for the army. One was a French guy who couldn’t stay out of jail for many criminal reasons. Another was an iron worker in an area with too many iron workers. Another was a teenager sent for indenture for killing rabbits (to keep from starving). The Irish were treated abominably but so were Russian Jews, Welshmen, Cornish miners, Scots, traditional tradesmen, rural German laborers, Italian peasants, and every other group that immigrated or they would have stayed where they were. This competition for who was the worst victim (anyone enslaved wins that one) is like it is a badge of honor. It isn’t since they had enough sense to get the hell out. They were almost always much better off in North America so they were winners big-time.

  6. Constance says:

    I think I might be turning into a Republican. I don’t think the government is capable of much. I totally understand the Liberal idea of helping poor people but I don’t think government should do it. If you want to donate to the poor you should do it. The government should not run the charity programs. I like the way we have Bill Gates and Warren Buffet, two men who took turns being the most wealth man in the world, donating most of their wealth to a foundation focused on improving life for all people. Think of how many less people would be helped if their money was collected as tax and spent to pay off political supporters of liberals who run green energy scams.

  7. votermom says:


    • swanspirit says:

      That is just gross . And I carried a “bloody” hanger in a march on D.C. I never wanted one for jewelry .

    • DeniseVB says:

      The hanger is also symbolic of fashion and hotel industry awards. Besides I think in the “bad old days” knitting needles (according to my grandma) were the weapon of choice, guess they’re hard to hang on a necklace though 😛

  8. Constance says:

    Completely off topic…..I’m thinking instead of trying to figure out how to sanction the Russians who are currently rolling on the floor laughing their asses off at us, that this might be a good time to for the USA to take over Mexico. Seriously who is going to tell us we can’t? We just roll in, take over and hold an election. Since many of Mexico’s citizens want to live here anyway they will vote in favor of joining the union we toss out the government and neutralize any gang thugs we can’t work with. Now is clearly the time if ever there was one.

    • Falstaff says:

      … because invading other countries always works so well, and everybody loves the US. I’m sure the Mexican people would greet US invaders with open arms, just as the Iraqi people did.

    • votermom says:

      I was actually thinking about it too, then I thought : “why the heck would we want to deal with Mexico’s problems?”

      • 49erDweet says:

        Are you sayin’ we should invade Canada, instead? Makes sense to me And probably that way Alaskans wouldn’t feel so isolated, eh?

      • Constance says:

        We already have all of Mexicos problems. They send drugs here that cause addiction and violence. Their people want to be here. The government in Mexico doesn’t seem very effective except in tourist areas. Why build walls to keep them out, just annex them.

        If you haven’t noticed Canada doesn’t cause us any problems. Doesn’t send drugs, doesn’t send criminals and Canadians don’t seem to want to live here.

        • DeniseVB says:

          What’s funny, they have tougher immigration laws than we do.

        • votermom says:

          I’m ok with annexing Mexico if we get to shoot all their drug lords and all their enforcers. Seriously, they are almost as bad as jihadis with the beheading & dismembering.

          • Falstaff says:

            Drug lords are entrepreneurs, i.e. job creators responding to a highly inelastic demand for a product. If you want to stop the violence, just legalize the shit and call it a day. If you just want to shoot people, go after the suburbanites who are the biggest buyers of the stuff: they are less likely to shoot back.

          • Constance says:

            Falstaff, I live in Washington, we have legalized pot.

        • 49erDweet says:

          So you’d rather we take on a hell hole than annex an oasis of calm? That’d be like Putin annexing Syria. You are tough!

          • Constance says:

            We can’t ignore the problems Mexico causes for us. I think it is better to just take over, solve the problems they cause our way and then at least we will have their resources as well as their problems.

  9. piper says:

    Stop picking on my congress critter. Yes he has a few faults but who hasn’t. The pajama boys and bossy girls are afraid, very afraid that a Repub will win in 2016 and take away their free lunch money and made them get JOBS which will force them out of Mommie basement into the light of day. Just an unbelievable scary scenario. Cuing the tears now.

  10. leslie says:

    It’s s sign.
    I finally got to the polling place late yesterday. I live in a VERY Librul town in VERY Librul Cook county. Here, we have to declare a party in order to get the ballot. (Really, we just ask for the ballot) There were only 3 people in front of me and all four of us asked for the Republican ballot. (I was surprised). So, at least 4 of us voted for the candidates running for the governor’s spot on the GE ballot. (I say that because there were so few Rs running for anything,…and there were almost no contested races on the Ds side.)
    It took no time at all to vote for the Rs. There must’ve been a multitude of republican voters yesterday because this morning there have been non-stop anti-Republican party “news stories” on the radio….all stations that are not strictly sports stations. “Ohhhh, those dangerous Republicans blah, blah, blah” I have the radio on right now and yet another warning about the evil Republicans.
    So, when I first read TCH this morning, I thought, “Don’t they ever get tired of being so hateful?” And then I turned on the radio. That was my answer. They’re scared sh$tless. I hope they have every right to be.

  11. swanspirit says:

    The Conflation : a textbook example of people who write reams and reams of blather in an almost coherent manner, and rewrite history with affectation, and for the purpose of making their points , whatever they may be , and to try and persuade people to their point of view . Except of course when history doesn’t matter , and the Jews use the holocaust as a crutch . To belabor my point , for those people , and RD is not by any means alone , history only matters when and how they want it to.

  12. lyn says:

    My hubby thought this was interesting.

    • votermom says:

      Looks like pro-union, big govt propaganda.

      • 49erDweet says:

        Oh yeah. Don’t have to wait till September to see it. Look at Detroit and Stockton today, and California tomorrow.

        • lyn says:

          It’s on Netflix streaming now. Here’s a Wiki blurb about the documentary: “In the wake of the 2007-08 financial crisis and the rise of the Occupy movement, the issue of income inequality has gained public awareness. Over the last thirty years, before the latest recession, the U.S. economy doubled. But, according to this documentary, these gains went to a very few: the top 1% of earners now take in more than 20% of all income—three times what they did in 1970. Distortions are even more extreme at the very top. The 400 richest Americans now own more wealth than the bottom 150 million combined. While this level of inequality poses a serious risk to all Americans, regardless of income level, much of the rhetoric on this subject has been fueled by anger and resentment from a frustrated middle class who feel their birthright – the American Dream – has been taken away from them.”

          • 49erDweet says:

            Slick, classic red meme to keep idiots in line at the polls. That the logic fails isn’t a problem as long as the emotions are ramped up.

  13. WMCB says:

  14. votermom says:


    • swanspirit says:

      “She” refused to appear in court, so the judge had to issue a drag order ….

      Perry is being held on $1 million bond in a Spokane County jail and initially refused to appear in court on Monday. On Tuesday, the judge issued a drag order and she was forced to appear, KHQ reported.

      • 49erDweet says:

        Does anyone else find it hilarious that WA state.judges can force defendants to appear before them in “drag”? What if they don’t have suitable attire?

  15. WMCB says:

  16. The Klown says:
  17. WMCB says:

    • votermom says:

      “Historic” – Tweety will have a fit when he reads that.

    • WMCB says:

      I’ve touched on this a lot recently. You either say that pursuing global power is BAD, and no one should do it, or you admit that every country has as much right as we do to pursue it, and may the greatest power win. Or you can say that no one should have it but us, because we are better and more moral, but then you have to back that up with some actual morality, and demonstrate how the other guys are evil and we’re not. The West lost that high ground some time ago.

      The double standard shit gets old.

  18. WMCB says:

    The latest work in progress from my nephew. He’s says it’s a rough draft, but looks great to me.

    • DeniseVB says:

      Wasn’t Larry Johnson one of Hillary’s biggest blog supporters ? I used to read him when the Big Cheeto and the DUmp went all Obama swooney. My, my how times have changed 😉

  19. helenk3 says:

    since backtrack just told illegal aliens that they and their families will not be prosecuted and deported for coming here illegally if they sign up for obamacare, I want the same right to commit a crime and not get prosecuted for doing so

    • Constance says:

      I’m telling you now is the time for us to annex Mexico. We are going to be paying for their health care anyway, their kids can get in state tuition for college, I hear they get wealfare and food stamps. I say we annex them, tax them and force minimum wage on them so they can’t under cut American citizen labor.

  20. helenk3 says:


    brought this over because it is shocking that the state of Virginia is honoring a mosque that several terrorist have come from. but then again they are having a fundraiser for a dem candidate

  21. helenk3 says:


    can’t make national security meetings on the Crimea situation because he has to go to Ohio to sell obamacare.
    The situation in Crimea gets worse and he is going on Ellen to sell obamacare

    nice to know just what the priorities of the president of the USA are

  22. WMCB says:

    The Whitehouse basically unilaterally rewrote the FOIA to exclude whatever the hell they want to exclude.


    • leslie says:

      “The equities exception is breathtaking in its breadth. As the Greg memo put it, any document request is covered, including “congressional committee requests, GAO requests, judicial subpoenas and FOIA requests.”

      And it doesn’t matter what format the documents happen to be in because, according to Greg, the equities exception “applies to all documents and records, whether in oral, paper, or electronic form, that relate to communications to and from the White House, including preparations for such communications.”

      ^THIS^ from the most trans-fucking-parent administration in history.
      I hate these people.

      And I just noticed Jay freaking Carney is following me on Twitter. How do I block him?

  23. helenk3 says:

    Senior Russian diplomat says Moscow may change its stance in the Iranian nuclear talks amid tensions with the West over Ukraine – @AP

  24. The Klown says:

    It is still officially winter and I am mowing the lawn for the THIRD time this year.


  25. votermom says:

  26. The Klown says:
  27. WMCB says:

    Excellent piece on our fucked-up justice system:

  28. WMCB says:

    Rand Paul made a speech, and is currently getting a massive standing ovation.


    Take note, GOP. Go libertarian, or go home.

  29. helenk3 says:


    Ukraine making plans to withdraw troops from Crimea

    sounds like it is a done deal and Crimea is not part of Russia

  30. The Klown says:

    I am sad to say that this season of Justified has been a disappointment. It probably has something to do with the death of Elmore Leonard, but nonetheless this season’s episodes and plot line don’t have the usual zing I had come to expect.

    • 49erDweet says:

      I keep expecting Elmore Leonard to pop out from behind a door or curtain, yelling “Gotcha”!!!!

      Genius has a way of doing things!

    • votermom says:

      I haven’t seen last night’s ep yet, but based on the eps before that – Raylan seems aimless and sidelined.
      I like watching Boyd & Eva – them apart seems to be not working for me.

  31. The Klown says:
  32. The Klown says:

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