The predictably pathetic story of Cliven Bundy – and the story of that story, as it was first told by the usual right-wing infotainment outlets – is a fine demonstration of the chasm between rural, red state America’s image of itself and reality.
America’s loony right imagines a wholesome, rural and (of course) white America, of morally upstanding Christians – self-reliant individualists, all – struggling beneath a heavy federal burden of taxes and regulations. Like most of the loony right’s fantasies, this description bears no relation to reality.
Divorce rates in the countryside have now caught up to cities and suburbs. Rural rates of alcohol abuse are among the highest in the country, and rural America has perhaps the highest teen pregnancy rates in the developed world. Rural Americans furthermore are less educated than their urban counterparts, less likely to have health insurance, and, tellingly, have the highest suicide rates in the country: (The top 6 states for suicide, in order, are Alaska, Wyoming, New Mexico, Montana, Nevada and Idaho.)
But it isnt simply that rural America is poor, uneducated, unhealthy and unhappy. They are also dependent on rich liberal states to pay their way. Red states typically pay far less in federal taxes than they receive back in federal aid. No matter how they rail against Washington and the intrusiveness of government, red states are the real welfare queens. Bundy is a typical case – whining, in effect, that the federal government isnt generous enough as it subsidizes his cattle by letting them graze at below-market rates. Bundy literally wants a free lunch (for his cattle) – the bill to be picked up by everyone else.
Ironically, the people with the most legitimate complaint are the 640,000 residents of Washington, DC, who suffer taxation without representation – paying federal taxes, yet lacking representatives in congress.
great in depth report on Bundy: http://www.forbes.com/sites/jjmacnab/2014/04/30/context-matters-the-cliven-bundy-standoff-part-1/