Did millionaire celebrity lunatics lecture the American people about responsibility in the 1930s?

"Compassion Compassion Compassion"

by digby

I haven't written about that Tennessee fire department letting the house burn down for lack of a $75.00 fee because it's just so depressing and so many others weighed in that I didn't have the heart.

But I can't resist sharing this from Beck's radio program today:

GRAY: (mocking Cranick’s accent) Even tho’ I hadn’t paid mah seventy five dollahs I thought dey’d put it out. [...] I wanted ‘em to put it out, but dey didn’t put it out.

BECK: Here’s the thing. Those that are just on raw feeling are not going to understand. [...]

GRAY: But I thought they was gonna put the fire out anyway, but it burned down. Dat ain’t right! [...] What’s the Fire Department for if you don’t put out the fire?! [...] I thought they’d put out mah fire even if I didn’t pay seventy five dollars.

BECK: This is the sort of argument that Americans are going to have.

GRAY: It is.

BECK: And it goes nowhere if you go onto “compassion, compassion, compassion, compassion” or well, “they should’ve put it out, what is the fire department for?” [...] If you don’t pay the 75 dollars then that hurts the fire department. They can’t use those resources, and you’d be sponging off your neighbor’s resources. [...] It’s important for America to have this debate. This is the kind of stuff that’s going to have to happen, we are going to have to have these kinds of things.

Don't you just love it when multi-millionaires lecture you about how "we're going to have to have these sort of things?" Beck has an entourage and a bevy of servants whom he can pay to stand in a circle and urinate on his house if it catches fire if necessary. And anyway, it's highly unlikely that a wealthy celebrity would be held to these standards since they "contribute" so much to society.

This hideous conversation is so indicative of this period in America. It's not libertarian or Randian or fiscally conservative. It's just plain old selfish and mean. I wonder if all the stuff we used to hear about people coming together during the Depression was just misty nostalgia and Americans were actually a bunch of nasty, dog-eat-dog individualists at each others throats in the bread lines? If not, we clearly had a different social contract than the one we have today. "Fuck yer neighbors if they don't have the money" doesn't seem like the America they used to talk about.

(And what's with the exceedingly condescending southern accent employed by the Becks lieutenant? I thought that sort of thing was frowned upon.)