On Monday, the Kansas City Star reported that a Missouri farmer had painted the side of a 45 foot-long semi-truck trailer with the contentious banner “Are you a Producer or Parasite, Democrats – Party of Parasites” and placed the trailer on his property near busy highway U.S. 71. The farmer, David Jungerman, is protesting people (Democrats, apparently) who don’t pay taxes and instead “always have their hand out for whatever the government will give them.”
Hours later, the Star followed up on their story with information that over the past 15 years, Jungerman has accepted $1 million in federal farming subsidies. Asked to explain himself, Jungerman says:
That’s just my money coming back to me…I pay a lot in taxes. I’m not a parasite.
The story of Jungerman and his trailer banner, with it’s sweeping and controversial generalizations and plain-as-day hypocrisy, is exactly the sort of thing the media usually eats up. The story, however, has drawn little attention from the mainstream media. Instead, the blogosphere has taken Jungerman to task.
Steve Benen from The Washington Monthly gets a tad sarcastic with his explanation of how taxes and subsidies work, noting that Jungerman’s federal farm subsidies are funded by taxpayers, same as the social welfare programs the “parasites” use. Benen then contests the very notion that social welfare recipients are “parasites”:
It’s also worth noting that Jungerman and his backers may not realize it, but those “parasites” pay taxes, too. There are middle- and lower-class families who have been given a break on their federal income taxes, but they’re still paying sales taxes, state taxes, Social Security taxes, and Medicare/Medicaid taxes.
When they get unemployment benefits or food stamps, they’re just getting their “money coming back” to them, too.
Meanwhile, without Fox or MSNBC pundits to do the inevitable, Jonathan Chait from The New Republic hauls out the racial lens. Responding to Jungerman’s denial that he himself is a parasite, Chait comments:
It’s impossible to disentangle motives here, but the fact that farmers are overwhelmingly white may be an important factor in many conservative activists seeing farm subsidies as more legitimate than other government interventions. Producerism is historically connected with white supremacy…
Seriously, mainstream media, where are you with this? No wonder Jon Stewart thinks you’re all just jealous of Michael Hastings’ scoop.
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