Transcript: Thom Hartmann: Are Rats are More Empathetic than Republicans? 9 December '11
A budget deficit isn’t the REAL problem with Congress - it’s an empathy deficit.
Luckily - researchers at the University of Chicago may have just discovered a solution to that problem.
According to a new study published this month in Science magazine - the latest animal discovered to be able to empathize with others is… rats!
That’s right - rats are empathetic.
The experiment went like this: two rats who normally share a cage were placed in a new cage in which one of the rats were restrained in a tube that could only be opened from the outside of the cage.
Once the rat that was roaming free in the cage - was let out of the cage and completely free - it time-and-time-again went back to let his cage buddy free as well.
Think about that for a second - the rat was free - but wasn’t satisfied until his cage-mate was free too.
Researchers said that the free rat acted far more agitated when its fellow rat was restrained nearby - a sign of what researchers call "emotional contagion" - which is often only observed in humans and more developed animals.
Even when the free rat was given a choice between freeing his cage mate or eating chocolate - the freed rat freed his buddy just as often.
As one researcher said:
There was no other reason to take this action, except to terminate the distress of the trapped rats...In the rat model world, seeing the same behavior repeated over and over basically means that this action is rewarding to the rat.
As in - rats got pleasure out of helping other rats - they found it rewarding.
Which is something that can not be said about today’s Republican Party - that apparently gets absolutely no pleasure at all from helping fellow Americans who are less fortunate - have fallen on hard times - or are even dying and are in desperate need of help.
They get no pleasure from empathy - like rats do.
That means a rat - if it could talk - would have probably struck a different tune empathizing, for example, with the unemployed:
Phil Gramm: We’ve never been more dominant; we’ve never had more natural advantages than we have today. We have sort of become a nation of whiners.
Herman Cain: Don't blame Wall Street, don't blame the big banks, if you don't have a job and you're not rich, blame yourself!
A rat probably would have taken a different tune empathizing with those who can’t get health insurance:
Ron Paul: This whole idea that you have to prepare and take care of everybody --
Wolf Blitzer: But Congressman, are you saying that society should just let him die?
[members of crowd yell "yeah"]
A rat probably would be more empathetic to those who have a different sexual orientation:
Rick Perry: There's something wrong in this country when gays can serve openly in the military but our kids can't openly celebrate Christmas or pray in school.
Stephen Hill: In 2010, when I was deployed to Iraq, I had to lie about who I was, because I'm a gay soldier, and I didn't want to lose my job.
My question is, under one of your presidencies, do you intend to circumvent the progress that's been made for gay and lesbian soldiers in the military?
Carl Paladino: I just think my children -- and your children -- would be much better off, and much more successful, getting married and raising a family. And I don't want them to be brainwashed into thinking that homosexuality is an equally valid or successful option -- it isn't.
A rat probably would be more empathetic to the civilians in war-torn nations that we’ve invaded - and not say stuff like, “we should take their oil too”:
Donald Trump: Iran is going to take over Iraq, and if that's going to happen, we should just stay there and take the oil... So I say, we take the oil. You know, in the old days, when you won a war, to the victor belong the spoils. We win a war, and we hand it over to some people we don't even know and we leave.
A rat probably would be more empathetic to undocumented immigrants who’ve raised families in America - who’ve paid their taxes and contributed to their communities:
Dan Stein: 350,000 children are born here to mothers here who are illegal aliens. I mean, that's the size of the city of St. Louis. This is like waking up and finding an additional 10 people living in your house that you didn't expect all of a sudden, and we're just being taken advantage of.
Michael Savage: We're getting refugees now who have never used a telephone, a toothbrush, or toilet paper. You're telling me they're going to assimilate? They will never assimilate. They come here and they bring their destitute ways to this country, and they never assimilate. And then their children become gang-bangers.
Clayton Morris: Meanwhile Republicans want Congress to work on some other form of constitutional control that being the 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution, basically the anchor baby amendment.
Bill O'Reilly: The future of L.A. particularly, and probably America, lies in your school district. To see how well those kids are educated, what their attitudes are. Are they trying to learn English? Do they have any kind of traditional value system at all, vis-à-vis what America used to be? Or are they taking their Mexican values, because most of them are Mexicans, and, you know, basically setting up Acapulco North?
And a rat would probably be more empathetic to our nation's young people who go to college and come out deep in debt and unable to find a job:
Dan Gainor: Many of them are people over $124,000 in debt for students for student loans for getting a fine arts degree and a job that only pays $25,000. Well, you know, either you're not educated somewhere along the way that you;re not going to be able to pay this, that kind of money, or you just did something foolish.
Rush Limbaugh: Now that these kids from Occupy-Whatever have gotten used to urinating and defecating in the streets, when they go back home are their parents gonna have to housebreak them all over again, teach 'em how to use the potties, the bathrooms? If you are a parent of a “returning hero” from Occupy Wall Street you might want to put some newspaper down at strategic points inside the house.
Newt Gingrich: The student loan program began when Lyndon Johnson announced it, I think, with a $15 million program. It's an absurdity. What does it do? It expands the ability of students to stay in college longer because they don't see the cost.
John Harwood: Would you kill the federal student loan program?
Rick Perry: I don’t think the federal government should be in the business of paying for programs and building up huge debt out there.
Ron Paul: There's nothing more dramatically failing than -- than that program. So, no, there's no authority in the Constitution for the federal government to be dealing with education. We should get rid of the loan programs. We should get rid of the Department of Education...
Sharon Epperson: But how do they pay for it? How do they now pay for college, if they're not...
Ron Paul: The way -- the way you pay for cellphones and computers.
Peter Johnson: This is about anarchism, socialism, communism. this is about shutting down the stock exchange, the Brookland bridge the subways, making sure that the 99% in America can't go to work, can't trade their assets then that's essentially unamerican. I hope that they're unsuccessful today because I don't think it's a movement, I think it's an abomination.
So why is it that science tells us this week that a rat can’t be happy until his fellow rat is free like him - but Republicans - and their 1% donors - are perfectly content being rich and free - while their fellow Americans sink deeper and deeper into debt - are losing their jobs - and are dying?
I guess there’s only one answer - rats are nicer and more empathetic than Republicans!
Keep that in mind the next time you see one in your house.
Before you bust out the rat traps - knit a tiny little neck tie - slip it on the little fella’ and run him as a primary challenger against your local Republican politician.
Because in the end - you’ll get a lot more compassion out of this guy [rat]...
Than these guys [Republican caucus - Boehner, Cantor etc.].
That's The Big Picture.