Thursday, January 30, 2014

A Political Rant

If Republicans care so much about my health care choices being mine and not the government's, why are they passing bills that do exactly the opposite?  Why are they restricting access to birth control and reproductive choice at the same time they're probably actively using (and probably subsidizing) Viagra and Cialis? Cutting medical services for half the population while ensuring the other half is very well provided-for medically doesn't seem to be allowing personal health care choices to be personal. It's corporate all the way, and the ones who benefit? It sure ain't the people most in need, that's for sure.

While they pass legislation that further pads the upper income brackets (including their own), kids at the low end of the economic ladder are growing up hungry and poorly educated. Kids who go to school hungry are much less able to focus on learning and so their grades drop, they lose interest because they can't succeed because the grumbling in their bellies is louder than the explanation of why the sky is blue or why using proper punctuation and spelling are important. Teachers too are hard-hit; programs that would enrich the lives of their students, even the amount of school supplies they are allowed has been cut and so many teachers dip into their own pockets to try to help make up the difference. And this is the educational system that is supposed to keep the United States at the top in academic achievement?  News flash -- we're nowhere even close any more.

Rights for the unborn?  What about the already-born?  It seems interest for them stops as soon as the birth canal empties. With all the advances in science that keeps pre-term neonates alive earlier and earlier in their gestation, the US infant mortality rate is still higher than most of Europe and parts of the Far East. The cost of such care is often left to the parents who often have no hope of being able to pay off the debt incurred and even with all the technologies, many of those premature births result in children with defects and life-long medical issues. Children in the US die of preventable diseases because parents fear the vaccines aren't safe, even if they can afford to pay for them. Children are among our most vulnerable citizens and Congress is making sure they stay that way with cuts in programs that those children need.

Elders too are getting the short shaft. Costs go up but fixed incomes do not. More and more are having to choose whether to pay rising utility bills or for the medication they need to survive. Same with having to cut back on groceries to afford utilities, rent and doctor visits. What happened to the dreams of retirement so many had and worked hard to achieve? Frequent travel and a life on the golf course?  Sure, some achieve that, but for many more, a trip across town is as far from home as they can get and even that has to be carefully planned and budgeted, even if it is intended to save even a little on a needed item. The world has changed. They can no longer count on being cared for inside the family unit; instead, they are shuffled off to nursing homes or retirement homes and seldom see the family. When the money runs out, they are shown the door of those retirement homes and from there it's anybody's guess where they are supposed to go and how they are supposed to get there. Yet the fat cats have made sure their cohorts in the upper economic brackets are well looked-after and protected.

Military personnel, particularly the enlisted grades, are sent out to foreign places to fight for -- remind me, what is it they were sent out to do?  Protect our democracy and national safety?  They are killed protecting the rights of Congress to cut funding for them and their families as well as those who support their missions and for what?  Not their families who often have to rely on assistance even while their loved one is deployed. Not them when they return. Their safety net wouldn't protect a gnat, much less a military family. They're more or less told to come home and just go back to normal life. How can they after the things they've seen and things they'd been forced to do? In the sanitized and sacred halls of Congress, there isn't a lot of blood and gore, unless you count the bodies of those who have been sacrificed so that Congressmen and their cronies can meet at the country club and swig scotch after a grueling 18 holes. This is the land of the free and the home of the brave?  Or is it the land of those who sit in safety while putting other lives at risk both in foreign lands and even here at home?

Tell me again how Congress felt the need to shut down the government a few months ago because they wanted to "balance the budget" and "cut wasteful spending"? Oddly enough, the cuts they were making didn't involve cutting their own benefits. Oh, no. In fact, they insisted that they needed their health clubs to remain open because they "needed" them. They didn't cut their own health care or, if I remember correctly, anything else involving themselves. I notice that this round of cuts didn't involve cutting air traffic controllers like the last time they tried to shut down a goodly part of the government. The air traffic controllers got their jobs back very quickly when Congress realized that THEY would be seriously inconvenienced in their journeys back home for vacation!  Is it any wonder public approval of Congress is about as low as it can go and still remain in positive numbers?

Living as I do in a heavily Republican enclave, approval for belt-tightening, fewer and stricter government assistance programs is highly lauded. They use the Bible as their guidebook, they say, but I read what is supposed to be the same Bible and can't find the Prosperity Gospel or the "I've got mine, good luck getting yours" stuff anywhere. They hearken back to Cain's response, "Am I my brother's keeper?" rather than Jesus' "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you" (Luke 6:31, NIV). They make the accusation that Jesus never meant government entitlement programs in that statement but what they don't remember is that in Jesus' day, families took care of each other, neighbors worked together and the government that was over them wasn't elected by them and wasn't even from the same country in which they themselves lived. They loudly proclaim that this is a Christian country, but somehow I wonder if the founder of this particular branch that grew out of the Jewish tradition would even recognize the Christianity they espouse.

I keep hoping and praying that things will turn around but I'm not sure that's going to happen any time soon. With the gap between rich and poor widening exponentially, the top of the economic heap isn't about to give up any of its own perceived entitlements to help others. The Horatio Alger formula, that of anyone can make it if they work hard enough, doesn't seem to work any more, or not work very well. I despair at the state of this country that used to be such a beacon of hope and promise for those who came here looking for a better life. Christian country? I think not.

God help us. It's our only hope.

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