Op-Eds Speaking Truth to the Powers-That-Be
The Tea Party should more appropriately be called the Me Party.
There is a feeling of callousness and disdain for the poor floating around in the air lately. It is a chronic malady of the American spirit. Like a virus, it eats at our hearts first, then heads to the brain to keep the two from ever connecting. That disconnect permanently allows us, as a society, to turn a negligent eye to those of us who are hurting the most.
Our public sickness, a cold for centuries that is morphing into a super virus, was best expressed last week by the round of applause given Dr. Ron Paul in the September rounds of Republican debates.
During the recent CNN/Tea Party debate, Congressman Ron Paul, a medical doctor, answered a question from the moderator, Wolf Blitzer. Blitzer presented a hypothetical case of a 30 year old male who elects not to take health insurance. This person ends up in a coma. Whose job is it to see to it that he has care?
ABC News reports:
“What he should do is whatever he wants to do and assume responsibility for himself,” Paul responded, adding, “That’s what freedom is all about, taking your own risk. This whole idea that you have to compare and take care of everybody…”
The audience erupted into cheers, cutting off the Congressman’s sentence.
After a pause, Blitzer followed up by asking “Congressman, are you saying that society should just let him die?” to which a small number of audience members shouted “Yeah!”
Dr. Paul, an OB-GYN said of his experience getting out of medical school in the 1960s that “the churches took care of them,” meaning the poor and uninsured.
“We never turned anybody away from the hospital,” he said. “We’ve given up on this whole concept that we might take care of ourselves or assume responsibility for ourselves. Our neighbors, our friends, our churches would do it.”
Yet it is that vast number of uninsured Americans that use the emergency room for general care that is costing the American medical system millions of dollars. It is also one of the chief complaints of Republicans about misuse of current public assistance for medical care. The bottom line is that hospitals don’t want the poor. The churches aren’t flush enough to take care of their health care. So they die for lack of care if the government doesn’t find a reasonable way to care for all of our citizens.
At the previous GOP debate at the Reagan Library on September 8th, when Moderator Brian Williams asked Governor Rick Perry about his record of executing 234 death row inmates, a figure that Williams said was “more than any other Governor in modern times.” 
Again, the audience broke into applause. They actually applauded the taking of human life.
I personally am on the fence about capital punishment, but even in the event that I was in favor of state-sponsored execution, or involved in placing that judgement on another, I imagine that wouldn’t be a decision I could make without it leaving a scar on my heart. It would certainly never merit applause or cheering.
Possible redeeming qualities in the campaign of The Executioner himself, Governor Rick Perry, such as his implementation of The Dream Act in Texas, or his mandate that all young girls receive the HPV vaccine known as Gardasil, were demonized as the crowd booed any sort of amnesty for the children of illegal immigrants. Michele Bachmann made him seem like a man on the “take” for hating cancer.
During last week’s debate, the audience booed a man serving in Iraq because he was able to come out as gay and keep his job thanks to the nullification of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”.
This is what our country has become? This heartless clawing at each other as we turn a cold shoulder on those most in need, or tell our fellow man in the richest nation on Earth that they’re on their own? We are tripping over each other so we don’t end up under the bus ourselves.
Doesn’t this seem wrong to anyone else?
It seems as though the latest efforts by the Tea Party, the con-artists formerly known as the Evangelical wing of the GOP, are to rewind much of our progress of the last century from abortion and contraception to voting rights.
Change we can’t and should not believe in is being made in Ohio, Wisconsin, Florida and Maine .States like Michigan have cut back the amount of time someone can collect cash welfare benefits. . After that, in a time, particularly in Michigan, where there are fewer and fewer jobs, with no way to work, where do these people go? What do their children eat?
There are many other states following this lead of turning from the middle class punching bag to the poor punching bag. If either of those two groups are prepared to fight back, it isn’t going to be the poor. That club that no one wants to join has grown to epidemic numbers, aided since the 2010 elections by hard Right GOP slash-and-burn governmental policy aimed at marginalizing the poor even more.
According to the US Census Bureau, since 2007 the poverty rate has been steadily increasing, jumping 2.6% inching the number upward from 12.5% to 15.1% in 2010.  That translates to 46.2 million people who live below the federal poverty line, which in ,2010, set at $22,050.00 per year for a family of four. 
On Hardball with Chris Matthews last week, Congressman Bernie Sanders from Vermont stated that the poor are likely to live 6 years less than other members of society. This is because they have little to no access to healthcare, poor nutrition and often work low-end labor jobs for companies that either have no medical or very little. They work without the pay to cover the high costs of minor or major medical care. This is acceptable to us? Should we cheer the CEO who got the 2008 multi-million bonus for firing the quota of people making a living wage that could have been paid for by that bonus?
In every society in human history, including those that have tried to tinker with the social class structure, there have always been rich, middle and poor. 46.2 million people aren’t all of the usual cast offs of society. Many of that group owned a home three years ago. They had an excellent job that closed up shop after Wall Street took financial nuclear weapons to the bedrock of American life: Home ownership.
Perhaps the man in the Ron Paul hypothetical used to have insurance. When he lost his job, he lost his benefits. What if he simply could not afford the $200-$300 monthly premium for insurance? The 700-900/monthly bill if he has a wife and kids? What then? Does he still get turned out by the hospital to die? He made “the right” choices, but people with far more money made the wrong ones that he couldn’t help or anticipate.
We begrudge a family food stamps, or tar and feather those who take welfare honestly. Welfare has a small percentage of scammers, but it does not mean the whole show should close up shop. It means that reform is needed to close up the loopholes that people who game the system use.
This isn’t the first time in our short history that this has happened, nor will it be the last. What is particularly disheartening about this current scrooge cycle, is that it appears to give a handful of the wealthy and powerful the ability to crush the rest of us. Lobbying and corporate interests have trumped the needs of most of the American people. Only a small percentage of Americans have benefited from the downturn of the last few years.
The Tea Party and GOP don’t know the ingredients to what they are selling. They don’t care enough to find out.
In a letter to Colonel William F. Elkins in 1864, Abraham Lincoln warned of this future danger:
“I see in the near future a crisis approaching that unnerves me and cause me to tremble for safety of my country; Corporations have been enthroned, an era of corruption in High Places will follow, and the Money Power of the country will endeavor to prolong its reign by working upon the prejudices of the People, until the wealth is aggregated in a few hands, and the Republic destroyed.” 
Corporate contrived wedge issues are a sickening package filled with expensive commercials and incessant brain washing to convince hundreds of thousands of us to throw our neighbors under the bus, to vote for the guy who is working for people screwing over your best interests, while smiling in your face and promising you the world.
This is AMERICA! We are not people who applaud unnecessary death. Nor are we people who look at a dying man and say “It’s your fault: You should have bought insurance.” We are better than that.
The more that this country’s political power structure shifts to the Right, the more the true nature of the Right comes out.
How can they say that Liberals are Godless when so-called evangelical Christians of the GOP are preaching a lack of compassion so against whichever Bible their church uses to preach? I’ll never understand why a group of people who fight so hard to ensure the role of God in everything Government, would fight equally as hard to rid us of Religion’s best notion: compassion.
To be a slave is to be forced against your will to work for the benefit of another. Obviously, you want the United States federal government on your behalf to make of me a slave.
Robbery violates both the 8th commandment and criminal law in each and all of the 50 states. Robbery is the stealing of the property of another by force or threat of force. Obviously, you want the United States federal government to rob me on your behalf so as to redistribute my property to you. After all, if you did it for yourself, you’d be arrested, prosecuted, tried, convicted, and jailed.
Charity is not achieved through either slavery or robbery. Charity results from compassion. Governments can be neither charitable nor compassionate. Governments have no money and no stuff . . . until they steal it from individuals who earned it.
People have an unalienable right to pursue happiness, not to have it delivered. People have a right to what they produce, not what others produce.
Thanks for your comments. I guess it isn’t obvious what I want from my post so let me say it in clear terms that you can understand: We are a callous, selfish nation and the Tea Party exemplifies this. No one wants you to be a slave or wants your property. You don’t want to be a better person, than don’t. The point of the piece was why are applauding things like death? Who does that? If that’s who you are, then stay that way. This is my opinion, just as you are entitled to yours.
Good day Dr. Pete, thanks for reading.
Mainstream media virtually ignoring the “Occupy New York” story is a prime example
of the callousness and bias of our public dialogue. Keep up the good work. Excellent
Thank you Joel, I appreciate you taking the time to read my piece.
“So they die for lack of care if the government doesn’t find a reasonable way to care for all of our citizens.”
“Change we can’t and should not believe in is being made in Ohio, Wisconsin, Florida and Maine .States like Michigan have cut back the amount of time someone can collect cash welfare benefits. . After that, in a time, particularly in Michigan, where there are fewer and fewer jobs, with no way to work, where do these people go? What do their children eat?”
“We begrudge a family food stamps, or tar and feather those who take welfare honestly. Welfare has a small percentage of scammers, but it does not mean the whole show should close up shop. It means that reform is needed to close up the loopholes that people who game the system use.”
It is not the rightful job of government, Latrice, to “care” for anyone, much less by stealing from Pete to pay Paul. It is not the rightful job of any government — federal, state, or local — to provide welfare benefits to anyone, much less by stealing from Pete to pay Paul. It is not the rightful job of government, Latrice, to buy anyone’s food or housing or medical care or anything else, much less by stealing from Pete to pay Paul.
And the situation is so egregious that a household with one person working full-time at minimum wage has greater take-home money than a household earning $75,000 per year.
Look, we don’t agree and that’s fine. Your condescending tone is driving me nuts. You live how you would like and vote for what you think is right. We’re done here Pete. You don’t like what I have to say, then don’t read it. I don’t troll for fights with people like you on the internet, and I am certainly not a condescending piece like you. You and Brian may enjoy your back and forth, I do not. I prefer to argue with people that matter.
Once again, good day Pete.
Actually, I do have something to say to you, I believe a society has a responsibility to its working class, the class from which (I assume people like you) make their money. I’m not talking about those poor people with color televisions and air conditioning that you hate, I’m talking about people who had a job 2 years ago, lost it and have since backslid from Middle class to poor.Employers have a responsibility to pay decent wages and if the wages aren’t enough to afford healthcare, then it’s their responsibility to provide it. If the Government won’t force them to, then the Government should provide it. Why? Because healthcare should be a basic right and a necessity for a class of people that you want to keep spinning the economy, that’s why. Cars don’t work without gas, and people can’t without food or when they’re sick.
These are the people off of whom their money is made, you think they’re owed nothing? What about in a collapse such as now? I’ve read your little page, I get how you think. Obviously, since you’ve apparently done so well you think no one else should, whatever, that’s you, it isn’t me. You can quote my words and try to make it seem like I’m some sort of socialist, but the fact of the matter is when people fall down, like we have, whose job is it to make sure that so many out of work middle class consumers continue to eat for the sake of the economy? Charity? We can’t even stop ourselves from applauding for the uninsured to die, where do you think charity will come from? You want to let the country fall apart, fine, but don’t talk to me like I’m trying to steal your money. I see you’re retired, do you get Social Security or Medicare, or did valiantly refuse them? I don’t know if it’s the people needing aid that you hate or if it’s just the notion of paying taxes that burns you, but this is who we are as a nation and it’s who we’ve been, I believe you’ve been here awhile to know that. You attack me for my opinion which I believe is hilarious because until now I haven’t been challenged by someone as outright disturbing as you.
Oh and FYI, in your first post you insinuated that I was one of those people who needs your money, I don’t. I am employed and very well educated. I appreciate your implications about as much as your nasty, condescending comments.
Truth is truth. Facts are facts. Words mean things. Logic is logical. That is why we disagree. You find the statement of facts, truth, and logic “condescending”. You have no problem with slavery as long as you’re not accused of it. You have no problem with stealing, just as long as you can have a surrogate do it for you.
You are consistent in your FEELINGS. Wrong, but consistent. I’ll now ban myself from interrupting your whining party.
I’m sorry to interrupts again, Latrice, but your rant is just so silly. Each of us — as humans — is endowed by the Creator — that’s from where, and only from where, rights come — with certain unalienable rights, e.g., life, liberty, and property (from whence comes the PURSUIT of happiness).
None of us has a right to infringe upon another’s life, another’s liberty, or another’s property. I have a right from the Creator to offer whatever compensation I wish to motivate someone to work to produce something for me. That individual has a right from the Creator to either accept or decline. No one has a right to a job.
None of us has a right to “healthcare”. If a medical professional wishes to donate a service to someone, that is her right (liberty). If not, that is also her right. No sick person has a right to a part of that professional’s life, that professional’s liberty, or that professional’s property (time, expertise, effort, money).
Wealth envy, achievement envy, and class envy are really ugly, Latrice. And the truth is that you are advocating that “the less-fortunate” have a right to own slaves.
Your mixing of the Constitution and the Bible really helps to show me who you are. Thanks again for your comments and your self imposed ban, Dr. Pete and good luck in all of your endeavors.
I cited one commandment and nothing-nil-nada-zero-zip-zilch from the Constitution. Could have, but didn’t.
Then you don’t know either very well Pete. You paraphrased the Constitution “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
You define the pursuit of happiness as “property.” Isn’t that interesting, and quite telling not only of you, but of those who think like you. Materialism of that nature can be one version of “happiness,” but it is not, by far, the only version.
The question as to who becomes our protector of “happiness” or even simple survival, of last resort, is the salient divider between progressives and regressives. The government is the representative of all of the people, not just some from this or that church. There are millions of people who believe in a higher power, but do not believe that churches are the gateway to communing with that higher power. Regressives want to put millions into the erratic hands of the private sector and religious groups that have routinely failed to provide enough for the poor, particularly in times of economic crisis.
Latrice is much nicer. Your rants here prove you to be a most callous fellow. We can only hope that you live your life a bit better than the selfishness that you preach on the web.
I, Mr. Ross, did NOT “define the pursuit of happiness as “property.”” As to the conception of unalienable rights, the Founders’ first draft said “property”, but they changed it. You could learn from studying why. “Materialism” has not a nanowit to do with it. I am my property. My ideas are my property. My dreams are my property. What I produce is my property.
Each American, Mr. Ross, is sovereign (i.e., the source of political authority). None of us may be governed without our consent. Why you raised the subject of “church” is beyond me. I have never mentioned “church”.
“Regressives want to put millions into the erratic hands of the private sector and religious groups that have routinely failed to provide enough for the poor, particularly in times of economic crisis.” With this, Mr. Ross, you once again show why it is appropriate that you are a charter member of the Economics Illiterati Society.
There is a reason that they took out “property.” If you knew your Constitutional history you would know why. It is the same reason why the Tea Party, and folks like you, are not espousing anything that resembles “American” values. This country is better than that kind of petty selfishness.
My economics are quite sound. Capitalism is a fine human enterprise with boundaries. Unfettered capitalism, like any form of acquisition without limit, becomes tyranny, whether it is someone calling themselves “King” and exploiting others labor and misery to their benefit, or it is Adolph Coors or the Mellons or the Kochs doing the same thing without the thrones.
A great nation is one that takes care of it’s own. I have been working since I was 16 and always paid my taxes. I’m 33 now and still live paycheck to paycheck. I graduated college. Yet, I still can not afford to go to a Dr. When I’m sick, and only get to a dentist when the pain is too great. I envy my friends in other countries who don’t worry about health care. I’ve talked with tea partiers who have money and there answer is to seek assistance from a church. Well that’s great, but as a federal seasonal employee ( yes I work for the Feds) I still don’t get health care as a benefit.
I think what people fail to realize is that when everyone has access to healthcare, cost goes down because people get the help they need sooner, and stay healthier. If “god” has blessed anyone, it’s the Canadians for having the good sense to take care of their own. We can learn allot from our younger wiser brother to the north.
Your narrative, Jim, is that of a still-relatively-young man still without ambition, determination, self-reliance, and competitive drive; a self-made victim. Somehow, you have come to think that others’ earnings are there for your use.
As to Canada, you might want to ponder why hospitals and clinics in, e.g., Buffalo, Cleveland, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Seattle and Spokane are crowded with self-paying patients who end every sentence with “eh?”. You might also reflect on the fact that there are more MRI machines in Philadelphia than in all of Canada.
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