The Ebenezer Scrooge Awards of 2013

November 2, 2013 § Leave a comment

We now have a handy test for establishing a meanness quotient for members of Congress.  A large contingent of our elected officials have emerged from behind their occasional claims of concern for the general welfare of their fellow citizens.  The rising political power of the Tea Party has apparently encouraged these class warriors to cast aside any shyness about the identity of their enemy and call a spade a spade.  They have decided to stop coddling the men, women and children of this country who want to eat without working.  Their enemies are Americans who are poor.

To graphically illustrate just how these poverty stricken families are luxuriating at the expense of the taxpayers, here is a link to a list of the benefits they now enjoy.   SNAP benefits   These Enenezer Scrooge Award winners, worthy successors to Ronald Reagan and Mitt Romney, are offended that a family of four can receive $668 to buy food for a month without working.  They have identified that as prime target for the elimination of “waste and abuse”.

So  they can be appropriately recognized for their patriotic nobility and fiscal responsibility, here  is a link to a list of the Congressmen who voted to cut 40 billion dollars from the SNAP program.  Ebenezer Scrooges   Every single one of them is entitled to that recognition.   And, as a bonus, this test has a sub-test:  Every voter who chooses to vote for them over any opponent, unless they are running against a child-molesting ax murderer,  is also entitled to the Ebenezer Scrooge Auxiliary Award.

The demographic makeup of those who receive food stamps is interesting.  They way the data is presented is also interesting.  For example, the Pew Research firm published this breakdown, stated as percentages.  Pew Report  The percentages appear to reflect that blacks are the largest recipient group.

Here are a series of charts posted by a blogger that show that more whites than blacks receive food stamps.  This is an example of how misleading percentages can be.  The difference, of course, is that there are many more whites than blacks in the total population.  The second series of charts are based on percentages of the total population.  The Pew percentages are percentages of the different segments of that population.

I know you all understand this and I don’t mean to be condescending.  I just find these arithmetic games cropping up frequently in political rhetoric and this is a good example.

Finally, with some sadness, I add the following comment.

The way this abomination began was with the stupid sequester deal.  Our leader and his advisers assumed that if they loaded enough stupid, unfair and irrational items into a bomb timed to go off if the Congress failed to come up with a more rational and fair deal, it would force the negotiation of a rational and fair deal.

Not!

There has been no deal and the prospects of one seems to me unlikely unless the advocates for economic justice cave once again.   It does not look like that will happen.  And, Paul Ryan is the lead negotiator for the Scrooge/Crazy/Ayn Rand coalition.  So, the first part of the sequester bomb exploded this week and those depending on food stamps to avoid starvation saw their pittance shrink.

So, who is to blame?  Those who have no compassion or those who have compassion but were willing to bet the welfare of poor families that a fair deal could be negotiated with heartless politicians?  Poker players know better than to bet the rent money, especially on filling an inside straight.   Obama has not proved to be a very good judge of the other players in his political game.

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The Politics of Meanness

July 13, 2013 § Leave a comment

Some times it seems to me that a rogue strain of conservatism, generally identified as the “Tea Party” wing of the Republican Party, has forfeited the right to be referred to as “conservative”.  It appears to me closer to nihilism, the philosophical opposite of conservatism.   I fail to see what is sought to be conserved by these politicians.

Nihilism is the rejection of all religious and philosophical principles.  I know they profess passionate devotion to Christianity, but the Tea Party’s actions and choices are not consistent with any Christian doctrine of which I am aware.  If, as promised by Christ’s post-resurrection organizers, he returned to earth and settled in North Carolina or Texas, the only issue for debate among these Tea Party jackasses would be whether to brand him a communist or a lunatic.  They show no signs of having taken a break from their braying to read the Sermon on the Mount.

Even Ayn Rand and Friedrich Von Hayek didn’t offer justification for the behavior of these Tea Party  government haters.  Both of those writers glorified  individual self reliance and opposed government intervention to cushion the consequences of free market capitalism, but neither of them encouraged self-righteous hostility toward vulnerable or powerless men, women and children.

In North Carolina, the current breeding ground for Tea Party zealots, they recently slashed unemployment benefits for jobless Tarheels.  They claimed that increasing the pain of being without a job would motivate the sufferers to try harder to find work.  Not since Johnathan Swift’s 1749 “Modest Proposal” that the Irish poor alleviate their poverty by selling their children to be eaten by their wealthy neighbors has this level of disregard for the plight of others been so cruelly expressed.  This reference is unfair to Swift.  His was a humerus, if bitter, satire.  The only emotion apparent in these Carolina legislators is ruthless indifference.

Unfortunately, that is only an example of other, equally heartless, policies espoused by these Tea Partiers.  In Texas, last week, Rick Perry, the governor of our state, having failed in his first attempt, tenaciously persevered in his determination to take a wrecking ball to womens’ health care in Texas.  Summoned to a special session, the Legislature obediently adopted new laws that are designed to close all but five of the clinics where Texas women can seek abortions.  But, that wasn’t enough.  The health care givers in those clinics do not limit themselves to abortions.  They also offer preventive health care and other types of health care needed by women.  The result of the new “pro life” measures will make basic health care hundreds of miles away from women living in parts of West Texas.

This is a typical example of the cruelty and heartlessness of this “pro life” doctrine.  They shed crocodile tears about dead fetuses while destroying health care systems and safety net measures needed to care for babies and their mothers.  The Affordable Care Act offered seven billion dollars of federal money to Texas to finance one hundred percent of the cost of expanding availability of Medicaid, the program that makes Medicare coverage available to people too poor to afford health insurance.  Perry disdainfully turned it down, calling it an infringement of Texas’ right  to design its own program to care for its poor, a pathetic claim in view of the fact that Texas has one of the stingiest welfare programs in the Country.  It is a virtual certainty that PerryCare will be nothing but a cruel joke, not motivated by anything but hatred for the Obama administration and dedication to doing  everything possible to sabotage the implementation of  the Affordable Care Act, regardless of how many Texans die due to lack o f proper health care.

The Tea Party’s policies do not merely aim at harming needy individuals, they also seek to weaken the foundation of our democratic form of government.  Democracy is a form of government that is supposed to conform its policies to the wishes of those who will be affected by them, expressed through votes cast at elections.  Throughout America, everywhere the Tea Party has gained power, a war is waged against the right of citizens to vote in elections.  The period of time for voting is reduced.  The qualifications for voting are increased in ways deliberately designed to disenfranchise blacks, Hispanics, young people and poor people – segments of the population that have shown a disinclination to support Tea Party candidates.  Districts describing the electorate upon whose votes the election of Congressmen and many elected officials depend (City Council members, County Commissioners, school board members, e.g.) are redrawn to insure the perpetuation of Tea Party control of those bodies.

The invariable and consistent characteristic of all Tea Party policies toward democratic government is to make voting more difficult and reduce the power of voters to change or affect their government’s policies.

To summarize:  These Tea Party politicians are a threat to our culture and our form of government.  They threaten the rule of law that guarantees the right of our people to exercise rights protected by our Constitution.  They are a challenge to our collective conscience.  They are a bone in our throat.  They must be coughed up and spit out lest they strangle us.

Bob

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