Friday, January 21, 2011

Let 'em Starve

His way to the bathroom blocked
by a food cart, he kicks it over
and punches the stewardess.

I don’t watch Chris Matthews because, well, because it’s basically about Chris Matthews. He talks over his guests constantly and obviously believes his views are the only ones that matter. He is really terrible as a host. Anyway, that is neither here nor there. Today I happened in front of a TV when he was interviewing two fellows, at least one a Tea Party representative (I think the other one was also, but he was at least a conservative Republican). They were apparently discussing a plan to reduce our national debt by cutting lots and lots of Federal jobs. They obviously believed these Federal employees did nothing of importance, received far too large salaries, and would not even be missed. There might, of course, be some grain of truth in this. But what really stunned me was when Matthews asked them what would happen to all these laid off workers. One of them said, well, if they were any good they could find jobs in the public sector, and then said, literally, if they can’t they can just starve! I swear this is what I heard. So I guess that is what these people actually believe, let ‘em starve. This is of course perfectly consistent with their failure to offer any help to the so-called 99’ers, those unfortunate souls who have used up their 99 weeks of unemployment benefits and have nowhere else to turn. This is also perfectly consistent with what I take to be their social Darwinist views in general, let only the strong survive. But is that the kind of society we want to live in? Do we truly want millions of people, including children, living in poverty, going hungry, in “the greatest nation on earth?” Republicans apparently are intent on taking away any safety net they can, health care, Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, you name it. They also seem quite content to do away with a minimum wage, labor unions, and anything that benefits ordinary citizens. As far as I know there is no other “technologically advanced,” “civilized,” “modern,” society that shares this attitude and simply allows their citizens to starve. This is not the kind of society I wish to live in (although realistically I now have little choice).

I confess I find all this hard to understand. Why, for example, would anyone want to take away health care from people? The health care bill certainly is not perfect, nor does it go far enough, but it is far better than just allowing the insurance companies to make their profits out of people’s misery as they have done and continue to try to do. But Republicans are apparently owned lock, stock, and barrel by the insurance companies, and represent their interests rather than the public interest. Indeed, the public interest seems to be entirely a thing of the past. And they are so blatantly hypocritical about what they are doing. They say, for example, they are concerned with the deficit, while at the same time trying to repeal health care than, if successful, will add 230 billion dollars to the deficit. Similarly, their concern over the debt doesn’t extend to concern over adding billions to the debt to give tax breaks to the obscenely wealthy that do not even need them.

Republicans, and I fear perhaps American in general, apparently have priorities that are so bizarre as to be virtually impossible to understand. For example, they balk at having to pay taxes for universal health care, but if health care isn’t worth spending money for, what is? The answer, I guess, is to pay for permanent “wars,” because that is where most of our money goes these days and the military budget seems to be untouchable. This in spite of the fact that our military budget is greater than all the rest of the world combined. To help eliminate the budget deficit they suggest cutting Social Security, a program that does not add to the deficit, but they do not seriously consider cutting the bloated Pentagon budget. I find this truly bizarre, almost unbelievable, and yet it goes on year after year. We can’t, they argue, afford education, infrastructure, health care, environmental protection, improved transportation, police, firemen, health inspectors, and so on, but we can afford endless, completely unnecessary and even illegal, unconstitutional “wars.” This is, in a word, insane. I wish I could be around long enough to hear someone try to explain this to our grandchildren. Someone has sold us a system that is so dysfunctional it will eventually destroy us if left unchecked and we seem at the moment to not even have buyer’s remorse. Someone once posted a sign that read, “Tomorrow is canceled due to lack of interest,” and someone else said “Stop the world, I want to get off.” I don’t know who these people were but I do believe they were on to something.

Let us think the unthinkable, let us do the undoable. Let us prepare to grapple with the ineffable itself, and see if we may not eff it after all.
Douglas Adams

There are 400,000 known species of beetles and new ones are still being discovered.

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