Friday, December 16, 2011

Morally Reprehensible

I hate to say it, and I am not at all pleased about it, but I am finally forced to admit that I believe it is true, our country, the United States of America, is a morally reprehensible nation. I do not mean that only certain elements in it are morally reprehensible (although some are probably more so than others), I mean it is morally reprehensible from top to bottom, from corner to corner, from state to state, county to city, town to hamlet. Not only that, I believe our moral status in the world is not only reprehensible, it is irresponsible and indefensible as well.

We proudly claim to be the wealthiest, most powerful nation on earth, the wonderful “Beacon on the hill,” the land of opportunity, the model of democracy, the land of the free and the home of the brave. How do you reconcile such claims with the facts that one of every five of our children is living in poverty, one in every forty-five are homeless, and roughly one half of our population is living either in poverty or on the edge of poverty? We have children testifying they have been homeless all or most of their lives, do not have enough to eat, cannot see a doctor or a dentist, live in their cars or on the street, and have no hope for the future. Many of them realize their parents are doing the best they can, they work, but the best they can is not good enough because their wages are too low to provide an adequate living. This is true now, right now, right here in this country we profess to be so great. This is shameful, disgusting, reprehensible, immoral, and virtually unprecedented among the more industrialized, supposedly “civilized” nations on earth. And while we have the power to do something about it, we don’t, and haven’t for a long time.

I do not believe Republicans are uniquely responsible for the condition we currently find ourselves in, but at the moment they do constitute the single most important reason nothing is being done to alleviate the poverty and misery that now infects our country, taken over by a plague of greedy locusts consuming everything in sight. A small group of Republicans in the House of Representatives has managed to block every effort to improve the conditions of our lives. They have not themselves offered a single jobs bill, and they have opposed every effort on the part of President Obama and the democrats to create jobs. They are opposed to unemployment insurance, universal health care, a minimum wage, Social Security, and even a reduction in taxes for the Middle class where it is desperately needed. They oppose any effort to improve the lot of the Middle class and the poor while at the same time insisting that taxes cannot be raised even minimally on the wealthiest people in the country. And they repeatedly use blackmail to get their way, threatening to shut down the country if they cannot have their pounds of flesh. They are unmoved by the testimony of homeless children, impervious to the facts of poverty, and oblivious to the obligations of the offices they hold. They are beyond any doubt beyond shame, beyond guilt, beyond reason, and past all dishonor. They are morally reprehensible, human parasites feeding on the public trust, betraying their oaths of office, trashing the ideals upon which our nation was founded, and promoting completely unnecessary misery for millions.

Some of them profess ideological reasons for their sadistic behavior, but it is an ideology of greed, of the jungle, a primitive form of social Darwinism that decent people abandoned long ago. It is an ideology that basically denies the social foundations of human societies in favor of a “dog eat dog” system that pits individuals against each other in mad attempts to get more, more, more, always more. It is a belief in a form of unregulated capitalism that inevitably results in most of the collective wealth ending up in the hands of a few and the enslavement of the many. The basic idea of sharing, common to virtually all previously known human groups (that we refer to as “primitive”), has no place in such a system, morality becomes a foreign concept fit only for “socialists,” “communists,” and “suckers.”

Our country is not only morally reprehensible when it comes to domestic affairs, it is equally reprehensible when it comes to international affairs. Would you believe a candidate for the Presidency of the United States was roundly condemned for suggesting we should not bomb a sovereign country simply because we believe they might someday be a threat to us? Would you believe that one candidate actually said Iran was not only building a nuclear bomb (for which there is no evidence), but as soon as they had one they would use it to attack Israel and the United States, claims so idiotic they should have been uttered by someone already in a straightjacket. With one exception every Republican candidate has indicated they are not only willing but actually eager to start a war with Iran, ideas not only morally reprehensible but also completely irresponsible, totally thoughtless, and unworthy of anyone professing to seek the Presidency.

Congress consists of one third, more or less, scoundrels; two thirds, more or less, idiots; and three thirds, more or less, poltroons.

H. L. Mencken

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