Saturday, February 23, 2013

Ask Yourself

I keep seeing stories about different people and groups that have been working for years trying to get rid of Social Security and Medicare. I've seen different articles citing people who have been in politics for years, who are linked to powerful corporations or people, and who have been trying to abolish these programs for decades. 

One such person, Peter G. Peterson, a billionaire  and former Nixon crony, has used his wealth to support programs designed to sway the public opinion against Social Security under the guise of repairing the "nation's debt problem", the "unsustainable" federal budget deficits. Peterson "sold his private equity firm Blackstone Group on the eve of the financial crisis" but "failed to warn of the $8 trillion housing bubble" despite constantly spouting dire apocalyptic warnings. Later he promised to "fix America's key fiscal sustainability problems" by pledging $1 billion. He is another one of the conservatives on the right who only cares about himself and is willing to work diligently to make sure poor people have less to survive on. 

It amazes me that these selfish, greedy, nasty people have tried their entire lives to take away programs set up to protect and strengthen different demographic groups who are in the most need of protecting, yet they can afford insurance and healthcare for themselves and have no empathy for their fellow men.

Everyone who is in politics on the conservative right is working to strip hardworking Americans of their entitlement programs.  Let me stop here and explain something to you before you go ballistic. Entitlement means something someone is entitled to. For example, every person is entitled to the right to pursue happiness, however that may be. Some people want to work in a circus, others want to work on Wall Street, but I repeat myself. Entitlement does not mean GIFT, or free, or handout. It means you earned it or you deserve it, or you qualify for it. Contrary to common believe many people don't even apply for any aid despite qualifying because they don't want to take charity. They may really need some programs, but they don't want to be looked down on by their peers.

When my children were young they qualified for reduced lunch one year. The school sent a form home for me to fill out. We were on the upper end of the scale but we qualified.  The boys had reduced lunches for a while, until Don's work picked up and we were able to pay the full amount again. I was afraid the school would stigmatize my children for being "poor" and not treat them equally. Because of that pride, or fear, we declined reduced lunches as soon as we could. Lots of people are too proud, or ashamed, to accept help, even if those very programs are in place to help those very people who need them.

I hear such nasty things from people on the internet who "don't want their tax money to go to poor people." They sneer at people who are so needy that they can't afford to live without government help, and they accuse them of being lazy, or shiftless, or unworthy in some way. They accuse poor people of using government money to buy drugs even though it has been proven time and time again that people who are on welfare are no more likely to take drugs than any other group of people in any economic group. It's simply a scare tactic used by the brainwashed, or manipulative, to rip on the weakest people in society. 

Those same people don't say a word about the billionaires who are manipulating the public, swaying blind followers to support tax cuts for the rich. Never in my lifetime have the corporations and wealthiest citizens in this country had such control and support from lower and middle class citizens who believe the propaganda the Republicans have using to control them. They have been using fear and hot button issues to sway the voters for years.  

One example of the Republicans using hot topics to control their constituents is the example of abortion. Every year, in and out, there is a heated debate about abortion which locks the pro-choice against the anti-choice supporters in a heated battle to protect, or deny, women equal rights. Someone said that the Republicans don't want to really abolish abortion because they use it to incite their voting base and stir them up to vote. I suppose that is partly true, but states have been working diligently to strip states of the right to any access to abortion clinics and Planned Parenthood clinics, of which only about 3% of their income goes towards abortions. Republicans don't care if women are stripped of the right to medical care as long as they can proclaim to their base that they are squashing any possibility of abortions, no matter the cost. 

I guess it doesn't matter how many women don't get gynecological care which can save many lives. Women's first defense against cancer is an annual physical and pap smear. Planned Parenthood works with health centers throughout the country to serve the poorest people in communities. It is some women's only hope. Planned Parenthood not only cares for women, but it also provides services to help young mothers care for their infants and children.

Every time I read about some conservative trying to cut social services I think about the lives they are willing to destroy, and I wonder how people could vote for these people. Isn't it obvious that Republicans only care about the "almighty dollar" and "what's in it for me"?

Rich people will never understand what it is like to live on a fixed income. They never had to struggle to buy food, pay rent, or bills. They can never conceive of living on minimum wages and raising a family in a dumpy neighborhood scraping to get by, living from paycheck to paycheck. No wonder they have no empathy. Their lack of empathy and patriotism makes it easy for them to outsource jobs to China or India. Their lack of respect for workers gives them the audacity to cut full time employees and cut part time hours so that they won't have to provide insurance coverage under the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare.

These same fat cats want to keep their tax cuts and limitless loopholes but cry for the slashing of Social Security and Medicare for everybody in America to cut the budget. They have raked in record profits and giant salaries since the Great Recession, but they claim that it is too expensive to provide insurance coverage for their employees. They think its a disgrace to raise minimum wage which is $7.25 an hour although the populace are the main consumers in this country. Without discretionary spending the economy grinds to a halt. The argument about raising the minimum wage to a more respectable $9 an hour would cause everything to cost more is a hollow argument. If you have been sleeping and haven't noticed, every year prices go up. 

Every year, whether Don gets a dime raise or not, everything costs more. Our property taxes and insurance goes up. Our phone bill, electric bill, TV, and internet bill goes up. Everything goes up. Any profit we get from a raise increase is gobbled up by every other service or tax we have to pay. The only bill that has supposedly decreased is the gas bill, but I wouldn't be surprised if it wasn't lower because of warmer weather. Global warming, don't you know. Still, I wonder how people who don't have a decent income are able to survive.

Children who are raised in poverty don't have the resources to help them climb out of poverty unless the government invests in them, whether it is with reduced lunch programs, food stamps, or medical care at health centers instead of with family doctors because they can't afford doctor's fees.

Nobody can choose whose family they are born into. You can no more choose your parents than you can control your situation when you are young. If you are lucky enough to be born into a family with money you don't have to worry about anything. Your parents will provide for you. But if you are born in a family who isn't so fortunate, you are at the mercy of society. A selfish, and thoughtless society which ignores its children will spawn a society of selfish, thoughtless people, and some of those people will rebel and fight back. Some people will steal and cheat to get ahead. The callousness and insensitivity will grow until the whole country becomes like that.

Children aren't the only ones who will be affected by austerity and cuts in services that shore up the poor, or young. Old people are at the mercy of the government. The government guarantees them access to healthcare and their earned pension funds they have been paying into all their lives through their FICA taxes. This is not an entitlement, people. It is something you have been paying into for years. It's like a savings account that the government has guaranteed will be there for you when you are retired. 

As the older generation moves towards retirement, jobs will become vacant and younger people will step in to fill those vacancies. Young people working and paying into Social Security will be investing in the retirement of their predecessors and insuring them a safe and livable income. None of that will happen if the government does not protect the rights of our workforce and citizenry and provide them with their full entitlement to live on.

As I look at the indifference and rabid disdain for the poor and those going on Social Security, which by the way everyone will eventually qualify for, I wonder how our country got so screwed up. When I think about people like Peter Peterson, who has spent his entire life trying to dismantle Social Security, I have to ask myself why someone who has everything they could ask for would want to deny the same rights for a decent living to the poor or middle class. They truly don't understand what it is to be a normal person. They certainly don't care about normal people. Normal people are beneath them and don't deserve access to healthcare, food, or a decent education. Normal people are only there to serve the rich. Other than that, they don't count.

I don't believe that will make America a better country. I do believe it will make it a bloodthirsty, greedy country if we continue this way. My only hope is that people are beginning to wake up and question the direction that the Republicans are trying to take this country. We still have many more issues that need to be resolved in this country, but the most important issue we face today is the battle between the wealthy Republicans and the liberal Democrats. It's like a battle between David and Goliath. I'm betting on the little guy. 

America is a great country and it was a strong country with a booming economy until George Bush maneuvered us into two wars in three years. Thousands and thousands of soldiers left their homes and were deployed time and again to Afghanistan or Iraq. During that cycle of tour people lost the jobs they had been working at before the wars. The stress on our economy, and the lies and manipulation of the government, has taken a toll on this country. It will probably take decades to regain our footing. 

When you hear about people who want to deny people entitlements remember that entitlements are not gifts. The best gift America can give her citizens is the gift of helping those who need it and taxing those who earn the most in proportion to the rest of society. Rewarding the rich while denying poorer people access to social services creates inequality. 

When you hear people decrying social services and any and all programs for the lower income or general population ask yourself WHY they want to dismantle a safety net that went into effect August 14, 1935 to help the country when everyone was struggling to survive after the Great Depression. This system has been the saving grace of millions of Americans who have retired over the years. Now our country is trying to strip us of an investment we made and agreed to 78 years ago. I think Social Security and all government programs to assist its citizenry is as relevant today as it was during Roosevelt's day. He was a wise and astute man who had a vision for the future to provide a system that ensures our country grows by assisting the weaker, or elderly, or young, or feeble. There will always be people in the world who need protection. It should be an inalienable right. Protection for all.

Ask yourself if the people who want to cut Social Security and Medicare have your best interests at heart. Ask yourself if it is really in your best interest for rich people to pay a lower tax scale than you. Ask yourself why.


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