The Homeless Among Us
In reading Pat Morgan's excellent column on homelessness (Viewpoint, December 5th issue), I was reminded of a conversation I recently had with a good friend. The topic was the "evil rich." Our country used to be a caring and compassionate place. Those more fortunate gladly lent a helping hand to the less fortunate. Doctors actually cared for all the sick instead of only the wealthy ones with insurance. Things have really changed.
Studies show that the poor give a far higher percentage of their income to help others than the rich do. Billionaires like Mitt Romney pay a lower percentage of tax on their income than their maids do. The Tea Party wants all help of any kind to the poor cut off in order to give the rich even more. The wealthy are terrified that a few pennies of their millions might go to help a starving child. Republicans want to deprive 60 million Americans of health care.
It is sad to see the rampant greed and apathy in our country. Those who have billions want even more. Those who have nothing are despised and shunned. I miss the country we once were, when there was at least a tiny amount of compassion on the part of our wealthy.
Ten to Die
The state of Tennessee has decided to execute 10 men who are currently on death row. While their crimes are abhorrent to concerned persons in Tennessee, many citizens of the state are also dismayed at the inhumanity of the actions planned by our government. To kill these men in a premeditated manner is to dehumanize them as not worthy of life or of the respect to be given to every living person.
The state seems to see them as the product of a cold and hard judicial process without regard to possible innocence, mental disability at the time of the murders they committed, or any other aspect of their condition as fellow humans. Who would want to look them in the eye and apply the death penalty without looking also deeply into their souls? Who is so callous that the only manner of responding to their crimes is to wipe them out of our sight and memory?
Except that we cannot quite forget them. As we dehumanize those who commit crimes, we lose a degree of humanity ourselves. Who has appointed any human person or any body of human persons with the power to judge anyone as deserving death by our hands? In the Book of Job we learn that it is the Creator who gives life and who takes it away. It seems that we overstep the bounds of humanity to appropriate that power of taking life away to any human agent.
Most Americans celebrate Christmas on December 25th. We use that date to mark the birth of our Lord. Some Americans have been celebrating a different form of Christmas since 1980.
That's the year Ronald Reagan became president, and it was the birth of trickle-down economics. Since then, the top 10 percent of Americans have seen their wealth skyrocket. The middle class and those living in poverty have been less fortunate. Wages have become stagnant and benefits lost or cut. Demands for higher and higher corporate profits and higher stock prices have driven most of these cuts. Wall Street investors and corporate CEOs and boards have amassed huge fortunes.
It is well past time for Congress to raise the minimum wage. Since the last raise in minimum wage, members of Congress have given themselves three raises. Raising incomes for the working class will put money into the system so it can "trickle up."
Tea Party members love to call themselves "patriots." I have a couple of questions for them: Do patriots shut down the government, wreaking havoc on the economy and business? Do patriots throw millions of Americans and elderly off food assistance? Do patriots try to undo the law that provides health care for tens of millions of Americans, including them? Do true patriots hate the president of their own country?
Tea Party supporters seem incapable of functioning in the type of democratic republic they pretend to love. The things they are doing certainly aren't for the people, of the people, and by the people. The Republican Party will live to rue the day they let the Tea Party into their tent.