One of the more difficult tasks for the military is teaching soldiers to disassociate their feelings of humanity in combat situations to prevent them from hesitating to fire their weapon if they are ever confronted by an armed adversary. There are many professions that require leaders to have a certain amount of pure objectivity in order to make decisions that benefit the greater good whether it is a construction company, hospital, or a government. However, government leaders must take into account the human toll of their decisions whether it is going to war or dealing with a budget, and as Americans have witnessed for the past year, Republicans have lost any sense of concern for Americans as human beings; if they ever had any.
With all the talk this week about the deficit and budget cuts, it appears Republicans have no interest in considering what effect their Draconian budgets have on their fellow Americans. Of course, men like Paul Ryan, John Boehner, and Willard Romney are pushing the “reduce the national debt” meme, but their arguments fall flat when they continue advocating for harsher cuts to social safety nets while giving more entitlements to the wealthy and big oil. Earlier this week, Boehner promised Republicans would extend the Bush-era tax cuts that are projected to cost $8.1 trillion, and then had the audacity to promise to hold a debt ceiling increase hostage for even more cuts to safety nets to more than offset the amount the debt limit is increased. It makes absolutely no sense on a fiscal level, but on a human level, it is downright evil.
Willard Romney and Paul Ryan’s budgets make vicious cuts to safety net spending such as SNAP (food stamps), and transform Medicare to a voucher system to save money, but any savings will not even cover a fraction of the huge tax cuts for the rich. This is not a political or budget issue any more; it is a human tragedy at the hands of one political party who completely disregards the human toll they seem perfectly fine imposing on American citizens. Early in the Republican primary, Willard Romney made a flippant comment that he does not worry about the very poor, and qualified his contemptible remark by claiming there are safety nets to take care of the most vulnerable Americans. However, his grand economic scam decimates the safety nets more severely than the Ryan budget informing that Romney’s first remark that he doesn’t worry about the very poor means he doesn’t care about the poor.
Republicans are wont to claim America is a Christian nation, and Romney particularly promotes himself and his Mormonism as being Christian, but he is as far afield from Christ’s admonition to care for the poor as his faith is from Christianity. It is well-known that Romney has no idea what it is like to be hungry, or wonder where his family’s next meal will come from, but where is his sense of compassion? The recent Ryan budget that passed the Republican-controlled House was endorsed by Romney, and besides cuts to education and privatizing Medicare, there are massive cuts to food stamps that assist 46 million Americans put food on the table.
Whether Romney or Ryan know it or not, food stamps are not a luxury for elderly Americans or children, they are a lifeline that keeps them alive. The requirements to be eligible for the SNAP program are robust enough that only the neediest Americans are able to qualify for assistance and a fair share of those who do qualify are the working poor who fall below the federal poverty line. Over the past week, this author interviewed several families who use food stamps, and every family had at least one adult in the workforce and still desperately needed help to feed their families. The trend toward paying minimum wage for part-time work to avoid giving lunch breaks and benefits is a model more large companies like Wal Mart are using to increase their profits, but it is slowly sending more Americans into poverty. The overriding message the people who were willing to share their stories was that they want a good, living-wage job instead of depending on government assistance, and the shame these good Americans feel at having to accept handouts is crushing.
The stories were all the same and most of the families were not making it from paycheck to paycheck, and half had moved in with family members to make ends meet. Every one of the families were mortified that when school is on recess in two weeks, their children will miss a meal a day throughout the summer, and all the parents shared that they went without food so their children had something to eat. These are human beings, Americans, who are barely surviving, and Republicans are pushing hard to put them on the street without any assistance. To be honest, it was extremely heart-rending to sit and watch grown men break down and weep out of sheer despair and hear them wonder aloud what kind of politicians would cut necessities while giving the rich bigger tax cuts. These families did not have computers, cable television, or money to put gas in their cars and half of them resorted to walking to work because they could not even afford to use public transit and still afford food.
There is something wrong with Republicans and their supporters who have become cold and heartless to advocate for more entitlements for the wealthy while the poorest of the poor are going to bed hungry. Do Republicans know that 17 million children go to bed hungry every night of their lives? One hopes they do not, but the figures are reported in mainstream news outlets so they have to know what their policies are doing to our most vulnerable citizens. According to the Agriculture Department, 50 million Americans were unable to afford to buy sufficient food in the past year. Tom Vilsack, the Agriculture Secretary said, “These numbers are a wake-up call … for us to get very serious about food security and hunger, about nutrition and food safety in this country.” Vilsack also said the numbers would get worse, and that 96% of the 50 million reported the food they did buy did not last till their next paycheck. This is happening in the richest country in the history of the world, and Republicans are cutting back to save money to fund more tax cuts for the wealthy.
There are, frankly, no words to describe the heartlessness of any American who takes food away from the poor to give the rich bigger tax cuts. It is beyond evil and should cause abject shame among those pushing for more cuts. But that is the problem with heartless human beings. They have no shame, no morals, and forget about ethics. However, this is the America Republicans desire. Romney likes to claim this election is about what kind of America the voters want and he has laid out in detail the America he envisions where $19,000 is a good middle-class income, and the wealthy get a $10.7 trillion tax cut while millions of children, elderly, and working poor Americans starve to death or perish from lack of adequate healthcare. Maybe that is the Republican’s plan though; kill off the poorest Americans and save more money for the ultra-rich, and the saddest aspect is that they have garnered support from many of their intended victims who cannot get past their bible’s prohibition on same-sex marriage, contraception, or their racist objection to the one man who has the best chance to save them.
Audio engineer and instructor for SAE. Writes op/ed commentary supporting Secular Humanist causes, and exposing suppression of women, the poor, and minorities. An advocate for freedom of religion and particularly, freedom of NO religion.
Born in the South, raised in the Mid-West and California for a well-rounded view of America; it doesn’t look good.
Former minister, lifelong musician, Mahayana Zen-Buddhist.