Democrats & Liberals Archives

The Camel and the Gorilla

The disapproval of greed is nothing new in world civilization, and neither is the position that those who have more must do more for others, be more generous. It’s ironic that many who advertise their Christianity nonetheless turn around and call it class warfare when somebody demands that the rich pay their share. Jesus said that it was easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than a rich person get into the Kingdom of Heaven. Why haven’t the Republicans turned against this socialist?

After all, they've confronted Democrats for wanting a higher tax rate on them. Never mind that the Rich and the Poor alike prospered under the previous tax rate, especially since it was helping to reduce our debt.

They say, what could possibly be wrong with people wanting to keep more of their money?

I've gone over the practical considerations in this entry, and this entry as well, so I don't feel it necessary to rehash those other reasons.

In times past, it was expected that you, as a member of the upper economic and social classes, would do right by your fellow man, carry more of the burden, that you wouldn't be so attached to all that you had that you would stand by, and let those less fortunate than you suffer, if you saw that.

It's as ancient as the law of Moses itself:

Deut. 15:7. If there is a poor man among you, one of your brothers, in any of the towns of the land which the LORD your God is giving you, you shall not harden your heart, nor close your hand to your poor brother; but you shall freely open your hand to him, and generously lend him sufficient for his need in whatever he lacks.

A common theme through many ancient societies, where the rulers were monarchs and aristocrats, was that the good kings and good lords were generous to the poor. To go even further, the rejection of worldly prosperity was often necessary in the lives of different religious leaders and saints to their sanctification. Siddharta Gautama, according to the legend surrounding him, left a life of princely palace splendor to become an ascetic, after being confronted with the realities of poverty, sickness, old age and death. This would be his first step to becoming Buddha. Jesus rejected worldly power and wealth in rejecting one of the temptations of Satan. St. Francis of Assisi renounced his family's wealth, stripping himself bare, rather than taking with him the fine clothes of his former life.

Not everybody was expected to reject wealth and prosperity to that degree, but greed has long been looked down upon, and those who let their greed motivate them to do things that harmed others are especially depised.

Charles Dicken's stories would not have the same flavor, especially A Christmas Carol, without the effects of the Industrial Revolution on British society. Our own society was not spared these changes, and so both nations, and many more, saw a paradoxical increase in the heights of material wealth, and depths of poverty. The nature of labor changed with the source of that labor's power.

Once, skilled workers were needed in numbers to deal with specialized tasks. Industrialization allowed machines to take many of those skilled tasks and make them something that fewer unskilled people could accomplish. Labor became more of a commodity than something you had to develop. Industrialization reduced the value of the individual to the corporation, even as it increased the value and the riches of the corporations themselves, and those who ran them. Corporate law even changed so that Corporations could go from being limited purpose institutions to being generalized businesses.

People tried to run things as they had run things for years, but the result was a gaping, horrifying distance between the haves and the have nots, and all the social and economic problems that come with that. What's more, the growing wealth of the industrial elite made for an worsening of the tendency towards aristocratic behavior that marks any upper class in modern civilzation, where wealth and privilege separate people in both interests and in daily life from truly dealing with others as equals.

We have to realize that this is not a negligible effect. This kind of blindspot can be particularly pernicious when folks are in hard economic times. If you daily life is comfort and plenty, you will not understand in any visceral sense, the plight of the poor and the working class, and not understanding it, you may pit yourself against those who would call upon you to help those people, or at least stop hurting them.

We see, all through the industrial age and the gilded age, an increase in both the power of the upper class and rich, and an increase in the anger and dissatisfaction with those people in the elite. The two are not unconnected. We see the beginnings of progressive, liberal, socialistic, and other movements that aim to rein in the upper class because people are responding to the effects of the greed of the elite in their own lives.

The vain hope of modern conservatives is that people will eventually get used to having government remain a bystander, or an active helper to the economic and corporate elite. They may be able to misdirect it or shunt it to the side, but they will never have peace. Even if they cripple Democracy entirely, they will never have peace. Europe's aristocracy and its socialist movements, I feel, go hand in hand. When you have an elite who can escalate a power struggle to extreme levels, you get the angry mobs who get goaded to rage right back at events.

The more Republicans try to tamp down on this thirst for justice, the worse they're going to make it. People wil not stop being victimized by the healthcare system, so you will not see the end of advocacy for different, better system anytime soon, simply because you defeated the latest iteration of healthcare. You will not see people stop raging at Wall Street when their irresponsible speculation and derivatives dealings keep crashing the markets. People will be motivated to push the government to intercede every time that happens.

You will not see the end of advocacy for dealing with energy, or manufacturing, or any of these other issues, so long as those issues have pressing consequences in people's lives. So long as it something people have to worry about, so long as its something people will feel pressure to deal with, it's all going to be the Eight-Hundred Pound Gorilla in the Room. Or the Elephant if you prefer. Either way, as much as Republicans, Tea-flavored or otherwise would wish, they're not going to be able to sustain a libertarian system for any length of time. History has shown that the Free Market will not rein itself in, and so long as that doesn't happen, the pressure to have government intercede will never go away.

If they were smart, leaders in the conservative movement would realize that they push things too far, that there's a point at which they're allowing the abuses that continually motivate people to balk at or even oppose their agenda. Government can only govern least and get away with it, when it governs best. When it doesn't govern properly, our system is designed to vent that dissatisfaction right through those in charge. If the Republicans think that they can make advances or even take over, and not have to deal with all the messy problems, they're just kidding themselves. The greater the power they wield, the more they will held responsible.

While they managed to hobble the Democrats in the Senate, and thereby make them look ineffectual, they will not find themselves simply able to pick up where they left off if they get back in charge. The weight of all the outrages of the last decade will not be spared from their shoulders, and if they govern now, like they did before, they may just make Republicans a permanent minority party for the near future in the way today's all too passive Democrats have not been able to do.

Republicans mistakenly believe that their party's worst enemy are those damn liberals. The awful reality for them, whether they win or not, is that they are their own worst enemy right now. They are destroying the ranks of those with whom they could compromise. They are pushing policies that will undoubtedly make them look irresponsible, corrupt, and elitist, and sooner or later, the newer generations of Democrats, the ones who aren't as deferential or yielding as today's veterants of the party, will take over. Those people will understand that their constituencies expect more from them than simply warming up seats to preserve a majority. Those people won't spare Republicans the rhetoric, won't shy away from doing a little rabble rousing themselves.

And those Democrats will have an inherent advantage: their political philosophy will allow them to actually do something about the problems of their constituents.

See, the Gorilla or Elephant in the room for Republicans is that their policies essentially represent a return to the elitist policies of the Gilded age, that golden time for the Rich when big government wasn't a problem, when taxes were all low, when you could trade on Wall Street anyway you liked, and not have to be accountable to somebody else. You could pay your workers what the market could bear, not have to worry too much about their safety. pour money into political campaigns to influence the politics of the country, gobble up other businesses until you had control over everything, and just about do what you want.

The reality, though, is that this system was not sustainable. It was favorable to those who enjoyed wealth and privilege at the time, but public sentiment swelled everytime some factory burned down, or people saw children with their hands ripped off by machines, or they saw the prices raised as the monopolies and trusts exerted their power. Everytime the markets crashed and a depression would occur, the politicians would be dealing with the anger from the community, from the constituents.

It didn't matter that these people didn't want to deal with these issues, they would come up anyways, and the failure to act appropriately would carry with it a political cost.

Nowadays, they try to paper over it, cover over it with layers of bureaucracy and a friendly media machine, but that only serves to act like a lid on a pressure cooker, letting the grassroots dissatisfaction and cynicism with the current leaders build up to politically lethal levels. The Gorilla does not like to be ignored!

I would say that it is not liberalism that is making things difficult for Democrats currently, it's the perception that on these counts, on the counts of being flaks for the big businesses and special interests, Democrats are little better. As a person with a long memory of the last twenty or so years of Republican policy, I couldn't disagree more, but too many Democrats in Washington are making my job of convincing people that things can get a lot worse a lot harder. However, if the Republicans, having managed to disillusion Democratic Party voters think they can get away with doing all the things Democrats were doing, or more so, then they are out of their minds.

The Gorilla in the Room is that the little guy, the small people as the BP exec called them, wants somebody to stand up for them. The Gorilla in the Room is that these people are not stupid, and they will not read the Tea Partiers joining the parade of corruption any better than they would read the Democrats failing to stand up for them sufficiently these past few years.

If Conservatives and Republicans are slapping themselves on the back now, I would say, just wait. I have never seen a party so obliviously intent on throwing itself back into the lion's den. Today's Republicans think that the dissatisfaction with corporations and the rich is just some class warfare that the marxists cooked up. I got news for them. Not a lot of good capitalist Americans these days are happy with the greed they see on Wall Street these days, and any idiot who thinks they can openly help those people fulfill their agenda and not feel the backlash deserves to see their dreams of a long term comeback go down in flames.

I just hope it goes down in flames now rather than later. America can't stand much more of this "motivation."

Posted by Stephen Daugherty at September 21, 2010 7:50 PM
Comments
Comment #309006

Stephen,

Please don’t use out of context Bible quotations to justify socialistic wealth redistribution unless you are prepared to accept Bible quotations on other subjects that might conflict with your liberal sensibilities. Check out the following link:

http://www.americanthinker.com/2008/11/was_jesus_a_socialist_that_is.html

I might also suggest you read the encyclical by Pope Leo XIII “Rerum Novarum” (Of Capital and Labor) written in 1891.

In case you think I am some hard hearted right wing zealot who has no compassion, I am a practicing Catholic and a member of the Knights of Columbus. The K of C over the past 10 years has donated 1.4 billion dollars to charity and last year alone donated 69.3 million volunteer hours.

I would be interested in your opinion.

Posted by: Skeptical Boomer at September 21, 2010 9:52 PM
Comment #309010

Skeptical Boomer-
Out of context? The man is too attached to his wealth, and that puts his salvation in question, despite his keeping the commandments.

Read the part where Peter basically implies that the other Disciples and apostles had to do the same thing as Jesus asked of this man.

Not every philosophy that says that some of the wealth of the Rich should be redistributed is socialism. If you’ve made a mistake, it’s not in being hard-hearted. It’s in accepting some rather narrow definitions about economic theory and economic good. Your party sometimes seems to be more influence by Ayn Rand’s ideology than any churches nowadays.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at September 22, 2010 12:32 AM
Comment #309012

Major insurers to drop child policies ahead of coverage mandate

Posted by: Adrienne at September 22, 2010 12:53 AM
Comment #309019

Stephen,

I agree with your assessment of the problems that face the Republicans when they come back into office. I do think your characterization of the Republicans as wanting to return the country to the Gilded Age is overly simplistic.

Your rant in favor of redistribution interests me more though. If you really believe this, why do you not whole-heartedly push for communism?

Posted by: Rob at September 22, 2010 1:46 AM
Comment #309021

Communism? Redistribution? What hole did that ceawl out of?

Adrienne, thanks for the link.

Posted by: Marysdude at September 22, 2010 7:01 AM
Comment #309022

Rob-
You’re making a categorical error if you think I’m a communist, or that I was advocating communism. The lack of a real reference point for what communism actually was in practice has deprived some of perspective of what communism and socialism actually is.

What I would say is communism and socialism are what you get when you have such extreme economic stresses and inequalities in the system that people lose trust that they win or even survive in a capitalist system.

I’m also saying that there’s more to why people turn towards big government than perjorative accusations that Republicans seem to rely upon as an explanation. It saddens me that propaganda has so precluded actual observation, actual listening, when it comes to people like me actually explaining what we believe.

The economy is an engine for distribution and redistribution of wealth, but I’m not for the heavy-handed redistribution of wealth. I understand how the market works better. I just don’t trust it to avoid certain natural pitfalls.

I don’t trust people in Business to naturally disclose everything they ought to disclose in their business dealings. I don’t expect the market to punish often or strongly enough to get people to do so informally. I don’t expect the market to be able to solve the derivatives issue, given the black-box nature of the market, and the insane intricacies and butterfly effect blowouts that the trading in derivatives can take.

Markets must have laws, just as societies must have them, because order in both is not naturally self-sustaining, by the wisdom of crowds alone.

As for returning America to the Gilded age?

Well, look at your policies. Allow greater consolidation, even monopoly behavior? Check. Get rid of Income taxes or make them flat? Check. Get rid of Labor Union power? Check. Do away with trading market regulations? Check. Force wages down below sustainable levels for the cost of living? Check. Work people longer hours than the standard forty, make people sacrifice weekends? Check. Roll back discrimination statutes? Check.

Your mileage may vary on what you support, but the overall platform seeks what is essentially a gilded age set of rules. That is the conservation in conservatism: the restoration of the old model of capitalism.

What I’m arguing is that people got sick of that, became appalled by the results of that, and this created political tensions with that state of affairs, tensions that I would argue grew especially strong in the wake of the market failure of the crash of 1929.

I’m not a communist. I’m not even really a socialist. But I think a capitalist society can’t allow poverty to be too crushing, or the economics of the system to be too unstable, too prone to serious collapses like ours, if it wants to sustain its future.

Liberalism to me is not the opposite of conservativism, the opposite of free-market economics, but rather the compromise that must be made to maintain free markets and private economies long term. I would argue further that without the reforms of the last eighty years, Republicans would be facing a harsher political climate because there would be nothing to keep the crash from getting worse, and that would mean they’d have to argue their way out of an economy where people would willingly embrace communism and socialism out of desperation and contempt for the system that failed them.

Give people little reason to doubt the virtues of capitalism. Let the rule of law rein in those whose abuses would make the system run counter to the interests of most of its population. Let the distribution of income become more fair, more equitable.

And in that way, preserve the sustainability of the free markets.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at September 22, 2010 8:50 AM
Comment #309026

Rob,

You don’t have to be a communist or socialist to be concerned about the economic and/or political consequences of excessive concentration and inequality of wealth distribution. Currently, in the US, the top 1% controls approximately 40% of the nation’s wealth. The top 10% controls approximately 70% of the wealth. Over the past three decades, the degree of wealth inequality has accelerated and exceeded the period prior to the Great Depression. That is a reversal of the trend from the 40s through the 70s which saw a declining wealth gap and a growing middle class. Over the past few decades, the middle class has experienced wage stagnation, increased indebtedness and loss of job opportunities.

I grew up in an era in which it was commonly thought that the great strength of this nation resided in its large and expanding middle class. The relative decline of the middle class over the past few decades suggests to me that the source of the nation’s strength is in decline.


Posted by: Rich at September 22, 2010 11:08 AM
Comment #309031


“wage stagnation, increased indebtedness and a loss of job opportunities.

Wage increases replaced by an easing of credit restrictions, leading to massive consumer debt, known by the term financialism. Coupled with the outsourcing of jobs and the insourcing of cheap labor. The makings of a new gilded age, enhanced by the politicians of both political parties.

History tells us that no matter what economic system is in use, the power structures are dependent on a lack of understanding of democratic principles and participation in the democratic process among the common people.

Posted by: jlw at September 22, 2010 12:46 PM
Comment #309034

Why I take a whole different look at what the Left and Right call the redistribution of wealth, I can understand why some on the Left and Right might be worried. Because for years we have been told if we invest in a, b, and c that everything will be ok; however, surprise surprise the last ten years has thrown out that common wisdom and it seems that nobody on Wall Street or in Washington can explain what or why it is happening. And to make matters worse no one has an answer on how we can solve the problems and still deal with the issues of the 20th Century.

For gone is the norm that says one can plan and save their way out or the idea that uncontrolled unlimited spending can stabilize the market. Yet, heaven forbid someone tells the Youth of the 60’s and Silver Spoons of the 70’s that they did not build a Perfect Better World. Even though anyone who grew up during that era can tell you of all kinds of strange stories as business and the markets in America and around the world adjusted and readjusted in the 70’s and 80’s.

Yet, faced with the same facts as our parents and grandparents and armed with the expanded knowledge of the Children of the 21st Century it seems to me that most on the Left and Right are waiting for the Establishment of today to tell them what the new A, B, and C are so they can return to living their Simple Life of gaining wealth.

For example; we know fossil fuel is limited and at best will last until the muddle of the 21st Century; however, we also know that wind power (both Man-made and Natural)can be used by the average citizen to obtain the electricity they need and provide their fanily with a modest income so the Corporation of Labor and Management can stay competitive in the global market.

But, what will that do to the investments on Wall Street or the stagnation of investments when most people have come out of this latest economic meltdown understanding they cannot rely solely on their advice? Well, just as the 60’s, 70’s, and 80’s seen many gain and lose wealth sometimes overnight should we allow the Camel and Gorilla use their influence on Wall Street and Washington to keep the River of Wealth from flowing.

Posted by: Henry Schlatman at September 22, 2010 1:56 PM
Comment #309074

Stephen,

I think you misunderstand my point. Jesus spoke about free will giving to the poor. Direct charity. He never spoke about paying higher taxes to the Romans so they could take care of the poor. There would be no virtue in coerced charity. Besides, Jesus referred more to poverty of the spirit than poverty of the flesh. The most consistent message throughout the Gospels is not that being rich is bad and being poor is virtuous, but that attachment to material possessions impedes the way to heaven.

I would also like to point out that those considered to be living in poverty in this country are far from “poor” by world standards.

The following are facts about persons defined as “poor” by the Census Bureau, taken from various government reports:

Fortysix percent of all poor households actually own their own homes. The average home owned by persons classified as poor by the Census Bureau is a threebedroom house with oneandahalf baths, a garage, and a porch or patio.
Seventysix percent of poor households have air conditioning. By contrast, 30 years ago, only 36 percent of the entire U.S. population enjoyed air conditioning.
Only 6 percent of poor households are overcrowded. More than twothirds have more than two rooms per person.
The average poor American has more living space than the average individual living in Paris, London, Vienna, Athens, and other cities throughout Europe. (These comparisons are to the average citizens in foreign countries, not to those classified as poor.)
Nearly threequarters of poor households own a car; 30 percent own two or more cars.
Ninetyseven percent of poor households have a color television; over half own two or more color televisions.
Seventyeight percent have a VCR or DVD player; 62 percent have cable or satellite TV reception.
Seventythree percent own microwave ovens, more than half have a stereo, and a third have an automatic dishwasher.
As a group, America’s poor are far from being chronically undernourished. The average consumption of protein, vitamins, and minerals is virtually the same for poor and middleclass children and, in most cases, is well above recommended norms. Poor children actually consume more meat than do higherincome children and have average protein intakes 100 percent above recommended levels. Most poor children today are, in fact, supernourished and grow up to be, on average, one inch taller and 10 pounds heavier that the GIs who stormed the beaches of Normandy in World War II.

While the poor are generally wellnourished, some poor families do experience hunger, meaning a temporary discomfort due to food shortages. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), 13 percent of poor families and 2.6 percent of poor children experience hunger at some point during the year. In most cases, their hunger is shortterm. Eightynine percent of the poor report their families have “enough” food to eat, while only 2 percent say they “often” do not have enough to eat.

Overall, the typical American defined as poor by the government has a car, air conditioning, a refrigerator, a stove, a clothes washer and dryer, and a microwave. He has two color televisions, cable or satellite TV reception, a VCR or DVD player, and a stereo. He is able to obtain medical care. His home is in good repair and is not overcrowded. By his own report, his family is not hungry and he had sufficient funds in the past year to meet his family’s essential needs. While this individual’s life is not opulent, it is equally far from the popular images of dire poverty conveyed by the press, liberal activists, and politicians.

Of course, the living conditions of the average poor American should not be taken as representing all the poor. There is actually a wide range in living conditions among the poor. For example, over a quarter of poor households have cell phones and telephone answering machines, but, at the other extreme, approximately onetenth have no phone at all. While the majority of poor households do not experience significant material problems, roughly a third do experience at least one problem such as overcrowding, temporary hunger, or difficulty getting medical care.

The best news is that remaining poverty can readily be reduced further, particularly among children. There are two main reasons that American children are poor: Their parents don’t work much, and fathers are absent from the home.

In good economic times or bad, the typical poor family with children is supported by only 800 hours of work during a year: That amounts to 16 hours of work per week. If work in each family were raised to 2,000 hours per year the equivalent of one adult working 40 hours per week throughout the year nearly 75 percent of poor children would be lifted out of official poverty.

Father absence is another major cause of child poverty. Nearly twothirds of poor children reside in singleparent homes; each year, an additional 1.3 million children are born out of wedlock. If poor mothers married the fathers of their children, almost threequarters would immediately be lifted out of poverty.

While work and marriage are steady ladders out of poverty, the welfare system perversely remains hostile to both. Major programs such as food stamps, public housing, and Medicaid continue to reward idleness and penalize marriage. If welfare could be turned around to encourage work and marriage, remaining poverty would drop quickly.

Posted by: Skeptical Boomer at September 22, 2010 10:49 PM
Comment #309077

I grew up poor, born on the kitchen table of a house with dirt floors in three rooms, two parents, three sisters and one brother. If the list of things current poor face in comparison to what I faced, I’d say, that’s their American dream. I’d hate like hell for them to have to live the way I did.

Posted by: Marysdude at September 22, 2010 11:01 PM
Comment #309078

There you go Skeptical Boomer, bringing logic and facts into the conversation. Don’t you know, Stephen tries to appeal to us through emotion. Good response though…

Posted by: Beretta9 at September 22, 2010 11:06 PM
Comment #309080

Skeptical Boomer,
If you care to compare the Poor in America to the Poor in the rest of the world than compare the Rich in America to the Rich in the Rest of the World. For why the Learned and Unlearned of Society like to put their best foot forward when talking about who is living the American Dream. I do believe if one compares those who have invented things or have gained fame to those who has relied on The Corporation for their Paychack that they will find the exact opposite exists.

For what is the base pay of a Doctor or Lawyer from Havard? And why should that pay be any different from the Doctor or Lawyer who comes out of a Community College. Or what makes Yale the school of politicians and Columbia the school of lect.

Yes, for to long people have been lead to believe some education is greater than others; however, where is the pay for those who have the natural talent to proform the same jobs? Given that except sports which still provides the worse player of the game the same base pay as others raw talent and self-motivation is usually looked down on.

Thus, the difference between Poor and Rich in America and around the world can be summerized in many ways; nevertheless, holding our Elders and Powers-that-Be to the Principles and Standards of making every Human on Earth economically viable and financially independent does seem equal and fair IMHO.

For why you can tell the Poor and Rich Citizen they need A-Z in order to be seen as a productive citizen. How a Human and their family will obtain such a Noble Goal depends on their love for Bling-Bling and their Self-Knowledge and Wisdom of why investing in a Better World always wins.

Posted by: Henry Schlatman at September 22, 2010 11:40 PM
Comment #309081
Jesus spoke about free will giving to the poor. Direct charity. He never spoke about paying higher taxes to the Romans so they could take care of the poor. There would be no virtue in coerced charity. Besides, Jesus referred more to poverty of the spirit than poverty of the flesh. The most consistent message throughout the Gospels is not that being rich is bad and being poor is virtuous, but that attachment to material possessions impedes the way to heaven


Doesn’t sound like you’ve cracked open the bible all that much.

Sermon On The Mount:

Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away.
No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.
Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone? Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent? If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him? Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.
Matthew:
When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: and before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: and he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left.

Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: for I was ahungered, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.

Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee ahungered, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?

And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.

Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: for I was ahungered, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not.

Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee ahungered, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee?

Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me.

And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.

Posted by: Adrienne at September 22, 2010 11:41 PM
Comment #309084

Has anyone heard about the GOP’s brand new 21 Page Contract On America? They’ve named it “Pledge to America” this time around though. Turns out that the guy in charge of putting it together for the party was a lobbyist for oil, pharma, and insurance companies.

Posted by: Adrienne at September 23, 2010 12:34 AM
Comment #309085

Skeptical Boomer-
I know a single bit of statistics that puts paid to your implication: Poverty in this country has been cut in half across all ethnic groups since the great society reforms were put in place. Rather than increase poverty, the system has helped reduce it. Have you considered that the reason we have such relatively well-off poor is that they’re not basically on their own?

Yes, our standard of living is higher, and with it the cost. Folks do go hungry in this country. Folks do suffer, and healthcare especially can be a problem. The State fiscal problems won’t help things, either. We saw, during the last few years, more of the poor being working poor. Now many are unemployed, especially in inner city areas.

You go ahead and argue to them that they’re not poor. You’ll probably get an earful about their troubles.

Really, I don’t think the Republicans need to be the people to talk about turning people from poverty to the Middle Class, not with their track record of getting people back to wokr.

Adrienne-
I indeed heard about that, an hour or two ago.

Republicans are trying too hard to repeat history, Their vain expectation is that people don’t remember it.

Democrats, at least on the Grassroots level, are prepared to fight back against the Republicans.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at September 23, 2010 1:22 AM
Comment #309087

>Democrats, at least on the Grassroots level, are prepared to fight back against the Republicans.
Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at September 23, 2010 01:22 AM

Stephen,

The shame of it is that in reality many ‘grassroots’ Democrats are very disappointed right now, and may very well be ready to say, “a pox on y’all, and the horse you climbed up on”…er…something like that. The only way the health care plan could be deficit friendly was if it included the ‘public option’, Guantanamo is still open and bustling, gays and lesbians are still second class citizens.

I’m an active grassroots Democrat, and find it more and more difficult to get up feisty every morning. If I’m this way, I know there are others. Some may feel that if we have to live in a horribly gone wrong America, what makes the difference who causes it to malfunction…perhaps it would be better to hold our nose as we sink. At least that way, we’d be able to shout, “We told you so”!

Posted by: Marysdude at September 23, 2010 6:30 AM
Comment #309088

Adrienne,

Once again you hit the nail smack dab. I may start a fan club.

Does anyone remember what happened to the points in the ‘94 Contract? Did even one come to fruition?

Posted by: Marysdude at September 23, 2010 6:35 AM
Comment #309090

The most popular element of the “Contract”, according to polls, was the term limit proposal. It didn’t make it through the Republican controlled Congress in 1995.

Posted by: Rich at September 23, 2010 7:11 AM
Comment #309097

I might add that not only did the term limit contract item not make it through Congress but it was not voluntarily adhered to by those who signed the contract. More than 25 Republican legislators that signed the pledge opted to run for office in 2006, contrary to their initial pledge.

Posted by: Rich at September 23, 2010 10:42 AM
Comment #309101

You don’t suppose their new thingee will be handled that ineptly if they gain majority this time? I have faith in the Republican Tea Party to see things more clearly this time around, and to be more honest in their dealings and more straight forward in their practices, don’t you? Let’s hear it for the Party of NO! Hip, hip, horrors! Hip, hip, horrors!

Posted by: Marysdude at September 23, 2010 11:32 AM
Comment #309107

Narysdude,
After listening to the Republicans today I have to wonder if the Party of No has not gone so far as to make the Republican Contract a piece of paper that outlines the fact they haven’t got a clue on how to deal with the issues they will create by following their plan.

For asked what they would do about insuring children all the spokesperson could say is that they waanted to repel Obama Care. Than asked what they would do about preexisting conditions and still the only thing the spokesperson could say is that they wanted to repel Obamacare.

And than there is the business of cutting taxes and asked how they planned to pay down the debt again all they could say is that they wanted to repel Obama.

Thus, considering their own words and the fact they are the ones who have repeatedly said the American Public is dumb for the last few yars. Are we suppose to take them at face value that once they undo evrything Obama that somehow they will magically come up with the Politically Viable Solutions which will help us win the war in Afghan, put all Americans back to work in jobs paying a decent wage, and make healthcare affordable for all Americans considering that even their presidential hopefuls don’t grasp the idea of a pre-existing condition? IMHO it sounds like the 8th grader who wants their schoolmates to believe their election will somehow make everything ok.

Posted by: Henry Schlatman at September 23, 2010 2:21 PM
Comment #309111

If anybody wants to know just how screwed up the system is, then ask yourself the operative question: How in the hell does a man get his house foreclosed upon by Bank of America when he paid cash for the house?

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at September 23, 2010 3:19 PM
Comment #309117

Stephen,

Because BOA is too big to fail.

Henry,

You betcha!

Posted by: Marysdude at September 23, 2010 3:59 PM
Comment #309148

Adrienne,
Actually, I have read the Bible cover to cover. A program that required readings to be completed every day for one year. The passages you quote make my point. Jesus challenges us to take personal responsibility for our fellow man, not abdicate our responsibility to the goverment and that attachment to the things of this world are an obstacle to getting to heaven.

No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.

This refers to material possessions being an impediment to serving God.

Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone? Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent? If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him? Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.

This actually refers to having faith in God the Father that if you pray to him , your prayers will be answered with what you need.

Your final passage from Matthew also makes my point. We are expected to take personal responsibility to help the poor. Where in this passage do you find justification for demonizing those you cosider to be rich? I will repeat again that the most consistent message throughout the gospels is not that being rich is bad, but that attachment to material possessions impedes the way to heaven.


Posted by: Skeptical Boomer at September 23, 2010 9:19 PM
Comment #309151

skeptical boomer-
Personal responsibility was part of it, but most of what I see in the Gospel deals in how people relate with each other, and with God. It’s not simply some glorified self-help class. You’re called upon to help others, not simply refine yourself towards greater purity and sanctity.

That’s what the Good Samaritan tale cautions against. The two holy guys didn’t help the beaten and robbed man for fear of blood contamination that would keep them out of the temple. The Samaritan does the right thing, helps the man. Jesus asks, who did right by the man?

What we do with the government, this being a Democracy, a Republic based on the Constitution, counts towards our final judgment. We are our brothers’ keepers. I am not going to go further and presume to say what politics would satisfy God, but I do believe that I know what results God would prefer. He’s laid out our duties pretty plainly.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at September 23, 2010 10:12 PM
Comment #309194

Can anyone here tell me why us bleeding heart liberals want government interference in the charitable good done by most Christians?

Does it have anything at all with having so many fellow citizens hungry, sick and dying much too early? Does it have anything at all to do with corporations taking advantage with their superior positions that created sweat shops, child labor and eighty hour weeks at starvation wages? Yadda, Yadda, Yadda?????!!!?????

Can anyone here tell me why we would want to go back to those “good ol’ days”? Can anybody here say with any certainty that that is NOT what will happen with a conservative take over? Can any conservative here say with any real certainty that it is not actually one of the planks in the conservative platform?

Can anybody here hear me? There are consequences associated with ‘winning’. Unless there is a plan to better America by a conservative ‘win’, I see nothing but a return to those “good ol’ days”. So far, all that has been presented by ANY conservative is ‘same ol’, same ol’. Have you seen the items in the new ‘PLEDGE’?

Posted by: Marysdude at September 24, 2010 5:07 PM
Comment #309213

I can hear you Dude — loud and clear.
And yes, I have read the “new pledge” and see that it’s just another recycling of the same old crap.

As usual the right is focused on dismantling all the progress the left has ever managed to achieve. Although they go into no concrete specifics of how they plan to tear it all down and take us back to those “good old” dog-eat-dog days when the vast majority of Americans were mere wage slaves to the extraordinarily wealthy capitalist class (and we’re already there to a large degree) — because those particular details would be too alarming if they actually described them in full to the public.

The right side of the aisle has always hated the term class war, but of course that’s because it’s so perfectly apt. Class war is what it is, and what it has always been.

The incredible thing is that so many people in this nation are willing to vote for a pack of crony capitalist Republican politicians who constantly wave the flag while announcing how much they hate government, hate regulations, and hate taxing the very rich. But since so many do vote for this, it tells me that people really know nothing about the darker chapters in the labor history of their own country. Because anyone who does actually read that history knows full well that conservatives have always used a slimy form of nationalism as they took the side of the very wealthy against the hard working average earner. Always.

Indeed, it is shocking that voters can’t even seem to recall that it was the actions of the GOP who thrust us into this horrible economic position we’re currently in (naturally while cutting taxes on corporations and the rich to nothing, and taking us into two unnecessary but insanely expensive wars)!

It’s as though the majority of Americans truly are masochistic. Gluttons for punishment. That, or they’re simply stupid enough to fall for all that phony culture war stuff, or the obvious lie of trickle-down voodoo economics. While the wages at the top keep growing exponentially every year, and keep stagnating for everyone else. While the cost of living keeps rising and as they bad mouth unions. And as they continue to lose their jobs, while jobs keep leaving the country. While their homes lose value or are foreclosed upon. And as they can’t afford the ever-rising cost of health care, or college tuition for their kids.

Yet here we are — with all the polls claiming that there will be a big GOP landslide come November.

All kind of reminds me of that scene in Animal House where that pathetic fraternity pledge (I think it might have been Kevin Bacon!) is getting his ass paddled and keeps shouting: “Thank you sir, may I have another!”
But in a maddening and totally unfunny sort of way.

Posted by: Adrienne at September 25, 2010 2:47 AM
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