Wednesday, January 19, 2011

HAVE WE QUIT GIVING?

The season of giving recently past set me to thinking about where we are with our nation.  Growing up, graduating from high school and attending college in the ‘50's filled most of us with ambitious hope for the future--not only for ourselves, but for our country.  Most of us wore our patriotism like a badge of honor, expressing love for our country at every opportunity.  

The election of John Kennedy seemed to spur an even accelerated desire to serve one’s country and give back some of the blessings we had received as Americans.  Young people graduating from college during the Kennedy era, dubbed Camelot in America, showed an increased ambition to do something significant to help people throughout the world.  Thousands of young Americans volunteered for the Peace Corps, domestic and foreign, and found self-satisfaction in serving both our nation and the world.

I would suspect, without fear of correction, that a great number of young Americans graduating from college today would not list public service or service to humanity as their first thoughtful ambition.  More than likely their ambition would be directed toward working on Wall Street and making thousands of dollars and ultimately becoming part of the ultra-rich in the United States.  

Rather than considering living in the United States as a blessing to be enjoyed and reveled in, I fear too many of our young Americans believe our federal government to be an enemy to their lofty ambitions of becoming rich.  

I can’t really blame young Americans when so many of our leaders engage in a non-stop diatribe which would make the average listener believe the federal government was a foreign power poised to invade our cities and states and enslave free Americans.  Tea Party leaders and others want to shrink our nation’s government to the point it could be drowned in a bathtub.  

Incoming Republican leaders of the House want to dismantle health care reforms, undo reform regulations on banks and stock traders--as well as insurance companies--and give more tax breaks to big corporations which are daily shipping American jobs overseas.  Even the governor of Texas, in an unguarded moment, suggested secession of Texas from the Union might be a good thing.  

How can young Americans truly have respect for our nation and our system of governing with such toxic rhetoric emanating from so many sources?

Without a doubt, the greatest enemy to self-government is ignorance.  When a population reaches a point which those who can’t or won’t discern truth from fiction outnumber conscientious, studious citizens, society itself is in trouble.  Recent polls show a vast number of Americans believe:
  • that our President was born outside the United States,
  • that the recently passed health care bill does, in fact, contain a panel which can order death to a citizen, and
  • that taxes under Obama have increased when in fact they have decreased.  

None of these assertions by Clearly, ignorance is gaining a foothold at a level which is becoming alarmingly dangerous to our way of life.  

One of the favorite clich√©s among dedicated conservatives is that welfare is responsible for our growing deficit.  Complaints about illegal aliens sucking the lifeblood from our economy by seeking free medical care and free education in the United States are among favorite stories of Tea Party members.  

However, to the contrary, studies have shown that the United States gains more economically from our “uninvited” guests from the South than we pay out in benefits.

And, in fact, single mothers and the elderly receiving food stamps or medical care cost U.S. taxpayers far less than even the recent corporate giveaways in the so called extension of the Bush tax cuts.

And here is just one glaring example:  a provision lobbied by highly-paid lobbyists into a bill in Washington, DC to allow companies a greater break on earnings made outside the United States will cost our treasury over 6-billion dollars. There are at least 5-6 other multi-billion dollar corporate giveaways in the bill, including a tax break for those manufacturing rum in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.  I dare say educating people within our borders and assuring some measure of health and dignity to our elderly benefits America far more than tax benefits to rum runners.  

My hope for the coming new year is that more Americans will pay more attention to what’s really happening and make a greater attempt to filter the false in search of the truth.

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