Wednesday, November 10, 2010


"The group defines liberty as the free market, gun rights and limited taxation—essentially, the ability to “do” something without restriction, mainly in economic terms. But, these values don’t take into account other ideas of freedom—freedom from hunger and freedom from economic exploitation,"  - quote from a student newspaper on line referring to the tea party movement. 

I'm just guessing, but maybe the movement is not concerned about freedom from hunger and economic exploitation since none of them are experiencing these problems and see themselves as being able to keep from ever having these problems by their own hard work.  From what I've heard, these folks feel that people who need protection from hunger and economic exploitation are just lazy, have created their own problems and so deserve to suffer.  And so, apparently, they do not want to be taxed to provide something for others that they feel is caused by laziness. 

The thing is, I grew up in a time when women made less than half of the income men made from doing the same work.  Of course, women could not go to law school, medical school or a lot of other schools that trained men for high-paying work.  The trades that paid well were also off limits for women.  So, the choices women had were to be teachers, nurses, secretaries, waitresses, maids, factory workers, and wives - all low paying jobs.  Wives weren't paid much either, by the way.  If a woman was on her own (without a husband), especially if she had children, she was certain to be in poverty.  To an extent, this is still true now.  There are a lot of very hardworking women working minimum wage jobs - maybe two or three at a time - that are going hungry in order to feed their children.  Maybe some would say that that's because they're not trying to work their way up.  But what about people who are not disabled but who do not have the capability to do higher paying jobs.  The truth is the world is full of people - women and men - whose capabilities are lower than average.  Should they just do without the necessities of life, live miserably but humbly accept their fate, and die young after they've worked cheap to subsidize the rest of us?

Then there are the older folks who did plan for their retirement.  They've got a couple of problems - companies don't provide retirement payments as they once did, the stock market has crashed a couple of times in the last few years, and interest rates are almost non-existent.  Also, people used to die soon after they turned 65 but are now living to 85 on the average.  This year Social Security payments did not receive an increase, but the premium for Medicare went up.  So older folks are being penalized for the bad economy while their incomes have decreased drastically.

Then there are the people who are disabled - unable to work.  What should happen to them?  I could go on and on, but I won't.  From what I've heard, the belief is that churches should take care of the women, children, the incapable, the elderly and the disabled.  Of course, this would mean that you would only share what you have with others if you felt like it.  Before the laws were passed that use tax money to help these folks, the churches did a very bad job of taking care of these folks.  Apparently, not many people felt like helping.

I'm not crazy about the idea of reducing taxes and elimating social programs.  I'm not crazy about going back to people begging on the street, dying of starvation and treatable diseases, 8 year old children working in factories, 80 hour work weeks, and so forth.  I'm not sure anyone really is in favor of that.  Back in 1994, I think it was, when the Republicans took the House and Senate during Clinton's term in office, one of the things they did right away was to cut off school breakfasts and lunches for poor children.  That didn't go over well with the public and the program was restored. 

So, maybe we should all think about the actual results from changes based on philosophy rather than reality.  Some ideas have already been proved unworkable from past experience.

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