|Old Timers Parade, Magdalena, NM, July 2010|
That said, the recent budget wars have compelled me to break my silence because, politics aside, the outcome will not only hurt vulnerable people everywhere but will nearly decimate life in many small communities such as mine. Those same politicians who invoke a storied "small town America" have proposed and voted to enact deep budget cuts to programs that keep many small towns alive -- not just the much maligned (unfairly, I believe) social programs such as Medicaid and other public assistance but also funding for police and fire departments, block grants for economic development and essential infrastructure improvements, funding for public health initiatives such as substance abuse treatment programs, preventive health screenings, and mental health crisis intervention, and many educational programs such as Head Start, special education, and literacy and math skills enhancement.
When the politicians stand up to justify such cuts by saying things like, "times are tough, and tough choices had to be made," my head just about explodes because of what remained untouched in all the smoke : tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans, the Pentagon budget, corporate tax breaks and subsidies, and of course salaries and operating expenses of the very politicians telling us to tighten our belts and share the sacrifice. As I listened to this video, my 8-year-old looked up from playing Spore and said, "Mama, that doesn't really sound fair. Why do rich people pay less taxes but now there's not enough money for kids to go Head Start and have libraries and stuff?"
I am not about to tell my kids that "we all need to share the sacrifice" when certain entities clearly are not about to share anything with the rest of us, especially as more and more gets taken away from them in school, from their health care, from their community, and from their futures. If the budget is a "moral document," as many have stated over the years, what do the current proposals say about us as a nation? That we are hopelessly lost and morally bankrupt, or that vested interests with deep pockets are finally succeeding in hijacking the national debate and governing bodies?