16 April 2011

Diversion (a political rant)

Old Timers Parade, Magdalena, NM, July 2010
I have stayed away from political issues on this blog not because I don't have passionate views but because, first, I started it as a creative arts blog, and second, a few years ago I agreed to be interviewed for a seemingly innocuous pre-election series on real life in America and was stunned (into silence, eventually) at the nasty local backlash that ensued not just against me but also my kids, who were 6 and 4 at the time. I do rant regularly on my Facebook page because my friends there know who I am and I can shut down any butthead who decides to get nasty in the comments. I have deliberately kept this blog above the fray because I recognize that many of us hold diverse sociopolitical views and, here at least, we can focus on our commonalities -- creative pursuits and passions -- and let the rest go.

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?


Anna said...

Hi Anna,

I had noticed that you refrained to make any political comments, which I always enjoyed reading. I wondered why. So sorry to hear you were subjected to such awful behaviour from your fellow citizen. Shame on them. I very much enjoyed reading this piece. Greed and selfishness seem to be the new trend in a lot of Western and Eastern societies. I am still hoping that we will all experience some kind of enlightenment which will push us all to a higher level of humanity. Your piece inspires me to write something to in my blog, which I ignored for months!

Let us hope for better times and thank you for sharing your thoughts with us.

Anna Lear said...

Thanks, Anna -- I appreciate your feedback! Like you, I'm hoping for some enlightenment among our fellow humans, too... Dad and I have some great conversations about whether and how "enlightenment" can happen suddenly or is a product of evolution... I look forward to seeing more updates on your life up there in Calgary, though I remember well how totally engrossing (and sometimes exhausting) a little one can be! I hope you're all well and that you're getting some good spring weather.

Lois Moon said...

I hear you sister! I'm in a tiny town on the Georgia/Florida border. The worst part about being here is that I have to listen to people actually brag about essentially voting against their own interests. They just are completely snowed by the spin docs. I'm a high school teacher (for 19 years) and this is the worst few years I have ever been through in terms of budget. You made amazing points.

Anna Lear said...

Thanks for your comment, Lois. I agree, seeing people vote against their own interests is just maddening. And the recent spin by Scott Walker and Fox against teachers and other public workers was unbelievable -- you all work SO hard, for OUR kids, and deserve far more respect, and pay!

Marilyn said...

It's so refreshing to read your comments. I'm right there with you. Let's save the tax cuts for the very wealthy and do away with services to the elderly, poor and disenfranchised. There is very little "middle class" left. I don't see our business model as capitalism. It's actually opportunism (on the backs of those least able to gain from it).