Division and Misconception

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For as long as I can remember, America’s two-party system has waged war on each other. While a similar clash of ideas exists in other countries, there are certain things they still agree on for the general benefit of their population. I often wonder how we have celebrated 240 birthdays and still lag behind the advances of other nations in the last 70 years.

I count myself as an American before a Democrat, but when a Republican questions my patriotism; I am compelled to ask the same of them for various reasons.

Personally, I think conservatives have taken the concept of individual responsibility too far, to the point it now resembles, “every man for himself.”

From our jobs, to the military, to organized sports, an enormous list of things in our lives extols the benefits of working together as a team. We so often hear about the strength of numbers, doing our part, and while that includes personal responsibility it doesn’t mean going it alone.

While other countries have adopted better public schooling practices, public health care, and better working hours and conditions for its citizens, America lags behind. I don’t mean a little behind, I mean numbers like 29th in public schools and even farther down in health care. Many argue we have the best health care in the world, and we do have a tremendous number of high quality professionals, but we fall flat on our noses because they are only accessible to a portion of our society.

I think Bernie Sanders made a large mistake during his campaign by announcing so many programs as “free.” There is no such thing as free health care or education, but there absolutely can be public-funded, non-profit versions of both. Many other countries do so effectively while still offering a private option for those who can afford that choice.

 

PREMIUMS VS. TAXES

Republicans immediately cry foul over any public program, and usually do so by screaming “socialist or communist” as if they were spitting blood. Let’s clear something up here; the term “socialist” by definition does not quantify government programs in a free society. A socialist society is one where there is no private property in either business or personal aspects. Local, state, and Federal governments already own public school buildings and many other pieces of real estate, none of which has plunged us into anarchy or communism.

Hot off the voice of socialism, if not before, comes the war cry of higher taxes. I think this is an area where huge misconceptions take place on many levels, and since Republicans stand for fiscal responsibility, it becomes even more confusing. Is there some reason a public program cannot be both well-funded and efficiently run? Efficient doesn’t mean run on the cheap or by a shoestring, it means well organized and competent. How could we not want that for our schools, our children, and our country?

Another misconception I see regarding taxes is the notion that the more you make, the more breaks you should get, therefore the less you should pay. The single reason the tax scale is so high on upper income brackets is the effort to combat the rampant loopholes the wealthy take advantage of since Wall Street was de-regulated.

I have no doubt many of these people have labored long and hard to achieve their present status, but the math is simple. If you make 10 times more than I do, and I have to pay my 28 percent, then you can pay yours. Not your loophole Capital Gains tax rate of 15 percent. Your take home pay is still 10 times higher than mine, and that is your reward.

The top tier of this nation has taken greed to new heights. Getting tax breaks with one hand while they cut jobs, wages, benefits, pay lobbyists, make political contributions that shame family salaries, and stash funds in off-shore accounts to keep from contributing to the nation they live in. When all these exist, stop complaining how they can’t afford to pay their percentage share. I have no problem with the scale being lowered, but all the breaks and loopholes need end.

The other concept is the one behind insurance. America pays more for health insurance by a wide margin than any country bar none, and we get less for our dollar, so how is that efficient? It isn’t, but once again, the greed of the health care business machine is happy to milk the cow until its dead. These corporate moguls have turned health care into a business that could care less about the actual health of the country as long as their stock is profitable.

What is truly strange is that a public health program would basically work the same as insurance without the need for profit, instead making its focus the health of its citizens. If other countries can do this then we should be leading the world by example and not making our children and elderly choose between food or loss of a home versus seeing a doctor. Public health care should put decision-making in the hands of the doctor, where it belongs, not in the hands of an insurance adjuster.

Republicans demonize the welfare program, but when they let CEOs cut jobs and wages, more poverty is created, then they reward them with tax breaks? Where is the logic in that? If Republicans don’t approve of welfare then why don’t they reform the programs as opposed to eliminating them, letting the citizens in question suffer with no regard.

The Republican Congress has tried 60 different ways to repeal the Affordable Care Act, all to no avail. Yet they haven’t submitted a single piece of legislation that outlines a better plan? Why? Henry Ford was famously quoted for saying, “Instead of finding fault, find a remedy.”

Another famous quote by Ford that conservatives love is, “Any man who thinks he can be happy and prosperous by letting government take care of him should take a close look at the American Indian.”

Let’s set aside for a second that this nation screwed the eyeballs out of the Native Americans. They made treaties in good faith and we took their lands, butchered their resources, and drove them away like animals. They never vested an interest in our government, and once again, the greed of money behind railroads, the gold rush, and the resources the land offered paved the way to capturing the West. Not a very good analogy to our present day situations.

Publicly funded education, college, and health care are not free, but we already pay more for the benefit of a few than it would take to benefit many. Non-profit hospitals that operate in my hometown pay staff better, have lower patient-per-nurse workload, and still deliver top level care to the benefit of everyone involved. The only difference is no stockholders are getting rich off the operation. This alone is proof the concept can work on a large scale.

How can we have the largest military budget on the planet (as much as several other nations combined) yet still offer such low pay to our soldiers? The fighting force is smaller than ever but the funding is historically high. Yes, hi-tech equipment is costly, but large corporations fight for government contracts, and they don’t do it for the honor, they do it for the insane profit. How can we as a nation abide such action when our veterans are neglected in such manner?

Every election I hear the Republicans shout with their evangelical supporters about reverence for Christian values. What “proper Christian value” says we should neglect our sick and elderly? Which says we should subject our children to such poor standards of schools and health? Which says we should ignore the plight of our wounded and disabled veterans? Which says we should coddle the wealthy and condemn the poor for not working hard enough? Which value says we should disregard the golden words of, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you?”

I can find no scripture that Christ taught the concept of “every man for himself,” and if that is the way of the Republicans, then I question why any religion would support such an ideal. I also question how it could be better for a democracy and for the majority of a nation.

Our government was designed to be an extension of our voice, to represent the people, and to act for the common good. Those are not socialist or communist ideals, they are American, and they stand for unity.

If Republicans think the words “Under God” is the problem with our schools and children, I challenge them to read the words that follow, “Indivisible, with Liberty and Justice for ALL.”

This country is far from fulfilling that pledge. The demonized misconception that if our government acts for the benefit of the majority, to do things smaller groups or communities struggle to accomplish on their own should be forever dispelled. This is not a crime. Successful public program models exist all over the globe and it’s high time we got on board.