Wednesday, November 15, 2006

It’s odd how full of coincidence life is sometimes. Take today for example. I’m off driving and I see a car in front of me with a few bumper stickers on it. I think you can tell a lot about someone relative to what they plaster on their rear bumper. This particular car had one that read, “If you can’t feed em. Don’t breed em.” So as usual I get to thinking about what really is behind this sentiment. I figure it out pretty quickly. It’s the usual nonsense that somewhere there is this almost infinite amount of poor women who are breeding like bunnies to get more and more welfare money. Now I’ll admit that there are women who take advantage of the system, probably. The funny thing is I never see bumper stickers that bitch about corporations that funnel money through foreign backs to avoid paying taxes. Or whine about corporate farms rakings in insane amounts of money from farm subsidies. Or complain about corporate welfare or no bid contracts. Or even raise a whimper about how the wealthy get tax cuts and the poor can’t even get a living wage.

Then tonight I’m surfing around the Internet and I come across this story. So apparently the Catholic Church now has a “secular progressive philosophy”. I must have missed that in my Sunday bulletin from Mass last week. Just remember kids; if you don’t play along with the Republican talking points you’re a godless pinko commie. Heaven forbid that anyone show Mexicans, who just want a job, any compassion. If Bill ever had an original well informed thought he’d realize that mercy for the poor is a pillar of Catholic social justice. The Catholic Church would also have issues with the bastards that pay these immigrants inhumane wages and treat them like animals, but talking heads like O’Reilly can’t be bothered with that.

Both of these instances are related because they both show a total lack of compassion for the poor. After Hurricane Katrina ravaged New Orleans rapper Kanye West said that George Bush didn’t care about black people. He missed the mark. The bigger problem is that America really doesn’t care about poor people. Sure Congress is thinking about upping the minimum wage but where is a living wage, a wage that allows someone to be fed and housed, for all? Where is universal health coverage? Where are the great public schools for all Americans so that people may lift themselves out of poverty more easily? Why aren’t these issues on everyone’s lips? Why has compassion been demeaned to a sign of weakness? Why is this particular administration that is so fond of its faith not doing more to eliminate poverty especially when the Gospels tell us that will be judged on how we treat the least among us? Why was Lyndon Johnson a president who left office over forty years ago the last president to do anything about poverty? It is because Americans in large part believe the lie that the poor are lazy or stupid or crooks. They have been fooled into thinking that we can ignore the needs of the poor while catering to the needs of the wealthy. They’ve been told as long as the Dow Jones is high that economy is just booming, even while the middle class withers away and more and more people slip into poverty. A new economic class called the “working poor” emerges and America hardly shrugs.

John Edwards during the 2004 Presidential campaign liked to speak of two Americas. Of course right wing pundits accused him of class warfare. Sadly he couldn’t have been any more correct. America’s divide between the poor and the wealthy is growing every year. Now I know there are people out there that are thinking you can’t possibly want the government to intervene because that would be socialism. To which I would reply, “so what?” Socialism has a bad name because the hardcore capitalists want you to associate it with communism, especially Soviet communism. But socialism about equality of all people, a good Christian principle if I must say so, so in matters of education and health care where equality is a must socialism is really the only fair practice.

These same people would also want charity to help these people. To which I would quote St. Augustine “charity is no substitute for justice withheld.”


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